Taliban attack kills more than 100 security personnel

Taliban has regularly targeted Afghan army and police. (File/AFP)
Updated 21 January 2019
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Taliban attack kills more than 100 security personnel

  • Monday's attack began when a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle packed with explosives into a compound used by the intelligence agency in Maidan Wardak province
  • Last week, scores of government troops died in Taliban militant attacks across northern Afghanistan

KABUL: The Taliban killed more than 100 members of the Afghan security forces inside a military compound in central Maidan Wardak province on Monday, a senior defense official told Reuters.

Interior Ministry spokesman in Kabul, Najib Danesh, told Arab News that Taliban fighters were also shot dead during the assault.

The latest raid comes as US-led talks aimed at finding a negotiated end to the country’s 17-year war, were reported to be faltering.

There is normally a lull in violence during Afghanistan’s cold winter months, but with analysts suggesting that talks were reaching a “stalemate” situation, Taliban attacks have been on the rise in recent weeks. 

But just as Afghans were recovering the casualties from one of the deadliest strikes in months on Monday, the Taliban said its delegates resumed discussions with US officials in Doha.

The talks will continue on Tuesday too, said a spokesman for the group. The agenda of the meeting was “ending American occupation with assurance that no one will be harmed from Afghanistan,” Zabihullah Mujahid said.

Monday's attack began when a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle packed with explosives into a compound used by the intelligence agency in Maidan Wardak province, about 30 km from Kabul.

Two gunmen then entered the compound, sparking an exchange of gunfire with survivors of the morning raid.

Saleem Asghar, head of the province’s health department, said 12 officers were killed and 27 others injured. Unconfirmed reports put the number of casualties at 95. Some of the most seriously injured were taken to Kabul for treatment.

Images on social media showed part of a compound building destroyed in the car bombing.

In a bid to exploit growing divisions among leaders of the Afghan government, the Taliban has stepped up attacks in recent years.

Washington recently announced plans to significantly reduce US troop numbers in the country and has stepped-up its efforts to find a negotiated route to peace.

The US special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been holding talks with Taliban representatives. 

However, the latest planned round of discussions did not take place and experts fear negotiators have a hit a deadlock.

Waheed Mozhdah, an analyst, said the talks had “reached a stalemate stage” and he predicted further attacks in the run-up to the country’s presidential elections in July.

“Khalilzad insists that the Taliban must allow Kabul government representatives to take part in the talks,” Mozhdah said. 

“The Taliban are against it and want the US and Khalilzad to set a timetable for the pullout of troops as discussed in previous meetings.”

On Sunday, the Taliban attacked a convoy carrying a provincial governor and an intelligence chief, south of Kabul. The two men survived, but at least eight security personnel who were providing protection were killed.

Last week, scores of government troops died in Taliban militant attacks across northern Afghanistan, said government officials.


Sixteen states sue Trump over border wall emergency

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, right, accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, said California will probably sue President Donald Trump over his emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP)
Updated 12 min 46 sec ago
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Sixteen states sue Trump over border wall emergency

  • The complaint added that the Department of Homeland Security had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to evaluate the environmental impact of the wall in California and New Mexico

SAN FRANCISCO: Sixteen US states sued President Donald Trump’s administration Monday over his decision to declare a national emergency to fund a wall on the southern border with Mexico, saying the move violated the constitution.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in California, said the president’s order was contrary to the Presentment Clause that outlines legislative procedures and the Appropriations Clause, which defines Congress as the final arbiter of public funds.
The move had been previously announced by Xavier Becerra the attorney general of California who said his state and others had legal standing because they risked losing moneys intended for military projects, disaster assistance and other purposes.
Several Republican senators have decried the emergency declaration, saying it establishes a dangerous precedent and amounts to executive overreach.
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia are party to the complaint seeking an injunction.
“Use of those additional federal funds for the construction of a border wall is contrary to Congress’s intent in violation of the US Constitution, including the Presentment Clause and Appropriations Clause,” the complaint said.
It added that Trump had “veered the country toward a constitutional crisis of his own making.”
“Congress has repeatedly rebuffed the president’s insistence to fund a border wall, recently resulting in a record 35-day partial government shutdown over the border wall dispute,” the document read.
“After the government reopened, Congress approved, and the president signed into law, a $1.375 billion appropriation for fencing along the southern border, but Congress made clear that funding could not be used to build President Trump’s proposed border wall.”
The complaint added that the Department of Homeland Security had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to evaluate the environmental impact of the wall in California and New Mexico.
Friday’s declaration enables the president to divert funds from the Pentagon’s military construction budget and other sources.