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Residents of Kunduz in Afghanistan Fear another Attack from Taliban Terrorist Group

Afghan government and its NATO allies seem confident the Taliban would not be able to run over Kunduz, but that has done little to reassure the population

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People live in fear in Afghanistan due to Militant attacks. VOA

A bulldozer was busy clearing up the burnt remains of a shop destroyed during more than a week of fighting. Nearby, a man sold vegetables on a cart amidst heaps of charred bricks. Almost two weeks after the Afghan government, with NATO support, managed to fend off a Taliban attempt in early October to take over Kunduz city, residents were trying to get their lives back together.

Even though the Taliban failed to take over the city the way it did for a few days in 2015, the fighting, and the subsequent looting, destroyed many businesses. Residents complained of the high costs that war had imposed on them.

“A loaf of bread has shot up from five to 30 Afghanis. One liter of gas has gone up 50 to 80, so gas is now 300 Afghanis,” Shafiqullah, a resident of Kunduz, protested.

In the city square, a traffic policeman blew his whistle to direct the unruly traffic as bicycles weaved their way in and out of rows of cars and rickshaws; three-wheeled taxis popular in the region.

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Afghan Local Police (ALP) forces sit on the back of a police pickup in Kunduz city, Afghanistan, Oct. 4, 2016.
Afghan Local Police (ALP) forces sit on the back of a police pickup in Kunduz city, Afghanistan, Oct. 4, 2016. VOA news.

The main bazaar was full of pedestrians. Carts selling roasted corn or other snacks blocked the footpaths. Smoke, along with the appetizing whiff of roast meat, rose from a shop selling kebabs, a staple Afghan dish.

A casual glance on the streets gave an impression that things were usual, but locals said they continued to live under a cloud of fear and uncertainty. Few seemed to have confidence in the government’s ability to protect them against the Taliban.

“They can come anytime they want,” said Mohammad Idrees, speaking in local Dari language. “All entrances to the city are open. My house is in danger at night. No one is here to stop them. There is no police, nobody to stop them entering the city.”

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Afghan security forces keep watch in front of their armored vehicle in Kunduz city, Afghanistan, Oct. 4, 2016.
Afghan security forces keep watch in front of their armored vehicle in Kunduz city, Afghanistan, Oct. 4, 2016. VOA news.

His concerns seemed legitimate. It looked like most of the security – the Humvees, the tanks, the trucks, the personnel – were concentrated in the city center, with little presence towards the outskirts.

The road that the VOA team took from nearby Baghlan province to Kunduz last Friday afternoon also seemed to have little security presence. Convoys of destroyed trucks and trailers every few kilometers provided evidence of Taliban attacks, but most of the police checkposts, several of them half destroyed from past fighting, were vacant.

Taliban militants are known to randomly set up illegal checkpoints on that and other roads leading to Kunduz, especially early mornings and after dark, to stop traffic going into or coming out of the city.

It seemed easy for them to do so. The districts surrounding Kunduz city still have heavy Taliban presence with areas considered sympathetic to it. An illegal checkpoint could mean something as simple as a couple of Taliban members walking or driving up to the road on their motorbikes from a nearby village and waving their AK-47s to stop traffic.

Afghan government and its NATO allies seem confident the Taliban would not be able to run over Kunduz, but that has done little to reassure the population.

“People’s shops are destroyed, businesses have shut down, people are living in fear,” said Musa Jan describing life in Kunduz. “People think there will be more attacks and the city will collapse again.” (VOA).

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Terrorist Safe Havens Should Be Eliminated: Rajnath Singh

Rajnath Singh said in Bangkok that the international community should come together to disrupt terrorist networks

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Bangkok on Monday that the international community should come together to eliminate terrorist safe havens. Wikimedia Commons

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Bangkok on Monday that the international community should come together to eliminate terrorist safe havens and disrupt their networks and financing in order to thwart cross-border movements for achieving sustainable regional security is achieved.

Singh was addressing the sixth ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) in Thailand, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the regional framework this year. Describing terrorism as the most heinous cross-border crime, Singh said some states have been using terror to pursue their political goals.

“It is so much worse when terrorists are aided, abetted, armed, financed and sheltered by States. The interplay between states and non-state actors, used as proxies to foment violence, has worsened this menace. The persistence of State-sponsored terrorism is not just a painful cancer, it is also the leading reason for unsustainable security,” said Singh.

Rajnath Singh
Rajnath Singh says that The persistence of State-sponsored terrorism is the leading reason for unsustainable security. Wikimedia Commons

The theme of the meeting this year is ‘Sustainable Security.’ Singh said there is a need for a more cooperative, equitable and consultative paradigm to deal with the broad and complex security challenges to find sustainable solutions.

Singh further said that India’s Indo-Pacific vision is based on the idea of sustainable security as it focuses on a free, open, inclusive and rules-based region in which there is respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all natikons.

“Our region must remain open and welcoming to the interests of all, those who live in it and others whose interests are in it. In short, our approach to security in the Indo-Pacific is sustainable by definition because it emphasises Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR),” added Singh.

On negotiations for a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, Singh said the outcome of these talks will be in keeping with all relevant international laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. He said the forum promotes freedom of navigation, overflight and lawful commerce and also emphasised the need to protect the rights of States that are not party to these negotiations.

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Singh emphasied that India looks forward to the progress made through dialogue in addressing all related issues, including the proliferation trail that links South and East Asia on the issue of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. “As dialogue remains on the table, we hope missile launches and such destabilising activities will cease”, he said.

During the course of his address, Singh said India is eager to co-chair the India-Indonesia Expert Working Group on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) in the next cycle. (IANS)