Taliban Claim to Have Killed 9 ISIS-K Fighters

ISLAMABAD —

The Taliban said Saturday their special forces had killed nine Islamic State operatives and captured two others in overnight raids in the capital, Kabul, and elsewhere in Afghanistan.

 

Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman for the Taliban government, said that intelligence information had led security forces to an “important hideout of Daesh” in Kabul late Friday. He used a local name for the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate, known as Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K.

 

Mujahid said the ensuing gunbattles killed six militants and one Taliban security force member. The raid came shortly after security forces had captured two key ISIS-K members in a separate operation in another part of Kabul, he noted without elaborating.

 

Separately, the Taliban-led Afghan Interior Ministry said Saturday that “on the basis of solid intelligence” government forces late last night assaulted an ISIS-K hideout in northeastern Takhar province, which borders Tajikistan. The raid in the Dasht Qala district killed three Daesh members, including an “important” commander, the statement said.

 

Mujahid claimed that all the six Daesh men killed in Kabul were linked to recent suicide bombings in the city, one on an educational center and the other on a mosque.

 

“They had plotted attacks on Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque, the Kaaj tuition center and other civilian targets,” Mujahid said.

 

The blast at the female section of the packed tuition center on September 30 killed 53 people, mostly girls and young women, and injured 110 people. It came just days after a bomb exploded at the main mosque in the heavily guarded Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood, which houses key government offices and foreign diplomatic missions.

 

No group to date has claimed responsibility for either attack.

 

The Taliban seized power more than a year ago when all American and allied troops left Afghanistan after 20 years of involvement in the war. The Islamist rulers maintain they have since brought peace to much of the country and claim their operations against ISIS-K have largely degraded its ability to pose a serious security challenge.

 

But ISIS-K, which launched its extremist activities in early 2015, has intensified attacks in the country, mostly targeting members of the minority Shiite Muslim Hazara community, raising questions about Taliban claims.

 

US concerns

 

U.S. officials see ISIS-K as a growing threat in the crisis-ridden South Asian nation.

 

Thomas West, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan, told VOA that in his meeting with the Taliban earlier this month in Doha, Qatar, the two sides discussed the emerging threat of Daesh.

 

“We discussed the Taliban’s efforts to fight Daesh. Daesh is a common enemy of the United States and all Afghans. The horrific attacks against Hazaras must stop,” West told VOA.

 

“The Taliban have made clear that this is their fight and effort, and they will fulfil their commitments outlined in the Doha agreement to ensure that terrorists do not threaten the United States or her allies,” the U.S. envoy said.

 

He referred to the February 2020 deal Washington signed with the then-insurgent Taliban, paving the way for all U.S.-led international forces to withdraw from Afghanistan in return of the Taliban’s counterterrorism assurances.

 

West described as “extremely concerning” the attacks by terrorists, ISIS-K in particular, launched from Afghan soil over the past year against neighboring Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan. Washington has a “definite interest in ensuring that those types of attacks are contained,” the U.S. envoy emphasized.

 

 

 

Source: Voice of America

Germany’s New Program to Take in At-Risk Afghans Challenging

WASHINGTON —

Germany’s announcement that it will take in 1,000 at-risk Afghans with their families from Afghanistan will be challenging, an Afghan lawyer says, because it is becoming increasingly difficult for Afghans to leave Afghanistan.

 

In a joint statement, the German Foreign and Interior ministries announced the new humanitarian admission program on Monday.

 

“The plan is to approve around 1,000 Afghans at particular risk, along with their family members from Afghanistan for admittance every month,” said the statement.

 

“It is going to be very challenging,” said Abdul Subhan Misbah, former deputy head of Afghanistan’s Lawyers Union who has been involved in the efforts to evacuate judges and prosecutors from Afghanistan, adding that “it is not clear who would be included, and it won’t be easy to take people out of Afghanistan that is ruled by the Taliban.”

 

The German government said that the new program would evacuate at-risk women’s and human rights activists, former government officials, and civil society members. The program also includes those persecuted in Afghanistan because of their gender, sexual orientation, and/or religion.

 

Misbah said that many employees of the former government and members of civil society want to leave their country.

 

“Most of the people want to leave,” he said. “What are the criteria based on which people will be admitted? How are they going to help those at risk to get out of Afghanistan? These questions have to be answered.”

 

Besides the problems they face to get passports and visas, he said, Afghans must travel to a third country because there are no direct flights from Afghanistan to Germany.

 

“It should be something that the German government has to negotiate with neighboring countries to facilitate the process,” Misbah said.

 

Germany’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Christopher Burger, told VOA that his government is working with the neighboring countries to help with the process.

 

“We will continue to work through all channels available to us in order to assure safe passage to the people that we want to bring to safety,” he said.

 

Germany has admitted 26,000 Afghans since Kabul fell and the Taliban returned to power in August 2021.

 

Burger said to implement the new program, German authorities would work with organizations already on the ground and involved in helping at-risk individuals leave the country, but the German government would make the final decision on who is the “most vulnerable and most in need of admission to Germany.”

 

Local contractors

 

Burger said the program will continue until October 2025 and does not include 12,000 former German contractors who are “officially granted admission” to Germany but are still in Afghanistan.

 

“Simply, we are not able to bring people outside the country. They do not have a passport,” Burger said. “We are working with the neighboring countries on achieving that.”

 

He added that a “larger group” of Afghans had “some sort of association” with German organizations in Afghanistan and “are still in the proceedings to be recognized as former German contracts.”

 

Axel Steier, the founder of the German-based civil society organization Mission Lifeline, told VOA that his organization runs several safe houses for those who worked with the German government.

 

He added that these local contractors fear for their lives.

 

Steier said that “the Taliban want to kill them, and [we are] keeping them into safe houses and waiting for a decision from the German government to take them in.”

 

Difficult to leave

 

The German government said that Afghans who have left Afghanistan would not be considered under the new humanitarian admission program.

 

“So, this is a big issue,” said Steier, adding that many at-risk Afghans left Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power. Most of the individuals are staying in Pakistan, Iran or Tajikistan and are unable to return to Afghanistan.

 

He added that it is difficult for people to get passports and visas to leave the country.

 

“And for both, you need a lot of money. Because you can get a passport only if you pay $1,200 to $1,500,” he said. “Also, it is very difficult to get [a] visa for Iran. At the moment, it costs $500.”

 

“For people who are poor … [and have no] money for stuff like a passport or visa, it is almost impossible to come [to Germany],” Steier said.

 

 

Source: Voice of America

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev held a meeting with the President of the European Commission

President Tokayev held a virtual meeting with President of the European Commision Ursula von der Leyen.

 

The two leaders discussed the prospects for the development of an enhanced strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and the European Union. Special focus was paid to cooperation in trade, investment, transport and logistics areas.

 

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Ursula von der Leyen also exchanged views on the international agenda.

 

 

Source: President of the Republic of Kazakhstan