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Afghanistan LIVE updates: FM says Taliban govt won’t allow militant attacks on others

Afghanistan-Taliban Live Updates: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pushed back against harsh Republican criticism of the handling of the military withdrawal from Afghanistan

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: September 14, 2021 8:55:28 pm
People hold a protest march against the Taliban's decision to force them to leave their homes in Kandahar, Afghanistan Sept. 14, 2021, in this still image taken from video. (ASVAKA News Agency via Reuters)

Afghanistan crisis Live News Updates: The foreign minister in Afghanistan’s new Taliban-run Cabinet Tuesday said the government remains committed to its promises not to allow militants to use its territory to attack others. The first press conference by Amir Khan Muttaqi since the Taliban formed an interim government a week ago comes as governments around the world — and many Afghans at home — are searching for indications on how it will rule Afghanistan after sweeping out the US-backed government and taking over Kabul a month ago.

Meanwhile, thousands of Afghans protested against the Taliban in the southern city of Kandahar on Tuesday, according to a former government official and local television footage, after residents were asked to vacate a residential army colony. Protesters gathered in front of the governor’s house in Kandahar after around 3,000 families were asked to leave the colony, according to the former government official who witnessed the crowds.

While the Taliban is yet to respond to the protests, the group earlier denied rumours that one of their top leaders Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has been killed in a shootout with rivals.

The Afghanistan issue is expected to feature prominently in the upcoming Quad summit where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet with leaders of Australia, Japan and the United States at the White House in Washington on Sept. 24.  Meanwhile, donors have pledged more than $1.1 billion to help Afghanistan, where poverty and hunger have spiralled since the Taliban took power, and foreign aid has dried up.

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Afghanistan LIVE updates: UN says $1.2B pledged to help Afghans in need; Blinken pushes back on GOP criticism of Afghan withdrawal;. Follow all the latest developments from Afghanistan here.

18:12 (IST)14 Sep 2021
Afghans question as two top Taliban leaders ‘missing from public view’: report

Two senior Taliban leaders have gone missing from public view, leading some Afghans to question whether the group’s supreme leader and new deputy prime minister are alive, The Guardia said in a report. 

The top Taliban leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, has not been seen in public a month after the militants seized control of Afghanistan. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the Taliban’s most recognised faces, has also gone missing, the report says. 

However, the Taliban denied reports of Baradar being killed in a shootout with rivals. Sulail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, former head of the Taliban political office who was named deputy prime minister last week, issued a voice message rejecting claims he had been killed or injured in a clash.

18:09 (IST)14 Sep 2021
Afghan envoy calls for scrutiny of Taliban's rights record

A senior Afghan diplomat from the former government on Tuesday described a deteriorating human rights situation in his country where he said women's rights were disappearing under the Taliban.

"The people of Afghanistan need action more than ever," Ambassador Nasir Ahmad Andisha was quoted as saying by Reuters in Geneva. He called for the Council to create a fact-finding mission to monitor Taliban actions in the country. 

14:42 (IST)14 Sep 2021
Taliban deny their deputy prime minister, Mullah Baradar, is dead

The Taliban have denied that one of their top leaders has been killed in a shootout with rivals, following rumours about internal splits in the movement nearly a month after its lightning victory over the Western-backed government in Kabul.

Sulail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, former head of the Taliban political office who was named deputy prime minister last week, issued a voice message rejecting claims he had been killed or injured in a clash.

"He says it is lies and totally baseless," Shaheen said in a message on Twitter. The Taliban also released video footage purportedly showing Baradar at meetings in the southern city of Kandahar. Reuters could not immediately verify the footage. (Reuters)

14:32 (IST)14 Sep 2021
Thousands protest against Taliban in Kandahar over evictions

Thousands of Afghans protested against the Taliban in the southern city of Kandahar on Tuesday, according to a former government official and local television footage, after residents were asked to vacate a residential army colony.

Protesters gathered in front of the governor's house in Kandahar after around 3,000 families were asked to leave the colony, according to the former government official who witnessed the crowds.Footage from local media showed crowds of people blocking a road in the city. The affected area is predominantly occupied by the families of retired army generals and other members of the Afghan security forces.

The families, some of whom had lived in the district for almost 30 years, had been given three days to vacate, the official, who had spoken to some of those affected, said. Taliban spokesmen did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the evictions. (Reuters)

12:30 (IST)14 Sep 2021
A million Afghan children could die in ‘most perilous hour,’ UN warns

Millions of Afghans could run out of food before the arrival of winter and 1 million children are at risk of starvation and death if their immediate needs are not met, top United Nations officials warned Monday, putting the country’s plight into stark relief.

Secretary-General António Guterres, speaking at a high-level UN conference in Geneva convened to address the crisis, said that since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan last month, the nation’s poverty rate has soared; basic public services have neared collapse; and, in the past year, hundreds of thousands of people have been made homeless after being forced to flee fighting.

“After decades of war, suffering and insecurity, they face perhaps their most perilous hour,” Guterres said, adding that 1 in 3 Afghans do not know where they will get their next meal. (Read more)

11:02 (IST)14 Sep 2021
For Afghan refugees, a mix of luxury and trauma at Albania’s beach resorts

The medical student, in a trauma-induced trance after a week under Taliban rule and three days of terror waiting for a flight out of Kabul’s airport, looked out the window on her first day at her new home and saw the Statue of Liberty.

“I thought for a moment that perhaps I was in New York,” said Tahera, a 21-year-old student. But the statue, made of plaster instead of copper and located in northern Albania, a fiercely pro-US country, was “much shorter than the real one,” she added, summoning up a wry sense of humor despite her harrowing ordeal.

The statue was an unintentionally taunting decoration, a kitschy flourish on the grounds of an Albanian beach resort housing more than 440 Afghans who fled Kabul after the city fell to the Taliban on Aug. 15. (Read more)

10:11 (IST)14 Sep 2021
Pause in evacuee flights to US extended 7 days

The Pentagon says all flights of Afghan evacuees into the United States have been halted for another seven days.

That's at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, due to measles cases at three different US bases. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday that three cases of measles were diagnosed among Afghans arriving at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, one at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and one at Fort Pickett in Virginia.

The US initially halted the US-bound flights on Friday when the measles cases were first discovered. (AP)

09:29 (IST)14 Sep 2021
Family of US hostage held by Taliban calls for envoy's firing

The family of Mark Frerichs on Monday urged US President Joe Biden to fire his chief Afghanistan peace negotiator, charging that the envoy has done little to win the release of the last American believed to be held hostage by the Taliban.

The call for US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad's dismissal comes amid questions over his negotiations with the Taliban that failed to advance the peace process outlined in the February 2020 US troop pullout deal he signed with them. A State Department spokesperson said in an email that the United States has been pressing for Frerichs' "immediate and safe release" and those efforts "will not stop until Mark comes home."

"I have lost faith in Ambassador Khalilzad," Charlene Cakora, Frerichs' sister and the family spokesperson, said in a statement to Reuters, charging that he "appears to have ignored my brother's kidnapping."

"They need someone talking to the Taliban who will make Mark a priority," she continued. "Ambassador Khalilzad needs to be fired." (Reuters)

08:52 (IST)14 Sep 2021
US, CDC advises against travel to Afghanistan over COVID-19

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday warned against travel to Afghanistan, Albania, Serbia, Belize, Lithuania and four other destinations because of COVID-19 concerns.

The CDC raised its travel recommendations to "Level 4: Very High" for nine destinations, telling Americans they should avoid travel to the locations. The destinations also include Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Slovenia and Mauritius.

CDC raised its warning ratings to "Level 3" for Australia, Romania and Ethiopia, while lowering Brazil from "Level 4" to " Level 3." The U.S. State Department also hiked its parallel "Level 4: Do Not Travel" advisories for most of the countries named by CDC on Monday.

On Aug. 31, the State Department raised Afghanistan to "Level 4: Do Not Travel." (Reuters)

08:18 (IST)14 Sep 2021
US will look at Pakistan's role in last 20 yrs: Blinken tells lawmakers

The US will look at the role Pakistan played in the last 20 years, Secretary of State Tony Blinken told angry lawmakers who expressed outrage over Pakistan's "duplicitous" part in Afghanistan post 9/11 and demanded that Washington reassess its relationship with Islamabad.

The US lawmakers also urged the Biden administration to reassess Pakistan's status as a major non-NATO ally. (PTI)

07:33 (IST)14 Sep 2021
Watch: Taliban take over Afghan warlord's mansion

The Taliban has made itself home in the Kabul mansion of warlord and fugitive ex-vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum. In the video, a Taliban leader is seen saying that the palatial villa is a result of years of corruption.

07:16 (IST)14 Sep 2021
UN says $1.2B pledged to help Afghans in need

The UN humanitarian chief says USD 1.2 billion has been promised to help Afghans facing a growing humanitarian crisis in the country and millions in the region, calling the pledges "an important step" toward helping the needy.

Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths announced the total in pledges at the closing of a high-level ministerial meeting in Geneva on Monday that was seeking USD 606 million until the end of the year to help 11 million people.

Griffiths says the USD 1.2 billion includes funding for that appeal as well as the regional response to the Afghan crisis, which UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi spoke about from Kabul. (PTI)

07:14 (IST)14 Sep 2021
Anthony Blinken defends Afghan withdrawal at testy US congressional hearing

Secretary of State Antony Blinken beat back criticism of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan on Monday at a contentious congressional hearing where at least two Republicans called on him to resign.

In five hours of often testy exchanges with lawmakers, Blinken defended President Joe Biden's decision to pull out and pushed back on accusations that the State Department should have done more to help Americans and at-risk Afghans to be evacuated, blaming the previous administration for lacking a plan. He repeatedly noted that Republican former President Donald Trump had negotiated the withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, and said Biden's administration could not renegotiate because of threats from the group to resume killing Americans.

"There's no evidence that staying longer would have made the Afghan security forces or the Afghan government any more resilient or self-sustaining," Blinken said. "We inherited a deadline. We did not inherit a plan," Blinken said, referring to the Trump administration's agreement to remove all US forces from Afghanistan by May 1.

Members of Congress - Biden's Democrats as well as opposition Republicans - have pledged to investigate since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last month after a rapid advance. (Reuters)

An Afghan woman enters a beauty salon in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday. Since the Taliban gained control of Kabul, several images depicting women outside beauty salons have been removed or covered up. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

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