An overnight Taliban attack on checkpoints in northern Afghanistan killed 22 troops after some 100 Afghan forces fled heavy fighting in the country’s west in recent days and tried to cross into neighbouring Turkmenistan, officials said on Sunday.
The Taliban launched the assault late on Saturday against checkpoints manned by police and pro-government forces in Qaisar district, setting off a fierce gun battle that lasted into Sunday morning said Mohammad Tahir Rahmani, the head of the provincial council in the northern Faryab province.
The army sent in reinforcements, who were among those killed. Rahmani said another 20 Afghan forces were wounded in the attack.
“The Taliban have gained control of more areas in the district” after stepping up attacks in recent weeks, Rahmani said, adding that troop reinforcements have arrived from the capital, Kabul.
Provincial police spokesman Karim Yuresh confirmed that a large number of Taliban launched attacks in Faryab, but he could not immediately provide more details.
The Taliban spokesman claimed in a tweet that Taliban fighters overran a government base and checkpoint in Qaisar. The Taliban claim 21 soldiers and militiamen, known locally as arbaki were killed. The Taliban said their bodies were left on the battlefield.
#الخندق: خبرمهم: شب گذشته در منطقه ارکلیک ولسوالی قیصار ولایت فاریاب یک قراگاه و یک پوسته دشمن مزدور فتح گردید. ۲۱ عسکر و اربکی کشته شدند،که اجسادآنهادر میدان نبرباقی مانده، ۴ تن زنده دستگیر و دیگران فرار کردند. یک تانک، تعداد زیاد اسلحه سبک وسنگین ومهمات تصرف شد. احمدی pic.twitter.com/CG4KwFNmix
— Zabihullah (ذبیح الله م ) (@Zabihullah_4) March 17, 2019
Four soldiers were captured alive, the tweet said, the rest escaped. The Taliban say they also captured a tank and many heavy and light weapons in the assault.
About 60 kilometres further west, in Baghdis province, around 100 Afghan border police fled their posts and tried to cross the border into Turkmenistan during a weeklong battle with the Taliban, officials said on Sunday.
Mohammad Naser Nazari, a provincial council member in Badghis, said the soldiers weren’t allowed to cross into Turkmenistan and their fate remains unknown.
The provincial council chairman, Abdul Aziz Bik said on Sunday that about 50 Afghan border police surrendered to the Taliban, while the remaining 50 continued fighting in the district of Bala Murghab.
Bala Murghab is the province’s most populous district.
“These soldiers have been fighting against the Taliban for years and if they give up, they will be killed by Taliban,” Bik said.
The Taliban have posted pictures of captured soldiers on social media early Sunday, that show at least 27 people that appear to be in Taliban custody. The tweet said they captured them within the previous 48 hours.
#الخندق:در ولسوالی بالامرغاب ولایت بادغیس در ۴۸ ساعت گذشته ۹ کندک، یک مرکز مهم نظامی و ده ها پوسته فتح، تعداد زیاد عساکر و پولیس کشته و زخمی شدند، ۷۲ تن عسکر و پولیس زنده دستگیر گردیدند.عملیات ادامه دارد، دشمن مورال خودرا ازدست داده و مجاهدین درحال پیشروی اند.احمدی pic.twitter.com/KkpzWK17AR
— Zabihullah (ذبیح الله م ) (@Zabihullah_4) March 17, 2019
The Taliban claim they captured 72 soldiers and police and are continuing their advance. The group often inflates casualty figures and exaggerates its successes.
The battles mark the latest setbacks for the country’s battered security forces, who come under daily attack and have suffered staggering casualties in recent years.
Afghan president Ashraf Ghani said in January that more than 45,000 Afghan security forces have been killed since 2014.
The attacks have continued even as the Taliban have been holding direct negotiations with the United States aimed at ending the nearly 18-year war.
Conflicting casualty numbers
Jamshid Shahabi, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said 16 soldiers have been killed and 20 wounded during the ongoing battle in the Bala Murghab district, in which the military carried out air raids and dispatched reinforcements.
He said a number of soldiers tried to flee, without providing an exact figure. Shahabi said more than 40 fighters were killed.
He said the provincial police chief and army commander are in the district and instructing the forces to root out fighters and rescue soldiers.
Officials said the fighting had largely subsided by Sunday, with sporadic clashes breaking out in remote areas.
Nazari provided a higher toll, saying 50 soldiers were killed and around 100 others were missing. He said hundreds of local residents have gathered in front of the Badghis governor’s office to express their concerns about security in the province.
He said Bala Murghab is almost completely controlled by the Taliban, with Afghan forces confined to the district headquarters.
Al Jazeera and news agencies
Children killed in attack on Cameroonian school
Assailants storm private school in city of Kumba, Southwest Region, killing at least four students.Attackers have opened fire on a private school in Cameroon’s Southwest Region, killing at least four children, according to officials. The unknown assailants stormed the Mother Francisca School in the city of Kumba on Saturday. There was no immediate claim of…
Assailants storm private school in city of Kumba, Southwest Region, killing at least four students.Attackers have opened fire on a private school in Cameroon’s Southwest Region, killing at least four children, according to officials.
The unknown assailants stormed the Mother Francisca School in the city of Kumba on Saturday. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
“They attacked around noon. They found the children in a class and they opened fire on them,” Kumba sub-prefect Ali Anougou told the Reuters news agency.
At least nine other students were wounded and sent to the hospital. There were fears the death toll could rise.
The Associated Press news agency quoted Anougou as blaming separatists who have been fighting the military in parts of western Cameroon for the attack.
Cameroon’s two Anglophone regions – the Northwest and Southwest Regions – are home to a large minority of English speakers in a country where French speakers are the overwhelming majority – a situation that is the legacy of the decolonisation of western Africa by France and Britain more than 60 years ago.
In late 2016, long-standing complaints of political and economic discrimination against English speakers by the central government spilled over when lawyers, students and teachers began calling for reforms.
The government’s lethal response to the protests provoked rebels to declare in 2017 independence for a region they call “Ambazonia”, triggering a stronger crackdown by the authorities.
Both sides have since been accused of committing atrocities in a conflict that has killed some 3,000 people and forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
Anglophone secessionists have imposed curfews and closed schools as part of their protest against President Paul Biya’s government.
Last year, officials blamed separatists for kidnapping dozens of schoolchildren, charges the separatists denied.
Vietnamese envoy hails KRCS’ global humanitarian efforts
KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer meets Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh. – KUNAKUWAIT: Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh hailed the humanitarian efforts of Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) around the world. The remarks were made to KUNA yesterday after the ambassador’s meeting with KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer. He expressed appreciation…
KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer meets Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh. – KUNAKUWAIT: Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh hailed the humanitarian efforts of Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) around the world. The remarks were made to KUNA yesterday after the ambassador’s meeting with KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer. He expressed appreciation for the society’s aid to the Vietnamese Embassy during the coronavirus crisis.
The ambassador added that they discussed providing his country with aid to face the impact of the recent floods and landslides, considered to be the worst in decades. Sayer said he was pleased with the ambassador’s visit and affirmed that KRCS will continue exerting humanitarian efforts to aid those affected by natural disasters and crises everywhere. – KUNA
Pain, frustration: Expats lose jobs to new rules and COVID
File photos show foreign workers applying to leave Kuwait during the amnesty. – Photos by Yasser Al-ZayyatBy Chidi Emmanuel After working for 24 years in Kuwait, Charley Lyon received the dreaded letter that many expats fear amid the economic downturn, coronavirus pandemic and new residency laws. Lyon is among thousands of expat workers in the…
File photos show foreign workers applying to leave Kuwait during the amnesty. – Photos by Yasser Al-ZayyatBy Chidi Emmanuel
After working for 24 years in Kuwait, Charley Lyon received the dreaded letter that many expats fear amid the economic downturn, coronavirus pandemic and new residency laws. Lyon is among thousands of expat workers in the government sector who were being laid off.
As part of its Kuwaitization policy, Kuwait is replacing expats with locals in the government sector. The government has also stopped issuing work permits to expats over 60 years of age without a university degree. These new rules have had a huge impact on the lives of thousands of expats in the country, leaving many with no choice but to pack their bags and leave.
Gulf countries are facing an exodus of foreign workers as the coronavirus pandemic pushes out foreign workers. In the midst of the COVID-19 and financial crunch, the National Assembly approved a draft law to slash expat numbers over the next five years.
As the budget deficit widens and economic conditions worsen, Kuwait is grappling with an economic downturn as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc around the world. The combined shock of collapsing oil prices, the pandemic and joblessness is reshaping labor policies in the region, thus bringing anti-foreigner sentiments to the fore again.
While Kuwait’s expats struggle to secure their jobs, the government is calling for an increase in workforce nationalization in government entities. “Why will foreigners take the jobs meant for us (Kuwaitis)? They can work anywhere – but not in the ministries,” argued Abdullah, a 26-year-old Kuwaiti.
Buttressing Abdullah’s viewpoint, Fatma, an unemployed Kuwaiti woman, complained of the difficulty in competing with foreign workers for jobs in the private sector. “Foreign workers can work longer for less, unlike us Kuwaitis. So most companies prefer to hire non-Kuwaitis. This leaves us with only one sector (the public sector). I think this is why the government introduced Kuwaitization, so as to give unemployed Kuwaitis an opportunity,” she explained.
For Lyon, justice and fairness should override anti-expat sentiments. “It is understandable that ministries would give preference to locals for jobs during these tough times, but it would be fair to consider the efforts of the old staff who have put in their best to build this country,” Lyon, 61, and some of his co-workers who were laid off recently lamented, as they worry about their future.
Expats make up the majority of the population of Kuwait. Residency is tied to employment and Kuwait does not easily offer citizenship routes to non-nationals. “We have been here (in Kuwait) legally for over 20 years. It will be difficult to go back and start afresh in our home countries. More so, Kuwait’s residency is linked to the work permit – when you lose your job, you automatically lose your residency. I worry about my children who are still in school. The three-month notice will not be enough to relocate them,” Mustapha, an Egyptian expat who recently lost his job, said in dismay.
Abdurazak Hamad, an African expat, is in a dilemma. “I feel miserable leaving my family behind. I don’t want to go alone, but I can’t make my wife quit her KD 450 job since she is now the sole breadwinner. Starting afresh in my home country at this age (62) will be very difficult. I wish I can get a permit (residency) to stay here with my family,” said Hamad, who was recently sacked.