#AceNewsReport – Oct.17: The firing started after we ended the prayers,” a man named Ahmadullah told AFP news agency. “Then two, three explosions took place. We were thrown towards the window. Many people, martyred [killed] or wounded, were laying there.” ……
#AceDailyNews says according to local media a suicide attack hits Kandahar in a Shia mosque during prayers on Friday killing more than 30-people…..
The BBC has been told it was a suicide bombing.………..and a local reporter quoted by Reuters news agency said eyewitnesses described three suicide attackers: One reportedly detonated their device at the door of the mosque, with two more setting off theirs inside the building.
Friday prayers are the busiest congregation of the week, and the building was full of worshippers at the time. At least 15 ambulances were at the scene afterwards, an AFP journalist said.
Taliban special forces have secured the site and have asked people to donate blood to help the victims, Reuters reports.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. But BBC Afghanistan correspondent Secunder Kermani says that IS-K, a local branch of the Islamic State Group, is expected to say it was behind the blasts.
Kandahar is Afghanistan’s second largest city and the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban, so an attack in the city by IS-K – which is extremely hostile towards the Taliban – would be significant:
Pictures from inside the Bibi Fatima mosque show shattered windows and bodies lying on the ground, while other worshippers try to help.
Daesh claimed responsibility for the Friday attack on a Kandahar mosque which left 32 killed and over 70 wounded, said a statement posted by the Daesh-affiliated Amaq news agency.#TOLOnewspic.twitter.com/8aTz34x90j
Last Friday, a suicide attack on another Shia mosque during Friday prayers in the northern city of Kunduz killed at least 50 people. IS-K said it carried out the attack, which was the deadliest since US forces left at the end of August.
IS-K, a Sunni Muslim group, is the most extreme and violent of all the jihadist militant groups in Afghanistan.
It has targeted Afghan security forces, Afghan politicians and ministries, the Taliban, religious minorities including Shia Muslims and Sikhs, US and Nato forces, and international agencies, including aid organisations.
EPATaliban soldiers guard the area surrounding the mosque, Kandahar’s largest for Shia Muslims
Sunni Muslim extremists have repeatedly targeted Shia Muslims in the past, whom they see as heretics.
About 10% of Afghanistan’s population are thought to be Shia Muslims. Many are also part of the Hazara community, the country’s third largest ethnic group, who have faced discrimination and persecution for years in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan.
#AceNewsReport – Aug.13: The #Taliban captures Kandahar and scores of American weapons and military equipment from Afghan security forces as the terrorist group accelerates its takeover following the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country…
#AceDailyNews says #Taliban capture Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city in what is a crushing blow for the government and a major win for the militants as the southern city was once their stronghold, and is strategically important as a trade hub.
“We have no money to buy bread, or get some medicine for my child,” a 35-year-old street vendor who fled northern Kunduz province after the Taliban set fire to his home told the BBC.
More than 1,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan in the past month, according to the UN.
There are increasing concerns that the militants will continue their rapid offensive toward Kabul.
People are in disbelief over their rapid gains, the BBC Yogita Limaye in Kabul reports, with the silence from the country’s top leadership leading to rumours and speculation about what could lie ahead for the capital.
The insurgent advance comes as US and other foreign troops withdraw after 20 years of military operations.
The US is to send nearly 3,000 troops to Kabul airport to evacuate a “significant” number of embassy staff on special flights. The UK is deploying 600 troops to support British nationals leaving the country. Staff at the British embassy have been reduced to a core team.
Kandahar is the Taliban’s birthplace, and so taking control of the city of 600,000 people is a significant prize for the militants.
They had occupied the city’s outskirts for a number of weeks before launching their attack on the centre.
On Wednesday, the Taliban breached Kandahar’s central prison, and on Thursday, images on social media reportedly showed insurgents in the city centre.
A resident told the AFP news agency that government forces appeared to have withdrawn en masse to a military facility outside Kandahar.
Kandahar is considered strategically important because of its international airport, its agricultural and industrial output and its position as one of the country’s main trading hubs.
#Taliban seizes US weapons and military equipment as takeover accelerates and capitals fall one by one to being overrun as forces are pushed back to Kabul where troops from U.S and U.K. are being flown into airlift and support fleeing nationals …..by Adam Kredo, Washington Free Beacon, August 12, 2021:
Taliban terrorists are now in possession of U.S.-made military vehicles, anti-aircraft guns, armored tanks, and artillery. The munitions were provided to Afghan security forces to secure the country as the United States ends its two-decade war there. The Taliban have overwhelmed Afghan forces, taking over key Afghan provinces and using U.S. weapons to power the offensive.
“These captured systems will increase the mobility and lethality of the Taliban, making them a more formidable adversary,” said Bradley Bowman, senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “We have already seen the Taliban using captured humvees to patrol Kunduz and Sar-e Pol.”
With the situation in Afghanistan deteriorating, the United States announced that it is sending 3,000 troops back into the country to help evacuate the vulnerable American embassy in Kabul. President Joe Biden left for vacation shortly after the announcement. Vice President Kamala Harris dodged questions about the situation on Thursday afternoon, when a reporter asked if “Afghanistan is lost to the Taliban.” Harris would not answer, but said she would be briefed on the matter.
Military experts fear Afghanistan will once again become a breeding ground for terrorists and militant groups like al Qaeda.
Annie Aleman, a GOP strategist with the American Security Project, predicted on Thursday that Kabul could soon fall to the Taliban.
“It is very reasonable to expect that Kabul will fall by the 20th anniversary of 9/11 this year,” Aleman said….
Afghanistan: Journalists get threats in Afghanistan, ‘stop working in Taliban-controlled areas,’” by Nikesh Mandal, News Track Live, August 10, 2021:
Journalists in Afghanistan are suffering from serious threats in conflict areas and have quit working in the Taliban-controlled regions, a country-based media advocacy group said on Tuesday.
The group, Nai-Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan, said some journalists have fled areas recently seized by the Taliban. “Some of our journalists in Taliban-controlled areas escaped,” said Sediqullah Tawhidi, head of Afghan Journalist Safety Committee (AJSC). Afghan journalists asked the Taliban to ensure the safety of journalists, and freedom of speech.
“In the areas where fighting is ongoing, the government has looked at a place for journalists, and will transfer them if the situation gets worse,” a local Afghani quoted Mujib Khalwatgar, head of Nai. The Taliban’s offensive has been targeting journalists and innocent civilians. On Sunday, editor-in-chief of Afghanistan’s Paktia Ghag radio station, Toofan Omari was killed in the Deh Sabz district of Kabul. While Niamatullah Hemat, editor-in-chief of the local Boost radio station and reporter of Gharghakht TV channel based in Khost province, was taken hostage by the Taliban in Nawa district of Helmand province….
Local officials said that the clashes intensified in villages in the western parts of Herat city.
Abdul Rahman Rahman, senior deputy of the Interior Ministry, also visited Herat city on Sunday and said that a large-scale operation will be launched against the Taliban in Herat.
“We have come with the security forces from Kabul and these forces have joined Herat forces. We will act as soon as possible to defend the Herat people,” he said.
The clashes have been ongoing in the western parts of Herat city and Guzara and Karokh districts over the past four days.
At least 20 people were killed, including 16 security force members, and 90 people were wounded in the past four days of fighting in Herat, according to data from Herat’s regional hospital.
Local officials said that “the Taliban has suffered heavy casualties during the clashes.”
Reporters for Pajhwok news agency and Salam Watandar Radio were briefly taken captive by the Taliban on the battlefield but none were injured, according to the reporters.
“We had a 10-meter distance from the security forces,” said Storai Karimi, a Pajhwok reporter, “we were surrounded by the Taliban.”
Shekib Shams, reporter of Salam Watandar also said: “It was terrible because a few bullets hit our car. When I stopped the car, I saw that four Taliban had surrounded us and told us to take the car into the road.”
The reporters said that they were freed after an hour.
Security sources said the Taliban advanced this morning in Herat city, adding that “the Taliban launched large attacks on several villages in the west of Herat city and clashes are still ongoing.”
“There are clashes in Pul-e-Malan on the battlefield and the Taliban were prevented from advancing. Sometimes troops move forward and then retreat but it does not mean that the lines were broken,” said Abdul Saboor Qane, provincial governor.
Colonel Mohammad Nasir Alizai, commander of a commando unit from Zafar 207 Military Corps, said: “The Taliban’s war is a psychological war, and it wants to cause panic among the people. I urge the people of Herat not to lose their spirit.”
This comes a day after Mohammad Ismail Khan, former mujahedeen leader and a senior member of Jamiat-e-Islami who is leading the fight against the Taliban in Herat along with scores of public resistance forces, criticized the Ministry of Defense for delays in sending reinforcements to Herat.
Clashes in the city of Herat began their fourth day on Sunday. Clashes are underway in the southern part of Herat near Malan Bridge, which was taken over by the Taliban on Saturday.
Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman said hundreds of reinforcements arrived in the city on Sunday morning.
Hundreds of families have been displaced from their homes in the southern parts of Herat city due to the ongoing clashes, local officials said.
Taliban attacks on the city of Herat were criticized on Saturday by some lawmakers and analysts who say they are a clear violation of the group’s commitments to the Doha agreement.
The Taliban said that the group has made no commitment to not attack major cities.
The insurgents overran Kunduz twice in 2015 and 2016, and briefly held control of Ghazni city after setting ablaze key government buildings and destroying telecommunication towers.
In recent weeks the Afghan government’s air force, backed by the US military, has provided Kabul with its biggest battlefield advantage over the Taliban and has so far largely kept the insurgents from overrunning urban areas.
“The US military has been engaged in a limited way, but in a significant one that has impact in meeting our obligations to defend Afghan forces when they are under attack,” top US envoy in Kabul Ross Wilson told reporters this week.
#AceWorldNews – AFGHANISTAN – October 27 – The last US and British forces have been airlifted from a key southern province in Afghanistan on Monday.
‘The last US and British forces have been airlifted from a key southern province in Afghanistan ‘
The withdrawal of the troops from the combined base of Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion was carried out over 24 hours with flights back and forth between Helmand and Kandahar Air Field, the aviation hub for southern Afghanistan.
The base closure in the province of Helmand was one of the largest operations in the winding down of the international combat mission in Afghanistan, 13 years after the toppling of the Taliban regime, Reuters said.