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Deadly bombing in Mazar sparks widespread condemnation



(Last Updated On: April 22, 2022)

The targeting of civilians inside a mosque in Balkh province on Thursday has sparked widespread condemnation both in Afghanistan and abroad.

The explosion tore through the mosque during midday prayers killing at least 30 people and wounding dozens more.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has condemned the incident and called for an end to attacks on civilians.

“UNAMA strongly condemns the horrific attack in Mazar-e-Sharif targeting civilians at a place of worship. The recent attacks on civilians represent a worrying trend in Afghanistan. It must end immediately. “The perpetrators must be held accountable,” UNAMA said in a statement.

Amnesty International’s representative in Afghanistan also condemned the targeting of civilians, especially Hazaras, and stressed that the government of the Islamic Emirate (IE) should take serious measures to prevent a recurrence of such attacks.

Former President Hamid Karzai also condemned the explosion at the Shiite mosque and said it was the work of enemies of peace.

“It is with regret and sorrow that I learned that the enemies of peace and tranquility of the Afghan people once again committed a crime against humanity and martyred and wounded a number of our compatriots while praying in the Mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif.

“This terrorist act and crime I condemn in the strongest terms the inhumanity that is contrary to all human and Islamic principles and values,” Karzai said.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the IEA’s spokesman, said, in response to the recent attacks in the country that these are the work of circles that have no connection with the Afghan society and that security forces will soon arrest and punish the perpetrators.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan condemns the bombings in Kabul, Balkh and Kunduz against civilians. The security forces of the Islamic Emirate have good experience in eliminating seditionists and evil elements.

“These criminals will be caught and they will be punished for their evil deeds,” he said.

The Shiite mosque in Balkh was targeted Thursday during noon prayers. While the casualty toll varies, recent tallies put the death toll at about 30, with more than 40 wounded.

In addition, Kabul, Kunduz and Nangarhar provinces also witnessed explosions on Thursday that killed and wounded civilians and Islamic Emirate forces.

The recent spate of bombings, mostly targeting civilians, has once again raised concerns about the security situation.

Civilians have called on the Islamic Emirate to take serious measures to stop such attacks and ensure security.

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IEA hoping to increase the number of soldiers to as many as 200,000 by end of this solar year



(Last Updated On: March 30, 2023)

The Islamic Emirate’s ministry of defense says it plans to increase the number of the country’s national army soldiers from 150,000 to between 170,000 and 200,000 in the current solar year.

Qari Fasihuddin Fetrat, the army chief of staff, said in an interview that the IEA has all the military equipment from the previous government and that the army is ready to fight any potential threat.

“Inshallah, with this number, we can protect the entire territory of Afghanistan, but there is a need for other forces, and we have decided to increase the number of soldiers,” he said.

“In the current [solar] year, we have decided to increase the number of soldiers from 150,000 to 170,000 and slowly it will reach 200,000.”

Fetrat has also stated that reports about the formation of opposition groups outside the country, to stand against the IEA government, are a “dream”.

He emphasized that foreign countries exaggerate the presence of Daesh in Afghanistan and that the group does not have a strong presence in the country.

“Some of the acts of destruction that are carried out in Afghanistan are also carried out in many advanced countries, but despite that, the Islamic Emirate neutralized their efforts and plans,” he said.

“You can see that the security which is in Afghanistan today may not be in Washington,” he added.

In addition, the IEA’s army chief of staff also criticized the US for violating Afghanistan’s air space.

“We are trying to reach a level where the occupation of Afghanistan’s air sovereignty will end and it will be given to the Islamic Emirate,” said Fetrat.

According to him, in addition to the two military units in Bagram and Badakhshan, there are eight military corps including the Central Army Corps in the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Paktia, Laghman, Kunduz and Balkh.

He also said soldiers, who worked under the former government, are “perform duties within the framework of the defense ministry.”

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IEA downplays SCO concerns about threats emanating from Afghanistan



(Last Updated On: March 30, 2023)

Responding to concerns voiced by the national security advisors of some regional countries at this week’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in India, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Thursday reiterated promises that Afghanistan’s soil would not be used against any country.

The spokesman for the Islamic Emirate Bilal Karimi said all of Afghanistan was secure and well managed by security forces and that the IEA will not allow “anyone to interfere with security”.

This comes after Russia’s National Security Adviser Nikolai Patrushev said at Wednesday’s SCO meeting in India that the situation in Afghanistan is not only tense, but has created dangers for the security of SCO member countries.

“It is important to closely monitor the situation in Afghanistan, because the situation in this country is unstable and despite the continued rule of the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) over this country, this situation has continued. Illegal arms and drug trafficking has created illegal immigration,” said Nikolai Patrushev.

The IEA has repeatedly rejected concerns about security threats from Afghanistan, including the threat of Daesh.

Patrushev also said at the meeting that the US and its allies had a responsibility towards Afghanistan and rebuilding its economy. However he warned that any US or NATO military presence in the region would not be tolerated.

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US Defense Secretary has ‘no regrets’ over chaotic US withdrawal



(Last Updated On: March 30, 2023)

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has testified before the House Armed Services Committee and told lawmakers that he has “no regrets” about how the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan was carried out.

On Wednesday, Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee grilled the defense secretary during a hearing to review the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2024 budget.

“I support [President Biden’s] decision. I don’t have any regrets,” Austin said.

GOP lawmakers also criticized what they said was a lack of accountability among civilian or military leaders for how the Afghanistan withdrawal played out.

Asked if anyone in the Pentagon’s chain of command was ever held accountable for the collapse of the 20-year war effort in Afghanistan, Austin replied, “To my knowledge, no.”

Austin, appearing with Joint Chiefs of Staff head Gen. Mark Milley, told the panel he was proud of the “tremendous work and sacrifices” that the US troops made throughout the war.

Wednesday’s testimony came amid an ongoing investigation into the chaotic withdrawal of US troops by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul.

McCaul has repeatedly requested documents from the State Department on issues relating to the lead up to the withdrawal in August 2021. However, the State Department has failed to supply the documents, leading to McCaul issuing a subpoena to this effect on Monday.

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