Kabul aid groups reel after nine killed in Taliban attack

Taliban militants exploded a car in the area, which caused windows of nearby buildings to collapse. (AFP/File)
Updated 09 May 2019
0

Kabul aid groups reel after nine killed in Taliban attack

  • Three workers from an anti-poverty group died in the attack
  • Afghan forces and Taliban militia engaged in a fight that lasted hours

KABUL: Humanitarian groups were reeling Thursday from yet another attack targeting aid workers in Afghanistan, as officials confirmed nine people had been killed in a Taliban attack in Kabul a day earlier.
Wednesday’s attack outside Counterpart International, a non-profit group working with marginalized people in Afghanistan, began with an immense blast from a car bomb in a busy commercial area in central Kabul.
Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the death toll had risen to nine, including five members of the Afghan security forces, a guard at Counterpoint and three civilians.
Anti-poverty group CARE, which has offices close to Counterpart International, said three of its workers — a driver, a watchman and a technical adviser — were killed in the blast.
“This attack reflects the increasing dangers of humanitarian work in conflict-affected countries such as Afghanistan and the unfortunate daily reality of violence for many Afghan families,” CARE said in a statement.
In addition, 20 civilians were wounded in the attack, which saw several Taliban gunmen storm the Counterpoint compound after the blast. They were all killed after Afghan commandos led an hours-long clearance operation.
Wednesday’s massive explosion felled trees and toppled dense concrete blast walls on the street outside Counterpart.
The blast radius extended hundreds of meters (yards) in all directions, blowing out windows in nearby homes and businesses.
Dozens of workers could be seen sweeping debris and broken glass from streets in the popular Shahr-e-Naw neighborhood in central Kabul, which is home to shops, restaurants and hotels.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Counterpart International was targeted because it promoted the “inter-mixing” of men and women.
Insurgent spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter the aid group had mentored “Kabul admin workers in various aspects of brutality, oppression, terror, anti-Islamic ideology & promotion of western culture.”
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 30 aid workers were killed last year in Afghanistan — one of the most dangerous countries for humanitarians.
Afghanistan was once a hub of foreign aid but deteriorating security has seen international groups downgrade their presence, making it even more difficult to deliver crucial help to the war-torn country’s most vulnerable citizens.
Several aid groups, including Save the Children, have been the target of terror attacks and have suspended operations in the wake of the assaults.
Wednesday’s attack came even as US and Taliban officials were meeting in Qatar for peace talks.


India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

Updated 22 September 2019

India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

  • India’s coast guard seized $42 million worth of ketamine

NEW DELHI: India’s coast guard has arrested six Myanmar men and seized $42 million worth of ketamine after spotting a suspicious vessel in the Indian Ocean near the Nicobar Islands.
The 1,160-kilogram drug haul came after coast guard aircraft spotted the boat, which had its lights off, on Wednesday in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the defense ministry said in a statement.
The boat’s crew did not respond to radio calls and the coast guard eventually boarded it, with officials finding “57 gunny bundles of suspicious substance” on Friday.
“Preliminary analysis ... revealed that the suspicious substance was ketamine and there were 1,160 packets of 1kg each onboard the vessel,” the ministry added.
The six Myanmar men and cargo were taken to Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they were questioned by investigators.
They claimed they left Myanmar on September 14 and were due to rendezvous with another boat “operating near the Thailand-Malaysia maritime border line” on Saturday, the statement said.
The Nicobar Islands are located near Southeast Asia, off Myanmar’s coast.
Parts of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand are in the lawless “Golden Triangle” zone, the world’s second-largest drug-producing region after Latin America.
Large amounts drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are churned out in remote jungle labs each year and smuggled across Asia and beyond.