3 suspected rebels, 1 officer killed in Kashmir fighting

3 suspected rebels, 1 officer killed in Kashmir fighting
Indian police man a checkpoint near a gunbattle site on the outskirts of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 30 August 2020

3 suspected rebels, 1 officer killed in Kashmir fighting

3 suspected rebels, 1 officer killed in Kashmir fighting
  • Since January, government forces have killed about 180 militants during counterinsurgency operations

SRINAGAR, India: Three suspected rebels and a counterinsurgency officer were killed in a gunbattle on the outskirts of Indian-controlled Kashmir’s main city, police said Sunday.
An Indian soldier was also killed in Pakistani firing along their frontier in the disputed region, an army spokesperson said.
Police said the three militants Saturday night fired at a checkpoint in the outskirts of Srinagar in a failed bid to snatch a rifle from a paramilitary soldier.
Police and paramilitary soldiers later traced them hiding in a civilian home, the region’s police chief, Dilbagh Singh, told reporters. In the subsequent fighting, which lasted the whole night, a counterinsurgency officer and the three attackers were killed, he said.
Singh said that among the three slain militants, one was active for about a year. He didn’t give details about the other two.
In the last two days, seven suspected rebels and an Indian soldier were killed in two separate gunfights.
Since January, government forces have killed about 180 militants during counterinsurgency operations, according to the Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a rights group. Based on official figures, data shows that over half of them had joined the rebels less than a year ago, and out of them most had been active for only a few months.
At least 68 government forces and 46 civilians have been killed since January, the rights group said.
Meanwhile, an Indian soldier was killed early Sunday when Pakistani soldiers targeted some Indian frontier post along the highly militarized frontier that divides Kashmir between the two rivals in southern Rajouri district, said Lt. Col. Devender Anand, an Indian army spokesperson.
Anand called the Pakistani firing a violation of the 2003 cease-fire accord between the two countries and said Indian soldiers retaliated. Pakistan did not immediately comment. In the past, each country has accused the other of initiating the firing and violating the cease-fire agreement.
India and Pakistan claim the divided territory of Kashmir in its entirety. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel cause that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.


Kabul hails Biden plan to review Taliban deal

Kabul hails Biden plan to review Taliban deal
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (C) arrives with the government delegation during a visit in Herat province on January 21, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2021

Kabul hails Biden plan to review Taliban deal

Kabul hails Biden plan to review Taliban deal
  • Violence has worsened since signing of peace accord, critics claim

KABUL: Officials in Kabul have welcomed the new US administration’s plan to review a peace deal between Washington and the Taliban that paved the way for a complete withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan by May.

President Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Saturday told his Afghan counterpart, Hamdullah Mohib, that Washington will review last year’s agreement — an issue long demanded by Kabul — in a sign of a possible policy shift in the White House under its new leadership.

The accord, signed in Doha in February 2020, followed secret talks between the previous US government of Donald Trump and Taliban leaders. It committed the militants to reducing conflict in Afghanistan and engaging in negotiations with the Afghan government.

However, violence has intensified since the signing of the deal that also forced Kabul to release thousands of Taliban prisoners, souring President Ashraf Ghani’s ties with Washington. 
“We welcome the US intention to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement,” Sediq Sediqqi, Afghan deputy interior minister, said in a tweet following Sullivan’s conversation with Mohib.

“The agreement has not delivered the desired goal of ending the Taliban’s violence and bringing a cease-fire desired by Afghans. The Taliban did not live up to its commitments.”

Mohib’s spokesman, Rahmatullah Andar, told Arab News that Afghan security leaders had emphasized “a cease-fire, just peace, democratic Afghanistan and protecting the past 20 years of gain.”

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until the arrival of US-led forces in 2001. 
Andar said that Afghanistan remained committed to its “foundational partnership with the US,” and will work closely with Washington on security, peace, counterterrorism and regional engagement.

Meanwhile, the Taliban say that they expect the new US administration to stick to the February deal.

“The demand of the Islamic Emirate from the new administration in America is full implementation of the Doha accord,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Arab News. 
“The Doha agreement is the best prescription and only roadmap for ending the war in Afghanistan and for the withdrawal of US forces. The Islamic Emirate is committed to the agreement,” he said.

Under the deal, the Taliban agreed to cut ties with “terrorist groups” and halt attacks on US-led troops.

Trump administration officials claimed that there have been no strikes by the Taliban against US troops since the signing of the deal. 
Thousands of US soldiers have left since February, and only 2,500 remain in the country along with 30,000 foreign contractors. 
Afghan analysts are divided on the implications of the US administration’s announcement.

Tamim Asey, a former deputy defense minister, said the reassessment of the deal may lead to a slowing of the US withdrawal.

“I am now confident that the US will slow its troop drawdown until a policy review is complete,” he said.

Toreq Farhadi, a former government adviser, told Arab News there are likely to be only “minor changes in the reassessment” since the US wants to end the war.

However, Taj Mohammad, said that a review of the deal may lead to a “new wave of fighting.”

“The Taliban and some in the region oppose this because it could be seen as furthering the presence of US forces,” he said.