Security

Afghan forces kill over 100 militants as NATO begins pullout

By Salaam Times and AFP

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An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier sits at a road checkpoint near the US military base in Bagram, 50km north of Kabul, on April 29. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

KABUL -- More than 100 militants are dead after the Taliban clashed with Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) across several provinces, the Ministry of Defence said Sunday (May 2).

Another 52 Taliban fighters were wounded in the clashes, the ministry said, without giving details of any casualties suffered by government forces.

"12 #Taliban terrorists were killed and 18 others were wounded during commandos' operation and airstrike in Bala Bolok [Buluk] district of #Farah province yesterday," the ministry said in a tweet Monday.

The Taliban did not comment on the fighting.

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Relatives on May 1 stand near victims' bodies a day after a car bomb killed at least 21 people and wounded nearly 100 in Pul-e-Alam, capital of Logar province. [AFP]

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Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and members of the US army raise the Afghan flag during a handover ceremony at Camp Antonik in Helmand province May 2. [Afghan Defence Ministry]

The US military formally began withdrawing its remaining 2,500 troops from Afghanistan on Saturday.

Afghan officials said all foreign troops were being taken to Bagram, the biggest American base in Afghanistan, and from there they would leave to their respective countries.

As part of the ongoing drawdown, the US military handed over Camp Antonik in Helmand to Afghan forces, the Defence Ministry said.

It said the base will be used by Afghanistan's special forces that have been trained in counter-terrorism operations by the US military and NATO.

Photographs of the handover ceremony released by the ministry showed US soldiers lowering the US flag at the base and a group of Afghan troops subsequently raising the national flag.

The US military has handed over several bases to Afghan forces since Washington signed a landmark deal with the Taliban last year that paved the way for the withdrawal of foreign forces.

Another clash took place in the former insurgent bastion of Kandahar, where the US military said it carried out a "precision strike" on Saturday. The base "received ineffective indirect fire" that caused no damage, it said.

No group claimed responsibility.

'Wasting the opportunity for peace'

Since the agreement between the Taliban and US negotiators, the Taliban have not directly engaged foreign troops but have mercilessly attacked Afghan forces in the countryside and waged a terror campaign in urban areas.

In the latest attack blamed on the Taliban, a car bombing Friday in Pul-e-Alam, capital of Logar province, killed at least 21 people and wounded 91 others.

The bomb targeted a guesthouse in the city where dozens of people were living -- including university students, said Hasibullah Stanikzai, chairman of the Logar provincial council.

The blast occurred as Afghans were breaking their Ramadan fast.

It caused widespread damage in the area, including to a hospital, Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told reporters.

"The roofs of houses have collapsed, and people are trapped under the debris," he said, adding the death toll might change. "The security forces are trying to rescue those trapped."

So far three people have been rescued from under the debris, he said.

The casualties include university students who were in the guesthouse to take exams, and doctors and patients from the hospital that was damaged by the blast, he said.

The wounded had to be taken to Kabul since the blast damaged the main city hospital and its ambulances and also wounded some doctors, said Samat Gul, director of the Logar health department.

No group has claimed responsibility, but President Ashraf Ghani blamed the Taliban.

"The Taliban have once again shown that they are not only unwilling to resolve the current crisis peacefully and fundamentally but are complicating the situation and wasting the opportunity for peace," he said in a statement.

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So when will these killings end? The government kills hundreds of Taliban every day, and the Taliban also kill hundreds of Afghan security forces as well as civilians. This war must end as soon as possible because only Afghans are victimized by this war. There is no honor in killing Afghans. The Taliban proudly announce that they killed 60 Afghan government forces today, and on the other hand, spokespersons of the Afghan government announce and say very proudly that they killed 100 or more of the Taliban. Is there any honor in killing Afghans? At least the Afghan government should say that unfortunately, it killed some of its miserable compatriots and brothers who were engaged in violence. It should regret the deaths of its opponents. There is no honor in killing human beings, even if it is the death of non-Muslims. The United States of America must make sincere efforts until a permanent peace is ensured in the country and the oppressed people of this country are saved from being killed forever. And that's possible if the United States is willing to do so.

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Today is the fifth day since the bloody terrorist event and crime has occurred in Logar. On the following day, most of the world's prominent countries, the United Nations, European countries and European Union, United Kingdom, and Turkey condemned the terrorist attack; however, so far Russia and Pakistan have not condemned the attack. What does it mean when Russia, which is an important member country of the Security Council and gives herself the right to have a say and remain involved in the issue of Afghanistan, remains ignorant on this issue? Russia still has influence in Afghanistan and supports a number of controversial and anti-government armed and unarmed groups and persons. About 21 youth of Akbar Khil village of Azra district were martyred and 100 more were wounded in the event in Logar. The village was sunk in the doomsday; there was no one to dig graves because more than half of the villagers were busy with wounded relatives and the rest had dead bodies in front of them. In Pashto, there is a proverb that says that a friend and enemy can be known on a bad day. It is the same principle in international relations that says, whoever shows sympathy with you in your difficulty, he is your friend. So far, no one has officially accepted responsibility for Logar's event, The Taliban neither condemned the event nor took responsibility, and on such occasions where the number of civilian casualties is higher, in light of past experiences, they already have made statements u

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