IRS |Institute of Regional Studies

Islamabad

Contemporary Regional Developments in Afghanistan

14th March - 3rd April
  • Afghan military air strike 'kills civilians' at religious school
    An Afghan military air strike targeting the Taliban in northern Kunduz province is reported to have killed civilians. Eyewitnesses said that helicopters targeted a gathering at a religious school in Dasht-e Archi district. The government says at least 25 Islamists were killed or injured, but a doctor in Kunduz city told the BBC that more than 50 severely injured people were brought to his hospital. The Taliban said no fighters were there and only civilians were killed. The hospital doctor, who did not want to be named, said students and civilians were among the casualties. The district is controlled by the Taliban.
    (BBC: 3 April, 2018)
  • Car bomb rips through crowd at Afghan wrestling match
    A car bomb killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens more who had gathered to watch a wrestling match in southern Afghanistan, officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which went off outside the match venue in Lashkar Gah - capital of the province of Helmand - in front of a crowd that included local lawmakers. The attack, which followed a suicide blast in Kabul on Wednesday that was claimed by Islamic State, underlined the continued threat of violence across much of Afghanistan with the approach of spring, when fighting tends to pick up. Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said the driver of the car detonated his bomb after he was prevented from entering the venue. He said at least 14 people had been killed and at least 47 wounded. The casualties included children. Italian aid group Emergency, which runs a major trauma hospital in the city, said 35 wounded had been brought in as well as four who were dead on arrival. The Taliban controls large areas of Helmand, source of much of Afghanistan’s opium crop. But government forces, backed by heavy U.S. air strikes, have succeeded in preventing Lashkar Gah from falling and have made advances in some districts.
    (Reuters, 23 March, 2018)
  • Afghanistan: Hunger strike ends after Ulema Council intervenes
    A hunger strike that called for peace in Afghanistan's southern province has ended after the country's Council of Religious Scholars, known as the Ulema Council, vowed to help reach a deal between the government and Taliban. The strike, a desperate bid to get the Taliban and Afghan government reach a peace deal, started late on Thursday in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, after more than 20 people were killed by a car bomb blast outside a sports stadium on March 23. Activists pitched tents at the site of the attack, where Afghan men, women and children were holding a sit-in hunger strike. At least 12 people were hospitalised before the members of the Ulema Council intervened to end the strike. The sit-in will continue, however. "Early morning members of the council visited our tents and sat with us promising that we will work together on a peace plan to present to the government and the Taliban," Abdul Salam, a protester, told Al Jazeera."We are hoping to come with a plan as soon as possible with the support of the Ulema," Salam said. Afghanistan suffered more than 10,000 civilian casualties in 2017, as deadly attacks killed and injured more people than any previous year in the war-torn country, according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan's annual report.
    (Aljazeera; 2 April, 2018)
  • Two Chinese militants among seven killed in anti-terrorism operation in Afghanistan
    Two Chinese militants were killed in an operation by Afghan military forces in the country’s northeast, which left at least seven people dead and 13 injured, according to local media reports. The operation took place in Afghanistan’s remote Badakhshan province, a volatile area close to the border with China that is known for anti-government insurgency activities, the Kabul-based agency Pajhwok Afghan News reported. The Afghan National Army’s 209th Shaheen Corps confirmed the casualties, and identified one of those killed as a man named Mustafa, who was the deputy leader of a Chinese militant group, the report said. It did not name the group or the other Chinese national. The Afghan National Army’s 209th Shaheen Corps identified one of the Chinese killed as a man named Mustafa, who was the deputy leader of a Chinese militant group.
    The Afghan government said earlier there were as many as 21 militant groups operating in Afghanistan, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a separatist organisation formed by members of China’s Uygur ethnic minority.
    (South China Morning Post, April1, 2018)
7th March - 13th March
  • Afghanistan stares at health crisis with 1 million female drug addicts, 100,000 children hooked: Afghanistan is staring at a massive public health crisis with more than three million drug addicts, a million of whom are women and 100,000 of whom are children below 10 years of age, reported the country's Tolo News.
  • In fact, the total number of those addicted in the war-ravaged country could be a lot higher than three million, because when that number was calculated last year, public health officials had no idea that so many women were also hooked. As it is, Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of poppy opium, which is used to make heroin. And far from its production declining, the UN says that opium production in the country actually rose 87% in 2017 from 2016. The increase is attributed to a rapid expansion of territory used to cultivate poppy, no thanks to the Taliban which profits from the crop and encourages its cultivation.
  • The women in the country more often than not pick up the habit from the men in their families. Several women told Tolo News they turned to drugs as their husbands were addicts.
  • "I took on drug as my husband was using at home," said Naznin, an Afghan woman who didn't give her last name. In fact, Reuters news agency reported in 2012 that Afghanistan's female narcotics problem had begun to fill the country's largest women's prison, Badam Bagh or "Almond Orchard", on the outskirts of Kabul.
    (Times of India; 13.3.2018) Pentagon chief Mattis arrives in Afghanistan, discusses reconciliation with the Taliban.
    (Washington Post, 13.3.2018)
28th February - 06th March
  • In Feb, 2018, nearly 1,400 people have been killed and wounded in 153 attacks in Afghanistan last month showed a 32 percent decline in the number of casualties compared to January.
    (Pajwokh News, 05.03.2018)
  • Afghan policemen kidnapped in Taliban bus attack
    Taliban fighters have killed at least six policemen in an attack on a checkpoint and kidnapped dozens of bus passengers in two separate incidents in southern Afghanistan, officials said. A group of fighters wearing army uniforms kidnapped 30 people, including 19 policemen, after stopping a bus on Tuesday night at the border between Kandahar and Uruzgan provinces. "There were civilians in the bus as well and we are trying to identify the people kidnapped in the attack," Qudratullah Khushbakht, a spokesman for the Kandahar governor, told Al Jazeera.
    (Aljazeera, 1.3.2018)
  • Afghan president offers to recognise the Taliban
    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has offered to recognise the Taliban as a legitimate political group, as part of a proposed process he said could lead to talks aimed at ending more than 16 years of war. Ghani's offer on Wednesday, made at the start of an international conference aimed at creating a platform for peace talks, adds to a series of signals from both the Western-backed government and the Taliban suggesting a greater willingness to consider dialogue. Ghani proposed a ceasefire and prisoner release as part of a range of options, including new elections involving the armed group, and a constitutional review as part of a pact with the Taliban.
    (Aljazeera, 28.02.2018)

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