Aggregated News about Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, Suicide Blast and Angry Crowd Target American Soldiers

In the confusion after a suicide bombing in Kabul on Tuesday, Afghans accused American soldiers of opening fire on them, and one soldier was attacked.

June 30, 2015 — Pictures of the Day

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 22:36
Photos from Afghanistan, Syria, Indonesia and the United States.

Afghans Protest After U.S. Forces Carry Out Raid on Strongman

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 05:00
The mission Monday morning demonstrated that American troops are engaged beyond their publicly stated role of advising the Afghan forces.

TOLOnews 6pm News 29 June 2015

TOLO News - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 15:33

Top news in this Bulletin:

National Unity Government CEO Abdullah Abdullah on Monday stated that the NUG must do everything possible to maintain public trust as losing it would be the end of the line for government.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:

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Following a NATO coalition strike on a weapons' cache allegedly belonging to former Jihadi leader Jan Mohammad in central Parwan province on Sunday, local supporters of Mohammad mobilized in Charikar city's streets to express their outrage.

MPs Reject Changes to Anti-Money Laundering Law

TOLO News - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 15:24

The majority of lawmakers in the Lower House on Monday rejected a proposal to amend a controversial article of the Anti-Money Laundering Law. Representatives said amending the law as the national unity government has requested would allow numerous criminals to evade prosecution.

Based on the current version of Article 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Law, those who have earned money through illegitimate means over the past 14 years will face investigations. However, the national unity government has waged a quiet campaign to have the law amended so that it does not apply retroactively, and only individuals guilty of crimes after the ratification of the law can be investigated.

"If we make changes in this article, it will mean that the theft and robbery that has occurred over the past 14 years will receive a stamp of approval from us," Balkh MP Muhammad Abda told the chamber of representatives on Monday. "Respected MPs, if you want to do something good in the five years of your tenure, do not bring changes to this article," he added.

"Why should be join the thieves by modifying this article?" Farah MP Humaira Ayoubi asked.

There were some lawmakers who agreed with the government's stance, though. Kabul MP Shukria Barekzai spoke out against Article 4's retroactive applicability. "We cannot return the law to the past," she said. "For example, if we pass a law today that says Wednesday is off, we cannot say that Wednesdays from the past 10 years should be considered off as well."

While the argument of those against amending the law seemed to hinge on justice, that of those in favor of the amendment revolved around metaphors about the importance of looking forward, rather than behind. "If someone converts to Islam today, we don't look into his past," Baghlan MP Obaidullah Ramin said. "The law should only be executed from the day when it is passed and ratified."

The debate seemed to take a less abstract and more touchy turn when MPs in favor of the retroactive investigations began suggesting that those who wish to bring changes in the law are likely trying to protect criminal relatives or friends.

"Those who want to bring changes to this law are the ones whose family members and close ones are involved in making illegitimate money," Ghazni MP Muhammad Ali said.

Despite the heated debate, ultimately, the Anti-Money Laundering Law was passed with all eight chapters and 70 articles. It was then sent on to President Ashraf Ghani for ratification.

CBA Announces Plans to Inject $850 Million USD Into Market

TOLO News - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 15:10

The Central Bank of Afghanistan (CBA) on Monday announced plans to inject $850 million USD into the local market in order to stabilize the national currency and ensure the Afghan banking sector continues to function properly. Officials said the funds for the capital injection would come from the international community.

The decision emerged out of a High Council session of the Central Bank, which included the approval of bank administrators' working agenda for the next 100 days.

"In the next quarter we are going to issue $850 million USD to the market. The decision came in line with the needs of the market and to avoid problems," CBA acting governor Khan Afzal Hudawal said on Monday. "And also because of the supply, the country's reserves will not be decreased," he added, highlighting the advantage of having foreign countries foot the bill.

CBA officials have been forced to confront and try to mitigate a recent slide in the value of the Afghani currency against foreign currencies. Afghanis have sharply dropped against the US dollar in recent months from 57 to 60 Afs to the dollar.

According to CBA officials, the bank's 100-day working priorities include improving monitoring of banking operations, stabilizing the national currency and implementing comprehensive programs to curtail money laundering.

"Our 100-day working plan has been approved by the CBA High Council, which also includes banking procedures and regulations, monitoring and investigations," Hudawal said.

The Central Bank also announced that $150 million USD will be provided by the International Monetary Funds (IMF) to shore-up Afghanistan's foreign reserves, which now number around seven billion USD.

Attack on Former Jihadi Leader's House Sparks Protest in Parwan

TOLO News - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 14:42

Following a NATO coalition strike on a weapons' cache allegedly belonging to former Jihadi leader Jan Mohammad in central Parwan province on Sunday, local supporters of Mohammad mobilized in Charikar city's streets to express their outrage.

The protestors blocked the Kabul-Mazar Highway for hours on Monday to protest the attack by the foreign coalition. The crowd included young and elderly members of the community, both demanding an investigation into the strike.

"In this holy month, we consider an attack on the house of a Jihadi leader an attack on the whole people of Parwan," one protestor named Rafi told TOLOnews. "We will not stop pushing the issue."

Another protestor, Subhanallah, suggested the government should show more of a spine when it comes to overseeing NATO activity in Aghanistan. "The coalition forces should inform the Afghan police and other security agencies when they want to carry out an attack. They should not conduct arbitrary attacks," he said.

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has also expressed concerns about the strike on the residential home, and reportedly asked for a detailed explanation from NATO officials. Jan Mohammad was one of the heads of Abdullah's election team during the 2014 presidential vote.

Meanwhile, Parwan Police Chief Zaman Mamuzai has said international troops have not permitted the Afghan police to enter the attack site. "Our troops went to the area, but were not allowed to get closer to the site," he said on Monday. "It is evident that there are lots of unrecovered weapons caches in different parts of the country, so recovering weapon caches is in favor of the Afghan people," he added, indicating his confidence that the coalition's claims regarding Jan Mohammad's property were accurate.

According to witnesses to the strike, NATO troops opened fire on Jan Mohammad's compound in the Bayan area of Charikar city from the air and ground Sunday. Some said the assault resulted in the destruction of a grain mill as well.

"They attacked the house at night, at around 11.00pm," an eyewitness named Nizam recounted. "The sky was full of choppers and their tanks were on the ground; we have never seen this many military vehicles before."

Nizam says the attack continued through dawn, and included several large explosions that caused damage to the surrounding area.

Religious Scholars Call For Ceasefire and End to War

TOLO News - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 14:20

At a meeting entitled the "Role of Religious Scholars in Maintaining Peace and Stability" the Dawat Islami Foundation of Afghanistan on Monday called for a ceasefire and for government and insurgents to hold peace talks and end the war.

The religious scholars also called on government to identify and overcome the obstacles holding back the peace talks.

The scholars meanwhile announced their willingness to act as mediators between government and Taliban if called upon.

"In the first step, a ceasefire is needed to prevent further bloodshed of innocent people. The second goal is how we can play a mediating role, and deliver the message to anti-government armed groups and international community. That would be a logical way for the development of peace in the country," says Abdul Hady Hedayat, Chairman of Dawat Islami Foundation of Afghanistan.

"We are saying that if there is a culture of acceptance, let's join hands, if you are righteous and we are wrong, tell us to do the right thing. If we are righteous then why the killings and bloodshed?" says Ayatullah Yaqubi, an Islamic Scholar.

Another scholar, Mawlawi Abdul Mateen said: "The message of us scholars to the anti-government armed groups and government is that people want [peace]. The obstacles that are preventing peace must be identified and addressed."

"Those who are in the government, we want them to take actual and practical steps to peace so that peace is implemented in the country," said Abdul Qader Qanet, a member of the foundation.

Prior to the start of Ramazan, Afghanistan Islamic Scholars' Shura asked the Taliban to end the conflict. The Taliban rejected a ceasefire request.

Experts: Taliban Changes War Tactics, Steal Weapons

TOLO News - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 14:04

Addressing the recent spate of security threats in some regions of the country, some Afghan commentators said Monday that insurgents have changed their war tactics this fighting season and are making a point of seizing government-issued weapons.

Referring to this new practice by armed militants, officials from the Ministry of Defense (MoD) stressed that the Taliban are not however able to keep heavy weapons taken off government forces. However, they said insurgents are also being backed financially and militarily by regional intelligence services.

"It is an intelligence war. There are some people who provide them [insurgents] with funds and training. Whenever they capture vehicles from our forces, the Afghan air force destroys them and they [insurgents] get away with only some of the light weapons," Dawlat Waziri, a deputy spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry said on Monday.

In the past, the Afghan government has pointed fingers at regional intelligence services who they claim are behind the ongoing insurgency in the country. However, many argue this point saying that this is only one side of the coin.

They say that by capturing check posts, weapons are stolen off Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and that often this is to prove a point in terms of their strength as they then use government issued weapons on the ANSF.

But some Afghan legislators say that this new tactic by insurgents needs to be dealt with quickly by government.

"This seems to be the Taliban's new tactic, and the situation could become critical if the issue isn't dealt with seriously," MP Nazifa Zaki said.

Nevertheless, military analysts say that changing war tactics is part of the insurgents' psychological war.

Over the past few weeks, insurgents launched major offensives on some northeastern parts of the country such as Yamgan district of Badakhshan, Chahar Dara and Dasht-e-Archi districts in Kunduz, Waigal district in Nuristan and Jaween district in Herat province. In these attacks, they managed to seize heavy arms and ammunition from Afghan forces – a move many believe is part of this year's tactic.

Abdullah Urges Action To Safeguard Public's Trust

TOLO News - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 13:37

National Unity Government CEO Abdullah Abdullah on Monday stated that the NUG must do everything possible to maintain public trust as losing it would be the end of the line for government.

"Unfortunately, due to circumstances and [various] reasons, today we are in a position where NUG leaders are under question. We must not do anything to lose people's trust, as losing people's trust means end of work [for this government]," says Abdullah.

The CEO however strongly criticized the issue of the electronic ID cards and said the roll out process was critical to the country moving forward but that the issue has been neglected.

Abdullah said that the public has put the NUG leaders on the spot regarding this – a roll out campaign that should have kicked off two years ago.

"The issuance of electronic ID cards is a national process, where some neglect has occurred. We will discuss the issue with the president today. If the delay is due to a political reason at the higher levels, it must be cleared up, so that we can answer the people," says Abdullah.

Abdullah also criticized former president Hamid Karzai's government, stating current problems were inherited from the previous government.

He said it was: "A government full of corruption, from bottom to top, an inheritance of insecurity, inheritance of terrorism and finally an inheritance of ruined relations between Afghanistan and the international community and its neighbors."

During this week's ministers council meeting, Abdullah said that based on a new decision, ministers will have to travel to provinces in order to familiarize themselves with what is happening around the country. These trips are to start soon, he said.

Afghan Mining Sector Could Fall Victim To Daesh

TOLO News - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 12:39

A recent Pentagon report stated that the emergence of Daesh in Afghanistan is of concern to the U.S., the coalition, Afghanistan, and other regional governments, as well as to extremist groups that have been operating in the region for some time.

The report stated that Daesh looks set to try to expand its presence in Afghanistan during the upcoming year. "It will compete for relevance
with the Taliban and other extant terrorist and insurgent groups," read the report.

It stated however that Daesh's activities in Afghanistan remain exploratory, with limited recruiting efforts but that although the capabilities of the Islamic State's recently claimed Khorasan Province may be limited, the group is clearly attempting to gain a foothold in Afghanistan.

A recent report in The Diplomat points out however that there is speculation that the Afghan government is exaggerating the Daesh threat to draw increased foreign aid, but the group's presence is undeniable, and the worsening security situation could pave the way for the group to enhance its operations

The Diplomat reported that Daesh's motives in Afghanistan remain ambiguous, and it is unclear if the group is capable of holding swaths of territory while battling Afghan National Security Forces and the Taliban. However, it is entirely possible that Daesh will seek to tap the country's poorly monitored mining industry to fund their primary operations in Iraq and Syria, read The Diplomat's report.

Afghanistan sits atop an estimated $3 trillion USD worth of mineral resources, ranging from copper and emeralds to rare earth metals. The majority of the country's deposits are undeveloped, abandoned awaiting new contracts, or mined by local community members.

On June 8, Minister of Mines and Petroleum Daud Shah Saba told Afghan Members of Parliament that Daesh poses a "grave threat" to Afghanistan's burgeoning mining sector. Saba stated that security challenges continue to prevent the government from monitoring 100 of 339 mining contracts. Meanwhile, international investors have backed out of several contracts or raised concerns over insecurity. Endemic corruption and a lack of coordination between various ministries and the Afghan National Security Forces continue to leave Afghanistan's mines open to illegal activity, reported The Diplomat.

Insecurity in remote provinces, particularly Nangarhar, has already caused a significant spike in illegal mining in recent months. Officials in Nangarhar said in January that they fear all of the province's mines will be looted if the insecurity persists. This year's Taliban spring offensive is the most potent since 2011, and Daesh activity is seemingly highest in Nangarhar. As such, the situation in Nangarhar will likely continue to deteriorate in the next several months, read the article.

While it is unlikely that Daesh will seize control of large government and corporate mines, as they did with oil fields in Iraq and Syria, illegal community-mined mineral deposits are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Daesh has a noted proclivity for tapping into local resource markets not typically exploited by terrorist organizations. For instance, Daesh seized control of the Akashat Phosphate Mine in Iraq's Al-Anbar province and cement plants in Iraq and Syria.

The illicit trade of gems such as emeralds and rubies or industrial minerals such as copper and chromite is big business with decades-old smuggling routes from all corners of Afghanistan, read The Diplomat.

According to a report released in April by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, illegal mining has cost Afghanistan at least $300 million annually since the fall of the Taliban regime. Historically, Pakistan has been the largest recipient of illegally mined Afghan minerals. Pakistan has no real incentive to stymie the illicit trade of minerals such as chromite, as it ultimately benefits the country's construction and manufacturing industries.

The so-called Khorasan Province's leadership is predominantly comprised of former Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan members such as Hafez Saeed Khan and Hafiz Dolat Khan. As such, they have longstanding ties to militants and smugglers on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line, which would allow them to transfer illicit minerals across the porous border to vital shipping outlets, read the article.

Although there is no clear evidence to indicate that Daesh has begun exploiting the country's lucrative mining industry, conditions are becoming more favorable as the security landscape continues to deteriorate.

Illegal mining has long been a source of income for militant groups across the country. Given Daesh's propensity for exploiting natural resources and their expanding presence, it is easy to conceive that Afghanistan may be the next frontier for funding their operations elsewhere. With no clear strategy in place, it is unlikely that Afghanistan could prevent such financing activities in its more remote provinces. Either way, Afghanistan's mining industry and economy will suffer with any expansion of Daesh operations, reported The Diplomat.

BA REWAYATE DIGAR: Taking a Moderate Approach to Islam

TOLO News - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 09:26

This episode of Ba Rewayate Digar, hosted by Muslim Shirzad, discusses moderation and justice in Islam.

To watch the whole program, click here:

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Questions raised are whether there is room for monasticism, excessive asceticism and piety in this religion.

Guests:

• Dr. Fazl Hadi Wazin, member of Academic Association of Afghanistan Ulema
• Kiramatullah Seddiqi, head of Islamic Studies Department of Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs
• Ali Amiri, lecturer of theology
• Mohammad Mohaqiq, writer and researcher of Islamic sciences

NDS Arrests Taliban Shadow Governor for Nangarhar

TOLO News - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 08:15

Taliban's shadow governor for eastern Nangarhar province has been arrested during a special operation by the National Directorate of Security (NDS), officials said in a statement on Sunday night.

In addition, five other insurgents were also arrested along with the shadow governor.

The operation was launched in Dur Baba district of the province where the Taliban shadow governor, Abdul Qahar was arrested, according to the statement.
"The forces have also sized some weapons during the operation," it said.

The statement did not provided more details about the operation.

TAWDE KHABARE: Top Security Officials Summoned to the Upper House

TOLO News - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 06:55

With the worsening of the security situation in most of the parts of the country and the recent Taliban attack on the Wolesi Jirga (The Lower House of Parliament) the Meshrano Jirga (Upper House) summoned top security officials to answer questions.

To watch the whole program, click here:

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The Senators criticized the security officials over the lack of cooperation and for not providing enough equipment to the security forces.

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Zabi Sadat discusses the topic with the following guests:

• Hashem Alokozai, Senator

• Rafeullah Gul Afghan, former senator

• Ikram Basharyar, military analyst

 

FARAKHABAR: Alarm Bells Ring as Districts Fall and Parliament Attacked

TOLO News - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 06:31

The issue of security has increased dramatically in the past week in the wake of the fall of four districts into the hands of the Taliban and after the attack on the Wolesi Jirga (The Lower House of Parliament).

To watch the whole program, click here:

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On Saturday, Rahmatullah Nabil, the head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) warned that security will become worse in the upcoming months.

This comes at a time that government is looking to improve relations with Pakistan. But the NDS has said that Pakistan's Intelligence Service had a hand in the recent attack on Parliament.

Why then does it appear that the National Unity Government's policies are having an adverse effect on the country's security situation?

In this episode of FaraKhabar, host Yama Siavish discusses the topic with the following guest:

Mohammad Mohaqiq, Second Deputy of NUG's Chief Executive

Iran Talks to Miss Deadline: US

TOLO News - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 05:58

Negotiators in Vienna for make-or-break nuclear talks with Iran are all "planning to stay past" a June 30 deadline to reach a deal, a US official said Sunday, echoing comments from Iran.

The official also stressed the US team was not concerned that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was returning to Tehran for the day, as talks to curb Iran's nuclear programme reach a climax.

"We've always said ministers may need to go back and forth" to consult with their capitals, the official told reporters, adding "that's a good thing."

"We've said that these talks could go beyond June 30th for a few days if we need some additional time," the senior administration official said.

"I think just given the date, and the fact that we still have more work to do, ministers coming and going, which is a good thing if they need to go back to capitals and get more guidance, the parties are planning to remain in Vienna continually working past June 30th to keep negotiating," the official said.

But the official said global powers were still focused on getting a deal within this round of negotiations in Vienna, adding "no-one is talking about some kind of long term extension."

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is still walking in crutches after breaking his leg in a cycling accident in late May, was not planning to return to Washington, but speaks daily with President Barack Obama by phone to brief him on the state of the negotiations.

While the US official would not go as far as to say there was no chance of meeting Tuesday's deadline for a deal putting a nuclear bomb out of Tehran's reach, "I think it's fair to say the parties are planning to stay past the 30th to keep negotiating."

Afghan President Appoints a Second Female Governor

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 05:00
Even though his first appointee has been unable to take office because of protests, President Ashraf Ghani picked another woman as a provincial leader.

11 Soldiers Killed in Taliban Ambush in Herat

TOLO News - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 04:55

Eleven military soldiers were killed in a Taliban ambush in western Herat province on Sunday evening, local officials said.

In addition, six other soldiers were injured.

The incident took place in Masjed-e-Chobi area of Kurkh district of the province after Taliban insurgents attacked a military convoy, the officials said.

"The Taliban insurgents have also stolen some of the weapons of the military soldiers," said officials.

However, the officials did not provide more details about the attack.

TOLOnews 6pm News 28 June 2015

TOLO News - Sun, 06/28/2015 - 16:56

Top news in this Bulletin:

Leaked Saudi Arabia diplomatic cables, published last week on WikiLeaks, has revealed their embassy in Islamabad had contact with the Haqqani network and also discussed medical treatment for the militant group's leader.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:

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The head of Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority Captain Mohammad Zahir said on Sunday that a decision has been taken to award a U.S company the rights to jointly manage the country's air traffic control for two years along with the civil aviation authority.

U.S Company To Get Air Traffic Control Contract

TOLO News - Sun, 06/28/2015 - 15:19



The head of Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority Captain Mohammad Zahir said on Sunday that a decision has been taken to award a U.S company the rights to jointly manage the country's air traffic control for two years along with the civil aviation authority.

According to Zahir, it has been agreed to give the contract to the American company. "It will jointly monitor the air traffic with Afghanistan civil aviation authority," he said.

It is believed the contract will kick in within the next few months.

The company, Readiness Management Support (RMS), a Kansas, U.S based company, still has to sign the contract – estimated to be worth $47 million USD, said Zahir. This is considerably less than what was paid in the past, he added.

He said the cost of this will be covered by the Afghanistan government.

An Afghan aviation official meanwhile, told AP a few days ago that the United States will continue to manage Afghan airspace and air-traffic control for another two-and-a-half months after its current contract expires at the end of June.

The airspace has been managed by the U.S.-led international military coalition or foreign companies paid by donor countries since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

Mohammad Qassim Wafayezada from the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority said that the extension, which is to last till mid-September, will allow for a smooth transition.

Wafayezada says that "there is nothing to be worried over for now or the next two years."

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