• Afghanistan in August 2020; Key News

Afghanistan in August 2020; Key News

11 September 2020

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Peace and Politics

At the beginning of August, a three days ceasefire was announced between the Taliban and Afghan government to allow Afghans to celebrate Eid ul Adha. Thousands of citizens used the opportunity to celebrate the Muslim holidays and travel between provinces, despite the continued risk of the corona virus.

On the 7th, a Loya Jirga (grand assembly) comprising of 3200 individuals from across the country was held in Kabul to decide the fate of the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners. The release of these prisoners who, the Afghan government claimed were accused of major crimes, was said to be the last hurdle for the intra-Afghan negotiations to start. The Loya Jirga voted for the release of these prisoners and President Ghani signed a decree to that effect on the 10th August. However, the process was halted after about 80 of them were released. Reportedly, the French and Australian governments objected to the release of those Taliban prisoners who, they said, were accused of killing their citizens. The Afghan government has stated that they expect the Taliban to release Afghan commandos, who are being held captive by the Taliban, first.

Intra-Afghan peace talks have failed to start despite public expectations and the pressure from the U.S. government. The Taliban have emphasized that they are ready to start talks as soon as their prisoners are freed. Disagreements between Afghan political elites, particularly the head of High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah and President Ghani, continue to drag on which slows down the process of more formal engagement by the government side. On the 29thAugust, Ghani announced the list of the members of the reconciliation council. The list was soon contested by Abdullah Abdullah and opposed by parties and individuals, including ex-president Hamid Karzai who declined to serve on it.

Security

Violence continued in major parts of the country, particularly in Kabul, Ghazni, Faryab, Kunduz, Takhar, Nangarhar, Baghlan and Balkh provinces. Around 140 civilians were killed during August; mostly as a result of roadside bombs.

On the 2nd, an armed group attacked the Jalalabad prison in Nangarhar province. The attack, which lasted for around 20 hours, killed 29 people, including civilians, security forces, prisoners, and the attackers themselves. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack which happened during the ceasefire between the Taliban and Afghan government. On the 4th, seven civilians were killed when a roadside bomb hit their van in Nimruz province while twelve police officer were killed after their convoy was ambushed by the Taliban in Baghlan province on the same day. On the 9th, eight civilians were killed when roadside bombs hit their car in Kandahar province. On the 14th, fifteen security force members were killed due to Taliban attacks on their outposts in Kunduz and Faryab provinces in the north.

On the 18th, several rockets hit areas in Kabul city including the diplomatic compound around the presidential palace when government authorities were celebrating Afghanistan’s Independence Day. Reportedly, most of these rockets landed in civilian areas and ten civilians were reported wounded. On the 22nd, four IEDs attached to vehicles exploded in Kabul and killed one security force member and six others. Armed men killed another Ministry of Defense official and his driver in the city, on the same day. Further, on the 14th, armed gunmen attacked a prominent women’s rights advocate and member of the peace negotiation team, Fawzia Koofi, on the highway north of Kabul. She survived the attack with minor injuries.

On the 20th, thirteen security force members were killed when the Taliban attacked security outposts in Takhar province. Nine other members of the security forces were killed on the 22nd during clashes between the Taliban and government forces in Takhar. On the 21st, ten more members were killed when a roadside bomb hit their military convoy in Balkh province. On the 26th, sixteen members of the security forces were killed, and twelve others were taken captive after the Taliban stormed their military outpost in Baghlan province.

Humanitarian

Afghan media reported that around 180 Afghans, from the Hindu and Sikh minority groups were leaving the country for India on the 12th in order to flee the increasing security threats against them. The Hindu and Sikh minorities of Afghanistan have been facing discrimination and violence from insurgent groups during the last few years. An attack in March, claimed by the Islamic State, on a Sikh temple in Kabul killed twenty five members of the community. India had given refuge to 11 Afghan Hindu and Sikhs in July.

The World Food Programme (WFP) announced that around 16 million Afghans were in serious need for humanitarian assistance due to the impact of COVID-19. On the 18th, the WFP spokesperson stated that around 4 million Afghans had lost their sources of income as a result of the pandemic in addition to an estimated 12 million in need of assistance early in 2020.

Flash floods killed at least 160 people and affected around 3000 families during the last week of August. 116 people were killed and more than 120 were injured after floods destroyed major parts of the Charikar city in Parwan province on the 26th. Local and international aid agencies and local volunteers have been working to provide emergency assistance to those affected.

People & Culture

‘I love this country; I love its rocks, its mountains; I love my heart; the home of its sorrows…’. The body of the prominent bilingual Afghan poet, Sulaiman Layeq (1930-2020), who wrote these lines in the 1970s, was laid to rest on 13th August in Kabul. Mr Layeq died at the age of 90 in late July in a hospital in Germany of the blast wounds he sustained in a car-bomb attack targeting a foreign military SUV in September 2019. Mr Layeq was a leftist politician and a founding member of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) and served in senior government positions after the Marxist revolution in 1978.

 

This report is developed based on media reports. Although BAAG has taken necessary precautions to include only credible sources, it does not take responsibility for incorrect content.