Afghan security forces claim to have cut strategic Taliban route

Afghan security forces stands next to Taliban militants as they are to the media in Ghazni province on April 14, 2018. Afghan security forces arrested five Taliban militants during an operation in Ghazni province, officials said. (AFP)
Updated 19 April 2018
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Afghan security forces claim to have cut strategic Taliban route

  • Officials say supply line from Pakistan was frequented by militants who crossed into southeast provinces.
  • The Enzergai Kando supply route was used by the Taliban to move between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

KABUL: The Afghan government said on Wednesday that the seizure of a major Taliban arms supply line in Paktia province will contribute to a significant drop in violence in the country’s southeast region.
Military officials earlier confirmed on Tuesday that security forces cut off a vital Taliban supply line running through the rugged Dand-e-Pathan district of Paktia near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border known as the Durand Line.
The supply route, called Enzergai Kando, was used by the Taliban to transport logistics and weapons for conducting attacks in neighboring provinces, including areas near Kabul, the officials said.
“This was a very important, strategic supply line for the terrorists,” Gen. Mohammed Radmanesh, Defense Ministry spokesman in Kabul, told Arab News.
Security forces claim to have flushed out the Taliban from the area after an overnight military offensive.
“We now have a presence there and will build permanent checkposts on various parts of the route. This was a route used by the Taliban for years for transporting arms inside Afghanistan,” said Brig. Gen. Shour Gul Pathan, commander of Afghanistan’s 203 Thunder Army Corps, while talking to Arab News by phone from the area.
The Taliban used this strategic route to reach deep into the Khost, Logar and Ghazni provinces of Afghanistan and launch attacks. New border checkposts are likely to control the cross-border attacks as security forces plan to expand their presence in the area.
“The future plan of 203 Thunder Army Corps is to establish border checkpoints in areas including Khowjkaram, Enzergai Kando and Nari Kando,” Brig. Gen. Shour Gul said.
The seizure of the route came after days of operations by Afghan troops in the region, he said, adding that the militants had suffered heavy losses as a result.
The Taliban could not be reached immediately for comment.
The development comes after weekend clashes between Pakistani and Afghan security forces along the disputed border areas, including Dand-e-Pathan. At least three Pakistani forces and two civilians were killed in an exchange of fire that ended with both sides agreeing to a cease-fire.
The Afghan government has long maintained that the Taliban enjoy safe havens and support in Pakistan but Islamabad denies the allegations.
Taliban militants, overthrown in a US-led invasion in late 2001, are active in many parts of Afghanistan.
Earlier on Wednesday, the group claimed to have killed a key border commander of the Afghan security forces in an explosion in the southern city of Kandahar. Officials confirmed that Col. Janan Mama, along with several bodyguards, died as a result of a magnet bomb attached to his vehicle.


Thailand says US man’s seasteading home violates sovereignty

Updated 19 min 13 sec ago
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Thailand says US man’s seasteading home violates sovereignty

BANGKOK: Thai authorities have raided a floating home in the Andaman Sea belonging to an American man and his Thai partner who sought to be pioneers in the “seasteading” movement, which promotes living in international waters to be free of any nation’s laws.
Thailand’s navy said Chad Elwartowski and Supranee Thepdet endangered national sovereignty, an offense punishable by life imprisonment or death.
It filed a complaint against them with police on the southern resort island of Phuket. Thai authorities said they have revoked Elwartowski’s visa.
Elwartowski said in an email Thursday that he believes he and Supranee — also known as Nadia Summergirl — did nothing wrong.
“This is ridiculous,” he said in an earlier statement posted online. “We lived on a floating house boat for a few weeks and now Thailand wants us killed.”
The couple, who have gone into hiding, had been living part-time on a small structure they said was anchored outside Thailand’s territorial waters, just over 12 nautical miles from shore. They were not there when the navy carried out their raid on Saturday.
The Thai deputy naval commander responsible for the area said the project was a challenge to the country’s authorities.
“This affects our national security and cannot be allowed,” Rear Adm. Wintharat Kotchaseni told Thai media on Tuesday. He said the floating house also posed a safety threat to navigation if it broke loose because the area is considered a shipping lane.
Seasteading has had a revival in recent years as libertarian ideas of living free from state interference — such as by using crypto-currency including Bitcoin — have become more popular, including among influential Silicon Valley figures such as entrepreneur Peter Thiel. Elwartowski, an IT specialist, has been involved in Bitcoin since 2010.
Several larger-scale projects are under development, but some in the seasteading community have credited the Andaman Sea house with being the first modern implementation of seasteading.
“The first thing to do is whatever I can to help Chad & Nadia, because living on a weird self-built structure and dreaming of future sovereignty should be considered harmless eccentricities, not major crimes,” Patri Friedman, a former Google engineer who heads The Seasteading Institute, said on his Facebook page.
The floating two-story octagonal house at the center of the controversy had been profiled and promoted online by a group called Ocean Builders, which touted it as a pilot project and sought to sell additional units.
The group describes itself as “a team of engineering focused entrepreneurs who have a passion for seasteading and are willing to put the hard work and effort forward to see that it happens.”
In online statements, both Elwartowski and Ocean Builders said the couple merely promoted and lived on the structure, and did not fund, design, build or set the location for it.
“I was volunteering for the project promoting it with the desire to be able to be the first seasteader and continue promoting it while living on the platform,” Elwartowski told The Associated Press.
“Being a foreigner in a foreign land, seeing the news that they want to give me the death penalty for just living on a floating house had me quite scared,” Elwartowski said. “We are still quite scared for our lives. We seriously did not think we were doing anything wrong and thought this would be a huge benefit for Thailand in so many ways.”
Asked his next step, he was more optimistic.
“I believe my lawyer can come to an amicable agreement with the Thai government,” he said.