News / Asia

    Deadly Suicide Blast Hits Afghan Army Bus

    An Afghan National Army officer escorts a slightly injured boy from the site of a suicide attack on the outskirts of Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, Feb. 8, 2016.
    An Afghan National Army officer escorts a slightly injured boy from the site of a suicide attack on the outskirts of Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, Feb. 8, 2016.
    Ayaz Gul

    A Taliban suicide bomber Monday killed at least three Afghan soldiers and wounded more than 18 others in the northern Balkh province.

    Afghan officials, citing initial reports from the scene, said a bus carrying personnel of the Afghan National Army (ANA) was the target of the attack in the Dahdadi district.

    Eyewitness told local reporters they saw at least eight dead among the victims. Reports said there were three women who work in the army ranks in the province among the wounded.

    Claimed responsibility

    Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in a statement sent to reporters, claimed the insurgent group carried out the bombing and gave a much higher toll. He asserted the bomber boarded the bus just before it was readying to transport the ANA soldiers to their routine duties and blew himself up.

    Hours later, officials in eastern Paktika province, which borders Pakistan, said a suspected suicide blast in a crowded market killed at least six civilians and wounded nine others. Afghan media reports said the bomber apparently targeted police and intelligence operatives while they were eating lunch in Yahyakhel district.

    Separately, unknown assailants gunned down a presidential palace guard in the eastern Nangarhar province. A provincial government spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, said the security person was attacked inside his house and his mother was also wounded.

    The violence comes two days after Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States announced that direct peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban representatives could take place by the end of this month.

    Diplomats from the four nations met in Islamabad Saturday and agreed on a road map to promote the Afghan peace talks.

    Peace talks

    The Taliban is not part of the four-way dialogue and has rejected the weekend announcement as a “one-sided affair” that would not produce any results.

    “Foreigners are continuing their war and killing innocent Afghans,” a Taliban official requesting anonymity told VOA, adding the only solution to end the war was for the foreign forces to withdraw from the country.

    General John Campbell, left, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and Afghan acting Defense Minister Masoom Stanekzai hold a press conference at the Afghan Defence ministry in Kabul, Feb. 7, 2016.
    General John Campbell, left, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and Afghan acting Defense Minister Masoom Stanekzai hold a press conference at the Afghan Defence ministry in Kabul, Feb. 7, 2016.

    But General John Campbell, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, insisted there are no preconditions when it comes to talking about the peace process.

    Campbell told reporters in Kabul Sunday that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have both already explained the way forward for peace talks with the Taliban.

    “They [have] got to honor the Afghan constitution, they [have] got to honor women’s rights, they [need] to lay down their arms, they [have] got to stop their terrorist acts," he said.

    "Once they do that, then we can get to the table. … But if you continue to have violence against women and children, against security forces, you have no future,” Campbell added.

    FILE - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, right, helps Samira Hamidi, an Afghan rights advocate, with a microphone during the Afghan Civil Society event in Tokyo, July 8, 2012.
    FILE - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, right, helps Samira Hamidi, an Afghan rights advocate, with a microphone during the Afghan Civil Society event in Tokyo, July 8, 2012.

    Afghan civil society groups, particularly women’s rights activists, on Monday restated their skepticism and criticism of the four-way talks and the so-called road map for peace talks with the Taliban.

    Speaking in neighboring Pakistan at an unofficial bilateral dialogue, prominent Afghan rights advocate Samira Hamidi complained women are completely missing in the talks the four nations have held so far and demanded their inclusion in the next meeting to be held in Kabul later this month.

    Road map content

    “I think it is very important to understand what this road map content is. What the negotiation is going to look like and what are the things we have to be ready for it and how we can contribute and making that this process is successful," Hamidi said.

    "Because at the end of the day all we want is peace but of course peace with justice and peace with no negotiations on the rights and no negotiations on the achievements that we have had so far,” she told the delegates attending the so-called Beyond Boundaries Track Two dialogue.

    The Afghan government insists it is aware of the concerns and is determined to address them in any peace negotiations with the Taliban.

    The head of the Afghan delegation in the four-way talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, promised that Kabul would stick to the “values enshrined in Afghanistan’s constitution,” particularly regarding women’s rights once the peace talks commenced.

    Karzai also said the government delegation would have “a woman member in the negotiating team."

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora