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.


UK PM candidate Hunt: Boris Johnson is a ‘coward’ for avoiding debates on Brexit

Updated 45 min 59 sec ago
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UK PM candidate Hunt: Boris Johnson is a ‘coward’ for avoiding debates on Brexit

  • Jeremy Hunt: It was disrespectful for Boris Johnson to turn down the opportunity for a head-to-head debate
  • Hunt says candidates should explain their Brexit positions

LONDON: Jeremy Hunt, one of the two candidates vying to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May, said on Monday that rival Boris Johnson was a coward for avoiding public head-to-head debates on what to do about Brexit.
“On the question of debates, he is being a coward,” Foreign Secretary Hunt said. “It is cowardice not to appear in head-to-head debates.”
Hunt, 52, said it was disrespectful for Johnson to have turned down the opportunity for a head-to-head debate on Sky television.
“People need to know what you’re going to do and you need to answer those questions,” Hunt said. “I promise Boris Johnson the fight of his life and he’s going to have that and he’s going to lose.”
Johnson, 55, is the favorite to win a vote of 160,000 Conservative Party members who will decide who will be the next prime minister. Betting markets give him a 79 percent implied probability of winning the top job, down from 92 percent last week.
He has cast himself as the only candidate who can deliver Brexit on October 31 — with or without a deal — while fighting off the electoral threats of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and socialist Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.
Early on Friday, police were called to Johnson’s home after neighbors heard a loud altercation between him and his girlfriend. Police said there was no cause for police action.
The Guardian newspaper, which first reported the story, said an unidentified neighbor had heard Johnson’s girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, screaming followed by “slamming and banging.” At one point, Symonds could be heard telling Johnson to “get off me” and “get out of my flat.”
Johnson declined to answer questions about the incident at a hustings event in Birmingham on Saturday.
Hunt said the personal life of Johnson was irrelevant but that the candidates should explain their Brexit positions — and specifically what would a new leader do if lawmakers tried to sink a new government heading toward a no-deal Brexit.
“If parliament takes no-deal off the table before Oct. 31, will Boris call a general election?” Hunt said. “I think a general election would be catastrophic.”
Hunt said he would seek a better deal from the EU to leave on Oct. 31 and would, if absolutely necessary, leave without a deal. If parliament took a no-deal Brexit off the table, he intimated there would have to be delay.
“In that situation, you would have to carry on negotiating,” Hunt said. “I want to leave by Oct. 31 but if parliament stops it the prime minister has to obey the law.”
Johnson repeated on Monday that he would lead the United Kingdom out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal.
“We are going to come out of the EU on October 31,” he wrote in The Daily Telegraph. “This time we are not going to bottle it.”
Like Hunt, Johnson promised lower taxes if he wins the top job.
When asked the naughtiest thing he had ever done, Hunt said: “When I was backpacking through India, I once had a Bhang Lassi — which is a kind of cannabis lassi — that’s the naughtiest thing I am prepared to confess to on this program.”