40 killed in airstrike, car bomb in Afghanistan

The attack was claimed by a Taliban spokesman. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 September 2019

40 killed in airstrike, car bomb in Afghanistan

  • Taliban have vowed to step up attacks ahead of crucial Afghan presidential polls
  • In one incident, 25 civilians, were killed in an airstrike by foreign troops

KABUL: At least 40 Afghan civilians died on Thursday in two separate attacks in Afghanistan, officials said, in the rising violence ahead of the presidential election on Sept. 28 which the Taliban have threatened to derail.

In one incident, 25 civilians, were killed in an airstrike by foreign troops in Khogyani district of eastern Nangarhar province, an official source and one lawmaker, Aryan Youn, from the province confirmed.

The attack in Nangarhar occured in a forest area of a mountainside where laborers were collecting nuts from the trees, Youn told Arab News over the phone.

“It is a heavily civilian area, and unfortunately we have learnt that 25 people have been killed in the airstrikes by foreign forces,” she said.

A local official source, requesting anonymity, said the attack happened close to an area where Daesh local sympathizers had a presence in the past.

The US-led NATO force could not be reached immediately for comment and it did not respond to emails from reporters. If confirmed, the casualties will be among the highest for months caused by an airstrike in Afghanistan.

Hours after the airstrike, an explosive-laden truck launched by the Taliban rammed into an intelligence agency’s compound near a hospital in Qalat, the provincial capital of southern Zabul province. At least 15 people died, 13 of them civilians, and 90 others were wounded, according to the Interior Ministry spokesman, Nasrat Rahimi.

Gul Islam Seyal, spokesman for the governor of Zabul, told Arab News that most of the victims, mostly women and children, were patients at the nearby hospital.

“This is not jihad, it is killing the poor civilians,” Shafiqullah, an attendant with one of the patients at the hospital, said.

President Ashraf Ghani said that the Taliban had lost the power to stand up to the security forces and were thus resorting to “terrorist attacks on public places.”

Civilians have borne the brunt of violence in Afghanistan for years.

The Taliban have publicly warned they will disrupt the election process. A few days ago 25 people died in a suicide attack in Parwan province, where President Ghani was addressing a campaign rally.

“The ongoing violent attacks orchestrated by the Taliban demonstrate blatant disregard for the people and institutions of #Afghanistan,” the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet.

“For Afghans to reconcile, the Taliban must demonstrate commitment to peace & the future of the country by reducing violence,” he added.

Pompeo made no mention of any possible intention on the part of Washington to resume talks with the Taliban.


India, Pakistan exchange fire in Kashmir, killing 9

Updated 20 October 2019

India, Pakistan exchange fire in Kashmir, killing 9

  • Pakistan’s army later said that “unprovoked cease-fire violations” by Indian troops killed five civilians and one soldier
  • India and Pakistan have a long history of bitter relations over Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India: Pakistani and Indian soldiers traded fire in disputed Kashmir on Sunday, killing at least nine people on both sides, officials said.
The Indian military said Pakistani soldiers targeted an Indian border post and civilian areas along the highly militarized frontier in Kashmir early in the day, leaving two army soldiers and a civilian dead.
Col. Rajesh Kalia, an Indian army spokesman, said three Indian civilians were also injured in the Pakistani firing. Kalia called it an “unprovoked” violation of a 2003 cease-fire accord between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan’s army later said that “unprovoked cease-fire violations” by Indian troops killed five civilians and one soldier and wounded another three civilians and two troops across the highly militarized Line of Control that divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India.
The army said Indian troops targeted civilians in Jura, Shahkot and Nousehri sectors. It said Pakistani forces responded with heavy fire on Indian soldiers.
India and Pakistan have a long history of bitter relations over Kashmir, which is divided between the rivals but claimed by both in its entirety. The renewed fighting comes amid an ongoing lockdown in Kashmir that was put in place after India stripped the region of its semi-autonomy in early August.
Since then, soldiers from the two nations have regularly engaged in cross-border shelling and firing along their de facto frontier in Kashmir, where rebel groups are fighting for the territory to be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. In the past, each side has accused the other of starting the hostilities in violation of the 2003 accord.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training anti-India rebels and also helping them by providing gunfire as cover for incursions into the Indian side. Pakistan denies this, saying it offers only moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris who oppose Indian rule.
Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the armed uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.
On Aug. 5, India’s Hindu nationalist-led government stripped Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status and imposed a strict crackdown, sending in tens of thousands more additional troops to the region, which is already one of the highest militarized zones in the world. India has arrested thousands of activists and separatist leaders in the days leading up to and after the revoking of Kashmir’s special status.
More than two months later, the region remains under a communications blockade. Authorities have restored landline and some cellphone services, but the Internet remains suspended.