Tag Archives: Afghan

Afghan officials: 40 civilians killed in anti-Taliban raid

Afghan officials: 40 civilians killed in anti-Taliban raidAnti-Taliban raids by Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes killed at least 40 civilians attending a wedding party in the southern Helmand province, Afghan officials said. The civilian deaths in Sunday night’s raids on Taliban hideouts further rattled Afghanistan amid an upsurge in violence that’s followed the collapse this month of U.S.-Taliban peace talks to end America’s longest war. “We are saddened and divested to hear that civilians have lost their lives in an incident in Helmand despite President Ghani’s repeated call for extra cautions in conducting military operations,” said Sediq Sediqqi, President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman.



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CORRECTED-UPDATE 3-At least 40 civilians at wedding party killed during nearby U.S.-backed Afghan army raid

CORRECTED-UPDATE 3-At least 40 civilians at wedding party killed during nearby U.S.-backed Afghan army raidHELMAND, Afghanistan/KABUL, Sept 23 (Reuters) – At least 40 civilians attending a wedding party were killed by explosions and gunfire during a raid by U.S.-backed Afghan government forces on a nearby Islamist militant hideout, officials in Helmand province said on Monday. The raid, days after a U.S. drone strike aimed at militants hiding among farmers killed 32 pine nut harvesters, showed how civilians have borne the brunt of a war that has re-intensified since U.S.-Taliban peace talks collapsed two weeks ago.



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US drone strike 'kills 30 Afghan farmers'

US drone strike 'kills 30 Afghan farmers'A U.S. drone strike intended to hit an Islamic State (Isil) hideout in Afghanistan killed at least 30 civilians resting after a day’s labor in the fields, officials said on Thursday. The attack on Wednesday night also injured another 40 people after accidentally targeting farmers and laborers who had just finished collecting pine nuts at Wazir Tangi in eastern Nangarhar province, three Afghan officials told Reuters. “The workers had lit a bonfire and were sitting together when a drone targeted them,” tribal elder Malik Rahat Gul told Reuters by telephone from Wazir Tangi. Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry and a senior U.S official in Kabul confirmed the drone strike, but did not share details of civilian casualties. Taliban control in Afghanistan “U.S. forces conducted a drone strike against Da’esh (Isil) terrorists in Nangarhar,” said Colonel Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. “We are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts.” About 14,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, training and advising Afghan security forces and conducting counter-insurgency operations against Isil  and the Taliban movement. Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Nangarhar, said at least nine bodies had been collected from the site. Haidar Khan, who owns the pine nut fields, said about 150 workers were there for harvesting, with some still missing as well as the confirmed dead and injured. Jihadist Isil fighters first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north where they are battling the government, U.S. forces and the Taliban. The exact number of IS fighters is difficult to calculate because they frequently switch allegiances, but the U.S. military estimates there are about 2,000. There was no word from Isil on the attack. There has been no let-up in assaults by Taliban and Isil as Afghanistan prepares for a presidential election this month. In a separate incident, at least 20 people died in a suicide truck bomb attack on Thursday carried out by the Taliban in the southern province of Zabul. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in fighting across Afghanistan after the collapse of U.S.-Taliban peace talks this month. The Taliban has warned U.S. President Donald Trump will regret his decision to abruptly call off talks that could have led to a political settlement to end the 18-year-old war. The United Nations says nearly 4,000 civilians were killed or wounded in the first half of the year. That included a big increase in casualties inflicted by government and U.S.-led foreign forces.



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Afghan president sees his chance after collapse of U.S.-Taliban talks

Afghan president sees his chance after collapse of U.S.-Taliban talksAfghan President Ashraf Ghani had no more than 20 minutes to study a draft accord between the United States and the Taliban on pulling thousands of U.S. troops out of his country, but upcoming elections could put him back at the heart of talks to end decades of war. What he read in the draft outlining the now collapsed deal left Ghani and his officials – who were shut out of the talks by the Taliban refusal to negotiate with what they considered an illegitimate “puppet” regime – badly shaken and resentful, said a senior Kabul official close to the Afghan leader. “Doesn’t this look like surrender to the Taliban?” Ghani asked Zalmay Khalilzad, the veteran Afghan-born diplomat who led negotiations for Washington, at a meeting the two held immediately afterwards, according to the source who was present.



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Afghan president narrowly avoids Taliban bomb in worst violence since collapse of US negotiations

Afghan president narrowly avoids Taliban bomb in worst violence since collapse of US negotiationsTaliban suicide bombers killed at least 48 people and wounded dozens more in two blasts Tuesday – one at a campaign rally for the president and the other in Kabul – with the insurgents warning of more violence ahead of elections. The first attack saw a motorcyclist detonate a suicide bomb at a checkpoint leading to a rally where Ashraf Ghani, the president, was addressing supporters in central Parwan province, just north of the capital, killing 26 and wounding 42. Just over an hour later another blast also claimed by the Taliban rocked central Kabul near the US embassy. Authorities initially did not give casualty figures, but later said 22 people had been killed and a further 38 wounded. The explosions came after Donald Trump, the US president, abruptly ended talks with the Taliban earlier this month over a deal that would have allowed the US to begin withdrawing troops from its longest war. One of the bombs was detonated near the US Embassy in Kabul Credit: AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi In a statement sent to media claiming responsibility for both blasts, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the attack near Mr Ghani's rally was deliberately aimed at disrupting the September 28 elections. "We already warned people not to attend election rallies, if they suffer any losses that is their own responsibility," the statement said. An image from the scene near Mr Ghani's rally, roughly an hour's drive north of Kabul, showed the remains of a burnt motorcycle, with a body on top, covered by a blanket and next to a badly damaged police car. Taliban control in Afghanistan Women and children were among the causalities, Parwan hospital director Abdul Qasim Sangin said. The president, who was speaking to his supporters at the time of the blast, was unhurt but later condemned the attack, saying the incident proved the Taliban had no real interest in reconciliation. "As the Taliban continue their crimes, they once again prove that they are not interested in peace and stability in Afghanistan," said Mr Ghani in a statement.



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Afghan Taliban Stronger Than Ever After U.S. Spends $900 Billion

Afghan Taliban Stronger Than Ever After U.S. Spends $  900 Billion(Bloomberg) — For many Afghans like Zohra Atifi, whose husband was killed under Taliban rule, the American invasion in 2001 marked a chance to start over after living under an oppressive regime.Yet 18 years later, after the U.S. spent nearly $ 900 billion and more than 147,000 people died, the Taliban are growing more confident of returning to power. The militant group controls or contests half of the country, more territory than any time since they were toppled in 2001. And they’ve come close to a deal with the U.S. that could give them even more power, even after President Donald Trump abruptly put the talks on hold.What’s worse for the U.S. and its allies: Many Afghans are growing disillusioned with the American-backed regime in Kabul and its inability, along with its foreign allies, to contain not just the Taliban but another deadly insurgent group — the Islamic State. One of Atifi’s sons was killed by IS extremists two years ago.“The collapse of their brutal regime by the Americans once gave us a hope — a cheerful hope — that we will all again be free of fears and violence like other countries,” Atifi, 45, said at her stone house in the capital’s Kart-e-Sakhi neighborhood. “But that didn’t happen.”The high cost of the war, and the lack of clear gains on the battlefield, have contributed to a growing argument that it’s time for the U.S. to cut its losses and move on. Trump himself has signaled a determination to withdraw from what he’s described as an “endless war,” even as concerns mount in Afghanistan that such a move could lead to an all-out civil war.“We’ve spent over $ 30 billion a year in Afghanistan for decades now,” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said on Sunday. “That’s not a sustainable model. We’ve got to get it right.”Concern over America’s presence in Afghanistan reaches across party lines. During a Democratic presidential debate Friday, Senator Elizabeth Warren said she’d bring U.S. troops home without a peace deal, while former Vice President Joe Biden said the American military presence in the country isn’t working.High CostSince ousting the Taliban, the U.S. alone has spent about $ 877 billion dollars until March 2019 to restore stability, rebuild the country and fight the Taliban and other insurgents, according to a report by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, a Pentagon Watchdog. About 14% ($ 121 billion) was for the reconstruction costs in both the civilian and security sectors.Despite the sacrifices and significant financial costs, the U.S. efforts have failed to produce a secure or developed Afghanistan, said Afghan lawmaker Breshna Rabi.“The Taliban are stronger than at any time and are capable of spreading violence everywhere in the country, even under the nose of foreign forces’ headquarters,” said Rabi, who represents Balkh province in the lower house of parliament, and was one of more than 60 women elected in the 2018 poll. “Some of the U.S. billions have been lost to corruption,” she said. “The U.S. money never reached the remote areas to improve the living standards of the poor people.”The U.S. now has just 14,000 of the 22,673 foreign troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of 100,000 in 2011. More than 2,400 U.S. soldiers and 1,144 NATO coalition soldiers have been killed, according to icasualties.org that tracks U.S. and NATO fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan, while more than 20,500 American soldiers were wounded, it said.Afghans have suffered even more. More than 32,000 Afghan civilians have been killed and about 60,000 wounded since 2009 by Taliban bombings, Afghan and foreign airstrikes and in the crossfire, a UN report found. A separate 2018 report by Brown University says a total of around 140,000 Afghan forces, civilians and Taliban militants died in the conflict.Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told a summit in Davos the toll was far higher: his government estimates more than 45,000 Afghan forces were killed just since he took office in 2014.Sliver of HopeStill, Afghanistan has come a long way since the Taliban’s brutal regime was ousted. The media sector is thriving, with more than 1,800 print, broadcast and digital news outlets now operating in the country. Art and music scenes are flourishing, more than 3.5 million Afghan girls have enrolled in schools and many women have entered politics, now accounting for almost a third of 250 parliament seats. All these activities had been previously banned by the Taliban.Over the years, the conflict has been both positive and negative for the Afghan economy, Tamim Asey, a former deputy defense minister, said by email. U.S. contracts and development aid has boosted incomes, but the ongoing violence had inflicted a heavy human toll.“The life of the Afghan people is definitely better — their living standards have gone up and at least they have a functioning government and a local economy,” Asey said. “But due to the war economy nothing is sustainable. Everything could fall apart once the U.S. cuts off its aid and withdraws its troops from Afghanistan.”The agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban would’ve allowed the U.S. to withdraw about 5,000 troops out of total 14,000 from five bases 135 days after the signing of the deal. More than 10,000 Americans military contractors and more than 8,600 military personnel from 40 NATO allies and non-NATO partners are also in the country to train and advise Afghan forces.But even as the peace talks were coming to an end, the Taliban intensified its campaign of violence. Trump questioned whether they could negotiate a meaningful agreement: “How many more decades are they willing to fight?” he asked on Twitter.He received the answer late Thursday — the Taliban addressed the president directly on Twitter, saying he has “yet to grasp the type of nation he is dealing with.” Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed went on to refer to Afghanistan by its infamous epithet, the “graveyard of empires.”Deadly AttacksAdding to skepticism that any deal with the Taliban would improve security on the ground, Islamic State — among 20 other terrorist groups active in the country — has continued to cause carnage, mainly targeting civilians. The group emerged in 2015 after the U.S. handed over the security responsibility to the Afghan forces, and has since made significant inroads in the north. It is responsible for carrying out deadly attacks such as the bombing of a wedding party last month that killed 80 people.Safety aside, food security and shelter also top the country’s challenges, according to a survey conducted by Gallup. Ninety percent of 1,000 interviewed Afghans say its “difficult” to get by on household income and 57% have struggled to afford food in the past year, the report says.Atifi, whose husband was killed in 1998, now supports her family of seven on just $ 27 per week. Her second-oldest son died in 2017, one of 20 others who perished in an Islamic State suicide bombing at a wrestling club in Kabul. She doesn’t see much difference no matter who takes power in Afghanistan.“You tell me what the difference between the Taliban regime and now is?” Atifi said, her voice cracking as tears rolled down her cheeks. “They’re all murderers and they killed my beloved son.”(Updates with Democrat comments in seventh paragraph, map)To contact the reporter on this story: Eltaf Najafizada in Kabul at enajafizada1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Daniel Ten KateFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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How Donald Trump Blew Up the Afghan Peace Process

How Donald Trump Blew Up the Afghan Peace ProcessThe Taliban will now have little confidence in the value of their agreements with any U.S. official.



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Trump calls off secret meeting with Taliban, Afghan leaders

Trump calls off secret meeting with Taliban, Afghan leadersPresident Donald Trump said Saturday he canceled a secret weekend meeting at Camp David with Taliban and Afghanistan leaders after a bombing this week in Kabul that killed 11 people, including an American soldier, and has called off peace negotiations with the insurgent group. Trump has been under pressure from the Afghan government, lawmakers and some members of his administration who mistrust the Taliban and think it's too early to withdraw American forces. The administration's diplomat talking to the Taliban leaders for months in recent days said he was on the "threshold" of an agreement with the Taliban aimed at ending America's longest war.



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Afghan president postpones US trip to discuss Taliban deal

Afghan president postpones US trip to discuss Taliban deal



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Exclusive: Secretary of State Pompeo Declines to Sign Risky Afghan Peace Deal

Exclusive: Secretary of State Pompeo Declines to Sign Risky Afghan Peace DealThe deal doesn't ensure several crucial things, those familiar with the discussions tell TIME



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