US-led coalition: No evidence of Daesh influx to Afghanistan

Security personnel arrive outside the site of a suicide attack in kabul, Afghanistan, in this Dec. 28, 2017 photo. (AP)
Updated 31 December 2017
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US-led coalition: No evidence of Daesh influx to Afghanistan

KABUL: The US-led coalition in Afghanistan on Saturday said it has no evidence about a claim by a top Russian diplomat in Kabul who recently revealed that Daesh fighters from the Middle East were heading to Afghanistan.
Last week, Russia’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, told Russia’s Sputnik news agency that militants fleeing from Iraq and Syria are entering Afghanistan and that unidentified helicopters supplied Western arms to Daesh fighters in the country's northern border regions.
Arab News emailed a set of questions to the US-led Resolute Support coalition in Afghanistan about Kabulov’s allegations.
Capt. Tom Gresbak, public affairs director for the coalition, in reply to all the queries and allegations, told Arab News on Saturday that there is no evidence of any influx.
“Resolute Support has no evidence of migration of foreign fighters into Afghanistan from Syria, Iraq. We are aware of the ISIS threat, opportunistic nature and barbaric resilience. ISIS will be eliminated, and Resolute Support will support ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) in achieving this goal.” Gresbak told Arab News
In the interview last week, Kaulov, the Russian ambassador in Kabul, said: “Russia was among the first to sound the alarm in connection with the emergence of Daesh in Afghanistan ... Daesh has significantly increased its power in the country recently. According to our estimates, the number of militants exceeds 10,000 and continues to grow, particularly due to new fighters arriving from Syria and Iraq.”
Afghan Chief of Army Staff Gen. Mohammed Sharif Yaftali dismissed Kabulov’s claims. “We confirm the presence of up to 2,000 Daesh fighters in Afghanistan,” he said. “Mr. Kabulov is sick and it is his habit to exaggerate things.”


South Africa’s leader cuts short UK visit after protests

Updated 8 min 19 sec ago
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South Africa’s leader cuts short UK visit after protests

  • South Africa’s foreign minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, confirmed that Botswana had closed its border with the province because of the chaos.
  • The ANC and its leadership also face internal divisions after the tumultuous resignation of former President Jacob Zuma in February.

MAHIKENG, South Africa: South Africa’s president has cut short a visit to Britain to return home and deal with violent protests in a provincial capital.
President Cyril Ramaphosa left the Commonwealth summit in London to respond to the turmoil in the North West capital of Mahikeng, where residents brought life to a standstill with protests over alleged corruption and calls for the premier to resign.
Ramaphosa was visiting the city on Friday in the most significant test of his public peacemaking skills since he took office in February.
A statement from the president’s office noted clashes with police and called for calm and engagement “rather than violence and anarchy.” It also urged police to show restraint in the city of about 300,000.
The unrest continued Friday, with state broadcaster SABC showing police firing rubber bullets to disperse looters in the streets. It reported that 23 people had been arrested, citing local police.
South Africa’s foreign minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, confirmed that Botswana had closed its border with the province because of the chaos, SABC reported.
South Africa’s next election is in 2019 and the ruling African National Congress party under Ramaphosa is eager to recover from its worst-ever election showing in 2016, in which the ANC lost control of major municipalities including commercial hub Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.
The party and its leadership also face internal divisions after the tumultuous resignation of former President Jacob Zuma in February after multiple scandals and allegations of graft. Ramaphosa, Zuma’s former deputy, has repeatedly pledged to tackle the widespread corruption that had weakened investor confidence in one of Africa’s largest economies.
The North West premier, Supra Mahumapelo, is an ANC politician and has faced accusations of corruption from residents who say mismanagement has led to a decline in government services.
Similar protests have been common across South Africa, which the World Bank this year called, by any measure, “one of the most unequal countries in the world.”