Asia Pacific

  • May- 2020 -
    29 May
    Afghan Taliban-US peace deal

    14 Afghan Security Force Members Killed in Attack Claimed by Taliban

    Taliban fighters stormed an Afghan border post Friday, killing at least 14 security force members, the insurgents and officials said, the latest in a series of attacks since the end of a brief ceasefire. Despite the clashes, Afghan authorities have vowed to press on with efforts to help reduce violence following the temporary pause in fighting. “Last night the mujahideen carried out attacks against the newly established posts of the enemy in Dande Patan district of Paktia province,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter. “The enemy has been recently trying to expand its rule in mujahideen territories,” he said, adding that two Taliban fighters were also killed. Afghan officials confirmed the attack in the early hours of Friday had killed 14 Afghan security force members. Dande Patan district governor Eid Mohammad Ahmadzai told AFP that 15 security force members and 20 Taliban fighters were killed in the fighting. Officials had also accused the Taliban of carrying out two other raids on separate checkpoints on Thursday, killing 14 Afghan security force members, but the Taliban have not commented on those attacks. A three-day truce offered by the militants officially ended late on Tuesday, with the overall lull in the country’s grinding violence largely holding, officials and experts have said. The country’s National Security …

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  • 28 May
    US soldiers in Afghanistan

    US Troop Pullout From Afghanistan Ahead of Schedule

    The US military withdrawal from Afghanistan is considerably ahead of schedule, an official told AFP on Wednesday, as President Donald Trump reiterated calls for the Pentagon to bring troops home. The developments came as questions loomed over the next phase of Afghanistan’s long war following a historic, three-day ceasefire that led to a major drop in civilian casualties. The truce, which the Taliban called to mark the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Fitr, ended Tuesday night, leaving Afghans anxious about whether it would be extended, or when the war might come raging back. Violence levels remained low even after the end of the ceasefire, but Afghan security forces conducted airstrikes in the south that killed 18 “militants,” police said. Under a deal the US signed with the Taliban in February, the Pentagon was to bring troop levels down from about 12,000 to 8,600 by mid-July, before withdrawing all forces by May 2021. But a senior US defense official said the troop number was already at approximately 8,500, as commanders accelerate the withdrawal over fears of the coronavirus. “The drawdown was accelerated due to COVID-19 precautions,” the official told AFP, noting that the departure of anyone with health concerns or over a certain age …

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  • 26 May
    Former Afghan Taliban fighters

    Afghanistan to Free 900 More Taliban Prisoners

    Afghan authorities plan to release 900 more Taliban prisoners Tuesday, as a rare ceasefire by the insurgents entered its third and last day.

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  • 25 May
    Afghan Taliban-US peace deal

    Afghan Govt Frees Taliban Prisoners as Truce Holds for Second Day

    Afghan authorities released 100 Taliban prisoners Monday as part of the government's response to a surprise, three-day ceasefire the insurgents called to mark the Eid al-Fitr festival.

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  • 20 May
    US Afghanistan envoy Zalmay Khalizad

    Afghan Taliban Leader Says Committed to Deal With US

    The leader of the Taliban said Wednesday that militants were committed to a landmark deal with the U.S., despite being accused of carrying out thousands of attacks in Afghanistan since it was signed. In a rare message released ahead of the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan next week, Haibatullah Akhundzada urged Washington “not to waste” the opportunity offered by the deal to end America’s longest war. “The Islamic Emirate is committed to the agreement… and urges the other side to honor its own commitments and not allow this critical opportunity to go waste,” Akhundzada said in a statement, using the name the Taliban called Afghanistan when they were in power. After months of negotiations, the Taliban and U.S. signed a deal in February which stipulates Washington will withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by next year in return for security guarantees. “I urge American officials to not afford anyone the opportunity to obstruct, delay and ultimately derail this internationally recognised bilateral agreement,” the reclusive leader said. Akhundzada hails from the Taliban’s traditional bastion of Kandahar, and was appointed head of the group after a U.S. drone strike killed his predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, in 2016. Mansour had succeeded Mullah …

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  • 19 May
    An Afghan national Army 10th Special Operations Kandak Commando returns fire during offensive operations against the Taliban in Kunduz province, Afghanistan, January 20, 2018.

    Eight Afghan Soldiers Die Fighting off Taliban Attack in Kunduz

    Eight Afghan soldiers were killed on Tuesday while repelling a fierce Taliban attack on Kunduz, a strategic city in northern Afghanistan that had briefly fallen to the militants twice in the past, officials said. Taliban fighters attacked several government posts on the outskirts of the city at around 1:00 am, a defense ministry statement said, triggering heavy fighting. “With the support of air force their attack was repelled,” it said, adding the fighting lasted for several hours. Defense Minister Assadullah Khalid, who visited Kunduz later on Tuesday, said the Taliban had “suffered big losses.” “Unfortunately, we have also lost eight brave soldiers,” he told reporters. Three civilians were also killed and 55 others wounded in the overall violence that rocked the city, Kunduz provincial health director Ehsanullah Afzali said. An airstrike also hit and partially damaged a clinic in the nearby district of Chardara but there were no reports of casualties, he added. “Taliban wounded fighters were also treated in that clinic,” Afzali told AFP. Both the Taliban and Afghan forces have clashed repeatedly in rural areas in recent months, but an attempt to enter a city as large as Kunduz is seen as a serious escalation. The latest violence follows a declaration …

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  • 19 May
    The strategic city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan has briefly fallen twice to the Taliban in the past.

    Afghan Forces Repel Taliban Attack on Key City: Officials

    Afghan security forces on Tuesday repelled a fierce Taliban attack on Kunduz, officials said, a strategic city in northern Afghanistan that had briefly fallen to the militants twice in the past. Taliban fighters attacked several outposts of Afghan forces on the outskirts of the city at around 1:00 am, triggering fierce fighting, a defense ministry statement said. “With the support of air force their attack was repelled. Eleven Taliban were killed and eight wounded,” it said, adding that the fighting lasted for several hours. Both sides have repeatedly clashed in rural areas in recent months, but an attempt to enter a city like Kunduz is seen as a serious escalation. It follows a declaration by President Ashraf Ghani last week to resume offensive strikes against the insurgents, after a string of brutal attacks. The Taliban responded to the order by vowing to increase attacks against Afghan security forces. During Tuesday’s fighting, the insurgents managed to briefly capture an Afghan army post, killing one soldier, but it was quickly retaken by security forces, Hadi Jamal, an army spokesman in northern Afghanistan told AFP. The Taliban were not immediately available for comment. The insurgent group briefly captured Kunduz, a strategic city not far …

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  • 18 May
    Afghan Taliban-US peace deal

    Taliban Claims Afghan Bomb Attack, Demands Prisoner Release

    The Taliban claimed a deadly attack on an Afghan intelligence agency post Monday, even as they urged the new power-sharing government to accelerate a prisoner swap to pave the way for talks. At least seven intelligence personnel were killed by a car bomb in the eastern province of Ghazni, Wahidullah Jumazada, spokesman for the province’s governor told AFP. “The terrorists have used a Humvee in their attack. They have targeted the National Directorate of Security unit in Ghazni city,” he said, adding that 40 people were wounded. The interior ministry in Kabul and a health official in Ghazni confirmed the car bomb. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter that their insurgents had carried out the attack. The bombing comes a day after President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah signed a new power-sharing accord in Kabul, ending their bitter months-long feud. The agreement overcomes one of the hurdles to negotiations with the Taliban, which warned Monday that talks cannot open until a so-far piecemeal prisoner swap is completed. “That which is taking place in Kabul is only a repetition of the past failed experiences,” Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, said on Twitter in what was the group’s first reaction to the …

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  • Apr- 2020 -
    27 April
    Former Afghan Taliban fighters

    Violence increased in Afghanistan after US-Taliban deal, UN says

    Violence surged in Afghanistan in the weeks after the US and the Taliban signed a deal supposed to pave the way for a peace process, UNAMA said

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  • 24 April
    The governor of Afghanistan's Badghis province, Jamaluddin Ishaq, poses with civilians and Taliban fighters

    Taliban refuse Afghan government ceasefire offer during Ramadan

    The Taliban have dismissed a government call for a Ramadan ceasefire in Afghanistan, saying a truce is "not rational" as they ramp up attacks on government forces

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