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Khalilzad urges independent bodies, media included, to document casualties 

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(Last Updated On: October 25, 2020)

Amid rising levels of violence in the country, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconstruction Zalmay Khalilzad said overnight Sunday that an accelerated political settlement was critical along with a reduction in violence. 

In a series of tweets, Khalilzad said: “The answer to this tragic situation is an immediate reduction of violence leading to a ceasefire by all sides. The answer is to accelerate a political settlement.”

“The US is singularly focused on this goal & is pressing both parties to reduce violence & find a path to peace as soon as possible,” he tweeted. 

Khalilzad stated however that independent bodies also need to document current events. 

“It is vital that Afghanistan’s independent media and robust civil society be allowed to document current events,” he said.

This comes after a particularly violent week in Afghanistan in which dozens of civilians lost their lives. 

On Saturday, at least 18 people, mostly students, were killed in a suicide bombing close to an educational facility in Kabul city. 

Also on Saturday, nine people were killed in Ghazni when the vehicle they were traveling in hit a roadside bomb. 

Earlier in the week, an airstrike hit a mosque and school in Takhar province, killing at least 12 children. 

Reacting to this incident, Khalilzad tweed that Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission has confirmed 12 children were killed and many more injured in the airstrike by Afghan government forces.

“This is a terrible tragedy. Unfortunately, tragedy is not limited to Takhar. Civilians are victims of car bombs, IEDs, and targeted killings perpetrated by the Taliban. Civilians have been forced to flee fighting in Lashkar Gah and other areas.”

He said the US offers its “condolences to all the families of those killed and injured.”

This statement by Khalilzad follows on the heels of government’s rejection of claims last week that the Afghan National Army airstrike had hit a mosque and school. 

First Vice President Amrullah Saleh rejected the claims made by local officials in Takhar province and instead ordered the arrest of the individual who reported civilian casualties.

Local officials said 12 children had been killed and 18 civilians wounded in the strike in Hazara Qarluq village in Takhar on Wednesday morning.

Saleh, rejected claims, stated: “No child was killed in Afghan Air Force strike in Takhar.”

He also stated that the Taliban sniper unit “responsible for the massacre of our special forces a day earlier was targeted.”

“The person responsible for spread of this venomous and fake news was arrested immediately. Talibs use houses and mosques as shields,” Saleh tweeted.

Saleh also wrote on Facebook that legal action would be taken against those “who make false allegations.”

Meanwhile, associate Asia director for Human Rights Watch Patricia Gossman said on Thursday: “Vice President Amrullah Saleh is trying to silence those who reported a potentially unlawful airstrike that killed civilians, including many children,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director. 

“The government should immediately release anyone detained under Saleh’s order and carry out a thorough and impartial investigation of the airstrike.”

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Health officials and experts meet in Kabul over spread of lumpy skin disease

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2022)

A seminar was held in Kabul on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing spread of lumpy skin disease (LSD) in livestock in Afghanistan.

Experts from Kabul University, along with representatives of the Ministries of Public Health, Agriculture and Livestock and municipalities met Tuesday to discuss the dangers of this virus.

Delegates attending the seminar pointed out the need to prevent the spread of the disease in the country.

According to health officials, this virus is transmitted by some species of mosquitoes, ticks and other blood-feeding insects but is not transmitted to humans.

“This virus has spread from eastern and southeastern provinces such as Laghman, Nangarhar and Kunar, but currently, this virus does not have a vaccine, and fortunately, this disease does not transmit to humans,” said Shirshah Sadat, dean of Kabul University’s Faculty of Veterinary Sciences.

Nasir Ahmad, the representative of the Ministry of Public Health also said: “This virus is problematic for food health, especially for people suffering from malnutrition.”

“This virus is transmitted from one animal to another by mosquitoes and flies and the source of its transmission should be eliminated, and quarantine and vaccines are said to be good ways to fight this disease,” said Asadullah Samadi, a university professor.

The representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock said that a campaign to curb the spread of this virus will be launched in cooperation with international organizations in all provinces in the near future.

The virus has in recent years been detected in Kunar, Nangarhar, Laghman and southeastern provinces of Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Logar and Ghazni.

The disease was endemic in many African countries for years, but spread to other parts of the world over the years. The disease first appeared in South Asia in July 2019, with Bangladesh reporting an outbreak. A month later, it was identified in India – which has the world’s largest bovine population – and then in China.

The infection is caused by the Capripox virus – which is genetically similar to the viruses that cause goat pox and sheep pox – and has been termed “an emerging threat to livestock worldwide” by health experts.

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Two IEA forces and 4 Daesh fighters killed in Kabul clash 

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(Last Updated On: August 4, 2022)

Four Daesh militants were killed and a fifth was arrested in an operation in Kabul on Wednesday. 

According to Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), forces had conducted a raid on an “important nest of the enemy” in Karte-e-Sakhi area in PD3. 

The operation was launched at about 11.30am but a shootout between IEA and Daesh militants broke out, which lasted several hours. The situation was eventually brought under control and a cache of weapons and ammunition was recovered. 

Mujahid said in a series of tweets that the Daesh cell had been planning to attack Shiites in the Kart-e-Sakhi area during the upcoming Muharram. 

Meanwhile, the ministry of interior said in a statement that two security personnel, including a policewoman, were killed in the standoff and four IEA soldiers were wounded. 

 

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Iranian energy ministry delegation to visit Kabul over water rights

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(Last Updated On: July 29, 2022)

Iran is reportedly sending a delegation from the ministry of energy affairs to Afghanistan to discuss their water share rights regarding the Helmand River.

According to Iran’s IRNA news agency, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in a phone conversation that he is dispatching the delegation in the near future in order to resolve issues around water.

IRNA reported that Amirabdollahian raised the issue of recent heavy rainfall in Afghanistan and expressed hope that the “artificially created obstacles” in the way of the flow of water towards Iran will be eliminated and Iran will receive its water share from the Helmand River.

Amirabdollahian also reportedly told Muttaqi that receiving their share of water will be an important index for Kabul in terms of showing how committed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is about meeting “their international commitments”, IRNA reported.

Amirabdollahian said the people of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan and their representatives in Parliament are seriously demanding their share of water and that unless the issue is resolved quickly, “it will affect the other issues in bilateral cooperation negatively”, IRNA reported.

According to IRNA, Muttaqi in turn welcomed the delegation’s upcoming visit and said Afghanistan is committed to giving Iran their share of water from the Helmand River, which flows into the country.

Amirabdollahian said that a joint team of technicians will survey the river’s path and ensure both countries benefit from the water.

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