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Afghan Taliban Commander Killed In Badakhshan

July 10, 2014
Afghan officials say the Taliban's local commander in northeastern Badakhshan Province has been killed. Provincial spokesman Abdul Naweed Froutan said on July 10 that Qari Fasih-u-din, who was the Taliban's shadow governor in Badakhshan Province, was killed during fighting in Juram district on July 9.
He said four other Taliban fighters and four Afghan soldiers were injured in the clash. Meanwhile, at least six personnel working with the Halo Trust demining organization were killed on July 10 when armed men attacked their convoy in western Afghanistan.
The violence comes as the Taliban and other militants have stepped up attacks on security forces in many parts of the country as they fight for control of key routes and other territory ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. and allied combat troops by the end of 2014
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Afghanistan Candidates O.K. Audit

July 12, 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says both Afghan presidential candidates have agreed to a full audit of the election ballots and promised to abide by the results. Speaking late Saturday at a press conference with runoff candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, Kerry said "every single ballot" cast across the country will be audited in Kabul starting in 24 hours. ISAF security forces will safely transport the ballots from across the country for international monitors proposed by the United Nations to audit them.

Kerry said the process will take a number of weeks. He also said outgoing President Hamid Karzai has agreed to postpone the presidential inauguration date to accommodate the audit. Both candidates say they agree the winner will serve as president and immediately form a national unity government. Ashraf Ghani said a "winner take all" approach would not benefit Afghanistan, but that a government of national unity would "honor every Afghan" and show the government is committed to the well-being of everyone.

Baqizoi dismissed due to Taliban attack

July 15, 2014
The interior ministry of Afghanistan has dismissed Helmand police chief Gen. Abdul Qayum Baqizoi from his position due to deadly Taliban offensive. A spokesman for the Helmand security commandment, Abdul Ahad Chopan said Gen Baqizoi was dismissed along with another senior security official on Monday.
Chopan further added that Juma Gul Hamdard has been appointed as the new police chief of Helmand province. The two top security officials were dismissed after Taliban militants launched a deadly offensive in Helmand province around 20 days ago.
Around 800 Taliban militants initially launched attacks in Sangin district which shortly spread in three other districts. Dozens of civilians along with the Afghan national security forces were killed following the clashes which lasted over a week.

 

Afghanistan looks to censor Facebook

July 1, 2014
When Facebook arrived here, it quickly became an emblem for progress and freedom in post-Taliban Afghanistan. But, as a bitter electoral dispute takes hold of Kabul, both Afghan and foreign officials worry that social media is worsening Afghanistan's ethnic and political fault lines. What once appeared to be a long-awaited outlet for expression - promoted heavily by Western officials - is now something the Afghan government is trying desperately to censor.
Already, Afghans on either side of the dispute have reverted to rhetoric reminiscent of the country's civil war in the 1990s. Ethnic Tajiks, supporters of presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, have taken aim at Ashraf Ghani, his rival in the June 14 runoff election, calling for his death. Ethnic Pashtuns have responded by emphasising ethnic solidarity over national unity.
In other countries, this might be accepted as a part of a lively democratic process. But in Afghanistan, where the brutal war between the nation's ethnic groups is still fresh, many worry that vitriol exchanged on social media platforms will only precipitate bloodshed.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology plans to block accounts "that are posting inflammatory issues, insulting people and posting against the national interest and national sovereignty", said Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the ministry. He said the government has contacted Facebook about the matter but did not explain how the accounts would be blocked. Even the United Nations has expressed concern about the prospect that a Facebook post or a tweet could trigger violence.

"Using these platforms for communication in ways which could increase tensions or incite violence is not conducive to the historic electoral process currently underway," Jan Kubis, the top UN representative in the country, said in a statement.

After the runoff election, Mr Abdullah alleged that government officials had conspired to stuff ballot boxes on behalf of his opponent. Since then, he has effectively opted out of the political process, urging his supporters to take to the streets and refusing to accept the official results, which are yet to be released.
"We have two options: Death or the Presidential Palace," some Abdullah supporters have posted on Facebook, suggesting violence to come if their candidate is not declared the winner. "Pashtuns, wake up!" says one meme circulated by Ghani supporters, playing the ethnic card. Another image on Facebook shows a group of heavily armed Abdullah supporters and is captioned, "They are ready."
For years, the US and other Western governments encouraged use of social media as a basic freedom of expression. The US Embassy sponsored a Social Media Summit in Kabul last year that promised to "create a strong community of Afghan social media users".
"People may take what they see on social media serious, as an affront to their leader, tribe or ethnicity," said Najib Mahmoud, a professor at Kabul University and regular Facebook user. "Any abusive language or disrespect to one or the other side can add more fuel to the crisis."

 

Karzai signs law to curb financing of terrorism

July 3, 2014
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has signed a law to curb financing of terrorist groups in Afghanistan. Signing of the terrorism financing law was one of the two measures to needed to save the banks of Afghanistan from being put on an internal blacklist.
The Presidential Palace media office following a statement said the president raified the law after it was verified by the judiciary that law does not vilate the national sovereignty of the country and human rights. The law was approved by the Afghan lawmakers in 29 chapters and 9 articles earlier in June and was sent to President Karzai for ratification.

 

This comes as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body that sets standards on how countries combat money laundering, threatened Afghanistan with the punishment earlier this year. The body had warned that the failure by Afghan government to pass key measures means that it could be blacklisted in the month of June.