• Afghanistan in October 2020; Key News

Afghanistan in October 2020; Key News

09 November 2020

Peace and Politics

UNAMA reported that peace talks in Doha have had no positive impact on reducing violence. According to UNAMA’s report Afghanistan remained a dangerous place for civilians with 5,939 civilian casualties (2,117 killed and 3,822 injured) between January and September. Developments in the month of October have affected the talks that have had no major progress. The Taliban have intensified their offensives on major cities, American air forces have targeted Taliban positions; both sides blaming each other for violating the agreement signed between the Taliban and US. The US State Department’s special envoy for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan publicly expressed disappointment and called for urgent reduction of violence while President Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops by Christmas.

The US troops launched at least three offensives in support of the Afghan security forces in Helmand, in response to the Taliban siege, and in Maidan Wardak. The negotiating teams have yet to reach an agreement on the very first stage of the talks—principles of how to negotiate. Four members of the Afghan negotiating team travelled back to Afghanistan being considered by many as a sign of frustration. Hamdullah Mohib, the national security advisor, warned that Afghanistan might be plunged into civil war if the US troop withdrawal took place without the peace talks reaching an agreement.

On 24 October, the Taliban spokesperson announced that they would fight against government, as they “waged war against Muslims for the past 20 years.” “As long as [the government] does not repent and accept an Islamic system, they shall continue to be killed,” said the Taliban’s spokesperson. Afghan security forces claimed that they have killed the second-in-command leader of al Qaida given harbour by the Taliban—a sign which the government claims shows the Taliban have not fulfilled the agreement they signed with the US, to cut ties with al Qaida.

On 30th October, Edmund Fitton-Brown, co-ordinator of the UN's Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Team, told the BBC that Al-Qaeda was still "heavily embedded" within the Taliban. According to Mr Fitton-Brown the Taliban promised al-Qaeda in the run-up to the US agreement that the two groups would remain allies. "The Taliban were talking regularly and at a high level with al-Qaeda and reassuring them that they would honour their historic ties," Mr Fitton-Brown said.

 

Security

In October alone at least 369 pro-government forces and 212 civilians were killed, according to a New York Times report, making October the deadliest month since September 2019. Military operations in Helmand, Nangarhar, Ghor, Laghman, the airstrikes in Takhar and a suicide attack on an educational centre in Kabul are but some of the security incidents in October.

The attack on 24th October on the educational centre in Kabul led to the death of at least 40 students and injured 70 others, mostly young people attending university entrance preparation classes. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack targeted a Shiite-majority suburb of Dashte-Barchi an area that has been targeted before by the same group.

On the 18th, a truck-bomb explosion took place near a school in Ghor province, leaving 16 people dead and more than 150 injured. On the 19th, motorbike borne explosives detonated near a wedding ceremony in Khost province killing four and wounding ten people. On the 20th, five soldiers including the district police chief were killed and two wounded by a roadside bomb in Nimruz province. On the same day, a roadside bomb went off in Wardak province killing at least 11 people. On the 21st, the Taliban attacked a security base in Takhar province and killed more than 30 members of police special forces. On the same day 12 young boys and their teacher were killed in a mosque in the same village when the mosque came under attack by the Afghan Air Forces, and at least 15 civilians, including 11 women, were killed in a stampede in Nangarhar province as thousands of people were seeking to get Pakistani visa.

Humanitarian

About 40,000 civilians were displaced in southern Helmand province after the first major Taliban assault—begun on 11th and continued up to 25th—on a city since the peace talks kicked off in Doha. Conflicts in Maiwand, Zheray and Panjwayi districts of Kandahar displaced 500 households (about 3500 people), and 1,500 people in Dehrawud district of Uruzgan province. The main road between Kandahar and Lashkargah remains inaccessible

“Electricity and telecommunication lines have been disrupted in parts of Kandahar and Helmand province which has affected people's ability to communicate and humanitarian partners' ability to conduct assessments. Several health facilities are reportedly closed, while others have reduced their services to trauma care only, depriving tens of thousands of people of access to health services.”[1] During 5 – 11 October, 350 households (approximately 2,450 people) were displaced in eastern Takhar province.

A four-month-old boy in the Najak-ha area of Qala-e-Naw city, Badghis province was confirmed to have Polio which is the second confirmed case of the disease in the last five months in Badghis province. From 3 to 8 October, 12,537 Afghan nationals returned from Iran through the Islam Qala border crossing.

People & Culture

The first ever health club for women was opened in Kandahar. Kandahar is one of the most conservative provinces in Afghanistan, from which the Taliban emerged, and is one of the most restricted places for women in terms of freedom and having a social life. Maryam Durrani, a women’s rights advocate in Kandahar, had to face one of her biggest challenges when opening a club where women could go and exercise. The result has so far been satisfactory - with women, 40% of whom have been exercising in secret, showing up to exercise – and being unable to hide their happiness at how a joyful experience it is for them.

 

[1] UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report: https://reliefweb.int/report/afghanistan/flash-update-1-fighting-displacement-and-civilian-casualties-southern-afghanistan

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.