Militants storm Kabul spy training center

Afghan security personnel arrive at the site of complex attack at an intelligence training center in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. (AP)
Updated 18 December 2017
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Militants storm Kabul spy training center

KABUL: Militants stormed an intelligence agency training facility in Kabul on Monday, officials said, triggering intense fighting with police in the latest Daesh group attack to hit the Afghan capital.
“Around 10:10 am, a group of armed attackers entered an under-construction building in (the) NDS training center in (the) Afshar area of Kabul,” interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP, referring to the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s spy agency.
“The fighting is ongoing and we have also launched our operation.”
Nasrat Rahim, a deputy interior ministry spokesman, said the sound of large and small arms fire could be heard from the fighting.
“There are three attackers involved... the clearance operation is ongoing,” said the spokesman, adding there were no immediate reports of any casualties.
Roads to the area were closed and dozens of police and intelligence officers were blocking access to the public. AFP reporters, who were held more than a kilometer away from the scene, saw ambulances and reinforcements headed toward the site.
“I was going toward my school. It (the attack) happened suddenly... the police arrived in the area fast and blocked the roads, not allowing anyone to get to their homes,” Naweed, a student, told AFP.
Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack through its propaganda arm.
“Two IS attackers raid the Afghan intelligence center in Kabul,” the jihadists’ Amaq outlet reported.
The Afghan capital has become one of the deadliest places in the war-torn country for civilians in recent months, as the resurgent Taliban and increasingly Daesh both step up their attacks, targeting security installations and mosques.
Security in Kabul has been ramped up since May 31 when a massive truck bomb ripped through the city’s diplomatic quarter, killing about 150 and wounding around 400 people, mostly civilians.
No group has officially claimed responsibility for that attack, which the government has blamed on the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network.
Monday’s attack represents another blow to beleaguered Afghan forces.
The Taliban have targeted military installations in recent months, including a spate of attacks in October that killed around 150 people.
Afghan forces, already beset by desertions and corruption, have seen casualties soar to what a US watchdog has described as “shockingly high” levels since NATO forces officially ended their combat mission in 2014.
Morale has been further eroded by long-running fears that the militants have insider help — everything from infiltrators in the ranks to corrupt Afghan forces selling equipment to the Taliban.
But Daesh, which has expanded its presence in Afghanistan since it first appeared in the region in 2015, has also dramatically scaled up its attacks in Kabul, including on the country’s Shiite minority.
In November, a suicide attacker blew himself up outside a political gathering in Kabul, killing at least 14 people in an attack claimed by Daesh.


India, Pakistan foreign ministers to hold rare meeting

Updated 20 September 2018
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India, Pakistan foreign ministers to hold rare meeting

NEW DELHI: The foreign ministers of arch-rivals India and Pakistan will hold a rare meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly underway in New York, officials in New Delhi said Thursday.
The announcement comes after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi calling for a resumption of talks between the nuclear-armed foes.
High-level talks between India and Pakistan are rare. Indian media described the slated meeting as the first in nearly three years.
India has long accused Pakistan of arming rebel groups in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries but claimed in full by both.
India also blames Pakistan for financing the deadly 2008 militant attacks in Mumbai.
A spokesman for India’s external affairs ministry said the New York tete-a-tete between Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi did not represent a shift in New Delhi’s relations with Islamabad.
“This does not indicate any change in our policy on cross-border terrorism,” spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters in the Indian capital.
The announcement comes as the already-fraught relationship between the rivals hit fresh roadblocks this week.
The death of an Indian border guard Wednesday in Kashmir provoked outrage, with New Delhi accusing Pakistani forces of mutilating his corpse.
“It was a barbaric incident that defies logic and civilized behavior. We will take it up with Pakistan in an appropriate manner,” Kumar said.
Navjot Sidhu, an Indian cricketer-turned-politician, earlier came under fire after returning from Pakistan where he was filmed hugging the country’s army chief.