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Posts tagged as Islamic State

Civilian deaths in Afghan war hit record in 2018

KABUL: More civilians were killed in the Afghan war in 2018 than during any other year on record after nearly two decades of fighting, according to a UN report released Sunday.
The report’s release comes a day before the US and the Taliban hold their next round of talks aimed at ending the conflict, raising tentative hopes for peace along with fears that an American withdrawal could spark an even bloodier civil war.The talks in Doha follow years of escalating violence in Afghanistan. According to the UN, at least 32,000 civilians have been killed and another 60,000 wounded in the last decade when the organisation began compiling the data.
The uptick in violence in 2018 coincides with a significant increase in the number of deaths caused by the “deliberate targeting of civilians”, according to the report, mostly stemming from suicide attacks by insurgents allied with the Taliban or Islamic State (IS).”It is time to put an end to this human misery and tragedy,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan.”The best way to halt the killings and maiming of civilians is to stop the fighting,” he said. At least 65 suicide attacks were recorded in 2018 — the majority hitting Kabul — with militants responsible for the death of more than 2,200 civilians across the country.
An increase in air strikes by US and Afghan forces also led to more civilian deaths in 2018, with more than 500 civilians killed by “aerial operations for the first time on record”, the report noted.The US intensified its air campaign against Taliban and IS fighters as Washington seeks to pile pressure on the militants, dropping twice as many munitions on insurgent positions in 2018 compared to the previous year.Yamamoto said the civilian casualties were “wholly unacceptable” and called on all parties to take “immediate and additional concrete steps to stop a further escalation in the number of civilians harmed and lives destroyed”.Afghanistan has suffered nearly constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979, which was followed by civil war, the Taliban regime, and the US invasion in late 2001.
The escalating violence comes as US President Donald Trump has been pushing to end US involvement in Afghanistan, where 14,000 American troops are still deployed.Marathon talks held in Doha in January sparked hopes of a breakthrough after the two sides agreed to a “draft framework” that included a Taliban vow to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terror groups.But US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad — who is leading the American side negotiating with the Taliban — has emphasised that any troop withdrawal would depend on conditions on the ground. Critics remain skeptical of the talks for a number of reasons, primarily because they have not yet included the Afghan government, which the Taliban considers US-backed puppets.
Civilian deaths jumped by 11 percent from 2017 with 3,804 people killed and another 7,189 wounded, according to the UN figures, as suicide attacks and bombings wreaked havoc across the war-torn country.The report’s release comes a day before the US and the Taliban hold their next round of talks aimed at ending the conflict, raising tentative hopes for peace along with fears that an American withdrawal could spark an even bloodier civil war.
The talks in Doha follow years of escalating violence in Afghanistan. According to the UN, at least 32,000 civilians have been killed and another 60,000 wounded in the last decade when the organisation began compiling the data.
The uptick in violence in 2018 coincides with a significant increase in the number of deaths caused by the “deliberate targeting of civilians”, according to the report, mostly stemming from suicide attacks by insurgents allied with the Taliban or Islamic State (IS).”It is time to put an end to this human misery and tragedy,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan.
“The best way to halt the killings and maiming of civilians is to stop the fighting,” he said. At least 65 suicide attacks were recorded in 2018 — the majority hitting Kabul — with militants responsible for the death of more than 2,200 civilians across the country.An increase in air strikes by US and Afghan forces also led to more civilian deaths in 2018, with more than 500 civilians killed by “aerial operations for the first time on record”, the report noted.The US intensified its air campaign against Taliban and IS fighters as Washington seeks to pile pressure on the militants, dropping twice as many munitions on insurgent positions in 2018 compared to the previous year.
Yamamoto said the civilian casualties were “wholly unacceptable” and called on all parties to take “immediate and additional concrete steps to stop a further escalation in the number of civilians harmed and lives destroyed”.Afghanistan has suffered nearly constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979, which was followed by civil war, the Taliban regime, and the US invasion in late 2001.The escalating violence comes as US President Donald Trump has been pushing to end US involvement in Afghanistan, where 14,000 American troops are still deployed.Marathon talks held in Doha in January sparked hopes of a breakthrough after the two sides agreed to a “draft framework” that included a Taliban vow to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terror groups.But US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad — who is leading the American side negotiating with the Taliban  has emphasised that any troop withdrawal would depend on conditions on the ground. Critics remain skeptical of the talks for a number of reasons, primarily because they have not yet included the Afghan government, which the Taliban considers US-backed puppets.

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Valentine’s Day: India college row over ‘virginity tree’ ritual

Female students at a college in the Indian capital, Delhi, are demanding an end to a ritual that sees male students hang condoms filled with water from a tree and pray to “curvaceous goddesses” in the hope that it will help them lose their virginity.
” Prof Vijayan agrees that women’s participation in the festival is very low and says he’s heard some women say that they are uncomfortable with the way it is conducted.
But he says he’s not comfortable with “any type of puritanical ideas” and suggests that they continue with the puja but modify it.”I think the female students should be more flexible and instead of demanding a ban, they should take it over and redesign it the way they want to.
“Unfortunately, at the moment it is done as a celebration of machismo. It should be made more inclusive so that women could participate as those who also desire, and not just as the desired.
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Afghanistan: 40 years of conflict

KABUL (AFP) – The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 40 years ago kicked off decades of war that endured long after the Red Army’s retreat, which ended on February 15, 1989.

1979-1989: Soviet occupation In December 1979, at the height of the Soviet-US Cold War, Moscow invades the country — which is poor and mountainous, but also strategically situated  to prop up a communist regime.It faces fierce resistance from Afghan fighters backed by the United States and others.
Moscow eventually withdraws after a decade of fighting.1992-1996: Civil war The fall of Mohammad Najibullah’s communist government in 1992 unleashes a bloody power struggle that kills nearly 100,000 people in two years and partly destroys the capital, Kabul.
1996-2001: Taliban in power The Taliban, led by Mullah Mohammad Omar, seize power in 1996 and install a regime based on their hardline interpretation of Islamic law. They forbid women from working, close girls’ schools, and ban music and other entertainment.
Under severe United Nations sanctions, the regime becomes close to the Al-Qaeda militant network and shelters its leader, Saudi national Osama bin Laden.2001: US-led invasion In October 2001 the United States leads an invasion of Afghanistan in retaliation for the September 11 attacks on Washington and New York blamed on Al-Qaeda.
Washington and its NATO allies drive out the Taliban regime and bring Hamid Karzai to power, funnelling in billions of dollars of aid to rebuild the war-ravaged country.They deploy up to 150,000 soldiers to help the government assert control and bring security.
The Taliban go into hiding or flee to neighboring countries, and then launch an insurgency against Kabul and NATO.2014: NATO withdraws NATO pulls out its International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat troops at the end of 2014, with the Taliban insurgency raging.
Some NATO soldiers remain to carry out anti-terrorist operations and train Afghan forces.The Taliban continue to make gains, while carrying out major deadly attacks, as the Islamic State group begins to make inroads in Afghanistan in 2015.
2018-2019: Peace talks In late 2018 US President Donald Trump says he is withdrawing half of the 14,000 US soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, though officials caution they have received no order to begin draw down plans.Washington steps up negotiations with the Taliban to end the conflict, with both the militants and US officials touting progress after talks culminate in a six-day meeting in Qatar in January.Afghan hopes for peace are tempered by fears the US could withdraw before a lasting deal is reached with Kabul, however.Russia and Iran also hold talks with the militants.

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