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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Afghanistan crisis Highlights: US drone strikes ‘suicide bombers’ in Kabul; Militant fire across Afghan border kills 2 Pakistan soldiers

Afghanistan crisis Highlights: The Pentagon said the remaining contingent of US forces at the airport have begun their final withdrawal ahead of the deadline for ending the evacuation on Tuesday.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 30, 2021 7:26:23 am
Taliban fighter patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug. 28, 2021. (AP Photo)

Afghanistan crisis Highlights: Militants fired from across the Afghanistan border and killed two Pakistani soldiers on Sunday, the Pakistani Army said. It was first such attack since the Taliban took over Kabul ten days ago. The Pakistani Army said it retaliated and killed two or three of the attackers.

US officials said a drone struck a vehicle carrying multiple ‘suicide bombers’ which was on its way to attack the Kabul international airport amid the American military’s evacuation. The terror threat, of which the US had issued warnings earlier in the day, is believed to have been eliminated.

Days after two blasts at Kabul airport claimed close to 200 lives, sound of another powerful explosion was heard in the Afghan capital on Sunday, AP reported. According to Afghan police chief, a rocket hit the northwest neighbourhood of Kabul airport killing a child. According to AP, the two strikes (drone and rocket) initially appeared to be separate incidents, though information on both were very limited.

A band of veteran Afghan leaders, including two regional strongmen, are angling for talks with the Taliban and plan to meet within weeks to form a new front for holding negotiations on the country’s next government, a member of a group said. The move comes as Western forces are heading to the final phase of troop-pullout from Afghanistan.

Evacuation of the remaining contingent of US forces at the airport has begun ahead of the Aug 31. deadline. Other NATO forces too have begun pulling out their forces. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the current situation in Afghanistan with his Indian counterpart External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday.

Live Blog

Afghanistan crisis Highlights: Biden warns of possible terror attack; US Embassy in Kabul again warns citizens to leave airport gates "immediately"; Most countries wind down evacuation process. Follow highlights here:

00:05 (IST)30 Aug 2021
We want to maintain Afghanistan’s trade, political ties with India: Taliban leader

The Taliban wants to maintain Afghanistan’s trade, economic and political relations with India, senior leader of the outfit Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai has said while describing it as an important country in the region. In a video address in Pashto, Stanekzai said consultations with various groups and political parties are going on to form a government in Kabul that will have representations from people from “different walks of life”. Read More 

 
23:47 (IST)29 Aug 2021
Taliban agrees to allow Afghans to leave, international statement says

The Taliban will allow all foreign nationals and Afghan citizens with travel authorisation from another country to leave Afghanistan, according to a joint statement issued by Britain, the United States and other countries."We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a
safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country," they said in the statement. Reuters

22:16 (IST)29 Aug 2021
Militant fire across Afghan border kills two Pakistan soldiers, says army

Militant fire from across the border in Afghanistan killed two Pakistani soldiers on Sunday, the army said. The army said it retaliated and killed two or three attackers. The incident in Pakistan's Bajaur district is the first of its kind reported since the Taliban took over Afghanistan. --Reuters

21:51 (IST)29 Aug 2021
Turkish President Erdogan signals willingness to develop Afghanistan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signaled his willingness to help the Taliban develop Afghanistan. --AP

21:50 (IST)29 Aug 2021
US evacuates over 5,500 American nationals from Afghanistan: official

The US has safely evacuated more than 5,500 American nationals from Afghanistan including about 50 people in the last day and there are nearly 250 Americans who are trying to leave the war-torn country, the State Department said on Sunday. Chaos has enveloped Kabul after Afghanistan's government collapsed and the Taliban seized control on August 14. --PTI

20:14 (IST)29 Aug 2021
Taliban: US airstrike hits suicide bomber targeting airport

The Taliban said that a US airstrike hit a suicide bomber who wanted to attack the Kabul international airport amid the American military's evacuation there. According to AP, the two strikes (the rocket and this) initially appeared to be separate incidents, though information on both were very limited.

19:15 (IST)29 Aug 2021
Biden to receive bodies of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan

U.S. President Joe Biden headed to Dover Air Force Base on Sunday to honor members of the U.S. military killed in a suicide bomb attack during the evacuation of civilians from Kabul airport last week. An Islamic State suicide bombing just outside Kabul airport on Thursday killed scores of Afghans and 13 American troops. Biden and his wife, Jill, will meet the families of service members killed in the attack, a White House schedule showed.They will then witness the transfer of the troops' remains from an aircraft flown to the base in Delaware. --Reuters

19:14 (IST)29 Aug 2021
US will not have an Embassy presence in Afghanistan from Sep 1

Jake Sullivan said US will not have an Embassy presence in Afghanistan from September 1.

19:12 (IST)29 Aug 2021
Rocket hits neighbourhood of Kabul airport, kills a child, says Afghan police chief

According to Afghan police chief, a rocket hit the northwest neighbourhood of Kabul airport killing a child.

18:48 (IST)29 Aug 2021
Blast reported in Kabul, says TOLO News

Days after two blasts at Kabul airport claimed close to 200 lives, sound of another powerful explosion has been heard in the Afghan capital, TOLO News reported. According to the Afghanistan media channel, a number of social media users posted pictures saying that the explosion took place near Kabul airport. Information on the type of blast and resultant casualties are awaited.

18:05 (IST)29 Aug 2021
France for safe zone in Kabul to protect people trying to leave Afghanistan

French President Emmanuel Macron Sunday said France and Britain will submit a proposal at an emergency United Nations meeting planned for Monday suggesting the creation of a safe zone in Kabul to protect people trying to leave the country, Reuters reported.

15:42 (IST)29 Aug 2021
Last UK troops begin arriving from Afghanistan

Military planes carrying British troops and diplomats from Kabul are landing at a UK air base after the U.K.'s two-week evacuation operation ended. The U.K. ambassador to Afghanistan, Laurie Bristow, was among those who arrived Sunday at RAF Brize Norton northwest of London, hours after the government announced that all British personnel had left Kabul. Britain says it has evacuated more than 15,000 U.K. citizens and vulnerable Afghans in the past two weeks but that as many as 1,100 Afghans who were entitled to come to the U.K. have been left behind. --AP

15:09 (IST)29 Aug 2021
Last UK troops begin arriving in London from Afghanistan

Military planes carrying British troops and diplomats from Kabul are landing at a UK air base after the U.K.'s two-week evacuation operation ended.

The U.K. ambassador to Afghanistan, Laurie Bristow, was among those who arrived Sunday at RAF Brize Norton northwest of London, hours after the government announced that all British personnel had left Kabul. (AP)

14:10 (IST)29 Aug 2021
Paralympics: Afghan athletes arrive in Tokyo after harrowing journey from Kabul

Afghan athletes Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli have arrived in Tokyo, via what’s been described as a harrowing journey from Kabul to Paris, to compete in the Paralympics.

In this image made from a video, Afghan athletes Zakia Khudadadi, left, and Hossain Rasouli arrive at Haneda airport in Tokyo.

For now, they are sequestered in the Paralympics Village alongside Tokyo Bay, will not be available for media interviews during their stay _ before or after they compete. And where they go after the Games close on Sept. 5 is unclear.

The International Paralympic Committee said they arrived in Tokyo from Paris early on Saturday evening, having passed all the required COVID-19 tests to enter Japan. IPC spokesman Craig Spence said they’d need a few days to get their bearing and needed some privacy. (Read more)

13:34 (IST)29 Aug 2021
Venice Film Festival announces Afghan directors panel to discuss Taliban takeover

The Venice International Film Festival has invited Afghan filmmakers Sahraa Karimi and Sahra Mani to talk about the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan with “particular attention to the situation of filmmakers and artists” since the hardline religious group seized control of the country.

According to Biennale’s official website, the panel will take place September 4 at 3 pm at the Palazzo del Casino (Lido of Venice), in the Press Conference Room. (Read more)

13:25 (IST)29 Aug 2021
A digital Dunkirk: veterans online scramble to get people out of Afghanistan

Joe Saboe pressed his fingers against his brow in exhaustion and leaned over a laptop as he tried to do what had been drilled into him over and over when he was an Army infantry officer: Leave no one behind.

“Roger, I’ve got six AmCits, at least six,” he said into his cellphone, using shorthand for American citizens, while simultaneously texting with a military source in Kabul, Afghanistan. “I can get them to the rally point at wheels up, but they’re not going to leave without their families, I need to make that happen.”

Joe Saboe, whose group formed a helpline for Afghans trying to flee Kabul, in his office in Denver on Aug. 26, 2021. (Stephen Speranza/The New York Times)

Saboe, 36, deployed to Iraq years ago and now is the chief executive of a small startup and a youth soccer coach. But this past week he became an unofficial commander in an impromptu network of veterans and citizen volunteers who came together to execute an ad hoc mission to get American citizens and Afghan allies safely out of Kabul before the American airlift ends. (Read more)

12:58 (IST)29 Aug 2021
In photos: Glimpses from Kabul airport

US forces are in the final phase of leaving Kabul, ending two decades of involvement in Afghanistan, and just over 1,000 civilians at the airport remain to be flown out before troops withdraw, a Western security official said on Sunday.


In this image provided by the US Marine Corps, a Marine checks an Afghan woman as she goes through the evacuation control center at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP)




In this image provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, Marines monitor the air traffic control center at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. 




12:49 (IST)29 Aug 2021
Veteran Afghan strongmen to form new front for negotiating with Taliban

A band of veteran Afghan leaders, including two regional strongmen, are angling for talks with the Taliban and plan to meet within weeks to form a new front for holding negotiations on the country's next government, a member of a group said.

Khalid Noor, son of Atta Mohammad Noor, the once-powerful governor of northern Afghanistan's Balkh province, said the group comprised of veteran ethnic Uzbek leader Abdul Rashid Dostum and others opposed to the Taliban's takeover.

"We prefer to negotiate collectively, because it is not that the problem of Afghanistan will be solved just by one of us," Noor, 27, told Reuters in an interview from an undisclosed location. "So, it is important for the entire political community of the country to be involved, especially the traditional leaders, those with power, with public support," Noor said. Atta Noor and Dostum, veterans of four decades of conflict in Afghanistan, both fled the country when the northern city of Mazar-i Sharif fell to the Taliban, the hardline Islamist group, without a fight. (Reuters)

12:39 (IST)29 Aug 2021
Final UK evacuation flight leaves Kabul; troops head home

British troops have left Kabul, ending the UK’s evacuation operation and its 20-year military involvement in Afghanistan.

Britain's ambassador to Afghanistan, Laurie Bristow with Brigadier Dan Blanchford. (Twitter/Laurie Bristow)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the “heroic” evacuation effort, even as the government acknowledged some eligible Afghan civilians had been left behind. The UK’s top military officer conceded that “we haven’t been able to bring everybody out.” (Read more)

11:57 (IST)29 Aug 2021
Wedding certificate and cell phone: How a US veteran’s wife fled Afghanistan

Whipped by the Taliban and shoved from behind by other desperate Afghans, marriage certificate in hand, Sharifa Afzali thrust her cell phone at the US soldier barring the Kabul airport gate. On the other end was her husband, a US Army veteran in Oklahoma.

“I told her, ‘Hey, see if he’ll talk to me on the phone.’ I didn’t think he would do it, but he did,” said Hans Wright, who pleaded with the soldier to bend the rules for the visa-less woman he loves. “And by the grace of God, he let my wife and my interpreter through,” Wright recounted to Reuters. Afzali made it out of Afghanistan, counting herself among the lucky ones. (Read more)

A wounded being carried to a hospital following the blast outside Kabul airport. (Photo: The New York Times)

Earlier in the day, the US issued warnings of an "specific, credible" terror threat, and asked US citizens to steer clear of the airport and airport gates. The warning was echoed by US President Joe Biden, US State Department and the US embassy. A similar advisory was issued prior to Friday's terror attack that killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 US service members. In retaliation, the US said it killed two ISIS-K militants responsible.

Hundreds of Afghans desperate to flee the Taliban continued to crowd Kabul’s airport Friday, even after one of the deadliest bombings in the country’s history, as the death toll from the previous day’s blast neared 200 with hundreds more wounded, keeping the city’s hospitals grimly busy all day. The suicide bombing ripped right into the jostling throng on Thursday afternoon, piling an adjacent sewage canal with corpses. Health officials said at least 170 civilians had been killed, and likely more. The attack also killed 13 US service members.

Kabul attack: As bombing’s death toll soars to 170, desperate Afghans seek any exit

Hundreds of Afghans desperate to flee the Taliban continued to crowd Kabul’s airport Friday, even after one of the deadliest bombings in the country’s history, as the death toll from the previous day’s blast neared 200 with hundreds more wounded, keeping the city’s hospitals grimly busy all day.

The size of the crowd at the airport had dropped sharply, however, with fear paring the numbers down to hundreds from the thousands of previous days. The suicide bombing ripped right into the jostling throng Thursday afternoon, piling an adjacent sewage canal with corpses. Health officials said at least 170 civilians had been killed, and likely more.

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