KABUL: At least 14 people were killed in central Afghanistan on Tuesday when two explosions sped through the historic city of Bamiyan, home to many members of the mainly Shiite Hazara minority.
The slaughter ended years of calm in the remote city – famous for its ancient Buddhist heritage – which avoided the kind of large-scale attacks common elsewhere in the war-torn country.
The double bomb was the latest major attack in Afghanistan, in which violence has increased in recent months, despite Taliban and Afghan government negotiators meeting for peace talks in the Qatari capital, Doha.
« Two (bomb) explosions killed 14 people and injured 45 others, » Bamiyan police chief Zabardast Safi told AFP, adding that a traffic policeman was among the dead.
The explosives were placed in two different locations, Bamiyan police spokesman Reza Yosufi said, adding that two suspects had been arrested.
Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian confirmed the toll.
« We are investigating the deadly explosions in Bamiyan, » he said.
“This is an unforgivable crime. ”
No group immediately called for the explosions and the Taliban denied involvement.
The explosions occurred in front of a market and near a hospital in Bamiyan, Anwar Saadatyar told AFP.
“When I reached the market. . . There was still blood and body parts everywhere. The explosion happened while people were shopping, ”he said in a phone interview.
At the second site of the explosion, near the hospital, most of the victims were university students, Saadatyar said.
« I went to the hospital later and saw people cry for their relatives who were killed or wounded in the blasts, » he said.
« There were so many wounded that the doctors didn’t know who to treat first. I will never forget this scene. ”
Bamiyan is perhaps best known for the giant Buddha statues that were once carved into walls outside the city.
In 2001, the Taliban aroused international resentment when they blew up the centuries-old figures as they raged against Afghanistan’s rich pre-Islamic cultural heritage.
With its snow-covered backdrop and frequent blue skies, Bamiyan is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs looking to explore a network of ancient caves that are home to temples, monasteries, and Buddhist paintings.
The province is mainly home to the Hazara community, which has been targeted over the years by Sunni extremists such as the Daesh group and the Taliban in the 1990s.
In cities like Kabul, Hazaras has seen repeated attacks in their neighborhoods, including a brutal daylight attack in the capital in May on a hospital maternity ward in which several mothers died.
In the past six months, the Taliban carried out 53 suicide bombings and 1. Detonated 250 explosives in which 1. 210 civilians killed and 2. 500 were injured, the Interior Ministry said last week.
KABUL: As they crowd around a makeshift fire a few feet from their tents, a group of men displaced by decades of war in Afghanistan recalls the number of times former and current government officials have pledged to provide basic services to millions of refugees along the way to offer routine visits to their warehouse.
One man in the group, 42-year-old Shah Tawoos, points to a dirty jet of water that finds its way under the rotten tent – his « home » for more than a decade.
« Look at the humidity inside and the mud outside the tent, even dogs can’t and won’t take this, but we have nowhere to go, » Tawoos told Arab News.
The tent is one of many in the Charahi Qambar (CQ) camp on the western edge of Kabul, where thousands of internally displaced people like Tawoos are denied their rights and are constantly threatened with deportation.
“Ministers and other authorities came and went and promised to help us with the houses, but nothing happened. We don’t know where the government spends the state budget and foreign aid, ”he said.
According to the Internal Monitoring Displacement Center (IMDC), the CQ is one of 47 camps home to nearly 3 million internally displaced people whose lives have been changed by either natural disasters or renewed violence since the Taliban’s overthrow in the US-led invasion was established in 2001.
The evictions were triggered by fighting and attacks by the Taliban, the government and the US-led forces, Daesh and other non-state armed groups.
« In the first half of 2020 there were 117. 000 new displacements related to conflict and violence and 30. 000 as a result of disasters, « according to IMDC.
The CQ camp is full of refugees from southern Afghanistan, where, according to the United Nations, more than 5. 000 families fled the fighting between the Taliban insurgents and Afghan government forces, particularly in Helmand province.
The conditions in these camps are deplorable. The internally displaced live in tents that have been donated by either local or foreign aid organizations, or in small mud houses built with their resources.
The tents are rotting. Their condition, residents say, worsens in summer, when heavy rain and snow weaken the fabric, resulting in gaping holes.
« Our tents are infested with mosquitoes in the summer heat and unbearably cold in winter, » said Rahmat Gul, another resident of the camp.
He lamented the lack of electricity and water supplies and highlighted the plight of thousands of children who do not have access to education or often to food.
Gul says there are other problems, such as unemployment and poverty, that force some men and women to beg to make ends meet.
The camp first attracted attention in 2012 after at least 15 IDPs were frozen to death due to harsh winter conditions.
The evictions were again the subject of discussion during a virtual donor conference in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday, where ministers from nearly 70 countries and officials from humanitarian organizations discussed funding cuts and tighter restrictions on vital aid to Afghanistan, which pose further challenges for a nation that poses is preparing for an early withdrawal of the US-led foreign troops and dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
“We want participants (in Geneva) to act with caution and take decisive action by our government to ensure accountability and transparency. Otherwise, we fear that, as in the past, much of the aid will be wasted either by foreign contractors or by officials from our government, ”said Gul.
Ahead of the conference, which began Monday, President Ashraf Ghani said he hoped it would generate billions of dollars in aid.
« The result of this pledging conference will have a strong influence on the future development of the country and our path to independence and peace, » said Ghani at the weekend in Kabul.
A similar event follows in Belgium in 2016, where donors pledged to provide US $ 15 billion in aid to Afghanistan over the next five years.
However, Treasury Department spokesman Shamrooz Khan Masjidi was unable to comment on how much of the promised aid had been paid out.
« We want a large part of the aid to go through the state budgets, » he said.
He added that the focus of all future aid would be on building infrastructure, returning refugees and supporting the displaced war.
« Kabul had met anti-corruption standards set by donors for the last conference and was open to accountability for the money spent, » he said.
The Geneva meeting comes amid a dead end in talks between the Afghan government and Taliban negotiators in Doha, Qatar, which have been going on since September. 12 as well as the growing dissatisfaction with Ghani’s government at home and abroad due to increasing corruption, weak governance and the alleged waste of state funds.
A recent report by the US watchdog SIGAR said: “The Afghan government is implementing paper reforms, like drafting regulations or holding meetings, rather than concrete measures to reduce corruption like arresting powerful actors. ”
After the SIGAR report and before the Geneva conference, the government of Ghana ordered the formation of another commission to combat transplantation.
However, Sayed Ikram Afzali, executive director of Integrity Watch, said the government “has no will to fight corruption and is resorting to symbolic works to attract attention at international conferences. ”
A poll conducted by the Afghan Civil Society Forum on Sunday found that 90 percent of respondents believed that “the government is corrupt. ”
Afghanistan’s last permanent ambassador to the United Nations, Mahmoud Saikal, said on Monday: “In times of high levels of corruption, it is of the utmost importance that donors demand strong accountability from those who claim to represent our people. ”
This is a thought by the UN Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. He also warned of « grave consequences » if the world turned away from Afghanistan.
« Failure in either case would cause Afghanistan to slide backwards, with catastrophic consequences, including further displacement, possibly on a larger scale . . . « he said in a statement on Sunday.
Afghanistan, Bamyan, Taliban, explosion
World news – AU – 14 dead as two explosions shake the historic Afghan city of Bamiyan
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