TOLOnews.com RSS Feed http://tolonews.com/ Fri, 29 Aug 2014 22:17:20 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) TOLOnews 6 pm News 29 August 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16163-tolonews-6-pm-news-29-august-2014 Top news in this bulletin

After a busy week of negotiations, yet with still no settlement between the two opposing camps, representatives of both presidential candidates on Friday maintained that they are optimistic about reaching an agreeable end to the election process soon.

Although Abdullah Abdullah's team indicated they remained hopeful, a resolution to the remaining disputes over the national unity government is on the horizon, they also revealed their continued suspicion of President Hamid Karzai and the possibility of him interfering in the final stages of the election.

To watch the bulletin, click here:

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 A senior al-Qaeda leader who was released from prison on two separate occasions by the Afghan government is now leading the group's insurgent activities in northern Kunduz province, according to local officials.

The Kunduz police have identified the militant leader as Qari Belal, who fled to Pakistan after the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001 but was then invited to return to Kunduz by the Peace Council chaired by Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, the former Afghan President.

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Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:06:57 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16163-tolonews-6-pm-news-29-august-2014
Released Al-Qaeda Prisoner Leading Insurgents in Kunduz http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16162-released-al-qaeda-prisoner-leading-insurgents-in-kunduz

A senior al-Qaeda leader who was released from prison on two separate occasions by the Afghan government is now leading the group's insurgent activities in northern Kunduz province, according to local officials.

The Kunduz police have identified the militant leader as Qari Belal, who fled to Pakistan after the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001 but was then invited to return to Kunduz by the Peace Council chaired by Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, the former Afghan President.

Kunduz court officials have indicated Belal was arrested by Afghan security forces twice since his return to the country, but that both times he was released. The said the releases were ordered by President Hamid Karzai.

Security officials have labeled Belal a high ranking al-Qaeda commander who commands some three hundred fighters in Kunduz. Local police believe Belal has masterminded numerous suicide attacks and overseen the planting of roadside bombs throughout the province. They have connected him directly to the killings of several Afghan soldiers.

"The al-Qaeda commander has been released by those hidden hands who are supporting the network and currently he takes charge of commanding al-Qaeda related fighters in Kunduz and fighting the security forces," Kunduz Police spokesman Syed Sarwar Hussaini told TOLOnews.

The reports from Kunduz come as militants have ramped-up violence around the country this summer, a push that many Afghan security officials and military analysts have in part attributed to ill-advised prisoner releases. Some have been more direct in blaming President Karzai, who has tried to defend the some 3,000 prisoners that he has released over the years by saying they were either wrongfully imprisoned or had insufficient evidence against them.

According to Qazi Abdul Malik, an official at the Kunduz provincial court, Belal has been charged in the Chahar Dara district of Kunduz before, but was released on the basis of Presidential Palace policy

."The president and our elders have always released the killers of the people of Afghanistan from jail before carrying out justice, this is a betrayal of the innocent people of Afghanistan," Kunduz MP Wahdood Paiman told TOLOnews.

Documents indicate that the al-Qaeda commander was initially brought to Kunduz by the province's Peace Council. In an official letter, signed by Sibghatollah Mujadidi, the committee had asked the security forces in Kunduz not to disturb Belal.

But when security forces previously searched Belal's home, they discovered that he was carrying many Afghan and Pakistani ID cards and passports under different names.

Belal is not the only militant leader who was released from prison and is currently waging war against the Afghan government in Kunduz. Mullah Salam has also been identified by local security forces, and is said to command some 3,000 fighters at present.

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Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:57:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16162-released-al-qaeda-prisoner-leading-insurgents-in-kunduz
Armed Men Gang Rape Women in Suburbia Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16161-armed-men-gang-rape-women-in-suburbia-kabul

A number of armed men gang raped four women who were on their way home from a wedding ceremony last Friday evening.

Last week on Friday around 9 p.m. on Paghman-Qargha road a group of armed men stopped two vehicles carrying eight women home from a wedding they had attended in Paghman, a district of Kabul, in a township known as De Araban 20 kilometers away from Kabul City. The women and two men were forced to exit the vehicles.

When the men and women got out of the car, their jewelry and money were robbed and the two men were beaten by the group of 14 unknown armed men.

While the men were being brutally beaten, three eyewitnesses stopped to help the men in danger, instead were beaten as well.

"We could not see what condition the women were in because we were scared," Ahmad Zahir, one of the three men who stopped to help, said. "We wanted to escape the scene alive. They took us to a place where animals don't even go."

Noorullah, the other eyewitness of the three, said he and his friends were tortured badly that night, but recalls the horrifying screams and cries of the women.

"They took the women out of the cars and harassed them...a lot," Noorullah said. "The women were captive to those men until 2 a.m."

Sources on the condition of anonymity said that four of the eight women were transferred to a nearby hospital on Saturday morning, but the families of the victims did not want the tragedy to be publicly disclosed, so they left the hospital with the women.

However, hospital officials have confirmed the incident, but did not want to come before the camera.

When the tragic incident took place the Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoI) was not prepared to confirm the incident even after four days had passed and after consecutive phone calls and messages from TOLOnews reporters.

A week later, on Thursday the Kabul police department confirmed that two of the 14 men have been arrested in connection to the looting of the jewels and money of the victims, but not the heinous crime.

"What was reported to us was that jewels and money were robbed," Kabul Police Chief Gen. Zahir Zahir said. "So far no one has complained about a gang rape. These men have not talked to us about the harassment of the women. If it is proved that they have raped the women, I command my men to bring the remaining criminals to me dead."

The Kabul police department has said that efforts are underway to arrest the criminals that are still out there.

The perpetrators will be arrested and their jewels and money will be returned, but reviving the honor of the family and healing their wounds is impossible.

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Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:25:45 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16161-armed-men-gang-rape-women-in-suburbia-kabul
IEC Invalidates Results From 69 Polling Sites http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16160-iec-invalidates-results-from-69-polling-sites

During the third round of the vote invalidation process, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Friday discarded results from 69 polling sites.

The announcement comes after the IEC invalidated 70 polling sites out of the total 3,846 during the first round of the process and then another 70 in the second.

According to the IEC, recounting would also still need to take place. "The technical staffs of the Independent Election Commission have decided to recount votes from 496 polling sites," said Abdul Rahman Hotaki, deputy head of the IEC.

In contrast to the first and second rounds, however, the most recent stage of the invalidation process was held without the presence of observers representing the two candidates. The campaign representatives were withdrawn this week while direct negotiations continue between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai over the terms of their national unity government agreement.

Although international and independent Afghan observers were present during the third round of Invalidations this week, the IEC has urged the United Nations (UN) to assign more monitors.

"We request that the UN increase the number of its staff members and international observers," IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said on Friday.

The IEC has said the auditing process will be completed within the next few days. However, election officials have expressed doubt that the final results will be ready by mid next week, which is when President Hamid Karzai has requested the inauguration ceremony be held.

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Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:57:23 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16160-iec-invalidates-results-from-69-polling-sites
Campaigns Hopeful for Negotiations, But Timing Still Unclear http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16158-campaigns-hopeful-for-negotiations-but-timing-still-unclear

After a busy week of negotiations, yet with still no settlement between the two opposing camps, representatives of both presidential candidates on Friday maintained that they are optimistic about reaching an agreeable end to the election process soon.

Although Abdullah Abdullah's team indicated they remained hopeful, a resolution to the remaining disputes over the national unity government is on the horizon, they also revealed their continued suspicion of President Hamid Karzai and the possibility of him interfering in the final stages of the election.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's camp said they hope the negotiations will resolve themselves shortly and the presidential inauguration ceremony held before the NATO summit scheduled to begin on September 4 in Britain. The summit is thought to be a critical opportunity for the next Afghan president to set the tone for future relations with the western alliance ahead of its withdraw at the end of this year.

Over the past week, the candidates met directly a number of times, some of which included face time with President Karzai, United Nations (UN) officials, U.S. and European Union (EU) diplomats.

Abdullah's camp said Thursday, in particular, was a busy day for the diplomatic efforts of the international community. Among others, the candidates met with the newly appointed U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Dan Feldman.

Despite the President Karzai publicly calling for an inauguration on September 2, Abdullah's team on Friday claimed both campaigns were concerned about him interfering in the final days of the election.

"Yesterday's meeting was conducted in a positive and frank way, and both sides had a common concern that if the candidates do not reach an agreement, perhaps President Karzai, who is already stalling and wants to plot a new conspiracy, will take initiative," Abdullah spokesman Syed Fazel Aqa Hussain Sancharaki said.

However, Ghani's representatives did not publicly express any such concerns of their own, but rather just emphasized their hope that the remaining disagreements between the candidates would be put to rest. According to Ghani's camp, another meeting will be held Friday or Saturday.

"Last night, another meeting was held between the candidates over the disputed points and views were exchanged to reach an outcome," Ghani spokesman Tahir Zuhair said. "It is expected that the meetings will be continued, today or tomorrow, the candidates will meet again and we are hopeful that they will reach a conclusion."

Zuhair also said that his team was still hopeful that the election would end and the new president sworn in before the NATO conference. If a president is in office by September 4, it is expected that he would sign the long-awaited Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the U.S. at, or soon after, the conference. Both candidates have promised to endorse the security pact, which would allow foreign troops to remain in Afghanistan post-2014.

Nevertheless, Abdullah's camp has been firm in their stance that the election results will not be announced until after the candidates have reached full agreement over their power-sharing arrangement.

"The two sides talked on a common text with a balanced approach on how to explain the national unity government to guarantee the equal participation of the two sides in it," Sancharaki said on Friday, referring to the previous day's negotiations.

With audit process still ongoing, Abdullah's camp also said that it has referred more documents to the UN regarding cases of fraud in the election.

The UN has reportedly urged President Karzai to accept that the inauguration will not happen on September 2, saying the audit process will not be completed by then. According to a Presidential Palace press release, the likely timeframe for the inauguration is somewhere between September 2 and September 10. The release did not elaborate on Karzai's stance.

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Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:50:55 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16158-campaigns-hopeful-for-negotiations-but-timing-still-unclear
Pakistani Insurgents Involved in Nuristan Attack http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16157-pakistani-insurgents-involved-in-nuristan-attack

Afghan military officials on Friday announced that among the 28 insurgents who were killed on Thursday in crossfire with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in Do Ab district of eastern Nuristan province revealed a number of Pakistani insurgents.

The officials of the 201 Selab Military Corps said that after eight days of fighting against the insurgents, the ANSF have regained control of the district.

They said that they found Pakistani documents on the bodies of the dead insurgents, adding that among the dead were two Taliban leaders, Mullah Nematullah and Sultan.

"The flag of the country can, once again, be raised in Do Ab district as the Afghan troops built the way toward reconstruction and defeated the enemies," Mohammad Zaman Waziri, commander of the 201 Selab Military Corp, said.

Officials explained the detail of their operation saying that the Taliban had destroyed the routes to enter Do Ab so that the Afghan forces could not enter the area.

During the eight-day operation, U.S. military forces, Afghan commandos and police were working alongside each other. The clash resulted in the death of an Afghan police and soldier.

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Fri, 29 Aug 2014 12:22:31 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16157-pakistani-insurgents-involved-in-nuristan-attack
Haqqania Madrassa Largest Islamic Training Center for Taliban http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16156-haqqania-madrassa-largest-islamic-training-center-for-taliban

Deputy head of the largest Islamic training center, Darul Uloom Haqqania Madrassa located in Pakistan, called on the Taliban to fight against the Afghan government and foreign troops on Monday during an exclusive interview with TOLOnews.

Reports indicate that Mullah Omar, the notorious Taliban leader, has awarded the madrassa many times in training newcomers to fight.

"We call on the Afghan Taliban's and ask them what relations do the thousands of foreign troops have with Afghanistan?" asked Mawlana Hafiz-ul-Haq Haqqani, deputy head of the Darul Uloom Haqqania Madrassa. "They should fight against them [foreign troops] and the Afghan government."

More than 4,000 Afghan and Pakistan Taliban are currently being trained by the madrassa. Those who have completed their training join either willingly or forcefully are sent off to fight in Afghanistan targeting military and non-military personnel.

According to a number of Pakistani political experts, during the soviet invasion in Afghanistan many members of the Mujahidin were trained by the madrassa and sent out to defend the country.

"Those who fought against the soviet troops alongside the Mujahidin were trained by the Pakistani madrassas," Mohammad Jan Babur, Pakistani journalist, said.

Political analyst in Pakistan, Shamim Shahid, said the "Taliban regime in Afghanistan are graduates of Pakistan's madrassas."

The Haqqania Madrassa trains more than 4,000 students, but Pakistan has roughly 16,000 active madrassas in the country, of which almost 600,000 students are learning.

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Fri, 29 Aug 2014 12:03:04 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16156-haqqania-madrassa-largest-islamic-training-center-for-taliban
Helmand Conflict Results in Heavy Losses http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16155-helmand-conflict-results-in-heavy-losses

In the past two months the battle in Sangeen district of Helmand province has taken the lives of more than 900 people—Taliban, civilians and security forces—and injuring around 1,100 others, commander of the 215 battalion of Maiwand said.

Governor of Helmand, Muhammad Naeem, said that the casualties in the past two months are unprecedented compared to the past 10 years and in addition adds that alongside the lives lost, many families are now displaced and in search of safety.

"We are taking serious preparations. New forces are arriving to replace the forces that have been here for the past two months."

More than 400 Taliban insurgents, 270 security forces and 230 civilians have been killed in the Sangeen clashes and around 500 Taliban, 200 security forces and more than 400 civilians have been wounded, according to Gov. Naeem.

According to local officials in Helmand, the district is also facing attacks by illegal armed groups creating scattered quarrels for the security forces as the battle continues with the Taliban militants.

Helmand is not the only province that has witnessed and faced attacks by the Taliban offense, the provinces of Kandahar, Nangarhar, Kunduz, Baghlan, Badakhshan, Faryab and Nuristan have fallen victim to the intensive battles.

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Fri, 29 Aug 2014 10:35:23 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16155-helmand-conflict-results-in-heavy-losses
Ebola vaccine trials being fast-tracked: researchers http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/16154-ebola-vaccine-trials-being-fast-tracked-researchers

Safety trials on an Ebola vaccine are being fast-tracked, meaning it could be given to healthy volunteers as early as September, researchers said Thursday.

The vaccine will be given to volunteers in Britain, the Gambia and Mali in a bid to tackle the spread of an epidemic which has spread across west Africa, killing 1,552 so far.

Researchers hope the trials could finish by the end of 2014.

If they are successful, the vaccine could then be given to people infected with Ebola, which is spread through bodily fluids.

The move was announced by pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline -- which is developing the vaccine with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) -- and London-based medical charity Wellcome Trust, which is contributing to a grant to pay for the trials.

"A candidate Ebola vaccine could be given to healthy volunteers in the UK, the Gambia and Mali as early as September, as part of a series of safety trials of potential vaccines," the statement said.

A total of 3,062 cases have so far been reported but the World Health Organization warned Thursday that the caseload could eventually exceed 20,000.

The trials, which still need ethical and regulatory approval, will be funded by a £2.8 million (3.5 million euro, $4.6 million) grant from the Wellcome Trust, Britain's Medical Research Council (MRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

The Oxford study will involve 60 healthy volunteers, while those in the Gambia and Mali will each involve 40.

This will also allow GSK to make some 10,000 extra doses of the vaccine so that if the trials are successful, it could be made available to the WHO quickly.

Safety tests of the vaccine will take place at Oxford University alongside a US trial run by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

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Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:19:30 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/16154-ebola-vaccine-trials-being-fast-tracked-researchers
8 Evening Program: Start of Roshan Afghan Premiere League http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16153-8-evening-program-start-of-roshan-afghanistan-premiere-league

The importance and value football is in Afghan society, the developments of Premiere League, and the opportunities and challenges ahead of football in Afghanistan.

Host Omid Farooq discusses the matter with:

Muhammad Yousuf Kargar, Head Coach of Afghanistan National Football Team

Hamed Ali, Author and Researcher

To watch the program, click here:

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Fri, 29 Aug 2014 06:28:17 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16153-8-evening-program-start-of-roshan-afghanistan-premiere-league
TAWDE KHABARE: Corruption and New Government Opportunities for Eliminating the Phenomenon http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16152-tawde-khabare-corruption-and-new-government-opportunities-for-eliminating-the-phenomenon

What is the current condition of corruption in Afghanistan and what is being done and what programs are in place? Is past experiences enough for eliminating this phenomenon, or will the new government take new steps to eliminate corruption?

Host Shahpoor Bakhtyar, discusses the issue with the following guests:

Abdul Jabar Sabet, Former Attorney General

Ezatullah Wasefi, Former Head of High Office of Over-Sight and Anti-Corruption

Said Hameedullah Tawab, Advisor to the High Office of Over-sight and Anti-corruption

To watch the program, click here:

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Fri, 29 Aug 2014 06:10:10 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16152-tawde-khabare-corruption-and-new-government-opportunities-for-eliminating-the-phenomenon
RAPL Season Begins With Eventful Opening Match http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/16151-rapl-season-begins-with-eventful-opening-match

The third season of the Roshan Afghan Premier League (RAPL) began on Thursday with a goal-filled match between Shaheen Asmayee and Da Abaseen Sapee. Shaheen Asmayee, last season's champions, won the match handedly with a final scoreline of 5-1.

It being the inaugural match of this year's season, an opening ceremony was held before the first whistle. But once the game began, it was clear from a series of consecutive attacks by Shaheen Asmayee that Da Abaseen Sapee was going to face an opponent holding nothing back in their first game.

The initial goal came just 10 minutes in, and was scored by Shaheen Asmayee's Amruddin Sharifi. Then, just two minutes later, a second goal was scored by the Kabul side's Mustafa Afshar.

Just before half-time, Da Abaseen Sapee, which represents eastern Afghanistan, netted their first goal to bring the game to 2-1, a scoreline that no doubt kept them hopeful that the game was not yet out of reach.

But in the second half, Shaheen Asmayee hit the pitch with renewed intensity and laid on an offensive that brought them two more goals, ending the game 5-1.

"My favorite team is Shaheen Asmayee, last year I attended all their games," one fan told TOLOnews after the final whistle blew. "This year too, I will come to all their games and will enjoy them."

The game, played in Kabul at the official stadium of the Afghan Football Federation (AFF), attracted a large crowd that included men, women and children.

"It is pleasing that families are coming to the games, we are really happy that our football is developing," said another fan Hajer Abul Fazel.

The RAPL has made a huge splash since it began in 2012, and has been praised by many for its role in bringing people from around the country together through their love for football. This was in part made evident at the match on Thursday by all of the politicians and government officials from different offices and parts of the country that came out to watch.

"We cannot live our lives without football and sports, it has become part of the lives of Afghans," Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said. "Football guarantees a fine and stable society for a country."

Ghulam Ghous Nekbeen, the Deputy and Acting Mayor of Herat, also attended the inaugural match. "The Afghan Football Federation has been able to serve Afghanistan with the help of a number of sponsors, without whom, it would have been impossible."

Many, particularly at the AFF and the Afghan National Team, have praised the RAPL, which is the country's first ever national professional league, for helping develop Afghan football talent.

"This football will not only help in uniting people, but it will also help in development," AFF Chief Keramuddin Keram said. "I hope that our youth can take advantage of it."

Afghan National Team Coach Yousuf Kargar also applauded the RAPL, and indicated that he has observed growing interest in football since the league started. "People have participated with a great enthusiasm this year, and want their favorite team to win," Kargar said. "People are much more interested in football in compared to other years."

The RAPL splits its eight teams into two groups, with each team representing a different region of the country. However, players are allowed to play for any team, regardless of where they themselves are from.

This year's groups are as follows: Oqaban Hindukush, Mawj Hay Amo, Shaheen Asmaye and Da Abaseen Sapee in the first group and Semorgh Alburz, Toofan Harirod, Da Maiwand Attalan and Da Aspeen Ghar Bazan in the second group.

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:18:20 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/16151-rapl-season-begins-with-eventful-opening-match
TOLOnews 6 pm News 28 August 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16150-tolonews-6-pm-news-28-august-2014

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Thursday reported that the normal process of invalidation of fake votes from genuine votes is moving forward under the supervision of the United Nations' (UN) representatives.

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The commission also announced that votes from 147 boxes have been invalidated so far, adding that they will soon make a decision regarding the votes from 3,000 polling sites which were not audited.

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:25:20 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16150-tolonews-6-pm-news-28-august-2014
Foreign Pressure Mounts as Election Remains Stalled http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/16149-foreign-pressure-mounts-as-election-remains-stalled

With renewed discord surfacing between the two presidential candidates this week, the U.S. and Britain have taken more steps to try and push the candidates toward agreement and the election process toward conclusion.

The U.S. has sent its Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Daniel Feldman, to Kabul in hopes of getting the candidates to see through the agreement they made at the beginning of the month, when negotiations were mediated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Although the language was broad, the two candidates agreed to terms for the vote audit and recount as well as a National Unity power-sharing arrangement to follow the election.

According to the U.S. State Department, Feldman, who replaced James Dobbins in July, has met with the presidential candidates, UN representatives and other key election officials. "He has been there and had a previously planned trip and certainly will remain engaged in this process, of course," State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said.

Psaki said the representatives of both candidates were withdrawn from the vote audit on Thursday, but confirmed that the process continued without them and under observer supervision. She added that both candidates have already agreed to accept the results of the audit so they will be expected to follow through on that commitment.

"We have continued to encourage both parties to continue to respect the process and raise their specific concerns with UN, which is supervising the process and has been working with them...so Mr. Feldman is on the ground continuing to discuss with them the path forward, and that is certainly natural given his role," Psaki said.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron has also looked to put pressure on the candidates to resolve their disputes, releasing a recent statement that calls on them to reach an agreement and see through the commitments they made with Secretary Kerry.

Cameron has asked Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai to agree on a timeframe for the conclusion of the election and try to put their differences to rest before the NATO summit to be held September 4-5 in Britain.

He added that participation of a new president in the summit would be crucial for ensuring continued foreign aid to Afghanistan. The summit is expected to be where the final arrangements for a post-2014 military partnership between Afghanistan, the U.S. and NATO will be made.

However, Afghan analyst Nasrullah Stanekzai is not so optimistic about a quick end to the election process, which has already dragged on for well over four months.

"It seems unrealistic for the elections to end in another week, and even if it does end, it will be rushed and under foreign pressure," Stanekzai said. "Otherwise, the way it has been agreed among the candidates, this process will take time, and the efforts of the U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and the Prime Minister of Britain will not do any good."

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:07:28 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/16149-foreign-pressure-mounts-as-election-remains-stalled
Northern Officials Say Released Prisoners Lead Taliban Fighters http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16148-northern-officials-say-released-prisoners-lead-taliban-fighters

Local Afghan security officials in the northern provinces have reported that former Taliban prisoners who were released are leading the militant fight against security forces in the area.

The officials, representing Baghlan, Faryab and Kunduz provinces, reported that most of the insurgents that are embattled are well known, and have been imprisoned at least once before. They say these militants are responsible for the deaths of among the security forces and local civilian populations.

"The release of Taliban prisoners is one of our major concerns, because the armed opponents who were released from the jails are commanding Taliban's operations in the battlefield," Baghlan Police Chief Aminullah Amarkhail told TOLOnews.

Although some suspected militants are often released when there is supposedly a lack of evidence to keep them detained, many have been freed under the pretense that they have reformed and want to participate in the government's reconciliation program.

Controversy surrounding the release of suspected militants has long been simmering, but has erupted this summer amidst an intense offensive by the Taliban that has caused trouble for security forces around the country.

Security officials and experts have been quick to criticize the government for overseeing the releases that have left Afghan police and soldiers facing a swollen and emboldened enemy.

"Those who are fighting are criminals who were in jails and are now commanding the operations," Faryab Governor Mohammadullah Batash said on Thursday.

The Presidential Palace has called into question some of the claims that released prisoners are involved in insurgent activities, asking officials to provide specifics so that steps can be taken to ensure the same mistake is not repeated.

While some have kept their language broad, not referring to any individuals in particular, Kunduz Police Commander Ghulam Mustafa Mohseni has named one former prisoner in particular as the new leader of a daunting fighting force in his area.

"Maulavi Abdul Salam already leads 2,000 fighters and he was released from the jail," Commander Mohseni told TOLOnews.

However, still no exact figures about how many Taliban prisoners are in jail, how many have been released and how many returns to fighting exist.

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:06:44 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16148-northern-officials-say-released-prisoners-lead-taliban-fighters
Disagreements Between Candidates Prevail http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/16147-disagreements-between-candidates-prevail

Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah's electoral team has announced that outcomes of the vote audit process will not be acceptable to them, adding that the political negotiations between the electoral camps have not reached any positive outcomes.

"Further political discussions must be on the basis of a new framework; Dr. Abdullah has clarified this to Dr. Ghani during their negotiations," Syed Hussain Fazel Aqa Sancharaki, Abdullah's spokesman, said on Thursday.

"Continuing the audit is illogical; we will not accept the result as the process does not have any credibility to us."

Furthermore, Sancharaki declared that the electoral team would pursue further negotiations "from the position of the winners."

"We are the winners of the first and second rounds of the elections so we will talk from the position of the president."

This is while the rival team, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's camp, has stressed on the continuation of political talks between the candidates, expressing optimism over reaching final agreements within 48 hours.

"The candidates met yesterday with a spirit of trust, but no new agenda was discussed; the talks focused on some of the previously disputed topics without any conclusive decisions," Tahir Zuhair, Ghani's spokesman, said. "Meetings between the candidates will continue."

In addition, Zuhair stated that the camp will endorse the election commission's decisions regardless of the election outcomes.

"The Transformation and Continuity Team [Ghani's team] will accept the election results whatever they may be," he said. "We will endorse the results because we want to protect the interests of the nation."

Abdullah's camp has said that the candidates have disagreements over eight main issues. This is while Ghani's camp maintains that the candidates have disagreements over few issues only, explaining that the disagreements are mostly about the authority of the chief executive and whether or not he will also serve as the head of the council of ministers.

Even though disagreements between the electoral teams prevail, President Karzai has emphasized that the inauguration ceremony--scheduled for this Monday-- should not be postponed. As tensions increase, it remains unclear how the political situation in the country will unwind.

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:00:19 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/16147-disagreements-between-candidates-prevail
IEC: Verdict on 3,000 Boxes Issued Friday http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/16146-iec-verdict-of-3000-boxes-issued-friday

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Thursday reported that the normal process of invalidation of fake votes from genuine votes is moving forward under the supervision of the United Nations' (UN) representatives.

The commission also announced that votes from 147 boxes have been invalidated so far, adding that they will soon make a decision regarding the votes from 3,000 polling sites which were not audited.

On Thursday, the invalidation process took place in the presence of national and international observers as well as the IEC staff, despite the absence of the representatives from the two electoral camps.

IEC officials have stated that the process will move forward even if the electoral camps boycott the process, adding that their decisions will be sent to the electoral teams.

"Based on the IEC decision, at the end of each day, we will send a copy of the checklists to both electoral teams," acting chief of the IEC secretariat, Ahmad Jawed Habibi, said.

IEC officials also stressed that the electoral teams have to accept the results.

"We hope that there are no more issues and the election outcomes are endorsed by both teams so that the next government is formed on the basis of people's votes," IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said. "There was fraud in the election, which is why the commission supported a 100 percent audit process to allow the teams to investigate the issue alongside the IEC staff."

The IEC has announced that the checklists are entered into the database under the supervision of UN observers.

"So far we have received more than 17,000 checklists, out of which 13,000 checklists have been completed through all eight stages," head of IEC's data registration department, Syed Ibrahim Saadat, said.

The IEC statements come after presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah's electoral team announced their decision to boycott the invalidation process and withdraw all observers from the procedure. After Abdullah's announcement, on the request of the UN presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's camp also withdrew his observers.

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:55:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/16146-iec-verdict-of-3000-boxes-issued-friday
Jowzjan Residents Fight Taliban http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16145-jowzjan-residents-fight-taliban

In recent weeks, the northern province of Jowzjan has witnessed an alarming increase in insurgent attacks, but according to the provincial police chief residents, alongside the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), are retaliating against the Taliban and fighting together with the ANSF.

Jowzjan Police Chief Gen. Faqir Mohammad Jowzjani said that the peoples uprising against the insurgency is very effective.

"Residents of Jowzjan are facing armed militants with whatever weapons they have," Jowzjani explained. "At the moment 200 residents in Faizabad district,

50 in Qara Qul, 50 in Aqcha, 30 in Maradian, 20 in Mangjeek and 10 residents in Khamab districts are fighting against the Taliban. They have begun an uprising."

The residents say the reason behind their uprising is a response to their frustration and inconvenience brought on by the insurgents on a daily basis disturbing their lives, so they decided to take matters into their own hands and tackle the enemies with their own weapons.

Meanwhile, Jowzjan Deputy Governor Abdul Rahman Mahmoodi said the insurgents do not have the ability to face the security forces on the battlefield.

"Militants do not have the capacity to face the Afghan security forces, hence they resort to kidnapping, mine explosions and stealing arms to create insecurity for the residents," Mahmoodi said.

Residents have voiced their concerns about the insecurity rising in their province to the government and continue to call on to the government to bring law and order back into the area.

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:23:31 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16145-jowzjan-residents-fight-taliban
Exclusive Interview with Baghlan Police Chief http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16144-exclusive-interview-with-baghlan-police-chief-

To watch exclusive interview with Gen. Aminullah Amarkhail, the Baghlan Police Chief, click here:

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 08:27:35 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16144-exclusive-interview-with-baghlan-police-chief-
Third Annual RAPL Kicks Off Thursday http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/16143-third-annual-rapl-kicks-off-today

The Roshan Afghan Premier League (RAPL) first game will kick off on Thursday August 28 at Afghanistan's Football Federation stadium in Kabul.

The football match begins at 4 p.m. between Shaheen Asmayee versus De Abaseen Sapi.

The teams have been split into two groups: A and B.

In group A are teams Oqaban Hindukosh, Mawjhai Amu, Shaheen Asmayee, and De Abaseen Sapi and in group B are Simorgh Alborz, Toofan Harirod, De Maiwand Atalan, and De Spinghar Bazan.

The first annual RAPL was held in 2012 with Toofan Harirod winning the championship game against Simorgh Alborz. In the second year of RAPL in 2013, Shaheen Asmayee team defeated Simorgh Alborz.

Today's match will be exclusively broadcasted live on TOLO TV, Lemar TV, Arman FM and Arakozai FM.

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 07:50:19 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/16143-third-annual-rapl-kicks-off-today
FARAKHABAR: 27 August 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/16142-farakhabar-27-august-2014

In a letter to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), President Hamid Karzai has assured the alliance that the new Afghan president or representatives of the current government will participate in the upcoming NATO leaders' summit expected to take place in Britain on September 4.

President Karzai's spokesman Aimal Faizi has confirmed that Karzai himself will not be participating in the NATO summit, which is expected to be where the final arrangements for the post-2014 military relationship between Afghanistan and the western alliance are made.

Who will go to the NATO summit in Wales?

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siawish discusses the topic with the following guests:

Malik Satiz, international affairs researcher

Zakaria Barakzai, Head of Afghanistan Democracy Watch

To watch the program, click here:

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 06:29:57 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/16142-farakhabar-27-august-2014
8 Evening Program: Legacy of the Current Regime To The New Regime http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16141-8-evening-program-legacy-of-the-current-regime-to-the-new-regime

In this episode host Muslim Sherzad, discusses the legacy of the current regime to a new government in the development field with the following guests:

Dr. Daoud Ali Najafi, the Transport and Civil Aviation Minister

Najibullah Aoudjan, Afghan Public Works Minister

Wais Ahmad Barmak, Afghan Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}lq95R-DlFyU{/youtube}

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 06:21:00 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16141-8-evening-program-legacy-of-the-current-regime-to-the-new-regime
TAWDE KHABARE: Taliban Attack Sangeen District http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16140-tawde-khabare-taliban-attack-sangeen-district

Clashes between the Taliban, including foreign insurgents, and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have intensified in the district of Sangeen in Helmand on Tuesday, according to the Helmand governor.

In the past two months, residents of Sangeen have witnessed extreme battles between the ANSF and the Taliban.

Host Zabiullah Sadaat discusses the issue with the following guests:

Ghairat Waziri, Khanashin district governor

Gen. Akram Basharyar, military affairs analyst

Asmat Qani, journalist

To watch the program, click here:

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 06:02:22 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16140-tawde-khabare-taliban-attack-sangeen-district
US hostage's Mother Pleads with Jihadists to Spare Him http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16139-us-hostages-mother-pleads-with-jihadists-to-spare-him

The mother of a US hostage who has been threatened with death by the jihadist gang that murdered a kidnapped reporter pleaded for her son's life Wednesday in an emotional televised appeal.

Shirley Sotloff, mother of 31-year-old freelance reporter Steven Sotloff, directly addressed the leader of so-called Islamic State, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, in a video message distributed to the media.

"My son is Steven is in your hands," she said. "He is a journalist who made a journey to cover the story of Muslims suffering at the hands of tyrants."

"As a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over."

Sotloff disappeared while reporting in Syria in August 2013. His apparent kidnap was not widely reported until he appeared on a video released last week by the Islamic State.

In the footage a masked militant beheads US reporter James Foley then parades Sotloff, warning he will meet the same fate unless US President Barack Obama halts air strikes against the group in Iraq.

"We have not seen Steven for over a year and we miss him very much. We want to see him home safe and sound and to hug him," the mother said, looking tired and tense but controlled.

"Since his capture, I have learned a lot about Islam. I've learned that Islam teaches that no individual should be held responsible for the sins of others," she said.

"Steven has no control over the actions of the US government. He's an innocent journalist. I've always learned that you, the Caliph can grant amnesty. I ask you to please release my child.

"I ask you to use your authority to spare his life and to follow the example set by the Prophet Mohammed. I plead with you to grant me this."

The Islamic State, a jihadist militant group, has declared the stretch of territory it controls in eastern Syria and northern Iraq to be the heartland of a new caliphate and Baghdadi the leader of all Muslims.

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 03:00:40 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16139-us-hostages-mother-pleads-with-jihadists-to-spare-him
TOLOnews 6 pm News 27 August 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16138--tolonews-6-pm-news-27-august-2014

Presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's electoral team registered 25 complaints to the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) in regards to the ballot invalidation process.

To watch the bulletin, click here:

{youtube}uKqO6Akx4mE{/youtube}

The ECC announced that the complaints are against the recent decisions of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in the ballot invalidation process, adding that the complaints will be addressed in a public hearing on Thursday.

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Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:39:25 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16138--tolonews-6-pm-news-27-august-2014
25 Complaints Recorded by Ghani Camp http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/16137-25-complaints-recorded-by-ghani-camp

Presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's electoral team registered 25 complaints to the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) in regards to the ballot invalidation process.

The ECC announced that the complaints are against the recent decisions of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in the ballot invalidation process, adding that the complaints will be addressed in a public hearing on Thursday.

"The registered 25 complaints are in regards to the invalidation of the 72 polling sites," ECC spokesman Nader Mohseni said. "Out of these complaints, seven instances are about the invalidation of ballots in Paktiya province and six others on the invalidations of ballots in Kandahar."

The ECC has not yet reported any complaints from presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah's electoral team.

Meanwhile, the complaints commission has asked the IEC to post all their decisions online so that the complaints are filed on time.

"The IEC decisions must be public and we ask that the information regarding these decisions be posted on the IEC website so that the complaints are filed on time," Mohseni added, stressing that the complaints registration window has been set for 24 hours after which they will be addressed by the ECC within 48 hours.

The ECC has said that the number of complaints should not be high as both candidates' representatives and international observers were present during the invalidation process.

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Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:54:40 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/16137-25-complaints-recorded-by-ghani-camp
Candidates Talk With President But to No Avail http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16136-candidates-talk-with-president-but-to-no-avail

The two presidential candidates have had numerous meetings with each other and President Hamid Karzai in hopes of negotiating a resolution to their disagreements. However, despite the Presidential Palace's eagerness to see a new president inaugurated by September 2, it remains unclear whether or not the two candidates can settle their disputes.

According to both camps, their discord revolves around the vote auditing process and their negotiations over the formation of the national unity government. Despite numerous attempts to reach agreement, Abdullah Abdullah's campaign team has said that none have been successful, and until a resolution is found, there will be no new president.

Both candidates have met with President Karzai twice at the Presidential Palace over the past couple weeks and the President has reportedly urged for a September 2 inauguration. As many other government officials and analysts have already contended, Karzai believes the protracted nature of this year's election has been detrimental to Afghanistan and must come to an end as soon as possible. The president has even told NATO leaders they can expect a new president at their summit in Britain scheduled to begin on September 4.

Email Faizi, the spokesman for the president, told TOLOnews that, "political talks are ongoing and all the government focus is to end the election process based on the set timeline, meaning by the end of August with an inauguration ceremony following right after."

Abdullah's team has said that both candidates planned to meet on Wednesday, but with a different approach than in past negotiations. "Talks today will be different from the past, meaning that, in the past, these talks would take place in the framework of the audit, but now, these talks will be different," said Sayed Fazel Agha Sancharaki, a spokesman for Abdullah.

Sancharaki indicated that his side would not permit an inauguration to take place until all the political issues between the two candidates are resolved. "With the current conditions, until political problems are resolved, and both candidates have reached a political agreement, there will be no inauguration ceremony, not on September 2, or after that," he said.

Meanwhile, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's camp has expressed optimism that agreement can be found, and that the existing National Unity Committee can lead the way.

"Both candidates have planned to meet this evening, and review the current condition," Ghani spokesman Faizullah Zaki confirmed. "The remaining issues will be discussed by the third committee of the National Unity Committee to provide the opportunity for the inauguration of a new president by working jointly."

Though Zaki seemed hesitant to commit to a September 2 inauguration date, he said that a date in September that everyone could agree on would be chosen.




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Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:50:17 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16136-candidates-talk-with-president-but-to-no-avail
ISI Accused of Leading Attacks in Afghanistan http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16135--isi-accused-of-leading-attacks-in-afghanistan

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) has asserted that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Agency is leading the war against the Afghan military.

"The Pakistani intelligence has a direct hand in the insecurities," NDS spokesman Abdul Haseeb Sediqi said. "We have evidence proving that the war in Afghanistan is led by the Pakistani military; Pakistani soldiers are fighting alongside the terrorists."

This is not the first time that Pakistan has been accused of contributing to the insecurity in Afghanistan. But NDS claims are slightly different as they accuse the Pakistani military of being directly involved in leading and organizing terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.

Sediqi claimed that despite all attempts, Taliban are weaker than ever, adding that the NDS has been able to prevent 400 terrorist attacks in the month of August only.

"Taliban are weak from every angle while the Afghan National Security Forces' (ANSF) capacities have increased. This is why they need help from the Pakistani military."

In addition, he stated that the terrorists are changing their war tactics with the guidance of the Quetta Shura that has recently held three meetings to plan new terrorist attacks in Afghanistan in aim to provoke insecurities in the northeastern and southwestern parts of the country.

A number of political analysts have said that Sediqi's statements do not surprise them, accusing President Hamid Karzai of neglecting the issue.

"Pakistan's involvement in the terrorist attacks on Afghanistan is not a new matter; everyone knows of this reality," political analyst Saleh Muhammad Registani said. "The military had discussed the issue with President Karzai many times, but he chose to be silent. Now that his term is coming to an end, more light is shed onto these realities."

The NDS has announced that they will not provide the evidence against Pakistani military to Pakistani officials because of the "lack of trust".

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Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:46:17 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16135--isi-accused-of-leading-attacks-in-afghanistan
Karzai Assures NATO New Afghan President Will Attend Summit http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16134-karzai-assures-nato-new-afghan-president-will-attend-summit

In a letter to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), President Hamid Karzai has assured the alliance that the new Afghan president or representatives of the current government will participate in the upcoming NATO leaders' summit expected to take place in Britain on September 4.

President Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi has confirmed that Karzai himself will not be participating in the NATO summit, which is expected to be where the final arrangements for the post-2014 military relationship between Afghanistan and the western alliance are made.

"The NATO alliance has invited the president to the summit, in response, the president has dispatched a letter and has assured that the new president or the current government will attend the summit meeting," Faizi said.

The Afghan president still refuses to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), the legal framework that would allow a contingent of U.S. and NATO troops to stay in Afghanistan after the withdraw in December. His obstinance toward the pact, which was endorsed by a 2,500-person Loya Jirga in November of last year, has been a major source of tension between Kabul and Washington over the past year.

NATO leaders, and now U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham, have expressed hope that the new Afghan president will be able to attend the summit, which will be taking place in Wales. The conference could provide the new president, whether it is Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai or Abdullah Abdullah, a crucial first opportunity to set the tone for his administration on the international stage. Both candidates have promised to sign the BSA once in office.

"I think it is possible, we have all agreed that that is the goal," Ambassador Cunningham said regarding the possibility of the new president attending the summit. "The candidates know that it is an important opportunity for the president to be declared and get him on to the international stage of the NATO summit a couple of day's letter, so we will keep trying to help them to reach that."

Although the election remains at somewhat of an impasse, with the vote auditing and invalidation process still being disputed at every turn, the top American diplomat said that he hoped a new Afghan president would take office in the next week.

Cunningham called on the presidential candidates to avoid disagreements and settle their issues as soon as possible. He emphasized that Washington and its allies would not accept an undemocratic or extrajudicial conclusion to this year's election, which has now dragged on for well over four months.

If the BSA is signed, and arrangements for a post-2014 foreign troop presence made, the U.S. and NATO have indicated around 10,000-15,000 troops may stay behind in Afghanistan to help train and advise the Afghan forces. The pact would also ensure the continuation of much needed financial aid to the Afghan military.

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Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:43:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16134-karzai-assures-nato-new-afghan-president-will-attend-summit
Kunar Residents Forced to Evacuate Homes http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16133-kunar-residents-forced-to-evacuate-homes

Pakistan's military shelling has forced hundreds of displaced families to seek refuge in the districts of eastern Nangarhar province leaving behind their native areas and homes.

Reports illustrate that many from Kunar's districts of Dangam and Shegal have settled or are searching for safe shelters in the districts of Behsud and Kama located in eastern Nangarhar.

"We have been under Pakistani rocket attacks for the last three years," said Agha Jan, one of the many people forced to flee his native town. "The attacks continue to force us to evacuate our homes."

Residents are weary of the constant sacrifices they are forced to make, warning that mass demonstrations will be held if the responsible organs do not prevent such attacks.

"If the Pakistani military attacks continue, we will demand our rights by taking part in protests," Fazel, another displaced resident, exclaimed.

In just the past two days, according to local officials, 100 missiles have been fired on two districts of Kunar.

The districts of Kunar are located alongside the Pakistani border and have been under attack for the past three years, but in recent months the number of attacks has increased dramatically with reports indicating that roughly 50 rockets, if not more, are fired onto the districts of Kunar.

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Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:28:00 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16133-kunar-residents-forced-to-evacuate-homes