TOLOnews.com RSS Feed http://tolonews.com/ Sun, 01 Mar 2015 10:50:13 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) 11 Taliban Insurgents Killed in Sar-e-Pul Operation http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18418-11-taliban-insurgents-killed-in-sar-e-pul-operation

At least 11 Taliban insurgents were killed in an Afghan National Security Forces' ongoing operation in northern Sar-e-Pul province in the past 24 hours, local officials said.

Thirteen other insurgents were injured during the operation.

The operation named "Fateh Zemistani" was launched about two weeks ago in several parts of the province to clear the area of insurgents, Provincial Police Chief Abdul Habib Gulbahari said.

"Most of the parts of the province have been cleared of insurgents," he said. "There were no Afghan military forces casualties during the operation so far."

The operation still continues to clear all the insurgents, he added.

However, the Taliban insurgents have not yet commented about the operation.

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Sun, 01 Mar 2015 06:56:29 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18418-11-taliban-insurgents-killed-in-sar-e-pul-operation
Two ANA Soldiers Killed in Herat Roadside Mine Blast http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18417-two-ana-soldiers-killed-in-herat-roadside-mine-blast

Two Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers were killed in a roadside mine blast in western Herat province on Saturday evening, local officials said.

The blast took place at about 6pm local time in Chesht district of the province while the ANA soldiers were travelling to Ghor district and one of their vehicles struck a roadside mine, Najibullah Najibi spokesman for the 207 Zafar Corps told TOLOnews.

The police have started investigation about the incident, he said.

However, no group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the blast so far.

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Sun, 01 Mar 2015 06:21:41 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18417-two-ana-soldiers-killed-in-herat-roadside-mine-blast
Venezuela to Limit US Diplomats, Require Visas for Americans http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18416-venezuela-to-limit-us-diplomats-require-visas-for-americans

President Nicolas Maduro plans to limit the US diplomatic presence in Venezuela and require American tourists to obtain visas, amid growing tensions between the two countries.

The leftist president said the measures, announced Saturday, aimed to "control" US meddling in Venezuelan affairs.

Maduro has intensified in recent months his allegations of coup and assassination plans -- often purportedly backed by the United States -- as he faces a deep economic crisis and a sharp drop in popularity.

"In order to protect our country... I have decided to implement a system of compulsory visas for all Americans entering Venezuela," he told supporters.

Under the new measures, Venezuela will start charging tourists the same visa fees the United States asks of Venezuelans, though it was unclear when the plan would be implemented.

But the restrictions could also have an impact on business travelers seeking to invest in one of the biggest oil producers.

In his fiery speech outside the Miraflores presidential palace, Maduro noted that the Americans have 100 diplomatic staff in Caracas, compared to 17 Venezuelan diplomats in Washington.

He cited the Vienna Convention's principle of the equality of states concerning the size of respective diplomatic missions in ordering his Foreign Ministry to "reduce, adjust and limit the number of US officials" at the American embassy in Caracas.

- US 'terrorists' banned -

Additionally, Maduro singled out several US political figures as being unable to come to Venezuela because his government considers them "terrorists."

"A group of US political leaders who have violated human rights in bombing" countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan "will not be able to enter Venezuela because they are terrorists," Maduro said.

Maduro cited former president George W. Bush and his vice president Dick Cheney, as well as Hispanic American lawmakers Bob Menendez, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Marco Rubio.

Maduro said the visa decision was made after the capture of an American pilot of Latin American origin in the western state of Tachira suspected of carrying out "covert" espionage activities.

He did not provide additional details about the previously unreported arrest.

Maduro also warned that the US mission must alert and receive authorization from the local government for any meeting held by US diplomats in Venezuela.

In recent days, the Venezuelan president has hardened his speech against the US embassy in Caracas, accusing it of "interference and abuse," and of meeting with the Venezuelan opposition.

On Monday, he demanded that the "damn Yankees" respect his homeland, and called on US President Barack Obama to "rectify" the "chaos" of Washington's policy toward Venezuela.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has blasted the "egregious behavior" of Maduro's government, vowing to quickly implement recent sanctions against the country.

The top US diplomat said Wednesday that the Maduro government had made a series of "wrong choices" in its handling of anti-government protests, as well as its clampdown on opposition leaders over claims of a US-backed coup plot.

Washington and Caracas have been at diplomatic odds since Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999, repeatedly criticizing US "imperialist" policy.

They withdrew their ambassadors from each other's country in 2010, and Venezuela has expelled several US diplomats under Maduro.

In December, the US imposed sanctions on senior Venezuelan officials accused of violating the rights of protesters during anti-government demonstrations at the start of 2014.

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Sun, 01 Mar 2015 05:35:01 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18416-venezuela-to-limit-us-diplomats-require-visas-for-americans
KANKASH: Kabul Declares Three Days of Mourning for Avalanche Victims http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/kankash/18415-kankash-kabul-declares-three-days-of-mourning-for-avalanche-victims

In honor of the victims of the recent avalanches in Panjshir and other natural disasters this winter, the National Unity Government has announced three days of mourning in Afghanistan.

To watch the program, click here:

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Until Tuesday, Afghan flags around the country and in diplomatic offices around the world will be raised at half mast.

In this episode of KANKASH host, Omid Farooq discusses the topics with the following guests:

Siddiq Qeyam, natural disaster combat expert

Ibrahim Jafari, university professor

Lailuma Ahmadi, senator

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Sun, 01 Mar 2015 03:53:00 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/kankash/18415-kankash-kabul-declares-three-days-of-mourning-for-avalanche-victims
TAWDE KHABARE: UNAMA Welcomes Afghanistan Peace Negotiations http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/18414-tawde-khabare-unama-welcomes-afghanistan-peace-negotiations

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) welcomes peace negotiations with support of Pakistan.

To watch the program, click here:

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In this episode of TAWDE KHABARE, host Zabi Sadaat discusses the topic with the following guests:

Mohammad Akbari, High Peace Council member and head Hizb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami Party

Saleh Mohammad Saleh, MP

Moen Marstyal, Deputy head of Right and Justice party

 

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Sun, 01 Mar 2015 03:38:30 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/18414-tawde-khabare-unama-welcomes-afghanistan-peace-negotiations
FARA KHABAR: 28 February 2015 http://www.tolonews.com/en/fara-khabar/18413-farakhabar-28-february-2015

Carrying out dialogues and efforts for the last three days, the 25-member mediation team of southern Zabul elders has expressed optimism about the release of 30 passengers abducted last week by unknown masked men on Kabul-Kandahar highway.

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}ixFiciY6XLQ{/youtube}

The elders noted on Saturday that they have found so far during their three-day efforts that the passengers were abducted by the armed robbers.

However, the acting Governor of Zabul Mohammad Ashraf Nasiri had recently blamed the abduction on local Taliban, the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant outfit and the Chechens.

At least 30 passengers belonging to Hazara ethnic minority were abducted last week from Shah Joy district of Zabul by armed masked men.

In this episode of FARA KHABAR, host Yama Siavash discusses the topic with the following guests:

• Arif Rahmani, MP

• Shah Hussain Murtazawi, Journalist

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Sun, 01 Mar 2015 03:04:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/fara-khabar/18413-farakhabar-28-february-2015
Ghani Delays Iran Trip Over Panjshir Tragedy http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18412-ghani-delays-iran-trip-over-panjshir-tragedy

Expressing condolences over the deaths caused by snow and avalanches in northeastern Panjshir, President Ashraf Ghani announced to delay his trip to Iran in order to focus more on assistance to the families of victims and survivors.

In his speech to the nation on Saturday evening, Ghani emphasized that all the government efforts were focused on delivery of assistances to the affected areas.

At least 196 people have died and over 100 others injured after heavy snow and avalanches began last week in Panjshir, leaving dozens of homes buried.

Frequent avalanches and snowstorm have been hampering aid efforts and leaving the main roads of the villages blocked for several days.

"We have instructed the ministries of health and public works to take serious measures," Ghani said, calling on international community for assistances to the affected people.

"Damages are bigger than government's ability," Ghani noted. "We can't deal with them without the support of international community."

He stated that the relevant government departments had been instructed to set up fundraising programs for the families still trapped in the affected areas.

Ghani warned that further natural events have been predicted in Panjshir and other parts of the country.

"Salang Pass is in danger and we are considering serious attention to eliminate the threats," Ghani noted.

Following the tragic event of Panjshir, the government has announced a three-day national mourning with national flag flown at half-mast in respect to the victims of Panjshir.

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 15:48:05 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18412-ghani-delays-iran-trip-over-panjshir-tragedy
Factory Owners Demand Power As Breshna Scrambles to Address Outages http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/18411-factory-owners-demand-power-as-breshna-scrambles-to-address-outages

Factory owners based out of the Industrial Parks of Kabul have claimed that they have seen diminished production and complete halts in operations on account of inconsistent electricity supply over the past five years.

Meanwhile, officials at Breshna Company, the primary power supplier for the capital, have maintained that they are undertaking efforts to address the city's electrical shortcomings. They have the company is preparing to import 170 megawatts of electricity to the capital.

Nevertheless, many factory owners fear they may have to start laying off workers if the power issues continue to derail operations. "We have nothing to do and our workers are free, you know that we give rent up to $1,500 per month, and in addition to that we have other expenses," a factory owner named Abdul Wahab told TOLOnews. "So, if it continues to be like this, we will have to fire our employees."

Officials at the Afghan Industries Association have also said that they cannot continue their operations with the absence of electricity. "We have many problems, we have not had electricity for the past five days," said Sakhi Ahmad Paiman, the Chairman of the Association. "Our factories in the industrial parks are stopped; at least the present amount of electricity should be distributed equally, so that we can also have some," he added.

The Breshna Company has vowed to address the infrastructural and supply issues behind the electrical issues experienced in the capital recently. They have said three new power lines would be connected to import more megawatts in the coming days.

"In the immediate term, we are planning to make a part of the electricity poles temporary so that we can import 170 megawatts of electricity that can solve the problem to an extent," Breshna Director Abdul Razaq Samadi said.

With power lines down in Salang at the moment, Kabul has a just 170 megawatts of electricity and it is distributed unequally through out the city.

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 15:44:52 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/18411-factory-owners-demand-power-as-breshna-scrambles-to-address-outages
Sayyaf Praises Taliban Peace Talks, Urges Pakistan's Honesty http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18410-sayyaf-praises-taliban-peace-talks-urges-pakistans-honesty

Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf, leader of Dawat-e-Islami party and former Jihadist has welcomed the peace initiatives of the National Unity Government (NUG) with the Taliban, but urged on Pakistan's honesty in the dialogues.

In an exclusive interview with TOLOnews, Sayyaf expressed that he would support any efforts which would result in the peace and stability of the country.

He, however, stressed the need for Pakistan's honesty in the peace process after the country promised the Afghan leaders to bring the Taliban leaders to the negotiation table.

"As Pakistan clearly said that it will push the Taliban to the negotiation table, they need to be honest in it in respect to considering the threats of war in its country and the region," Sayyaf said.

He warned that if the process cut or restricted Afghanistan's relations with any other country, such a process would not be acceptable.

The former Jihadi leader emphasized that the Afghans would never allow a peace process which would question the sovereignty of Afghanistan.

"If our relations are impacted with any other country or our foreign policy is overshadowed, this will undermine our national sovereignty and we will never allow this at any cost," Sayyaf warned.

The issue of peace talks has become a hot debate in Afghanistan as the grounds have been apparently set for the beginning of negotiations with the Taliban.

Taliban's green signal for peace talks came after President Ashraf Ghani accelerated peace efforts and began consultation with the High Peace Council (HPC) members, civil society and the tribal elders.

A former Taliban leader in Kabul recently claimed that the group had finalized the names of their negotiators, most of them residing in Qatar.

The human rights organizations and civil society groups have also welcomed the initiatives but have emphasized on protection of gains.

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 15:42:08 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18410-sayyaf-praises-taliban-peace-talks-urges-pakistans-honesty
Kabul Declares Three Days of Mourning for Avalanche Victims, Pakistan Sends Aid http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18409-kabul-declares-three-days-of-mourning-for-avalanche-victims-pakistan-sends-aid

In honor of the victims of the recent avalanches in Panjshir and other natural disasters this winter, the national unity government has announced three days of mourning in Afghanistan.

Until Tuesday, Afghan flags around the country and in diplomatic offices around the world will be raised at half mast.

"In respect to the lives lost in the natural disasters and in order to gain further aid for the victims of disasters, the national unity government has announced three days of national mourning," Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah's spokesman Mujeebullah Rahimi said on Saturday.

The recent avalanches in Panjshir province have left a toll of some 200 individuals dead and the injury of many others. Meanwhile, other provinces have been facing natural disasters of various kinds in the past months as well.

"We have had many victims in Panjshir, Badakhshan, Bamyan, Nangarhar and other provinces," Second Vice President Sarwar Danish said.

"Efforts will be made to get help to you people as soon as possible," he added.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressed his condolences for the loss of life in Panjshir this week on account of a massive avalanche that blanketed a number of villages in the mountainous province.

Said Ibrar Hussain, the Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan, also expressed his support, in the process tipping his hat to improving ties between Kabul and Islamabad. "The Prime Minister himself and all our military are sharing the pain of Afghanistan's loss and we will always remain with the Afghan people."

The Pakistani military on Saturday sent two separate airplanes to Kabul loaded with immediate assistance supplies for the victims of the Panjshir avalanche. "We will always be next to our Afghan brothers and sisters during the times of hardship, so we have brought them this aid," a Pakistani military representative named Aslam Khattak said.

Local officials in Panjshir have expressed gratitude to the Pakistanis for their support. "We would like to thank the military and government of Pakistan, who helped us during the times of Jihad and haven not left us alone during these hard times," Panjshir Provincial Council Chairman Din Muhammad Jurat said.

The assistance materials sent by Pakistan were said to include warm clothes, medicine, food, blankets and other items.

The recent avalanches have destroyed many homes in Paryan, Hese Awal, Markaz, Astana, Dara and other district of Panjshir province.

Helicopters have been employed to deliver assistance and emergency care so long as roads are blocked by snow.

"Elders of Panshir told us that the recent snow was unprecedented in the past 60 years," said Dayem Kakar, the Director of the Afghan National Disaster Management Authority. "This amount of snow piled up in less than 24 hours."

Others could not help but draw parallels to the deadly mudslide in Badakhshan that took place in 2014. "We have had the bitter experience of the landslide in Badakhshan province, now we see that there are problems in getting the aid there, and we are concerned about it," civil society activist Raheem Jami said.

Many are still concerned that more disasters loom ahead. "The people who have lost their lives are not the end, we are afraid of further threats of floods and avalanches to the remaining villages of Panjshir," civil society activist Ahmad Zaki told TOLOnews.

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 15:41:18 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18409-kabul-declares-three-days-of-mourning-for-avalanche-victims-pakistan-sends-aid
Supreme Audit Office Criticizes House for Politicizing Government Financial Records http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/18408-supreme-audit-office-criticizes-house-for-politicizing-government-financial-records

Officials from the Supreme Audit Office complained on Saturday that members of the House of Representative consistently politicize the government's annual financial statement instead of dealing with it pragmatically. They say the result are gaps in the financial statement that enable administrative corruption in government institutions.

"The House of Representatives must focus more on the annual financial statement," Supreme Audit Office Director Sharif Sharifi told TOLOnews. "We submit the financial statement with reviews to the House of Representatives, and the MPs must review this report as well, instead of treating it politically."

Meanwhile, lawmakers on the House's Financial and Budget Committee contend that the primary concern is with the Audit Office's preparation of the statement, not the way it is dealt with in Parliament.

"Whenever we have focused on the financial statement, a number of ministers have been summoned to the House to explain their work," Financial and Budget Committee Chairman Amir Khan Yar Rayes said. "But the report from the Supreme Audit Office must be prepared properly, because we face serious problems in many instances."

Sarwar Danish, the Second Vice President of Afghanistan, has also pushed for the financial statement to be prepared in a particular way, one that documents government expenses as consistently as possible.

"The financial statement must be clear and comprehensive, it should show the performance of all ministries so that it can take us toward good governance and must help and cooperate in the prevention of corruption," Mr. Danish said. "The Supreme Audit Office must have a serious review of the financial statement, because the financial statement will define the financial condition of the country," he added.

The Supreme Audit Office announced the start of a seven day training program this week that will be geared toward educating government employees in how to prepare their financial statements.

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 15:38:58 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/18408-supreme-audit-office-criticizes-house-for-politicizing-government-financial-records
Panjshir Avalanches Claim 196 Lives: Kabiri http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18407-panjshir-avalanches-claim-196-lives-kabiri

Panjshir provincial authorities have reported that 196 people have been killed, 100 wounded and 13 others missing as a result of the snow avalanche on Tuesday night.

Provincial acting Governor Abdul Rahman Kabiri, in an interview with TOLOnews, confirmed the latest reports of the death tolls and injuries, adding that the density of the snow and slow continuity of snowfall and avalanches has made the rescue and aid operation difficult.

"In the district of Paryan, routes are blocked because of the large amounts of snow," Kabiri said. "The speed of clearing the roads has impeded the chances of reaching the affected areas. Today we witnessed at least 40 avalanches in one district, of which one family lost their lives in."

In an attempt to clear routes, Kabiri said that a total of 100km has been cleared but the remaining paths that lead to villages are still blocked by snow.

Parliament representative of Panjshir Zaheer Sadat said that the only way for support is by air, but many affected people of the province have cried at the inadequacy of aids being sent to them.

"The government aids have been thrown from helicopters and land on the mountains," a resident said. "We can't reach that. We've been hit by an avalanche."

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 15:34:11 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18407-panjshir-avalanches-claim-196-lives-kabiri
Afghanistan Wins Gold Medal for First Time in Zoorkhaneh World Cup http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/18406-afghanistan-wins-gold-medal-for-first-time-in-zoorkhaneh-world-cup

Afghan Zoorkhaneh athlete Mohammad Azad returned to Afghanistan with the country's first gold medal in the fourth Zoorkhaneh World Cup held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

In the 80kg group, Azad beat his rivals from Azerbaijan, Kenya and Turkey bringing home the gold.

"I was prepping for the competition for the past three months," Azad said. "My preparation was the reason I was able to beat my rivals and win a gold medal."

Fellow Zoorkhaneh teammate Mustafa Nuristani placed third with a bronze medal after winning two competitions and losing one.

"There were 20 countries in the competition," Nuristani said. "Most of these countries haven't even one a single medal, but fortunately Afghanistan was able to bring home medals."

Overall in the Zoorkhaneh World Cup, the Afghan athletes won one gold and eight bronze medals. The reigning champions were Iran, with Azerbaijan in second and Afghanistan and Tajikistan tied for third.

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 13:44:39 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/18406-afghanistan-wins-gold-medal-for-first-time-in-zoorkhaneh-world-cup
Zabul Mediators Optimistic About Release of Hazara Passengers http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18405-zabul-mediators-optimistic-about-release-of-hazara-passengers

Carrying out dialogues and efforts for the last three days, the 25-member mediation team of southern Zabul elders has expressed optimism about the release of 30 passengers abducted last week by unknown masked men on Kabul-Kandahar highway.

The elders noted on Saturday that they have found so far during their three-day efforts that the passengers were abducted by the armed robbers.

However, the acting governor of Zabul Mohammad Ashraf Nasiri had recently blamed the abduction on local Taliban, the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant outfit and the Chechens.

At least 30 passengers belonging to Hazara ethnic minority were abducted last week from Shah Joy district of Zabul by armed masked men.

According to the drivers and eyewitnesses, the abductors drove the passengers away to Khak Afghan district after identifying them to be Hazara men.

Since the incident, some local officials have attributed the abduction to Taliban while some others to Daesh group; however none of these groups have so far claimed responsibility.

But the Zabul negotiators have said, based on their findings, that the passengers were abducted by armed robbers, emphasizing the result of their efforts would come in next three days.

"We went and talked with the Taliban and tribal elders, and the result of these talks will come in next three days," a negotiator Ahmadullah said. "These men will probably be freed soon."

The chief of provincial council of Zabul, Atta Jan, who escaped a roadside bomb blast unhurt today (Saturday) said that the previous team of negotiators have returned and another team has been sent for further dialogues.

Meanwhile, the Zabul Police Chief Ghulam Jailani Farahi declared that efforts were underway for peaceful and unconditional release of those abducted.

"If the negotiations are failed, we can use any other options to free them," Farahi warned. "We are awaiting instruction from the center [Kabul]."

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 13:02:52 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18405-zabul-mediators-optimistic-about-release-of-hazara-passengers
Obama to Host Ghani and Abdullah at White House http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18404-obama-to-host-ghani-and-abdullah-at-white-house

The U.S. President Barack Obama will host both the leaders of National Unity Government (NUG), President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah, along with some other members of the Afghan government for meetings next month in the White house, according to a statement by U.S. press secretary Josh Earnest.

The Afghan leaders will meet Obama on March 24th for the first time in Washington since the establishment of NUG, which came into being after the longest electoral process in Afghanistan's history.

"The two presidents will discuss a range of issues including security, economic development, and U.S. support to the Afghan-led reconciliation process," the statement said on Friday.

Ghani, in the following day, would address a joint session of congress as said in a separate statement by John Boehner, the U.S. House of Representatives Speaker.

"Americans and Afghans have worked together for years on a shared mission of bringing peace and security to the region," Boehner's statement said. "This address presents an important opportunity to hear from the newly-elected president on how the United States can continue to work together to promote our shared goals and reaffirms our commitment to the Afghan people."

Besides this, Ghani and his delegation will also engage in a high-level strategic dialogue from March 22-25 hosted by U.S. State Secretary John Kerry at Camp David.

Ghani is the second Afghan President to address the U.S. congress after former President Hamid Karzai appeared before the meeting on 2004.

Reports suggest the U.S. and Afghan leaders would also discuss the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, something the newly-appointed Pentagon Chief Ashton Carter has urged to be reviewed.

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 11:16:16 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18404-obama-to-host-ghani-and-abdullah-at-white-house
Zabul Provincial Council Head Survives Blast, Guards Injured http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18403-zabul-provincial-council-head-survives-blast-guards-injured

The head of provincial council of southern Zabul, Atta Jan, escaped a roadside mine blast unhurt when he was in the way to Shah Joy district to mediate release of those 30 Hazara passengers abducted last week, provincial authorities said on Saturday.

Jan himself also confirmed the incident in a telephonic call to TOLOnews, saying the blast occurred around 9am when his car struck a roadside mine followed by gunfire attack by the insurgents, leaving two of his guards injured.

He added a number of tribal elders were also traveling with him, going for the mediation to release the passengers abducted last week by unknown armed men on the Kabul-Kandahar highway.

Recently, the acting governor of Zabul stated that the passengers were abducted by the local Taliban and with the help of Pakistan-based militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and the Chechen militants.

However, no group has so far claimed responsibility for abducting passengers from a specific ethnic minority.

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 09:14:20 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18403-zabul-provincial-council-head-survives-blast-guards-injured
Purso Pal: Exclusive Interview with the Deputy Minister of Public Works http://www.tolonews.com/en/purso-pal/18402-purso-pal-exclusive-interview-with-the-deputy-minister-of-public-works

In this episode of Purso Pal, host Haris Jamalzada interviews Ahmad Shah Wahid, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Public Works, about the avalanche in northern Panjshir province.

To watch the entire interview, click here:

{youtube}zB2WQ6veFFI{/youtube}

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 09:04:12 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/purso-pal/18402-purso-pal-exclusive-interview-with-the-deputy-minister-of-public-works
Mafia Boss Raees Khudaidad Executed in Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18401-mafia-boss-raees-khudaidad-executed-in-kabul-

Raees Khudaidad, the most notorious mafia boss in Afghanistan's history, was hung to death at Pul-e-Charkhi prison of Kabul, National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a statement on Saturday.

Charged with hundreds of heinous crimes including murders, kidnappings and armed robberies, Khudaidad was executed by hanging following the verdict of Kabul Appellate Court, the statement added.

NDS—the Afghan national intelligence agency—stated in its press release that the mafia boss was hung to death in the presence of his lawyer and judicial officials.

Khudaidad was arrested last year in September during a special operation conducted by NDS forces. Hearing the news of his arrest, the residents of Kabul had called on the government to sentence him to death.

"Raees Khudaidad used to cut off body parts of abducted people to send them to their families in order receive ransom," NDS spokesman Hasib Sediqi said.

Khudaidad remained as one of the top most-wanted criminals in the NDS list for ten years, causing the security forces to expand their manhunt to different parts of the country.

"Following increase in organized crimes, the NDS drafted a comprehensive plan to counter organized crimes in which the arrest of Raees Khudaidad was the top priority," Sediqi said.

After the news of Khudaidad's execution circulated rapidly, the citizens praised the government for executing the dangerous mafia leader but urged the government to put an end to culture of impunity.

"We are standing behind the government and we welcome this act of government," a resident of Kabul named Mohammad Jan told TOLOnews reporter.

This has been the first execution warrant being ordered by the National Unity Government (NUG).

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 08:13:13 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18401-mafia-boss-raees-khudaidad-executed-in-kabul-
13 Taliban Insurgents Killed in Afghan Operations http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18400-13-taliban-insurgents-killed-in-afghan-operations

At least 13 Taliban insurgents were killed during a nationwide operation led by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said in a statement on Saturday.

One injured and 12 others were arrested in these operations, the statement said, adding ‎that the operations were conducted in Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan, Helmand, Parwan, Ghazni and Herat provinces.

"During the same 24 hour period, Afghan National Police discovered and defused three different types of IEDs placed by enemies of Afghanistan for destructive activities in Faryab and Zabul provinces," the statement noted.

The statement, however, did not provide details of possible ANSF casualties.

The Taliban have not yet commented in this regard.

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 08:01:53 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18400-13-taliban-insurgents-killed-in-afghan-operations
Russian Opposition Leader Nemtsov Shot Dead Near Kremlin http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/18399-russian-opposition-leader-nemtsov-shot-dead-near-kremlin

A Russian opposition leader and fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, Boris Nemtsov, was shot dead by an unidentified attacker who fired multiple rounds at the politician as he was walking in central Moscow late Friday.

The murder of the 55-year-old politician, who has been an outspoken critic of Russia's involvement in Ukraine, came ahead of a major opposition rally this weekend.

US President Barack Obama condemned the "vicious murder" of Nemtsov, whom he had met on a visit to Moscow, and called on the Russian government to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation of the killing, which sent shock waves across Russia.

The Kremlin swiftly dubbed his death a provocation.

The murder "bears the hallmarks of a contract killing," Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding it was a provocation.

Police and investigators said Nemtsov was shot down by unidentified assailants as he was walking with a woman along a bridge not far from the Kremlin.

"A man with documents in the name of Boris Yefimovich Nemtsov was killed," an interior ministry spokesman told AFP early Saturday.

The Investigative Committee, which reports directly to Putin, confirmed Nemtsov's death, saying it had opened a criminal probe.

"According to preliminary information, an unidentified person shot at Boris Nemtsov no fewer than 7-8 times from a car as he was walking along the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky bridge," investigators said in a statement.

An AFP reporter saw a blood stain on the pavement on the side of the bridge near the Kremlin, and roses laid by a police barrier at the scene.

The committee said "experienced" investigators had been put on the case.

Nemtsov launched his political career as the governor of Nizhny Novgorod region in central Russia and became a vice prime minister in the late 1990s under the presidency of Boris Yeltsin.

After leaving parliament in 2003, he led several opposition parties and groups.

Nemtsov's murder comes ahead of a major opposition rally scheduled to take place on Sunday.

An interior ministry spokeswoman, Yelena Alekseyeva, told reporters at the scene that the woman who was with Nemtsov was being questioned.

Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev has taken charge of the criminal probe.

"We call upon the Russian government to conduct a prompt, impartial, and transparent investigation into the circumstances of his murder and ensure that those responsible for this vicious killing are brought to justice," Obama said in a statement.

"Nemtsov was a tireless advocate for his country, seeking for his fellow Russian citizens the rights to which all people are entitled."

"I admired Nemtsov's courageous dedication to the struggle against corruption in Russia and appreciated his willingness to share his candid views with me when we met in Moscow in 2009," added Obama, calling Nemtsov a "dedicated" and "eloquent defender" of rights.

Mikhail Kasyanov, a former Russian prime minister turned opposition leader, told reporters after viewing the scene: "This is payback for the fact that Boris consistently, for many, many years fought for Russia to be a free democratic country."

"In the 21st century, in 2015, a leader of the opposition is demonstratively shot dead by the Kremlin walls. It is beyond imagination."

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, writing on Facebook, called Nemtsov a "bridge between Ukraine and Russia.

"The murderers' shot has destroyed it. I think it is not by accident."

Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary general of the Council of Europe, said he was "shocked and appalled."

"Killers must be brought to justice," he said on Twitter.

Human Rights Watch urged the Russian authorities to "thoroughly and impartially" investigate the murder.

Ahead of the opposition march Nemtsov urged Russians to take to the streets.

"Are you tired of lies, propaganda, war and price hikes?" he wrote on Twitter. "Then come to the spring march."

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 05:52:34 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/18399-russian-opposition-leader-nemtsov-shot-dead-near-kremlin
KANKASH: Taliban Probably Will Influence Significant Portion of Afghanistan: Clapper http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/kankash/18398-kankash-taliban-probably-will-influence-significant-portion-of-afghanistan-clapper

United States Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper stated in his report to the U.S. Senate that the Taliban will probably have influence over some parts of the Afghanistan.

To watch the whole program, click here:

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Clapper stated that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) were still in need of cooperation, warning that if the aids to Afghanistan reduced the country would not be able to keep a consistent force.

"The Taliban probably will steadily reassert influence over significant portions of the Pashtun countryside, positioning itself for greater territorial gains in 2015," Clapper said in the report. "The group sees the exit of coalition forces as a sign of its inevitable victory."

In this episode of Kankash, host Omid Farooq discusses the topic with the following guests:

• Hamid Saboory, professor
• Hamid Alimi, political analyst
• Amin Farhang, former Commerce Minister

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 05:29:44 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/kankash/18398-kankash-taliban-probably-will-influence-significant-portion-of-afghanistan-clapper
TAWDE KHABARE: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Authorities Orders of Pull-Out Afghan Mullahs http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/18397-tawde-khabare-khyber-pakhtunkhwa-authorities-orders-of-pull-out-afghan-mullahs

Authorities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have ordered the responsible organizations to pull-out Afghan mullahs and in the first step exit 300 mullahs.

To watch the whole program, click here:

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About 300 Afghan mullahs' have been registered in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Zabi Sadaat discusses the topic with the following guests:

• Islamuddin Jurat, a spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees
• Qazi Mohammad Hassan Haqyar, political analyst
• Hamidullah Hotak, former leader of Afghan refugees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 05:08:19 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/18397-tawde-khabare-khyber-pakhtunkhwa-authorities-orders-of-pull-out-afghan-mullahs
Ghani Visits Panjshir, Holds Extraordinary Meeting http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18396-ghani-visits-panjshir-holds-extraordinary-meeting

President Ashraf Ghani visited the avalanche affected Panjshir province on Friday to oversee the rescue operations in the northeastern province where dozens of homes were buried as a result of avalanches caused by heavy snow.

In an extraordinary meeting with Panjshir local officials and elders where CEO Abdullah Abdullah was also present, Ghani instructed the rescue teams and aid agencies to deliver assistances to the affected areas immediately and reopen the roads remaining blocked for several days.

So far, about 200 poepel have been confirmed dead and dozens of others are reportedly missing after avalanches hit parts of the mountainous province, 150 kilometers north of capital Kabul.

"No doubt that Panjshir's sorrow is a national sorrow," Ghani told the meeting. "Therefore, tonight we are having cabinet meeting that not only the public works ministry but all the ministries should be ready for it."
Ghani added that a group of foreign troops' engineers have also been assigned to examine the situation in Panjshir.

"I have assigned an engineering team of international troops to examine the situation, and also study the situation of rivers in order to take measurements for possible floods," Ghani noted. "I have brought 20 million Afghanis for the affected families."

Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) officials who were also present at the extraordinary meeting stated that efforts were underway to reopen the roads but stated that the snowstorms and fresh avalanches were hampering their work.

However, the residents and experts criticize the government for not taking measures before the occurrence of such easily-forecasted natural events.

"The government always makes plans after an incident," said Ibrahim Jafari, a university professor and expert on natural events. "The government needs to consult with the experts and study the vulnerable areas ahead of such incidents."

This year, about 12 provinces suffered heavy disasters by snow and avalanches, leaving many people dead and wounded. Panjshir, Badakhshan and Nuristan were among the provinces witnessing high deaths and damages.

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Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:01:55 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18396-ghani-visits-panjshir-holds-extraordinary-meeting
Afghan Forces Launch "Operation Fatha" in Sar-e-Pul http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18395-afghan-forces-launch-qoperation-fathaq-in-sar-e-pul

Abdul Jabbar Haqbeen, the Acting Governor of Sar-e-Pul province, on Friday announced that a joint operation by the Afghan security forces, dubbed "Operation Faith," was launched this week in hopes of neutralizing the insurgents operating in some insecure regions of the province.

According to local officials, more than 25 Taliban fighters have been killed or wounded so far, including top Taliban commander Ghulam Hazrat, also known as Toofan.

"The joint operation of the Afghan security forces was launched to clear the insecure regions, however, the operation was delayed due heavy snowfall," Mr. Haqbeen said. "The operation restarted yesterday from three directions, and so far 15 Taliban fighters have been killed and 12 others wounded; security forces also found the body of Taliban commander Ghulam Hazrat, who worked as a senior Taliban military commander and was also the killer of the Sancharak district Police Chief," he added.

The joint operation in Sar-e-Pul began two weeks ago, but because of the delays, it is expected to last longer than originally planned. "The operation still continues and efforts are underway to clean all areas of the presence of Taliban," Haqbeen said.

The operation began in Suzma Qala and some important parts of Sheeramha.

Referring to the casualties among the security forces, Haqbeen said that only a single Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier and a civilian have been wounded during the operation.

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Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:58:06 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18395-afghan-forces-launch-qoperation-fathaq-in-sar-e-pul
Women's Rights Activists Stress Preservation of Progress in Peace Talks http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18394-womens-rights-activists-stress-preservation-of-progress-in-peace-talks

A number of women's rights and civil society activists have admonished leaders of awaited peace talks with the Taliban, urging them to move forward with transparency, clarity and commitment to not trading the achievements of the past thirteen years for peace.

The activists have claimed that, despite major threats and intimidations, 36 percent of Afghan women came out and cast their ballots during the 2014 presidential election. They argue that now women and civil society institutions should be able to play a role in decision-making when it comes issues of national interest.

"We strongly support the restoration of peace in the country, but for this purpose, we should have a complete understanding of our opposing side, to whom we are going to talk, and find out what they want from us in exchange for peace," Civil Society Network member Mahbooba Saraj said. "I think, if women's role is not considered in the talks, this will indicate that there is no peace talks and we only rely on a ceasefire with the opponents."

Many women's advocates have contended that the previous government, under former president Hamid Karzai, failed to take adequate action to bolster the rights of women in Afghanistan. "You are aware that the moves for peace in the previous government were contradictory to the demands of women," MP Fatima Azizi said. "Therefore, people do not have good memories; the national unity government should precisely support women's role in society in the peace talks."

The comments come at a time that the national unity government has paid lip service to the enhancement of women's role in the country, but without yet taking concerted action to contribute concretely to the advancement of that role.

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Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:22:15 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18394-womens-rights-activists-stress-preservation-of-progress-in-peace-talks
TOLOnews 6pm News 27 February 2015 http://www.tolonews.com/en/anightly-news/18393-tolonews-6pm-news-27-february-2015 Top news in this Bulletin:

United States Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper stated in his report to the U.S. Senate that the Taliban will probably have influence over some parts of the Afghanistan. Clapper stated that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) were still in need of cooperation, warning that if the aids to Afghanistan reduced the country would not be able to keep a consistent force.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:

{youtube}kSvv2oxvHok{/youtube}

 The National Unity Government (NUG) has passed its first five months without the cabinet and the provincial governors, leaving all major promises including electoral and judicial reforms untouched, according to the critics.

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Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:58:27 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/anightly-news/18393-tolonews-6pm-news-27-february-2015
US Intelligence Says Taliban Probably Will Influence Significant Portion of Afghanistan http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18392-us-intelligence-says-taliban-probably-will-influence-significant-portion-of-afghanistan

United States Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper stated in his report to the U.S. Senate that the Taliban will probably have influence over some parts of the Afghanistan.

Clapper stated that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) were still in need of cooperation, warning that if the aids to Afghanistan reduced the country would not be able to keep a consistent force.

"The Taliban probably will steadily reassert influence over significant portions of the Pashtun countryside, positioning itself for greater territorial gains in 2015," Clapper said in the report. "The group sees the exit of coalition forces as a sign of its inevitable victory."

The statement comes at a time where pressure has been mounted on U.S. President Barack Obama to review the draw down of troops in Afghanistan.

Although, according to Clapper's statements the economic recessions in Europe and Japan have worsened the chances for donations and aids to Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan's economic problems are very large, if the world reduces its economic aids to Afghanistan the country will face major issues, therefore the government of Afghanistan should seriously deal with the issue," former Deputy Minister of Interior Mirza Mohammad Yarmand said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last week also emphasized that the U.S. will review the withdrawal of foreign troops.

The U.S. combat mission officially ended in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. According to the initial plan, only 5,500 U.S. soldiers were expected to remain in the country, but instead roughly around 10,000 soldiers remain in Afghanistan to support, advise and train ANSF personnel.

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Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:33:28 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18392-us-intelligence-says-taliban-probably-will-influence-significant-portion-of-afghanistan
NUG Passes Five Months Without Cabinet and Governors: Critics http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18391-nug-passes-five-months-without-cabinet-and-governors-critics

The National Unity Government (NUG) has passed its first five months without the cabinet and the provincial governors, leaving all major promises including electoral and judicial reforms untouched, according to the critics.

Criticizing NUG's performance over the past 150 days, the Kabul residents and civil society activists complained that there has been no change so far in the country; from security to employment.

"The most important thing which is linked to the legitimacy of our political system is the election issue which is unfortunately not touched so far," activist Aziz Rafee said.

Finalization of Kabul Bank corruption case, establishment of special electoral reform commission, freeing judicial institutions from corruption and distribution of computerized ID cards were among the top promises of the NUG leaders President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah.
"The government has no cabinet and provincial governors, and this is not acceptable to the people," Senator Dawood Asas indicated. "The government first needs to improve governance then touch the other issues."

However, some others praise the peace efforts of the government, saying the current administration is deemed to be serious in peace process after the Taliban apparently showed green signal for peace talks with the Afghan government.

"Some of the measures taken place so far make the people optimistic about the government's will to fulfill their promises they made to the people," said Abdullah Ahmadi, member of Transitional Justice Coordination Group (TJCG).

The issue of peace talks has been topping the headlines these days as the grounds have been apparently set for the negotiations with the Taliban.

Recently, a former Taliban leader claimed that the group had finalized the names of their negotiators, most of them residing in Qatar.
However, the human rights organizations and civil society groups have welcomed the initiatives but have emphasized on protection of gains.

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Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:22:33 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18391-nug-passes-five-months-without-cabinet-and-governors-critics
Nangarhar Suicide Attack on MP Leaves 2 dead, 13 Injured http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18390-nangarhar-suicide-attack-on-mp-leaves-2-dead-13-injured

At least two children were killed and 13 others wounded in a suicide attack targeting a member of Parliament Friday in eastern Nangarhar, security sources said.

The Nangarhar Police Chief confirmed the incident and the death toll, saying that MP Faraidoon Momand was not hurt in the attack.

He added that the blast occurred near Kama bridge, the outskirts of Kama district.

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Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:01:07 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18390-nangarhar-suicide-attack-on-mp-leaves-2-dead-13-injured
Herat Police Arrests Mosque Imam on Kidnapping Charges http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18389-herat-police-arrests-mosque-imam-on-kidnapping-charges

According to local authorities in Anjeel district of western Herat province, on Friday, the Imam of an area mosque, along with his collaborators, released two individuals who they had kidnapped and demanded a ransom for in the sum of 600,000 AFG.

Meanwhile, the two residents released by the kidnappers have claimed that they were brutally tortured while jn captivity. The victims said that the mosque Imam and his collaborator kidnapped them while they were in Badghis to attend a marriage ceremony and transferred them to the border region of Bareek Ab.

The kidnappers were said to have originally asked for 3.5 million AFG in ransom, but settled for 600,000 AFG. "We were kept there for almost 70 days, they tortured us day and night and my back is broken, as well as my leg and arm," one of the victims told TOLOnews.

But those accused of involvement in the incident have rejected the allegations. "I don't have any connection to the case and there is no evidence that can prove it," one of the accused kidnappers named Mullah Nasir said.

"I was in Nimroz and didn't commit a crime," another who stands accused named Mullah Naqibullah. "If the kidnapper is my brother, or someone else, it has nothing to do with me."

Ahmad Zia Hafizi, the Police Chief of Angeel district in Herat, said that one of the kidnappers was arrested during an operation in the district and another was detained at a Madrasa."The important thing to us is that, according to the statement of the victims, they were involved in torture and we are issuing the death sentence against them," Chief Hafizi said.

The victims' families are eager to see justice served. "If the government believes it works with honesty and justice, then it should punish such elements so that it can be a lesson to other criminals," a brother of one of the victims named Juma Nazar said.

Herat Police Chief General Abdul Majid Rozai has said that combating kidnapping in his province is one of his top priorities. "With your help, we will arrest the criminals that commit crimes in the city or in the districts in order to maintain law and order," Chief Rozai told the public on Friday.

Kidnappings and coordinated murders have been two major issues facing the security forces in Heart in recent years. The rise in organized crime has hurt both the economy and rule of law in the province.

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Fri, 27 Feb 2015 14:35:11 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18389-herat-police-arrests-mosque-imam-on-kidnapping-charges