At least 10 die in suicide attack at Afghan army mosque

Soldiers of the Afghan National Army prepare for the departure of their convoy at the base in Narizah in Khost province in this photo on August 14, 2012. (AFP)
Updated 23 November 2018
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At least 10 die in suicide attack at Afghan army mosque

  • No responsibility claimed for attack
  • Dozens killed in earlier Kabul bombing

KABUL: At least 10 Afghan soldiers were killed in a mosque on Friday when a suicide bomber detonated explosives during prayers, a spokesman for the province’s governor said.
Residents and one source put the death toll at 26 from the attack in Mandozai district, Khost province, near the border with Pakistan. The mosque was packed with soldiers when the blast happened.
It came days after 55 clerics were killed while marking the birth of Prophet Muhammad in a Kabul hotel.
No group has claimed responsibility for either attack.
The mosque was packed with soldiers when the blast happened.
“The casualties may go up, but so far the number of deaths stand at 10. A helicopter is now evacuating the casualties,” Talib Mangal, a spokesman for the governor of Khost said.

A soldier who was injured in the blast said hundreds of worshippers were inside the mosque at the time of the attack.
This week’s attacks add pressure to the US-backed government, which is grappling with Taliban and Daesh affiliates.
President Ashraf Ghani condemned the bombing, ordering the punishment of those whose negligence resulted in the assault.
Afghan army bases have come under attack from militants, while security force casualties have soared as strikes spread and escalate. 
The rising violence comes despite the presence of US-led troops in Afghanistan.

Moreover, Friday’s explosion in Khost comes as Afghan security forces suffer record casualties, which experts warn have reached unsustainable levels as the Taliban maintain the upper hand in the war.
Since the start of 2015, when local forces took over from US-led NATO combat troops to secure the country, nearly 30,000 Afghan soldiers and police have been killed, President Ghani revealed this month — a figure far higher than anything previously acknowledged.
That is an average of around 20 soldiers killed per day.
Casualty figures for Afghan forces have been kept under wraps since 2017 at the request of Kabul, but NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan recently told a US watchdog that this summer’s toll was worse than ever.
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad expressed hopes in Kabul last Sunday that a peace deal to end the war could be struck before the Afghan presidential election, scheduled for April 20.
His comments underscore an apparent increasing sense of urgency in the White House and among American diplomats for a peace deal to be done quickly.


Indian minister steps up calls to deport illegal immigrants

Updated 8 min 33 sec ago
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Indian minister steps up calls to deport illegal immigrants

  • National Register of Citizenship will be extended across country, says Amit Shah

NEW DELHI: New Delhi will deport all illegal immigrants found in the country, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah told Parliament on Wednesday.

The warning signaled a heightening of a campaign that some critics say is “aimed at alienating the Muslim minority.”

The minister’s statement comes as the state of Assam is set to release its final list of the National Register of Citizenship (NRC), an exercise to identify illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh. The Supreme Court demanded that the NRC should submit its report at the end of this month.

Of the state’s 31 million residents, almost 4 million were missing from the NRC’s report last year. Most were poor Muslims. Illegal immigration was a core election issue for the ruling right-wing party Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)

“The government will identify illegal immigrants living in every inch of the country’s soil and will deport them in line with international law,” said Shah.

He added that the NRC would be extended across the country. 

Shah, a Hindu hard-liner and the second most powerful figure in the Narendra Modi government, has been belligerently opposed to illegal Muslim immigrants, who he recently described as “termites.”

Critics have questioned the need for the NRC throughout the country.

The BJP does not want to clarify what it truly means because that is part of their politics, but the opposition leaders are also silent.

Hilal Ahmad, Academic

“This is a witch hunt of the minority under the false concern of illegal immigration,” said SubHajjit Naskar of Jadavpur University.

“The way the NRC is being implemented in Assam is damaging for our secular and democratic values.”

Naskar told Arab News: “The register is part of the broader majoritarian agenda to make India a Hindu state where minority Muslims will be treated as second class citizens.” 

Dr. Hilal Ahmad, associate professor at the Center for the Study of Developing Societies, said: “The substantial part of Shah’s statement is that NRC is not entirely about Muslims. It also claims that it’s an institutional process with legal support and it’s not at all concerned with Muslims.”

Ahmad added: “The BJP does not want to clarify what it truly means because that is part of their politics, but the opposition leaders are also silent. They are also trying to consolidate the impression that the NRC is anti-Muslim.”

Suhas Chakma, director of the Rights and Risks Analysis Group, said that “Shah’s plans are not practical.”

“How you are going to identify illegal migrants? Have you spoken to Bangladesh about the deportation? What the BJP government is trying to do is not implementable. It is a recipe for chaos,” said Chakma.

Sabber Ahmad, from the Rohingya Human Rights Initiative, a New Delhi-based group serving the persecuted minority community from Myanmar, said the “Indian government’s stance on illegal migrants creates panic among the small Rohingya community living here.”

“I fled Myanmar in 2012 and India gave me a new lease of life. New Dehli should show some humanity in dealing with people like us,” Ahmad told Arab News.

“India has a history of sheltering persecuted minorities from around the world. They must continue this proud tradition,” Ahmad added.