TOLOnews.com RSS Feed http://tolonews.com/ Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:59:07 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) White House Urges Pakistan to Keep Haqqani on Heels http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15727-white-house-urges-pakistan-to-keep-haqqani-on-heels alt

The U.S. government has urged Pakistani leaders to protect gains made during counter-insturgent operations along the border region with Afghanistan over the past month and prevent the infamous Haqqani Network from entrenching itself there once again.

The report on communications between Washington and Islamabad acme from White House National Security Council member Jeffrey Eggers on Friday.

In June, the Pakistani military launched a series of operations throughout the Norther Waziristan tribal belt region that borders Afghanistan. The region is known to be a hotbed of insurgents and terrorist groups that have targeted Afghan and NATO forces across the border.

Afghan officials have been skeptical about the operations launched by Islamabad, with some suggesting they are just putting on a show to convince the international community that Pakistan does not harbor groups like the Haqqani Network, which is considered one of the largest and most sophisticated terrorist groups in the world.

"Pakistan cooperates with the Haqqani Network a lot, and Haqqani mostly targets Afghanistan; the Afghan National Security Forces and ISAF being their priorities," Kabul Police Chief Zaher Zaher said on Saturday.

In Afghanistan, the idea of insurgents and terrorists basing themselves out of Pakistan is accepted more or less as fact, which is one of the key reasons for frayed relations between the two neighbors over the years.

"The Haqqani Network is a very dangerous network, who have implemented many operations in Afghanistan over past years, but Pakistan has never done anything to destroy them," said military analyst Jawed Kohistani.

The Afghan government remains highly suspicious of Pakistani intelligence and military leaders, for the most part believing they are still in cahoots with Taliban and Haqqani leaders calling the shots for the war in Afghanistan from safe havens across the border.

Although Pakistan has maintained the operations it has carried out in Northern Waziristan effectively eliminated much of the terrorist threat in the region, experts in Kabul have argued otherwise.

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Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:13:30 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15727-white-house-urges-pakistan-to-keep-haqqani-on-heels
Mother Raped After Son Runs Away with Girl http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15725-mother-raped-after-son-runs-away-with-girl alt

Last week, an Afghan boy and girl ran away from their homes in the ninth district of Kabul resulting in the girl's father and relatives attacking the boy's home and raping his mother.

Relatives of the rape victim said the incident took place when Wahab, the boy, fled with a girl who resided with her family in Qala-e-Ali Mardan in Kabul.

Kabul Police Chief Gen. Zahir Zahir confirmed the unpleasant incident and said that the police have begun investigating the case to bring the criminals to justice.

"According to what the victim said, the rape resulted in the escape of the boy and girl," Gen. Zahir said. "The perpetrator has escaped, but we are working diligently to bring justice to the case."

But according to the police commander of Kabul's ninth district, he told TOLOnews that nothing occurred in the area.

The mother of Wahab is now in the province of Laghman after the attack.
The Independent Human Rights Commission said they have not officially received any complaints in regards to the case, but have asked that justice be served.

"This is a serious case," said Head of the Media Office for the Independent Human Rights Commission, Rafiullah Bedar. "The girl's family beat and raped the boy's mother, this is a crime."

Domestic violence and forced marriages are some of the main factors that young Afghan boys and girls run away from home.

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Sat, 26 Jul 2014 13:49:12 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15725-mother-raped-after-son-runs-away-with-girl
Presidential Candidates Indicate Support UN Proposal http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15724-presidential-candidates-support-un-proposal alt

Both presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai have showed to the United Nations (UN) that they support the Independent Election Commission (IEC) implementing UN's proposition on the recount and invalidation of ballots, according to a statement released on Saturday by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

The UN proposed the criteria to the IEC on Thursday July 24 upon an agreement by both candidates.

The statement read, "both candidates indicated to the UN that they had their own respective concerns with the proposal, but were prepared to process with it as a good faith effort based on international best practice to bridge their positions."

According to the UN, both Abdullah and Ghani-Ahmadzai conveyed that the monitoring structure should be finalized in the interest of the nation.

The UN welcomes, as stated, "the statesmanship shown by the candidates in coming to this difficult decision as well as the sincere engagement by their technical teams in preparation of the UN proposal."

The UN now asks the IEC board to recognize this legal step and to push the momentum of the audit process forward so that the next steps of the election process can begin.

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Sat, 26 Jul 2014 10:11:49 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15724-presidential-candidates-support-un-proposal
ELECTION 2014: The Election Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15723-election-2014-the-election-process alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Omid Farooq takes a look at the entire election process with the following the guests:

• Sarir Ahmad Barmak, a commissioner of the Independent Election Commission (IEC)

To watch the whole program, click here:

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Sat, 26 Jul 2014 09:48:47 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15723-election-2014-the-election-process
Obama Calls on Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15722-obama-calls-on-abdullah-and-ashraf-ghani alt

U.S. President Barack Obama has called on presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai on Friday thanking "them for their leadership in reaching an agreement to form a national unity government", the White House said in a statement.

The president commended Abdullah and Ghani-Ahmadzai "for putting the interests of Afghanistan first and committing to working together as partners in governance."

Both candidates have pledged to accept the results of the ongoing recount, which Abdullah demanded after rejecting a preliminary tally that showed Ghani-Ahmadzai leading the June 14 runoff.

"Noting that the audit is steadily progressing, the president encouraged both candidates to publically endorse their previously agreed political framework and continue their dialogue on the details of its implementation to ensure the Afghan people have full confidence in the ongoing electoral process and outcome," the statement read.

He also "reiterated that there is no justification for rhetoric that threatens extra-constitutional measures and urged Dr. Abdullah and Dr. Ghani to continue to move forward in the spirit of collegiality to maintain national unity during this historic democratic transition."

The statement added that U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, would remain in close consultation with Ghani-Ahmadzai, Abdullah and outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Both candidates have signaled their intention to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that will allow nearly 10,000 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan post 2014 after the withdrawal of foreign troops.

On Friday, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said that a proposal for the vote auditing process has been submitted to election officials despite the fact that the two presidential candidates failed to agree on the criteria to be used.

"We want the IEC to make a decision, time is limited and both candidates could not agree on the criteria," UNAMA spokeswoman Neelab Mubarez said.

According to Mubarez, the proposal, which has been delivered to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), suggests public hearings be held by IEC Commissioners in the presence of UN representatives, observers and media.

The implementation of the proposal has been welcomed by Abdullah's campaign team and said that they expect some of their suggestions to be included in the proposal. The campaign team has advocated a larger role for the UN during the auditing process because of its mistrust of the election commissions.

Meanwhile, Ghani-Ahmadzai's campaign team has acknowledged disagreements over the invalidation of votes, but expressed faith in the IEC.

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Sat, 26 Jul 2014 08:02:21 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15722-obama-calls-on-abdullah-and-ashraf-ghani
Unknown Gunmen Kills Afghan Soldiers in Herat http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15721-unknown-gunmen-kills-afghan-soldiers-in-herat alt

Unknown gunmen killed two Afghan National Army soldiers (ANA) early Saturday in western Herat province, local officials said.

The incident took place in Shaydaye area of Herat City after two unknown gunmen on a motorbike started shooting at the ANA soldiers and escaped the area, said Abdul Raouf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the provincial police chief.

"The soldiers were traveling to 207 Zafar military corps when two unknown gunmen operating a motorbike started shooting at the soldiers," he said.

The bodies of the victims have been taken to 207 Zafar military corps, he said.

Investigation is underway, he said.

No group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Sat, 26 Jul 2014 07:33:51 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15721-unknown-gunmen-kills-afghan-soldiers-in-herat
Taliban Leader Killed in Kunduz Offensives http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15720-taliban-leader-killed-in-kunduz-offensives alt

A Taliban leader, Qari Mohammad Nabi and three other insurgents were killed in Afghan security forces operation in northern Kunduz province on Friday night, local officials said.

Qari Nabi and other insurgents were killed after the Afghan forces launched military operations in Dasht-e Archi and Imam Sahim districts of the province to clear the area of insurgents, said Sarwar Hussaini, a spokesman for provincial police chief.

"The operation launched four days ago and is still continuing," Hussaini said. "Four Taliban insurgents including their leader, Qari Nabi was killed in Dasht-e Archi district."

The Afghan forces have cleared two villages in Imam Sahib district of the province, he said.

There were no civilians and Afghan forces causalities in the operations, he added.

The Taliban have not yet commented about the operations.

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Sat, 26 Jul 2014 05:01:08 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15720-taliban-leader-killed-in-kunduz-offensives
Israel And Hamas Declare 12-Hour Gaza Truce http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15719-israel-and-hamas-declare-12-hour-gaza-truce alt

The Israeli military and Hamas said on Saturday that they would observe a 12-hour ceasefire from 8:00 am (0500 GMT), but a longer-term truce remained elusive for now.

Hamas said that it and other militant groups in Gaza had reached "national consensus on a humanitarian truce" and Israel later confirmed that it would observe what it called "a humanitarian window in the Gaza Strip".

A statement from the Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza warned people not to approach bombed-out buildings and militant bases for fear of "explosive objects".

Earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking from Cairo, said that efforts to broker a longer halt to the fighting had so far yet to bear fruit.

He arrived in Paris on Saturday where France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was to host a meeting later in the day of counterparts from the United States, Britain, Germany, Italy, Qatar, Turkey and the EU.

Violence, however, continued in the early hours of Saturday, the conflict's 19th day, with Israeli air strikes and shelling killing 19 people, among them four children and a paramedic, Gaza medical services said.

Kerry, who has been leading international efforts to reach a truce, said at a press conference in Cairo with UN chief Ban Ki-moon that both Israel and Hamas "still have some terminology" to agree to on a ceasefire, but added they had "fundamental framework" on a truce.

But Israel's Channel 1 TV reported late Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet had "unanimously rejected" the Kerry proposal.

The United States has worked with Egypt on a plan that, diplomats say, would provide a pause in the deadly Israel-Hamas conflict ahead of talks on key issues.

The conflict, which began July 8 when Israel launched an operation to stamp out rocket fire from Gaza and destroy Hamas tunnels, has claimed 884 Palestinian lives, most of them civilians, plus 37 Israeli soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai migrant worker.

In a statement released by his office, Ban called for "an immediate, unconditional humanitarian pause in the fighting in Gaza and Israel".

"This pause would last through the Eid al-Fitr holiday period," Ban said, referring to the forthcoming Muslim festival, adding that a halt in the fighting could lead to a "longer-term ceasefire plan".

His comments tracked reports from Western and Palestinian officials of efforts to secure an initial week-long humanitarian ceasefire to be followed by negotiations on a longer-term cessation of hostilities.

- Hamas seeks end of Gaza blockade -

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu flew to Qatar on Friday to help efforts after Kerry reached out to Hamas allies Ankara and Doha to push for a ceasefire.

Under the proposal, once a humanitarian lull takes hold, delegations from Israel and Hamas would arrive in Cairo -- which has mediated past conflicts between the two -- for indirect talks that could lead to a lasting deal.

Senior Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq said late Friday on his Facebook page the group was "studying" the idea.

Hamas's Doha-based leader Khaled Meshaal insisted in a Thursday interview with the BBC that any truce must include a guaranteed end to Israel's eight-year blockade of Gaza.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, tensions over the situation in Gaza erupted into protests in several cities.

Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinian teenagers Saturday in separate clashes in the north and south of the West Bank.

That followed the deaths of six Palestinians and 150 injured in clashes in the West Bank Friday with Israeli troops and settlers.

- Death toll rises in Gaza -

On Thursday, at least 15 people were killed in the alleged Israeli shelling of a UN school sheltering some of the 100,000 Palestinians who have fled their homes during fighting.

The UN said it had been trying to coordinate with the army to evacuate civilians before the strike, without success, but the army said it had offered a humanitarian window, and that militants firing rockets in the area were responsible for the deaths.

Rights groups say around 80 percent of the casualties so far have been civilians, and the UN agency for children UNICEF said Friday that 192 children had been killed during the conflict.

In Lebanon, another Israeli foe, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, made a rare public appearance in Beirut, preaching "solidarity with the people and the resistance in Gaza".

The Israeli army on Saturday announced the death of two soldiers in Gaza fighting on Friday evening.

It named one as Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland, 21, but did not give further details.

Three civilians have been killed inside Israel, by rocket fire from Gaza, which continued Saturday morning with three shot down by missile defences and one falling on open ground, the army said.

It said militants fired 60 rockets into southern Israel on Friday, with another 15 intercepted.

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Sat, 26 Jul 2014 04:49:41 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15719-israel-and-hamas-declare-12-hour-gaza-truce
TAKANI: The Audit Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15718-takani-the-audit-process alt

In this episode of Takani 93, host Zabi Sadaat takes a look at the audit process with the following the guests:

• Jabar Shalgarai, a member of Abdullah Abdullah's team
• Nabi Musadi, a member of Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's team
• Fahim Naeemi, the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) spokesman

To watch the whole program, click here:

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Sat, 26 Jul 2014 04:05:03 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15718-takani-the-audit-process
UN Proposal Submitted Without Candidate Consensus http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15717-un-proposal-submitted-without-candidate-consensus alt

A spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Friday said that a proposal for the vote auditing process has been submitted to election officials despite the fact that the two presidential candidates failed to agree on the criteria to be used.

"We want the IEC to make a decision, time is limited and both candidates could not agree on the criteria," UNAMA spokesman Neelab Mubarez said.

According to Mubarez, the proposal, which has been delivered to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), suggests public hearings be held by IEC Commissioners in the presence of UN representatives, observers and media.

While welcoming the implementation of the proposal, Abdullah Abdullah's campaign team said that they expect some of their suggestions to be included in the proposal. The campaign team has advocated a larger role for the UN during the auditing process because of its mistrust of the election commissions.

"After a week of discussions over the criteria, the text of the proposal was brought by the Deputy of UN to Dr. Abdullah last night," Abdullah spokesman Said Agha Fazel Sancharaki said on Friday. "Dr. Abdullah shared his considerations, and we want the UN to implement the proposal as soon as possible."

Meanwhile, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's campaign team has acknowledged disagreements over the invalidation of votes, but expressed faith in the IEC.

"There are differences in views, but the differences are not a major issue, UNAMA has proposed a layout, it is the job of the IEC based on the law, which we respect," Ashraf Ghani spokesman and former presidential candidate Daud Sultanzoy said.

Based on the copy of the UN proposal received by TOLOnews, the following points comprise the recommendations for when to invalidate votes:

1. If ballots boxes are not in the same condition as when they were distributed by the IEC for the runoff.

2. Ballot boxes that do not have ballots, or ballots without a stamp, or if ballots are not marked according to standards, or if ballots are marked identically.

3. Presence of reports of use power and force during ballot counting and loss of election material.

4. Ballot boxes where lists of voters are either missing, is blank, or 33 percent of the ballot papers are not stamped in the ballot box, or not marked according to procedure.

5. Ballot boxes that are broken or the ballots are damaged to the point where chances of theft are seen.

6. Two or more seals of the ballot boxes are broken or chances of theft are seen.

Some election monitors have expressed concerns about the lack of agreement between the candidates over the exact criteria for invalidating votes during the audit.

"If these groups do not agree, the process will last longer and will face challenges and further problems," warned Muhammad Fahim Naeemi, spokesman for the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA). "Both presidential campaigns must agree on it."

With the UN proposal now with the IEC table, it is only a matter of time before it is either finalized or rejected. It is said that if the audit continues without the criteria in place, separating clean and fraudulent votes will be difficult.

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Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:24:54 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15717-un-proposal-submitted-without-candidate-consensus
TOLOnews 6 pm News 25 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15716-tolonews-6-pm-news-25-july-2014 altTop news in this bulletin

A spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Friday said that a proposal for the vote auditing process has been submitted to election officials despite the fact that the two presidential candidates failed to agree on the criteria to be used.

At least 15 Afghan civilians, including three women and a child, were killed when "criminals linked to foreign intelligence" stopped three passenger vans early Friday morning and killed each one-by-one in the remote province of Ghor, locals officials said.

To watch the bulletin, click here:

{youtube}VidIm8lAHkU{/youtube}

 The Afghan National Cricket Team defeated Zimbabwe in their last of four one day international matches they played in the southern African nation this week. Afghanistan won the match with 100 runs.

The ODI was played in the Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo. Of the four games played between the two countries, Afghanistan lost the first two, but won the last two. The national team will play its first test match with Zimbabwe on Sunday.

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Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:24:39 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15716-tolonews-6-pm-news-25-july-2014
Magnetic Mines the Latest Tactic of Insurgents http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15715-magnetic-mines-the-latest-tactic-of-insurgents alt

In recent attacks insurgents have resorted to placing magnetic mines on civilian and government vehicles as their latest tactic in targeting their victims.

"Recently the Haqqani network, Taliban and other terrorist organizations mostly use magnetic mines, most of which target military vehicles and put civilian lives at risk," the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Spokesman, Haseeb Sediqi said.

Sediqi said that the majority of these explosives are imported from Pakistan.

"Magnetic mines have two parts, one is the external part known as the sack and the second is the explosive material, which is imported from Pakistan," he explained. "These mines are designed both inside and outside the country."

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) confirmed NDS's assertions, adding that efforts are underway to identify and arrest those parties involved.

"Unfortunately, the factories that design these mines are in Pakistan. The mines are imported to Afghanistan by special terrorist networks," MoI Spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said. "Efforts are underway to identify the individuals and groups involved."

Meanwhile, Kabul residents have asked the security institutions to accelerate their efforts in maintaining security. In the past few months, Kabul has witnessed many magnetic mine explosions. So far, at least 15 insurgents who fixed magnetic mines onto vehicles have been arrested.

Security institutions have announced that they are taking special initiatives to identify and arrest the masterminds behind the attacks.

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Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:25:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15715-magnetic-mines-the-latest-tactic-of-insurgents
Afghan Cricket Team Defeats Zimbabwe Second Time http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/15714-afghan-cricket-team-defeats-zimbabwe-second-time alt

The Afghan National Cricket Team defeated Zimbabwe in their last of four one day international matches they played in the southern African nation this week. Afghanistan won the match with 100 runs.

The ODI was played in the Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo. Of the four games played between the two countries, Afghanistan lost the first two, but won the last two. The national team will play its first test match with Zimbabwe on Sunday.

In the last match, Afghanistan started batting first and set a target of 259 runs to the opponent team. The Zimbabwean team then failed to chase the runs and lost all its players in 38 overs.

Kabul residents showered their team in praise upon learning of the victory.

"I congratulate the people of Afghanistan for the victory and it is only because of the blessing of the holy month of Ramadan that we won two games," Kabul resident Edris told TOLOnews. "Inshallah they will bring the cup to Afghanistan."

The ODI matches were scheduled in preparation for the 2015 World Cup in Australia, which will be Afghanistan's first time participating in the prestigious tournament.

"These competitions will help Afghanistan perform in the 2015 World Cup in Australia, Afghan players will participate in the games with high morale," a resident named Nurul Haq said.

Although success in cricket is relatively new for Afghanistan, the national team has received widespread support, especially since it qualified for the World Cup last fall.

"This is good news, Zimbabwe is a very professional team while Afghanistan has only ten years experience, we are very happy," another Kabul resident named Obaidullah said.

Fourteen nations will take part in the 2015 World Cup. Afghanistan is expected to face teams from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Britain, Scotland, New Zealand and Australia.

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Fri, 25 Jul 2014 12:53:26 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/15714-afghan-cricket-team-defeats-zimbabwe-second-time
60 Percent of Ballot Boxes Now in Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15713-60-percent-of-ballot-boxes-now-in-kabul alt

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Friday announced that 60 percent of the ballot boxes from around the country have arrived to the central IEC headquarters in Kabul, adding that no harm has been done to the boxes.

The boxes were transferred to the capital with the cooperation of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

"The remaining 40 percent of the boxes are either already on the way or ready to be transferred," IEC Spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said. "There are no reports of any damages."

The ballots are audited in at least three sites at the IEC headquarters. Reports indicate that only 1,360 ballot boxes have been audited over the past nine days out of roughly 23,000 ballot boxes. IEC has pledged to speed up the process and audit at least 1,000 boxes a day.

"You are well aware that the election commission cooperates with several organs. About 927 observers—including 552 international observers and 331 national observers—are already present in the commission," Noor added. "We have a total of 1,810 observers."

Since the beginning of the comprehensive audit nine days ago, the procedure had faced quite a few challenges along the way because of the lack of clear-cut criteria. But it is said that the process is now running smoothly since the United Nations (UN) proposal presented to both parties on Thursday.

"The process is moving forward in a satisfactory manner," a member of Abdullah Abdullah's camp, Abdul Sattar Murad, said. "There are not many international observers, but the observers from the two camps have helped the process move forward."

Ghani-Ahmadzai's team has also expressed optimism about the process.

"We are confident that the two camps can progress in harmony," a member of Ghani-Ahmadzai's camp, Haleem Fedayee, said.

It is said that the IEC will increase its working teams to 100 in order to pick up momentum in the audit process. IEC teams will go on holiday for the first two days of Eid, but will resume on the third day of Eid.

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Fri, 25 Jul 2014 12:36:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15713-60-percent-of-ballot-boxes-now-in-kabul
Dry Fruit Prices Double http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/15712-dry-fruit-prices-double-in-the-market alt

The dry fruit market in Kabul has increased by 50 percent in the last month limiting the consumers that can afford the delights.

Residents of Kabul demand that the government oversee the bazaar as sellers nowadays market their goods at prices they desire.

"These shopkeepers buy dry fruit for a cheap value from the farmers, but sell it at a very high price," Hazartullah, resident of Kabul, said. "There is no authority to ask them what they are doing."

Currently after the increase, on average, the price of a kilogram of pistachio is 750 AFS, a kilogram of almonds is 700 AFS, a kilogram of raisins is 500 AFS and a kilogram of peas is 150 AFS.

Meanwhile, on the opposite spectrum a number of vendors speak of the decrease of buyers affecting their businesses.

"Purchases have decreased by 70 percent," Muhammad Yama, a merchant in Kabul, said. "People who used to buy two to three kilograms are now only paying for one kilogram."

Meanwhile, Head of the Raisin, Dry Fruit and Vegetables Export Development, Said Azim Mustafa Hashemi, accuse dry-fruit sellers of selling at high prices and blames the government for the spike in prices.

"There is an abundance of dry fruit so there is no reason for the high prices, but retailers are selling them at higher rates as they wish and the government needs to prevent this," Hashemi said.

The majority of dry fruits are produced and processed within Afghanistan. With limited export abroad, the reason behind high prices is said to be lack of government control.

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Fri, 25 Jul 2014 12:30:17 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/15712-dry-fruit-prices-double-in-the-market
Massoud Rejects Coalition Government http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15711-massoud-rejects-coalition-government alt

A key ally of presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai, Ahmad Zia Massoud, on Friday rejected the foundation of a coalition government.

Speaking at an event in Kabul, he said that the national unity government does not mean a coalition government, adding that the creation of such system will hinder the progress of the country.

He clarified that the formation of a national unity government "does not mean ‎a share of power."

"My plea to the opposing team is that they must not insist on the creation of a coalition government as it is not well for the country," said Massoud. "We do not believe in the creation of a coalition government.

Spokesman for Ghani-Ahmadzai's campaign, Faizullah Zaki, said that Massoud's comments are not reflective of Ghani-Ahmadzai and his team.

"Mr. Ahmad Zia Massoud is a respected member of our campaign team, but his remarks today were his personal opinion," said Zaki. "We are still standing by our commitments."

His comment comes a day after the United Nations (UN) presented its proposal to the Afghan election body on Thursday on the criteria for the recount and invalidation of ballots.

The proposal has not been publicized, but was formed because representatives of both presidential candidates were unsuccessful in reaching an agreement on how to invalidate fraudulent votes.

Abdullah's team demanded that all boxes with 15 percent of "similar-markings" and ballots with sequential serial numbers should be invalidated, while Ghani-Ahmadzai's team argued that a sample of fraud should not affect the entire box.

On July 12, the election stalemate came to an end with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry mediating a 48-hour negotiation between the two candidates and brokering a deal to audit all 8.1 million votes cast on the June 14 presidential runoff.

Since the brokered agreement, the auditing process has been stopped twice because of disagreements on the criterion of the inspection procedure.

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Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:49:32 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15711-massoud-rejects-coalition-government
UN Proposal On Vote Invalidation Under Discussion: IEC http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15710-un-proposal-on-vote-invalidation-under-discussion-iec- alt

The Afghan election body on Friday convened a meeting with top United Nations (UN) election experts to discuss the UN-proposed criteria on how to invalidate votes during the overall recount, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said.

IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor told reporters on Friday that the UN has to take responsibility for any consequences its proposal might have as the two candidates have failed to agree upon a joint criterion to throw out fraudulent votes.

Abdullah's team demanded that all boxes with 15 percent of "similar-markings" and ballots with sequential serial numbers must be invalidated, while Ghani-Ahmadzai's team argued that a sample of fraud should not affect the entire box.

The details of the UN proposal have not been revealed yet.

"Not a single vote has been invalidated after a week of auditing because there is no invalidation procedure in place yet," said Noor.

The audit process has continued for over a week at the IEC headquarters where the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has transferred 60 percent of roughly 23,000 ballot boxes.

The comprehensive procedure is conducted by 60 groups of IEC auditors that are being overlooked by agents of both candidates and independent observers in three large warehouses at the IEC headquarters.

The audit will be paused during the first two days of Eid and would resume on the third day of Eid.

The IEC spokesman called on observers of the candidates to be present on the third day of Eid as their presence is compulsory for the audit to take place.

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Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:43:49 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15710-un-proposal-on-vote-invalidation-under-discussion-iec-
29 Insurgents Killed in ANSF Operations http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15709-29-insurgents-killed-in-ansf-operations alt

At least 29 Taliban militants were killed in the past 24 hours during a nationwide operation led by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said in a statement on Thursday.

Eight insurgents were injured and nine others were arrested.

"Within the past 24 hours, the Afghan army, police and intelligence agency carried out several operations in Nangarhar, Herat, Maidan Wardak and Helmand provinces to rid them of insurgents," the statement read.

The operation was launched in the provinces to clear the area of insurgents. During the operation, ANSF seized several weapons during the raids, the statement read.

The statement did not provide details about the number of ANSF casualties.

The Taliban have not yet commented about the operations.

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Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:47:46 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15709-29-insurgents-killed-in-ansf-operations
TAKANI: The Slow Election Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15708-takani-the-slow-election-process alt

In this episode of Takani 93, host Shapoor Bakhtyar takes a look at the election process with the following the guests:

• Mohammad Natiqi, a member of Abdullah Abdullah's team
• Sediq Patman, a member of Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's team
• Mohammad Akram Arifi, professor at Kabul University
• Jandad Spinghar, head of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FFEFA)

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}R9vfdSmxs08{/youtube}

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Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:40:55 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15708-takani-the-slow-election-process
15 Afghan Civilians Killed in Ghor http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15707-15-afghan-civilians-killed-in-ghor alt

At least 15 Afghan civilians, including three women and a child, were killed when "criminals linked to foreign intelligence" stopped three passenger vans early Friday morning and killed each one-by-one in the remote province of Ghor, locals officials said.

The 15 killed were separated by the armed men after their national ID cards were checked, Provincial Governor Sayed Anwar Rahmati told TOLOnews.

An adviser to the provincial governor was also among those killed, said Rahmati.

Local officials said the victims of the shootout belonged to the Hazara ethnic minority.

"Four of them were members of one family," said Governor Rahmati. "A groom and his bride and the groom's mother and sister were brutally killed."

The three vans – two heading to the capital of Kabul and one on its way from Kabul to Cheghcheran – were randomly stopped at one point in the isolated Lal and Sarjungal district.

Ghor Police Chief Gen. Fahim Qayem said an investigation has begun to find out why selected passengers were killed.

However, the suspected Taliban insurgents, blamed for most of the civilian causalities, have not yet commented about the incident.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed his condolences to the victims families in a statement released by the Presidential Palace. 

Karzai illustrated with strong words the condemnation of the inhuman killings of the innocent lives, calling it an unforgivable act against humanity and religious values. 

Two weeks ago, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) expressed its concerns about a 24 percent increase of civilian casualties in 2014 in Afghanistan.

Ghor governor called on the central government to deploy additional security forces to his province amid an increase in insecurity there.

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Fri, 25 Jul 2014 05:53:16 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15707-15-afghan-civilians-killed-in-ghor
15 Dead as Israeli Shell Hits School Sheltering Gazans http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15706-15-dead-as-israeli-shell-hits-school-sheltering-gazans alt

Fifteen Palestinians were killed yesterday when an Israeli shell slammed into a UN shelter where hundreds of civilians had taken refuge.

And fresh Israeli fire early today pushed the overall Palestinian death toll in Gaza to at least 800 despite world efforts to broker a ceasefire.

Yesterday's strike hit a UN school sheltering some of the 100,000 Palestinians driven from their homes in search of a safe haven after weeks of deadly fighting between Israeli troops and Hamas militants.

The shell crashed down in the middle of the courtyard where people had set up camp, leaving the ground covered in bloodstains.

Gaza's emergency services said at least 15 people had been killed and more than 200 wounded.

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon said: "Many have been killed — including women and children, as well as UN staff."

He said he was "appalled" by the news and "strongly condemned" the attack which he said "underscores the imperative for the killing to stop — and to stop now".

Washington said it was "deeply saddened and concerned about the tragic incident", without explicitly blaming its ally Israel for the shelling.

"We again urge all parties to redouble their efforts to protect civilians," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in Cairo, where Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to negotiate a ceasefire.

Early Friday morning a shell hit a home in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis, killing at least one person and sending the Palestinian death toll from 18 days of fighting to 800.

Truce efforts 'very complicated'

Kerry reached out to Hamas allies Turkey and Qatar yesterday as he sought to further regional efforts to broker an end to the bloodshed.

The US top diplomat is seeking to garner support for an Egyptian-drafted proposal but State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf acknowledged the talks were "very complicated".

A US official travelling with Kerry said: "Right now gaps remain between the parties, so his focus is on finding a formula that both sides can accept."
Hamas has rejected the Egyptian proposal so far.

Its exiled leader Khaled Meshaal told the BBC in an interview yesterday that a truce must include a guaranteed end to Israel's eight-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.

"We want a ceasefire as soon as possible, that's parallel with the lifting of the siege of Gaza," he said.

"We want an airport, a (sea)port; we want to open up to the world. We dont want to be controlled by a border crossing that makes Gaza the biggest prison in the world."

The Egyptian plan calls for a ceasefire first and talks afterwards on a long-term solution to Gaza's problems.

Speaking after a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Hamas should agree to the Egyptian ceasefire plan.

"After that, we will discuss what would happen in the future," he said.

There was no let-up to the violence in Gaza, however. Early Friday morning a shell hit a home in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis, killing at least one person and sending the Palestinian death toll from 18 days of fighting to 800.

Most of Thursday's 98 victims were killed in and around Khuzaa, a flashpoint area east of Khan Yunis which has been the site of intensive fighting since Tuesday.

But the biggest single strike was at the school in the north, where the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said it had been trying to coordinate with the army over the evacuation of civilians, without success.

An AFP correspondent saw nine bodies, including that of a year-old baby and his mother at a nearby mortuary.

"We've spent much of the day trying to negotiate or to coordinate a window so that civilians, including our staff, could leave," spokesman Chris Gunness said.

"That was never granted... and the consequences of that appear to be tragic."

Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner suggested militants firing rockets near the school could have caused the deaths.

He also took issue with the claim that Israel had rejected a humanitarian truce around the school, saying it had implemented a four-hour window for evacuations.

Concern over civilian toll

The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has said more than 80 per cent of the casualties so far have been civilians, and a quarter of them children, triggering growing international alarm over the civilian body count.

"As this campaign goes on and the civilian casualties in Gaza mount, Western public opinion is becoming more and more concerned and less and less sympathetic to Israel," warned British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos expressed deep concern about the mounting civilian casualties, saying it was "almost impossible" for Palestinians to shelter from Israeli air strikes in the densely-populated territory.

Meanwhile, US airlines yesterday lifted a two-day suspension of flights to Israel, but not all international airlines followed suit, with Germany's Lufthansa and Air France keeping their Tel Aviv flights grounded.

The ban was put in place on Tuesday after a rocket hit a house very close to the runways.

So far, 32 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have died in the fighting.

In the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians protesting the Gaza toll clashed with Israeli forces outside Jerusalem.

One demonstrator was killed and over 150 injured by Israeli fire, five critically, Palestinian medical staff said.

Far-right hawk Reuven Rivlin was sworn in as Israel's 10th president on Thursday, replacing elder statesman Shimon Peres.

With the nation in mourning, the inauguration ceremony was scaled down, but Rivlin said it sent a "very clear message to our enemies: you have not overcome us and you will not do so".

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Fri, 25 Jul 2014 05:20:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15706-15-dead-as-israeli-shell-hits-school-sheltering-gazans
TOLOnews 6 pm News 24 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15705-tolonews-6-pm-news-24-july-2014 alt 

The auditing process, which was halted temporarily on Wednesday so that presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai can discuss upon a criterion behind invalidating votes, resumed Thursday morning.

{youtube}jwKmnndaTyE{/youtube}

A firm consensus has not been reached in the criteria for voiding votes, but both candidates have asked that the United Nations (UN) assist in the process to avoid lengthening the election activity.

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Thu, 24 Jul 2014 16:47:14 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15705-tolonews-6-pm-news-24-july-2014
Law Giving More Privileges to MPs Approved http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15704-law-giving-more-privileges-to-mps-approved alt

Parliament's joint commission, which resolves disagreements between the Lower House and the Senate, approved a law that will increase the privileges given to MPs.

A number of MPs on Thursday reported that the law was approved after two articles, pertaining to a 25 percent retirement salary and the assignment of two security guards to each MP, were removed from the law.

The law will give the MPs certain privileges such as health insurance, a place to live, political identity cards for them and their families, and extra travel packages from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) during tours and official visits.

The law has received much criticism from the public and the civil societies who have demanded that the president does not approve the law.

"How can the MPs have such demands from a country which completes more than 95 percent of its budgets from foreign aids and has no material resources to support its budget?" Chief of the Civil Society Association, Mohammad Aziz Raraee, asserted on Thursday. "There is no logic in this."

Moreover, member of Senate Gul Ahmad Azami said that the approval of the law under the country's current circumstances is treason.

"Seeking such privileges is an act of oppression against the nation," he said. "In the future, people must be cautious in choosing honest people for the parliament."

Meanwhile, some MPs, too, have admitted that they have failed to accomplish major tasks during their four years of service, stating that the demands are not justifiable.

"Nothing major has been achieved during round 16 of the four legislative years. I, a Member of Parliament, have not seen anything good done for the country," Balkh MP Abbas Ibrahimzada said. "I think that many of these MPs will fail to get people's votes in the future so they want to guarantee their lives with these privileges."

Additionally, Kabul residents have asked the president not to approve the law.

"For God's sake, people do not even have food on their tables and the lawmakers are thinking of the future of their sons and grandsons," Kabul resident Mohammad Rafee Barakzai said. "It is shameful."

"We have not voted for these lawmakers so they could think about their own good," another resident Geeti said. "We have voted so they could serve the people."

The four chapter and 20 article law was approved by the Lower House a month ago but was rejected by the Senate. However, in the end, the joint commission approved the law with the condition that two of the articles be removed.

If the president does not approve the law, the parliament has the authority to approve it with majority two thirds vote.

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Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:26:01 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15704-law-giving-more-privileges-to-mps-approved
UN Proposes Criteria after Candidates Fail to Reach Agreement http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15703-un-proposes-criteria-after-candidates-fail-to-reach-agreement alt

The United Nations (UN) presented its proposal to the Afghan election body on Thursday for a regulatory decision covering criteria for ordering the recount of ballot boxes and the invalidation of ballots, as declared in the statement.

The proposal, which its details have not been made public, comes after representatives of presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai failed to reach an agreement on how to invalidate fraudulent votes.

The list of criteria was handed over to the Chairman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani by the Director of the UN's Electoral Assistance Division, Craig Jenness on Thursday afternoon.

"The current UN proposal regarding recounts and invalidations attempts to strike the proper balance between these two considerations and follows the Afghan Constitution and legal framework," the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) stated in the press statement. "It was developed after extensive consultations with both Presidential campaigns."

The statement continued reading, "the UN was ultimately not able to obtain agreement of both or either candidate to a common text that was agreeable to the other candidate. It has therefore proposed a text which addresses the legitimate points raised during the consultations while meeting the best international standards and factoring in the unique context of Afghanistan."

Abdullah's team demanded that all boxes with 15 percent of "similar-markings" and ballots with sequential serial numbers need to be invalidated, while Ghani-Ahmadzai's team argued that a sample of fraud should not affect the entire box.

Head of Afghanistan Democracy Watch Zekria Barekzai urges that the commission and the campaign teams approve the criteria of the cancellation of votes soon; otherwise the electoral process will fall into another crisis.

"Our request to the commission and both campaign teams is to approve the cancellation of votes criteria as soon as possible, so that the audit process can continue on a foundation, otherwise, if it continues as it is now, Afghanistan will face another deadlock" stresses Barekzai.

The UN has asked the IEC Board to rapidly meet and "adopt the necessary regulatory decisions based on this proposal" so that the next stage of the audit can commence.

An audit has been ongoing for the past month where the IEC audit teams have been recording information, even to the extent of the physical condition of each box, in the presence of the candidates' agents and independent observers.

No decisions as to the inclusion or exclusion of votes are made during this stage of information gathering, which has been ongoing since July 17.

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Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:23:46 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15703-un-proposes-criteria-after-candidates-fail-to-reach-agreement
Court Issues Death Penalty for the Attack on AP Journalists http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15702-court-issues-death-penalty-for-the-attack-on-ap-journalists alt

A primary court in Kabul has issued the death penalty to Naqibullah, the Afghan police officer who had deliberately opened fire on Associated Press (AP) journalists Anja Niedringhaus and Kathy Gannon on April 4, 2014 in Khost province, just a day before the first round of the Afghan presidential elections.

The attack happened when Gannon and Niedringhaus were traveling to Khost a day before the elections to cover news on the distribution of the essential election materials. The attack claimed the life of Pulitzer Prize winning German photographer Niedringhaus and critically injuring Canadian reporter Gannon.

The reason behind the shooting still remains a mystery.

Reports indicate that Naqibullah's lawyers disputed with the judges claiming that he was mentally unstable and not normal. However, the judges were not convinced after asking Naqibullah his name, age and correct date, according to an AP report.

Naqibullah's lawyers may appeal in the next 15 days.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Interior (MoI) stated that such verdicts could decrease the scale of crimes as well as diminish the "green on blue" attacks—referred to Afghan soldiers' attacks on foreigners.

"The Afghan National Police's (ANP) responsibility was to investigate the case of Naqibullah. The judicial organs are responsible for the arrest and handover," MoI Spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said. "The case is important to MoI; we respect any decisions made by the legal organs in accordance with the law."
Green on blue attacks has raised concerns among foreign journalists working in Afghanistan.

A month before the Khost attack, unknown armed individuals had gunned down a Swedish journalist in Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul.

Despite many attempts, TOLOnews was unsuccessful in getting the Kabul Primary Court to comment on the issue.

The two women were experienced conflict zone journalists. Niedringhaus, an award-winning photographer covered areas such as Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. Gannon, a senior correspondent for AP, spent 20 years reporting on Pakistan and Afghanistan. The two are said to have worked together since the U.S. occupied Afghanistan in 2001.

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Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:11:41 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15702-court-issues-death-penalty-for-the-attack-on-ap-journalists
Crime Rate Up by 30 Percent http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15701-crime-rate-up-by-30-percent alt

Crime rate has increased up to 30 percent—with a concentration in Kabul, Nangarhar, Herat, and Balkh—over the first four months of this year compared to last year, the Ministry of Interior's (MoI) Criminal Investigation Department (CID) reported.

The news comes as the CID recently reported of the arrest of a five-member abductor group who had kidnapped and stifled an 18-month-old infant.

"When the baby's family could not pay the ransom, the kidnappers suffocated the baby with their bare hands," Head of CID Syed Abdul Ghafar Syed Zada said. "It is one of the most tragic incidents in the history of crime."

The group of kidnappers consisted of two women and three men. They have confessed to their crimes, saying that they sought revenge since the baby's family had killed one of their family members.

"After we kidnapped the baby, my friends told me that if we do not kill the baby, they will kill me and my family," one of the criminals Shamsul Rahman said. "They forced me to do it."

Syed Zada has asked the legal and judicial organs to react seriously to the case.

"We demand that the legal and judicial organs give tough punishment to such individuals," he exclaimed. "One day this could happen to their children. Today they are targeting others, tomorrow others will target them."

Over the last week, 224 criminal cases have been registered across the country.

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Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:55:25 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15701-crime-rate-up-by-30-percent
Unknown Gunmen Kill Two Foreigners in Herat http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15699-unknown-gunmen-kill-two-foreigners-in-herat alt

Two foreign females were killed in Herat by unknown gunmen on Thursday according to Herat officials.

The women were citizens of Finland who were working for the International Assistance Mission in Afghanistan specifically with mental health patients in Herat.

The two women were in a taxi on their way to the bazaar when they were shot to death by unknown gunmen operating a motorcycle.

The victims were the ages 52 and 54.

Official reports indicate that the taxi driver and the women's guide were arrested.

Reports indicate that the number of shootings by unknown gunmen in Herat over the past six months has surpassed the death of 80 people.

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Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:00:27 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15699-unknown-gunmen-kill-two-foreigners-in-herat
Auditing Process Resumes http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15698-auditing-process-resumes alt

The auditing process, which was halted temporarily on Wednesday so that presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai can discuss upon a criterion behind invalidating votes, resumed Thursday morning.

A firm consensus has not been reached in the criteria for voiding votes, but both candidates have asked that the United Nations (UN) assist in the process to avoid lengthening the election activity.

In addition to the lack of unanimity, another issue that created a drawback in the auditing process was the presence of a foreign observer from Abdullah's camp who did not have proper documentation to be present during the inspection.

While the process has been moving forward at a snail-like pace, both electoral teams are optimistic of the outcome expressing that the slow progress is not important, but rather the transparency of the procedure is much greater.

"I believe our concerns are not the auditing process, but the transparency of the procedure," said Fazl Ahmad Manawi, a member of Abdullah's team. "Transparency is more important than the speed of the process."

A member of Ghani-Ahmadzai's team, Halim Fedaye, said that "the work is moving forward in a satisfactory manner." He adds that they have asked their "colleagues to take in consideration the rules and regulations of the procedure and follow thru with it."

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) Spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor on Thursday morning said that ballot boxes from 19 provinces have arrived in Kabul. That is a total of 13,619 ballot boxes out of the total 22,778, which makes for 60 percent votes nationwide, that the IEC has received so far.

He added that since the start of the audit procedure a total of 1,027 ballot boxes have been inspected.

"So far we have 160 people, both national and international observers, working in the audit process that complete their duties in two shifts; first half of the day 80 people come and then the second half of the day the other 80 arrive," as Noor explained the auditing protocol. "Starting tomorrow we will have a total 200 people auditing the process, which will be split into two groups of 100."

With the holy month of Ramadan coming to an end, Noor said that the IEC will increase the number of working teams to enhance the auditing movement.

On Wednesday, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced that the auditing process has been halted, for a second time, because of disputes between the candidates' observers that took place on Tuesday afternoon.

It is said that the process was halted over disagreements about the presence of Abdullah's foreign observers.

Ghani-Ahmadzai's team claimed that some of Abdullah's foreign observers did not have monitoring cards and were giving incorrect information to the UN until the security forces drove them out of the IEC compound.

Abdullah's team has rejected the allegations.

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Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:05:08 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15698-auditing-process-resumes
Suicide Attack Kills 9 Civilians in Takhar http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15697-blast-kills-5-civilians-in-takhar alt

At least nine people were killed and more than 28 others wounded in a suicide attack in Khojaghar district of Takhar province on Thursday morning, according to the provincial head of public health. 

The incident took place at around 10:30 a.m. in the city of Khojaghar district according to Provincial Spokesman Sunatullah Temor.

He added that the explosives were concealed on a motorcycle.

According to the local officials, most of the victims were civilians who have been taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Takhar public health head Hafizullah Safi says that there are nine civilians, including women and children, killed and 28 others wounded. He added that the target was the ALP, but the blast took place before the attacker reached the police.

No group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the Takhar attack.

In a separate suicide attack early Thursday morning in Nangarhar province two Afghan Local Police (ALP) were killed and another injured.

Among the killed was Police Commander Malik Nawab.

Provincial Spokesman Ahmadzia Abdulzai said the incident took place around 8:30 a.m. when a suicide bomber detonated himself near a local police check post in Khogyani district.

The victim was taken to a nearby hospital.

Taliban insurgents have claimed responsibility for the Nangarhar attack.

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Thu, 24 Jul 2014 06:32:53 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15697-blast-kills-5-civilians-in-takhar
FARAKHABAR: 23 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15696-farakhabar-23-july-2014 alt

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Wednesday announced that the auditing process has been halted, for a second time, because of disputes between the candidates' observers that took place on Tuesday afternoon.

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}LtLHq6NiTs4{/youtube}

The process was first halted on Saturday of the same week.

According to presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah's observing team, the United Nations (UN) and both campaign teams held joint meetings to resolve the disputes. The process is expected to begin again tomorrow.

Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's team member Daoud Sultanzoy added that the UN is to assign specific tasks to each observer.It is said that the process was halted over disagreements about the presence of Abdullah's foreign observers.

Ghani-Ahmadzai's team claimed that some of Abdullah's foreign observers did not have monitoring cards and were giving incorrect information to the UN until the security forces drove them out of the IEC compound.

Abdullah's team has rejected the allegations.

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

Waqif Hakimi, Dr Abdullah Abdullah's campaign team member

Abas Noyan, Dr. Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's campaign member

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Thu, 24 Jul 2014 05:58:47 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15696-farakhabar-23-july-2014
TAKANI: Auditing Process Halted http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15695-takani-auditing-process-halted alt

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Wednesday announced that the auditing process has been halted, for a second time, because of disputes between the candidates' observers that took place on Tuesday afternoon.

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}UmYSaFqxfFk{/youtube}

The process was first halted on Saturday of the same week.

According to presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah's observing team, the United Nations (UN) and both campaign teams held joint meetings to resolve the disputes.

The process is expected to begin again tomorrow.

Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's team member Daoud Sultanzoy added that the UN is to assign specific tasks to each observer.

Host Shapoor Bakhtiyar discusses the topic with following guests:

Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, Dr Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's campaign team member

Rahil Formuli, Dr Abdullah Abdullah's campaign team member

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Thu, 24 Jul 2014 05:39:23 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15695-takani-auditing-process-halted
Hamas Rejects Gaza Truce Unless Blockade Lifted http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15694-hamas-rejects-gaza-truce-unless-blockade-lifted alt

Hamas Wednesday rejected a ceasefire to end 16 days of deadly fighting with Israel unless the blockade on the Gaza Strip is lifted, its chief Khaled Meshaal said in Doha.

"We reject today... and will reject in the future" a ceasefire before negotiations on Hamas's demands, which include lifting years of blockade against the Palestinian enclave, Meshaal told reporters.

Lifting the eight-year blockade is a main demand of Hamas which also wants the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt and Israel to free prisoners.

As international calls for an end to the fighting in Gaza mount, Meshaal insisted that the Islamist Hamas "welcomes all efforts to end the aggression" and "does not object" to mediation by any party, including Egypt.

"We will not accept any initiative that does not lift the blockade on our people and that does not respect their sacrifices," he said.

Egypt, whose President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has sought to isolate the militant Palestinian movement in the neighbouring Gaza, had tried to broker truce between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas had rejected the ceasefire proposal which it said was favourable to Israel.

It argues that Egypt's proposal, which is backed by the United States, United Nations and Arab League, would allow Israel to dictate if and when to ease its blockade on Gaza.

"Let us agree on achieving our demands and we will then agree on the zero-hour for a ceasefire," Meshaal said.

He appealed to the international community and NGOs to "come to the aid of Gaza and not wait until after the war ends."

"I call today for opening border crossings to allow the entry of aid convoys" to Gaza Strip which needs "fuel, food and electricity," he said."We are more concerned (than any other party) about a humanitarian truce, like last Thursday... for evacuating casualties and assisting the population," he said."We are not closing the door to a humanitarian truce... that would not manuever around demands of the resistance," he added.

Meshaal insisted that his movement wants the "aggression to stop tomorrow, today, or even this minute. But lift the blockade with guarantees and not as a promise for future negotiations," he said, adding that "we will not shut the door in the face of any humanitarian ceasefire backed by a real aid programme."

Charity Oxfam said Wednesday that thousands of Palestinians have fled their homes but have nowhere safe to shelter from Israeli airstrikes and warned that supplies of water and food are dangerously low.

The 16-day conflict has so far killed 695 Gazans, 34 Israelis and a Thai worker.

"We do not want a war and we do not want it to continue, but we will not bow in front of it," said Meshaal.

"Nobody could disarm the resistance," he said, setting two conditions to demilitarise Gaza, an Israeli demand: "The end of occupation and the disarmament of Israel."

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Thu, 24 Jul 2014 03:24:38 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15694-hamas-rejects-gaza-truce-unless-blockade-lifted
TOLOnews 6 pm News 23 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15693-tolonews-6-pm-news-23-july-2014 alt

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Wednesday announced that the auditing process has been halted, for a second time, because of disputes between the candidates' observers that took place on Tuesday afternoon.

The process was first halted on Saturday of the same week.

"The process stopped as a result of disputes between the presidential campaigns teams," IEC Spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said.

{youtube}o1FuERjZU9Q{/youtube}

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Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:28:21 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15693-tolonews-6-pm-news-23-july-2014
Conference Promotes National Unity Government http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15692-conference-promotes-national-unity-government alt

A conference titled "National Agenda" convened on Wednesday in Kabul, where participants focused on the importance of the formation of the "national unity government" called for by the agreement made between the two presidential candidates last week.

The gathering asked the two candidates, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah to reach an agreement over the principles and legal framework for the formation of a national unity government. The participants also said that the candidates must accept that it will require concessions from both sides.

"If you {candidates} agree on the principle and framework of national unity government without considering who is the president, confidently, this model could decrease the electoral tensions and it lead to the success of the process," National Agenda founder Wali Massoud said. "It is a good opportunity to Afghan politicians, God for bid, if the opportunity is missed, then we do not know what direction the crisis will move in."

In attendance at the conference, a number political analysts argued the national unity government plan would be the only way to ensure a smooth transition and bridge the divide between the candidates and their supporters.

"National unity government doesn't mean coalition government or seat adjustment between the two sides, the national government is a way out of the crisis," Hamid Mubarez said.

The candidates had representatives at the conference as well. Abdullah's spokesman said his team is committed to forming a national unity government even if they win the election. He also said negotiations over the agreement are ongoing, but will be completed before results are announced.

"With consideration of text of the agreement, all issues pertaining to national unity government have been discussed generally, so the two teams need to conduct negotiations on that before the election results, details of the agreement must be endorsed by the two sides," said Alimi Balkhi, a member of Abdullah's camp.

Meanwhile, Ashraf Ghani's camp questioned the motivations behind foreign involvement in the election process.

"After this, there shouldn't be a need for Iran, Pakistan and the U.S. to come and intervene, we aren't sold to America so they can come and say that this is right and this not," Ghani camp representative Safia Sediqi said. "They supported us, but should have supported us rightly. There is the possibility that ongoing conflicts are also the work of the foreigners, who do not want to see a better government in Afghanistan and see people breathe in peace."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came to Kabul last week to meet with the two candidates and try to resolve the disputes that risked derailing the election process.

Kerry's meetings resulted in an agreement that called for the establishment of a chief executive post with the authorities of the prime minister on the basis of presidential decree; the establishment of an opposition seat on the order of the president; the designation of chief executive and leader of the opposition by the losing candidate; equal power sharing between winning candidate and opposition leader; the holding of constitution amendment Loya Jirga within two years of the election; and the implementation of reforms in election management bodies.

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Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:12:56 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15692-conference-promotes-national-unity-government
Opportunities Lost With Election Delays http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15691-opportunities-lost-with-election-delays alt

This year's election has dragged-out longer than any other similar process in the world. But beyond keeping the public in the lurch, political experts have argued that the delays in the election have led to a number of lost opportunities for the next president.

Based on the original runoff timeline published by the Independent Election Commission (IEC), the final results of the second round were scheduled to be announced by July 22. However, after delays caused by Abdullah Abdullah's disputed claims about fraud in the runoff, along with inefficiencies at the election commissions, the vote audit remains underway and a final result is not expected for some time.

According to some analysts, the delays mean the new president will take office at a disadvantage, having missed the opportunity to represent the country at a few key international gatherings.

"The long lasting elections have taken many opportunities from the future president, such as the NATO Summit in the UK beginning of September, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) conference in mid September, London conference--a follow up of the Tokyo conference-- in October and many other conferences where the president of Afghanistan could have participated and honored commitments made to the people, which is still in President Karzai's hands," Herat MP Nahid Farid said.

According to the leader of the Civil Society Association, Azizullah Rafiyee, the new president - whether Abdullah Abdullah or Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai he did not specify - would have brought greater "strength" to the table than Karzai can.

"The opportunities were a good start for the future of Afghanistan, but unfortunately, the opportunity was lost and the strength that the new president would have brought to the conference, President Karzai will not have," Rafiyee said.

The election process has reportedly caused some government and ministry work to come to a halt, further exacerbating the challenge of this year's transition. However, perhaps more important to the future administration in Kabul, some fear the never-ending election will undermine the public's trust.

"When a process lasts for a year, people's trust and hope are harmed," said Saifuddin Saihoon, a Kabul University Professor.

For many, the uncertainty of how or when the election process will conclude fuels the problem. "A longer lasting election process will have unwanted consequences for Afghanistan; still it is not clear whether it will take another year or two," Senator Daud Asas said.

With Afghanistan still heavily dependent on foreign aid and support when its comes to economics and security, the prolonged election process could have negative effects on important international relations as well.

"The conflicts has reached its peak, so has insecurity; countries who were here to help Afghanistan might lose hope and Afghanistan might return to 13 years ago," Asas added.

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Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:06:05 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15691-opportunities-lost-with-election-delays
Terrorists Still Thrive in Pakistan: NDS http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15690-terrorists-still-thrive-in-pakistan-nds alt

Afghan intelligence officials have maintained that the recent offensive of the Pakistani military to combat insurgents and terrorist groups in the border regions near Afghanistan has failed to disrupt militant activities and served as nothing more than a publicity ploy for Islamabad.

The Pakistani began operations in Northern Waziristan last month that it touted as a striking major blows to terrorist groups in the area that had been launching attacks around Pakistan, but also across the border in Afghanistan. Pakistani officials have made commitments to the international community, especially to Afghanistan and the United States, to uproot all terrorist groups from its soil.

However, according to the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Pakistani military operations were far less effectual than Islamabad suggested.

"Reports indicate that many terrorist training centers were moved to Peshawar and even Islamabad, the real terrorist cell of Haqqani Network was transported through 150 vehicles with some ammunition from Miranshah to Tal and Spin Tal of Kurram Agency," NDS spokesman Hassib Sediqi said.

The Haqqani Network is one of the most active terrorist groups in the region, and particularly in Afghanistan. The group is thought to have been responsible for the recent attacks in Urgoon and at the Kabul International Airport.

Last week, while speaking at the Congress, U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan also questioned whether the Pakistani operations were sufficient. For years, Afghan officials have asked Washington to put pressure on Pakistan to crackdown on militants within its borders and try to help move peace talks with the Taliban forward.

"The international community must know that Pakistan has not brought any changes to its policy against terrorism, and is acting against the will of the international community," Sediqi said. "We do not see any honesty in the words and actions of Pakistan - Pakistan is the cause of all insecurities in the region."

Tensions between Islamabad and Kabul have simmered for years, occasionally reaching a full boil, often over issues related to Pakistan's handling of insurgents and terrorists within its borders. Afghan officials have long accused the government in Islamabad of protecting and supporting militants in secret while disingenuously denouncing them in public.

"Afghanistan has the right to complain to the United Nation, so that all the cells that threaten Afghanistan are destroyed, and all the insecurities are prevented," political analyst Khalil Roman said.

But, assuming Afghan suspicions are right, and Pakistan remains a state-sponsor of terrorism, the question remains: why? Leaders in Kabul and international experts have maintained Islamabad uses the militants as a way of influencing the affairs of its neighboring countries.

That is why MP Muhammad Abda, like others, believes security problems between Afghanistan and Pakistan will not be put to rest until other issues between the two countries are. "The terrorism problem will not be solved between Afghanistan and Pakistan until other problems are solved."

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Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:00:08 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15690-terrorists-still-thrive-in-pakistan-nds
Auditing Process Halted For a Second Time http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15689-auditing-process-halted-for-a-second-time alt

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Wednesday announced that the auditing process has been halted, for a second time, because of disputes between the candidates' observers that took place on Tuesday afternoon.

The process was first halted on Saturday of the same week.

"The process stopped as a result of disputes between the presidential campaigns teams," IEC Spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said.

According to presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah's observing team, the United Nations (UN) and both campaign teams held joint meetings to resolve the disputes. The process is expected to begin again tomorrow.

"There were some disputes so the UN decided to stop the audit and resolve the problems first," Abdullah's team member, Wahid Omar, said.

Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's team member Daoud Sultanzoy added that the UN is to assign specific tasks to each observer.

"Every observer has his own role," Sultanzoy said. "The UN halted the process to determine the roles of each observer."

It is said that the process was halted over disagreements about the presence of Abdullah's foreign observers.

Ghani-Ahmadzai's team claimed that some of Abdullah's foreign observers did not have monitoring cards and were giving incorrect information to the UN until the security forces drove them out of the IEC compound.

Abdullah's team has rejected the allegations.

The UN has announced that the disagreements have already been resolved, stating that the process will resume tomorrow.

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Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:51:50 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15689-auditing-process-halted-for-a-second-time
ISAF Transfers Ballot Boxes from 15 Provinces http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15688-isaf-transfers-ballot-boxes-from-15-provinces alt

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has transferred ballot boxes from a total of 15 provinces nationwide to the Independent Election Commission (IEC) central office in Kabul to undergo auditing, IEC officials said on Wednesday.

IEC officials add that ISAF is still operating countrywide in the movement of the ballot boxes from the provinces. Currently, boxes are being transported to Kabul from four additional provinces.

"Till now a total of 12,233 ballot boxes have arrived to the IEC's office," said IEC Spokesperson Noor Mohammad Noor. "These boxes belong to 15 provinces. The remaining boxes are arriving as well."

In a statement ISAF stated that the election commission and the presidential candidates' observers are strictly overseeing the process of the transfers.

"The most important thing to remember is that election materials are moved under strict chain of custody requirements, which includes eyes-on by IEC escorts at all times during the movement," the statement read.

After an agreement was made between the two presidential candidates upon the arrival and mediation of the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, ISAF is committed in assisting Afghanistan in the prolonged elections.

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Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:38:07 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15688-isaf-transfers-ballot-boxes-from-15-provinces
Vote Invalidation Criteria to Be Finalized http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15687-vote-invalidation-criteria-to-be-finalized alt

Disagreements over aspects of the criteria in regards to vote invalidation will be resolved Wednesday said and presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's campaign spokesman, Tahir Zuhair, on Wednesday.

"The auditing conducted in the past few days is conclusive; everything has been conducted within the legal frameworks at place," Zuhair said. "The two electoral camps will finalize the vote invalidation criteria today."

Ghani-Ahmadzai and opponent Abdullah Abdullah's teams have held several rounds of discussions but did not reach a conclusive agreement on the criteria for the auditing process.

Reports indicate that majority of the disagreements are surrounded by the following controversial conditions:

1) Votes should be invalidated if the number of votes in a center is not consistent with the number of voters registered.

2) Votes should be invalidated if the registered numbers are repetitive.

Abdullah's camp has stressed that it is important to finalize the criteria so that the auditing process continues to move forward.

"There is no choice except to finalize the criteria," Fazel Ahmad Manavi, who is in charge of the technical negotiations in Abdullah's camp, said. "There are some disputed points, but I am confident that we will reach an agreement and the document will be finalized."

The recent negotiations between the technical teams of the two candidates come 11 days after the candidates reached an agreement on the overall auditing process. If the issue is not resolved, the current disagreements could potentially lead to questioning the legitimacy of the entire auditing process.

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Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:28:02 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15687-vote-invalidation-criteria-to-be-finalized
Afghan Cricket Team Beats Zimbabwe at Third ODI http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/15686-afghan-cricket-team-beats-zimbabwe-at-third-odi alt

The Afghan National Cricket Team won its third One-Day International match in Zimbabwe on Tuesday. The team is set to play a total of four ODI's and two Four-Day Internationals against Zimbabwe.

The host team began the game in its 50 overs, losing eight wickets and reaching 261 runs. Afghan players then chased down the competition with two balls to spare as they rattled up 264-8, helped by a half century from opener Javed Ahmadi.

On the Afghan side, Javed Ahmadi (56) and Usman Ghani (43) added 83 for the first wicket, while Samiullah Shenwari (41) and Captain Mohammad Nabi (42) kept the visitors in touch.

Dr. Noor Mohammad Murad, the head of the Afghan Cricket Board, spoke about the games organized in Zimbabwe and stressed the importance of ODI matches for Afghanistan.

He also congratulated the Afghan Nation for the achievements of its cricket team, but added that Zimbabwe has a longer history with cricket than Afghanistan.

He said victory against such a team was a major achievement for the Afghan side, and good preparation for the World Cup in 2015, which will be Afghanistan first time in the tournament.

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Wed, 23 Jul 2014 08:39:34 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/15686-afghan-cricket-team-beats-zimbabwe-at-third-odi
TAKANI: National Unity Government http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15685-takani-national-unity-government alt

To what extent will the government of national unity be approved by the people and what is the understanding of this governance model?

Host Zabiullah Sadaat discusses the topic with following guests:

Bismillah Afghan, senator

Lailuma Ahmadi, Dr Abdullah Abdullah's campaign team member

Siddiq Patman, Dr Ashraf Ghani's campaign team member

Ghazi Nawaz Tanai, the head of the Afghan Tribal Solidarity (ATS)

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}bvIjQib1pU8{/youtube}

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Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:04:00 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15685-takani-national-unity-government
ELECTION 2014: Review of Ambiguous audits and Inspection Processes of Runoff http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15684-election-2014-review-of-ambiguous-audits-and-inspection-processes-of-runoff alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Muslim Shirzad discusses the ambiguous audit and the inspection processes of runoff with the following the guests:

Guests:

Fazl Ahmad Manawi, Dr Abdullah Abdullah campaign team member

Daoud Sultanzoy, Dr Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai campaign team member

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}DiKP6xdpg5w{/youtube}

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Wed, 23 Jul 2014 06:55:20 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15684-election-2014-review-of-ambiguous-audits-and-inspection-processes-of-runoff
Suicide Attack in Northern Kunduz http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15682-suicide-attack-in-northern-kunduz alt

A suicide bomber denotated his explosives in Chahar Dara district of Kunduz province early Wednesday morning claiming a life and wounding two others.

According to northern Kunduz province local officials, Chahar Dara district police chief, Ghulam Mohiuddin, was heading for work with his three bodyguards when the suicide attacker detonated his explosives injuring Mohiuddin and two of his three bodyguards.

Provincial police spokesperson Syed Sarwar Hussaini says that the incident took place at about 6:50 a.m. local time.

According to Hussaini, two of his bodyguards were wounded and one other killed following the blast.

The victims have been taken to a nearby hospital.

There was no civilian casualties in this blast.

No group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Wed, 23 Jul 2014 05:03:10 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15682-suicide-attack-in-northern-kunduz
FARAKHABAR: 22 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15683-farakhabar-22-july-2014 alt

Afghan National Security Advisor Dr. Rangeen Dadfar Spanta on Tuesday warned of potential danger in relying too much on the election commissions or allowing one of the political teams to be excluded from the structure of the next government.

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}PRSw5bev3xw{/youtube}

Spanta, one of Afghanistan's top security officials, stressed that the transcript of the political settlement made between Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah remains in the U.S. Embassy, and that a legal agreement needs to be established to bolster its terms.

Spanta's comments came at a policy discussion organized in Kabul on Tuesday by the Afghanistan Center of Strategic Studies regarding the formation of the national unity government. He highlighted the public's mistrust of the election commissions and emphasized the importance of seeing through the agreement made between the candidates, and solidifying it in legal form.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Kabul last week in order to meet with the candidates and negotiate an end to the stalemate between them that had driven the country to the edge of crisis. The terms they negotiated included the comprehensive auditing of election results and formation of a national unity government following the release of the results.A number of legal experts have, over the past week, weighed in on the agreement between the candidates and highlighted the importance of legal frameworks in resolving the election disputes.

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

Mujib Rahman Rahimi, Dr Abdullah Abdullah's Campaign team member

Tahir Zahir, Dr Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's campaign team member

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Wed, 23 Jul 2014 04:47:08 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15683-farakhabar-22-july-2014
Foreign Forces Kill 4 Taliban in Nangarhar http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15681-foreign-forces-kill-4-taliban-in-nangarhar- alt

According to the eastern Nangarhar province security officials at least four Taliban insurgents were killed, three wounded and two others arrested by foreign forces on Tuesday.

Nangarhar police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashrqiwal says that the insurgents were killed in a foreign force led operation in Haska Mina (Dih Bala) district of Nangarhar province.

"The operation was conducted by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) special forces at about 5 p.m. local time and among the dead were Pakistani and Afghan Taliban," Mashriqiwal said.

There were neither civilian nor foreign casualties during the operation.

According to Mashriqiwal, the operation was conducted solely by foreign forces, he says there were no Afghan forces during the operation.

The Taliban has yet to comment.

Haska Mina (Dih Bala) is a district in southern Nangarhar province, ‎ bordering Pakistan.

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Wed, 23 Jul 2014 04:45:26 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15681-foreign-forces-kill-4-taliban-in-nangarhar-
Israel Says No Need to Cancel Flights After Rocket Fire http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15680-israel-says-no-need-to-cancel-flights-after-rocket-fire alt

Israel said there was no reason to cancel flights after a rocket fired from Gaza crashed just kilometres (miles) from its main airport Tuesday, prompting some airlines to suspend services.

The Federal Aviation Authority banned US airlines from flying to or from the Jewish state, which is locked in a bloody conflict with Gaza militants, and major European and Canadian carriers cancelled flights shortly after.

Israeli "Transport Minister Yisrael Katz this evening called American companies to explain to them that the take-off and landing at (Tel Aviv's) Ben Gurion airport presented no security problem for the aircraft and the passengers," a Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said.

"There is no reason for American companies to cancel their flights and yield to terrorism," Katz was quoted as saying.

A house was damaged on Tuesday morning "by a rocket strike in the area of Kiryat Ono Yehoud, which is several kilometres north of the airport," Israeli police said.

The projectile was fired from the Gaza Strip, where Israel has been carrying out an offensive against Islamist movement Hamas since July 8.

Israel's national carrier El Al said in a statement that it was continuing "its flight from and to Israel".

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Wed, 23 Jul 2014 03:32:43 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15680-israel-says-no-need-to-cancel-flights-after-rocket-fire
TOLOnews 6 pm News 22 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15679-tolonews-6-pm-news-22-july-2014 alt

Officials of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) have said that the audit process will face challenges if the presidential candidates do not agree on the standard auditing procedures, which entails a checklist on what needs to be inspected.

To watch the bulletin, click here:

{youtube}VVrrbUyQWX0{/youtube}

The Deputy head of the IEC, Abdul Rahman Hotaki, urged the presidential candidates to finalize the technicalities of the audit as soon as possible otherwise the audit process will encounter disputes.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:39:48 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15679-tolonews-6-pm-news-22-july-2014
No Option But National Unity Government: Spanta http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15678-no-option-but-national-unity-government-spanta alt

Afghan National Security Advisor Dr. Rangeen Dadfar Spanta on Tuesday warned of potential danger in relying too much on the election commissions or allowing one of the political teams to be excluded from the structure of the next government.

Spanta, one of Afghanistan's top security officials, stressed that the transcript of the political settlement made between Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah remains in the U.S. Embassy, and that a legal agreement needs to be established to bolster its terms.

"National unity government doesn't mean that someone is selected by the existing institutions and later on does whatever he wants, it means that two major political process emerged today whether we like them or not," Spanta said. "These two political forces must sit on the basis of their national responsibilities and form the national unity government, but by bringing reforms."

Spanta's comments came at a policy discussion organized in Kabul on Tuesday by the Afghanistan Center of Strategic Studies regarding the formation of the national unity government. He highlighted the public's mistrust of the election commissions and emphasized the importance of seeing through the agreement made between the candidates, and solidifying it in legal form.

"For further expansion of partnership, before getting the certification of the election commission, I think it would be good if the candidates reach an agreement, and a copy of the agreement regarding the framework of such an agreement exists in the U.S. embassy," Spanta added.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Kabul last week in order to meet with the candidates and negotiate an end to the stalemate between them that had driven the country to the edge of crisis. The terms they negotiated included the comprehensive auditing of election results and formation of a national unity government following the release of the results.

On Tuesday, Spanta emphasized the importance of honoring the agreement to structure an inclusive national unity government. He cautioned that any attempt to push one of the electoral camps from the national unity government would have damaging consequences. Spanta said that he respects the existing Afghan Constitution, but supports the amendments that have been proposed to create a Prime Minister position.

"Any approach for increasing a particular ethnicity or decreasing another or any attempt for pushing out one of the groups from the structure of the national unity government would be dangerous and would not help the country out of stalemate," Spanta said.

A number of legal experts have, over the past week, weighed in on the agreement between the candidates and highlighted the importance of legal frameworks in resolving the election disputes.

"Political negotiations yield positive outcomes at a time that there is a legal framework," said Mohammad Amin Ahmadi, a member of the commission overseeing implementation of the constitution.

Meanwhile, Spanta spoke briefly about his possible role in the future government. "The political community should remember that we are a part of the power and we will be in the opposition or part of the partnership in the future."

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:39:44 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15678-no-option-but-national-unity-government-spanta
U.S. Mediation Came at Request of President, Candidates: Dobbins http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15677-us-mediation-came-at-request-of-president-candidates-dobbins alt

Although the "national unity government" terminology used in the agreement between Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah has been subject to some debate in recent days, the U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, James Dobbins, on Tuesday stressed that the candidates are on the same page and have agreed to the terms.

Dobbins spoke at a press conference on Tuesday and said that both candidates have agreed as part of their negotiations with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the winner of the election will serve as the president and the other candidate as a chief executive.

"I think to certain degree this is up to the two candidates themselves to define, but the concept is that there will be a president, there will be a chief executive officer who will be nominated by the loser, if you will, and appointed by the president, obviously they have to agree on that, there will be discussions between them about the distribution of portfolios," Dobbins said.

Since the settlement agreement between the candidates was made, staving off a crisis that many feared would ruin any chances of a peaceful transition of power this year, President Hamid Karzai has been said to be upset over the intervention of the U.S. in the election process. However, on Tuesday, Dobbins said that the mediation was conducted upon the request of the president and the two presidential candidates.

"I don't think what we are doing now is interfering, we are here at the invitation of both candidates and the president of the country," Dobbins said. "I think that the public reaction to an agreement that was reached last week was one of relief, I think that there is widespread support for the process."

Dobbins called on the candidates to remain committed to the promises they made in the agreement, including the national unity government formation as well as accepting the results from a comprehensive vote audit.

"Both candidates have explicitly and unqualifiedly agreed to accept the results of the audit and we anticipate that they will do so, they have repeated to me and they have repeated to Secretary Kerry that they would respect the results of this audit and we fully expect them to do so," Dobbins said.

Dobbins expressed satisfaction with the vote auditing process so far, but indicated he hoped that the process would move forward according to the election schedule so that the transfer of power from Karzai to the next president can happen in a timely manner.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:30:14 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15677-us-mediation-came-at-request-of-president-candidates-dobbins
IEC to Halt Audit Process if Candidates Do Not Reach Agreement http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15676-iec-to-halt-audit-process-if-candidates-do-not-reach-agreement alt

Officials of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) have said that the audit process will face challenges if the presidential candidates do not agree on the standard auditing procedures, which entails a checklist on what needs to be inspected.

The Deputy head of the IEC, Abdul Rahman Hotaki, urged the presidential candidates to finalize the technicalities of the audit as soon as possible otherwise the audit process will encounter disputes.

"Yesterday, we sent letters to both teams to agree on the procedure, otherwise the commission will decide based on its former procedure, or we will be forced to stop the audit process," Hotaki said.

Abdullah Abdullah's observers said that the absence of the finalized audit checklist has faced them with challenges, adding that they do not have an issue on their side claiming that rival Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's team is who is stalling the process.

"We accepted the procedure with its details and are waiting for our rival team to sign it, unfortunately, our opponent has not yet signed it," said Mujiburrahman Rahimi, Abdullah's camp spokesman.

Former presidential candidate in the first round of elections, Daoud Sultanzoy, now a member of Ghani-Ahmadzai's teams, says that an agreement on the auditing method will be finalized end of Tuesday, stressing that the invalidation of votes must be in accordance to the audit process.

"Both candidates will agree on the matter today," Sultanzoy said. "But if votes are invalidated it should be based on IEC's procedure to ensure that discrimination is not allowed."

Mohammad Naeem Asghari, a program manager at the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) said that, "the election is a national process and a global phenomenon as well. So holding a free and fair election needs to be according to the international standards, not according to the deference demands of a particular person and groups."

The officials of the commission also reported that increases of technical groups are needed to speed up the auditing process.

The commission added that since the start of the audits a total of, roughly, 700 ballots boxes have been audited by Tuesday afternoon illustrating that the plan to audit 1,000 boxes a day has failed. The IEC made a statement saying that at this rate the audit procedure will take several months.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:03:18 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15676-iec-to-halt-audit-process-if-candidates-do-not-reach-agreement
MPs Demand Details of Candidate Agreements http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15675-mps-demand-details-of-candidate-agreements alt

Legislators on Tuesday demanded that the presidential candidates provide the details of their agreements on topics such as the "national unity government" and the role of MPs in the next government.

MPs said that the candidates should avoid forging barriers during the auditing process, stressing that the process needs to move forward without any hurdles to avoid lengthening the election procedure.

First Deputy Speaker for Senate, Sediq Ahmad Osmani, stated that any agreement between the candidates must be conducted within the framework of the constitution.

"We support any sort of agreement between the candidates as long as they are in line with the laws and the constitution," Osmani said. "The House of Representatives will not endorse any agreements that would violate the laws."

Legislators asked the candidates to cooperate with the audit process and facilitate to its advance.

"The 100 percent vote auditing continues under the supervision of domestic and international observers; we are not certain why the candidates keep raising criticisms," MP Fatima Aziz said. "We ask that the candidates cooperate with the audit process and end the uncertainties."

MPs assert that it is necessary to put an end to the prolonged election process.

"We demand that the candidates support the vote auditing process so that the next president is announced soon," Herat MP Khalil Ahmad Shahidzada said.

In addition, the MPs have left for a 45 day summer holiday after the 7th session of the 16th working parliamentary tenure ended on Tuesday. According to the administrative board of the lower house, the parliament approved 28 laws in the last session.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:27:07 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15675-mps-demand-details-of-candidate-agreements
ELECTION 2014: Political Agreement for New Government http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15674-election-2014-political-agreement-for-new-government alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Omid Farooq discusses about the political agreement between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai with the following the guests:

• Asadullah Sadati, MP
• Sayed Hussian Halami Balkhi, MP
• Abdul Bary Salaam, a civil society activist

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}c8QtoSjlk4Y{/youtube}

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:00:28 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15674-election-2014-political-agreement-for-new-government
Taliban Shadow Governor Killed in Badakhshan Clash http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15673-taliban-shadow-governor-killed-in-badakhshan-clash alt

Taliban shadow governor, Qari Fakhruddin, and nine other insurgents were killed on Monday in a clash with Afghan security forces in north-eastern Badakhshan province, local officials said on Tuesday.

Five other insurgents were injured in the attack.

The clash took place in Jurm district of the province after the Taliban insurgents began battling with the Afghan forces in which Qari Fakhurddin, who was appointed as the shadow governor, and nine other insurgents were killed, said Ghulaam Haidar Haidari head of the 209th Shaheen Military Corps in the north zone.

He said the Afghan forces have seized the body of Qari Fakhurddin along with weapons.

The Afghan forces have launched a military operation in Jurm district in the past 20 days to clear the area of insurgents, he added.

However, he did not provide details about the casualties of the Afghan forces during the operation.

The Taliban have not yet commented about the operation.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 07:19:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15673-taliban-shadow-governor-killed-in-badakhshan-clash
Israel Pummels Gaza as World Pushes for Truce http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15672-israel-pummels-gaza-as-world-pushes-for-truce alt

Israel pummelled Gaza for a 14th day on Monday, hiking the Palestinian death toll to more than 570, as Cairo took centre stage in world efforts to broker a ceasefire.

With air strikes and shelling raining down across the besieged coastal enclave, Israel's army said seven of its soldiers had been killed, bringing the Israeli toll to 25 troops and two civilians in the bloodiest Gaza conflict since 2009.

Washington urged Israel to take "greater steps" to prevent innocent casualties, and UN chief Ban Ki-moon appealed for the violence to "stop now" as it emerged most of the dead were civilians.

But Hamas has so far rejected truce calls, insisting Monday on a lifting of Israel's siege of Gaza and the release of prisoners to cease its rocket fire.

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi urged Hamas to accept an Egyptian proposal to end the fighting it had rejected last week.

Speaking in Cairo where he had arrived to advance a truce, US Secretary of State John Kerry pledged $47 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza as he called for an end to the violence.

"We are deeply concerned about the consequences of Israel's appropriate and legitimate effort to defend itself," he told reporters as he met with the UN chief.

Both Kerry and Ban urged Hamas, the dominant force in the Gaza Strip, to accept the Egyptian-proposed ceasefire.

Monday's attacks across Gaza killed at least 56 people including 16 children, bringing the overall death toll since Israel launched its operation on July 8 to 573 Palestinians, according to figures provided by Gaza emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra.

In the costliest single Israeli bombardment, an air strike hit a residential tower block in central Gaza City, killing 11 people, including five children.

It came after Israeli tank shells struck a hospital in Deir al-Balah, killing four people, including doctors, officials said, indicating at least 70 people were wounded.

Rights group Amnesty International warned Monday that the shelling of the hospital as well as the "continuing bombardment of civilian homes" in Gaza "add to the list of possible war crimes that demand an urgent independent international investigation."

Amnesty said the Israeli attacks on civilian areas in Gaza "as well as the continuing indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel, demand urgent international action to prevent further violations."

Israel says its campaign aims to stamp out rocket fire from Gaza, and the ground phase of the operation to destroy tunnels burrowed into Israel by Hamas, the main power in the coastal strip.

Israeli rights group B'Tselem said that initial findings indicated that 25 members of the same family were killed Sunday night northeast of Khan Yunis by Israeli fire seeking a senior Hamas member.

"Information B'Tselem has at this stage indicates that no warning was issued and no warning missile was fired prior to the attack," the group said.

- 100,000 displaced -

Since the Israeli operation began on July 8, huge numbers of Gazans have fled their homes, with the UN saying more than 100,000 people have sought shelter in 69 schools run by its Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA).

Meanwhile, Israeli forces killed more than 10 Gaza militants who had infiltrated southern Israel, the army said, later announcing it had lost four soldiers in that battle.

The troops lost in that clash were among seven killed in 24 hours, said the Israeli army, adding 30 soldiers were wounded over the same period.

That brought its toll to 25 soldiers killed since the start of the operation, including 13 on Sunday, the bloodiest single day for the Israeli military since the Lebanon war of 2006.

Two Israeli civilians, both hit by rocket fire, have been killed during the 14-day campaign.

- 'Mad war' -

Hamas on Monday reiterated its insistence on a lifting of Israel's blockade of Gaza and the release of prisoners to halt its rocket fire.

"The conditions for a ceasefire are... a full lifting of the blockade and then the release of those recently detained in the West Bank," its leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said on television.

"We cannot go backwards, to a slow death," he said, referring to the Israeli blockade in force since 2006.

"The conditions of the Palestinian resistance constitute the minimum required for a truce. The resistance and the sons of our people who have made such sacrifices in this mad war cannot accept anything less."

Meanwhile, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas held talks in Doha, pledging to work together for a ceasefire and to lift the blockade on Gaza.

But there has been no let-up since the operation began with 116 rockets hitting Israel on Monday, one striking the greater Tel Aviv area, and another 17 shot down, the army said.

Violence also broke out in the West Bank, where an Israeli shot dead a Palestinian who had been throwing stones at his car, Palestinian security sources said.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said the military was investigating the death, which she said took place during "a violent riot".

Israeli police said Palestinians had rioted in east Jerusalem neighbourhoods Monday night, with no casualties.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, an Israeli was seriously wounded after a Palestinian opened fire at him from a travelling car, the army said.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 05:28:13 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15672-israel-pummels-gaza-as-world-pushes-for-truce
TAKANI: The Election Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15671-takani-the-election-process alt

In this episode of Takani 93, host Shapoor Bakhtyar takes a look at the election process with the following the guests:

• Atiqullah Amarkhil, military analyst
• Jawid Kohistani, political analyst
• Abdul Jabar Qahraman, MP

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}uMl52qWRkIQ{/youtube}

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 05:09:17 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15671-takani-the-election-process
FARAKHABAR: 21 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15670-farakhabar-21-july-2014 alt

Head of the Herat Education Department, Basir Ahmad Tahiri, announced that all school doors have been closed for girls in Shindand district of Herat province, depriving nearly 40,000 girls from education because of Taliban threats.

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}nGbQkzIIEl4{/youtube}

It comes after the Taliban shoot on girls and warned to don't go to schools. In the past a month the violence increased in Shindand.

Herat Governor Syed Fazullah Wahidi says the main factor behind the growing insecurity of the province is that security personnel lack good coordination between the security organs at a provincial and national level.

In the past days, several police officials have been dismissed after the violence increased in the province.

But how have the Taliban threats closed all the school doors in Shindand?

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

• Mohammad Asif Nang, Deputy Education Minister for Technical Education
• Munawar Shah Bahaderi, MP

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 04:50:46 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15670-farakhabar-21-july-2014
Suicide Attack Kills Four Foreign Security Guards in Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15669-suicide-attack-kills-four-foreign-security-guards-in-kabul alt

A Taliban suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden motorcycle inside an anti-narcotics camp in a town called Qasaba in Kabul killing four foreign security guards and injuring six Afghan guards on Tuesday morning.

The nationalities of the fatalities were three Nepalese, one of which was a female and one Peruvian male.

According to Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior (MoI), the suicide attacker entered the camp while riding on a motorcycle.

"When he entered he detonated his explosives in front of the third gate of the camp where foreign contractors and the department of counter narcotics exist," he explained. "The attack resulted in the deaths of three Nepalese security guards and one Peruvian and injuring six other Afghan guards."

On condition of anonymity a security official said that the suicide bomber was an Afghan security guard working alongside foreign contractors.

"The suicide bomber was an Afghan security guard working alongside foreigners at the anti-narcotics office for many years," said the security official.

This was the second attack in five days in the township of Qasaba in Kabul.

In last few weeks, security situations have worsened in the capital city. Suicide attacks, plantation of magnetic bombs and rocket attacks have overshadowed the calm city. Citizens of Kabul ask the intelligence services and security forces be on high alert and provide an explanation as to how these suicide bombers manage to enter the capital of the country.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 03:38:13 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15669-suicide-attack-kills-four-foreign-security-guards-in-kabul
TOLOnews 6 pm News 21 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15668-tolonews-6-pm-news-21-july-2014 alt

The teams of the two presidential hopefuls on Monday took time to assure the public that the crisis-avoiding agreements made last week with help from the United Nations and U.S. would never be abandoned.

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah each agreed to a comprehensive vote audit as well as the formation of a "national unity government" once the election is over. The accord between the two men came after weeks of rising tensions between their supporters over alleged fraud in the election. Although there have been some delays in the auditing process and differences of interpretation over what exactly a "national unity government" means, the candidates have emphasized their resolve to cooperate.

{youtube}EgSvMZnFyKM{/youtube}

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:33:03 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15668-tolonews-6-pm-news-21-july-2014
Election Teams Assure Strength of Agreement Between Candidates http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15667-election-teams-assure-strength-of-agreement-between-candidates alt

The teams of the two presidential hopefuls on Monday took time to assure the public that the crisis-avoiding agreements made last week with help from the United Nations and U.S. would never be abandoned.

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah each agreed to a comprehensive vote audit as well as the formation of a "national unity government" once the election is over. The accord between the two men came after weeks of rising tensions between their supporters over alleged fraud in the election. Although there have been some delays in the auditing process and differences of interpretation over what exactly a "national unity government" means, the candidates have emphasized their resolve to cooperate.

Ashraf Ghani's Deputy Spokesman Tahir Zuhair said disagreements over the vote auditing would never impact the political agreements between the candidates.

"The agreement that was made between the candidates through the mediation of the U.S. Secretary of State and in the presence of the UN envoy is irreversible and it is 100 percent sure," Zuhair said. "The 100 percent vote auditing process has started and the formation of the national unity government will happen after the vote auditing, agreement has been made over these two points."

Abdullah's camp has indicated the agreement is seen by them as a necessary strategic one, with its support of the international community. They have asserted that the structure of the next government will be formed on the basis of the same agreement.

"Our perspective on the agreement is a strategic and long term perspective, however, the priority is the outcomes of the elections and we don't want the process to lose integrity," Abdullah spokesman Syed Fazil Aqa Sancharaki said. "Whatever the election results may be, the political agreement is in place and the political structure would be shaped on the basis of this agreement, disagreements and misinterpretations will not affect the future of the agreements."

Election monitoring groups have acknowledged some differences of opinion over the cooperation between the candidates and the next steps in the process, but also maintained that such problems are to be expected and that there are enough guarantees in place to ensure the agreement is honored.

"Coming out of the crisis was very important for both candidates and the political agreement was quite significant in tackling and seeking settlement to the crisis," said Nadir Naderi, the head of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan. "Both teams want to present a responsible leader, for these reasons, there are guarantees that could ensure implementation of the agreements."

Both teams have confirmed that negotiations over the implementation of the agreements have been finalized. But details of their accord have yet to be disclosed. If the agreement is indeed finalized, the choice not to make its contents public raises questions.

However, Abdullah's team has said that on the basis of the agreement with Ashraf Ghani, a Loya Jirga will be organized to change the presidential system into a parliamentary system at some point down the line, which will allow for great power-sharing in the next government.

A parliamentary system of government comprises a President and a Prime Minister, rather than just a President as is the case now.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:09:34 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15667-election-teams-assure-strength-of-agreement-between-candidates
Number 39 Hurts Traffic Police Revenues http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/15666-number-39-hurts-traffic-police-revenues alt

Afghan car owners avoid purchasing cars with the number 39 on the license plate because of the rumor and myth attached to it, stemming from misinformation spread about criminal activity. According to officials from the General Directorate of Traffic this week, Afghans' misguided avoidance of the number has led revenues of the traffic police to drop by a whopping 50 percent.

The Traffic Directorate said that car owners and buyers have been unduly influenced by organized crime groups and refuse to accept license plates with the number 39 on them. The number is widely thought to be associated with prostitution and other illegal activities that people would be ashamed of being connected to.

However, officials have discouraged people from taking the rumors about the number seriously. "We cannot delete number plates that include 39, we are asking people to forget these meaningless statements and accept the numbers," Traffic Directorate Chief Assadullah said. "None of the world's countries have a traffic system like Afghanistan."

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) has also said that the number 39 will not be cut from the licensing system and it will be distributed to car owners according to the laws.

"There are mafias who benefit from such numbers; they purchase cars at low rates, then sell with high rate," MoI spokesman Sediq Sediqi said. "These mafias groups have confused the minds of the government and the people. We are fighting against such groups and will distribute these number plates."

Despite the prevalence of stigma against the number, some Kabul residents seem to agree with officials that avoidance of it is baseless.

"This is a false idea," a Kabul resident named Ajmal told TOLOnews. "I do not know who spreads such false rumors."

Reportedly, since car owners have begun refusing number plates with 39, the revenue of the government has decreased by about 1 billion Afghani.

The process of distributing number plates has been stopped by the General Directorate of Traffic because the directorate has 42 plates with 39 figures.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:07:10 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/15666-number-39-hurts-traffic-police-revenues
600 Boxes Audited in Five Days http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15665-600-boxes-audited-in-five-days alt

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced prior to the start of auditing that the commission was determined to investigate 1,000 ballot boxes a day, but in the past five days of inspection a total of 600 boxes have been audited.

The IEC has failed to fulfill their systematic plan of auditing 1,000 boxes a day; they are behind by 4,400.

The monitors for the presidential candidates have expressed their concerns over the slow and inefficient process stating that at this rate it will take months for investigations to be over.

A member of Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's monitoring team, Mohammad Gulab Mangal, said that the process must be faster by "enhancing the team to speed up the process, otherwise the audit will take several months."

Sharing similar concerns to the speed of the process, a member of Abdullah Abdullah's observation team, Amirullah Aman, said that the "IEC has invited its provincial staff who are not familiar with the auditing process, which have slowed down the process."

On the opposite spectrum of reasons behind the time-consuming procedure, official from the IEC say the candidates' monitoring teams are not trained nor understand the details and protocol of the audits.

"A number of the candidates' observers do not understand the technicalities of the audits and neither are they trained this is what is causing the snail-like auditing," IEC Spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said.

"Besides this, there is not enough international observers in Kabul, so if we have to enhance our team."

Noor added that in the past five days of audits there have been suspicious boxes, mostly from Kabul, that will be closely investigated to decide the fate of the ballots in those boxes.

A member of Abdullah's team asserted that only the United Nation (UN) is allowed and responsible to invalidate ballots, not the IEC.

Before the start of the audit process, the election commission had announced that they will form 100 groups that will inspect a total of 1,000 boxes a day. In retrospect, only 600 ballot boxes have been audited in the past five days.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:47:13 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15665-600-boxes-audited-in-five-days
Insecurities in Shindand Result in Closing of Girls Schools http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15664-insecurities-in-shindand-result-in-closing-of-girls-schools alt

Head of the Herat Education Department, Basir Ahmad Tahiri, announced that all school doors have been closed for girls in Shindand district of Herat province, depriving nearly 40,000 girls from education because of Taliban threats.

In the past 13 years, schools catered for girls were never closed. The education sector in Herat developed successfully over the years.

Tahiri called on the provincial government to ensure the security of the girls and the schools.

"We have received pamphlets addressed to our school in which the Taliban have asked the girls not to go schools or they would burn our schools and commit suicide attacks," Tahiri explained.

Herat Governor Syed Fazullah Wahidi says the main factor behind the growing insecurity of the province is that security personnel lack good coordination between the security organs at a provincial and national level.

Herat Police Chief Gen. Samiullah Qatra says that the activities of the intelligence services of neighboring countries and the presence of insurgents have worsened the security in the area. Qatra added that some extra police units have been dispatched to the district to maintain law and order.

"Establishment of security belts and reinforcement of check-points have brought the district's security situation under control," Qatra said.

This is while a number of Herat MPs have raised apprehensions over the government's response to security concerns in Shindand.

"Regrettably, the government is not aware of the situations in the district and has showed an apathetical approach," MP Munawar Shah Bahaduri said. "The district could collapse."

Head of the Parliamentary Commission for Internal Security, Mir Dad Khan Nejrabi, has also raised concerns over the government's method to security.

"The government and the international forces need to focus on the issues regarding nighttime military operations, the release of prisoners and civilian causalities," Nejrabi said.

It is the first time since the fall of the Taliban that serious threats are posed to girls' education in the province of Herat.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:51:48 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15664-insecurities-in-shindand-result-in-closing-of-girls-schools
Observers Distressed About Auditing Procedures http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15663-observers-distressed-about-auditing-procedures alt

The election observer institutions on Monday raised concerns over brawls between the candidates about the finalization of the vote auditing checklist, which defines the process that will certify the method of invalidating ballots.

The monitoring bodies asserted that the auditing method could be pushed to a stalemate if candidates do not agree on the inspection procedures soon.

"If there are no legal frameworks and procedures, there is a possibility that the process will face challenges," head of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), Mohammad Naeem Ayoubzada, said.

Furthermore, Chairman of Afghanistan Election Watch, Jandad Spinghar, asserted that it is important for the candidates to rely on international standards.

"Both sides have agreed on a set of standards. There are ways to implement these principles on the basis of global standards," Spinghar said. "Neither candidate should refuse to execute the said standards."

It is not yet clear which campaign team has raised concerns over the auditing process. But reports indicate that negotiations are underway between presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah and opponent Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's camps regarding Abdullah's recommendations to the United Nations (UN).

"I think that our opponent has not approved the recommendations yet. The issue is between the UN and Ghani-Ahmadzai's camp," said Fazel Ahmad Manavi, who is in charge of the technical negotiations in Abdullah's camp. "The recommendations should be approved soon as our demands are completely in line with international standards."

Ghani-Ahmadzai's team has stated that negotiations to resolve the issue are underway with all the involved parties.

"Negotiations are not just between the two teams but also with the UN and other involved institutions," Ghani-Ahmadzai's camp spokesman Tahir Zuhair said. "The procedures must be acceptable to all parties."

Meanwhile, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the two camps will reach an agreement soon.

"The disagreements are not serious and will not undermine the agreements," UNAMA Spokeswoman Neelab Mubarez said. "The candidates have reached a consensus; we ask them to keep up the same spirit and put an end to the prolonged process."

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) has also expressed optimism about resolving the recent disagreements.

"We are optimistic about the outcomes of the talks," IEC Spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said. "We have made many good pacts thus far and we hope that the procedure is finalized soon."

The candidates have yet to reach an agreement and conclude the specific technicalities in the audit process. Finalization of the procedure is considered a crucial step in pushing the election process forward.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:48:26 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15663-observers-distressed-about-auditing-procedures
Dobbins Meets Karzai in Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15662-dobbins-meets-karzai-in-kabul alt

The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, James F. Dobbins has arrived in Kabul on Sunday and met President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace, according to a statement released by the Presidential Palace.

The statement read that Mr. Dobbins has talked in regards to the audit process with both presidential candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai.

However, the statement did not provide more details about Karzai and Dobbins meeting.

This comes as, on Sunday the vote auditing process for the June 14 presidential runoff election halted due to disputes between Abdullah and Ghani-Ahmadzai teams, but resumed after 23 hours.

Officials of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the audit was expected to continue until 6 p.m., but was halted at 3 p.m. on Saturday when the two candidates' representatives disagreed about the status of non-standard signs like signatures on ballot papers.

Observers have weighed into the dispute between the candidates, arguing the signatures are insufficient in judging the validity of a vote.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has taken the responsibility of transporting ballot boxes from all the provinces to Kabul.

ISAF has transferred 1,515 boxes from Heart to Kabul on Saturday. The movement of ballot boxes from the provinces of Kandahar and Helmand are underway.

Millions of Afghans risked their lives and voted in the presidential runoff elections determined to decide the future of their country democratically. For the next five years the future of Afghanistan is weighed on the outcome of the ballots.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 08:37:29 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15662-dobbins-meets-karzai-in-kabul
Suicide Car Bomber Targets Afghan Police in Helmand http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15661-suicide-car-bomber-targets-afghan-police-in-helmand alt

A suicide car bomber targeted Afghan police vehicles in southern Helmand province on Monday afternoon killing two including a policeman, local officials said.

Fifteen other including eight policemen were injured in the attack.

The attack took place about 12 p.m. local time after a suicide bomber detonated his explosive near a police vehicle, said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for provincial governor.

The victims have been taken to a nearby hospital, he said.

The officials of the hospital have confirmed and said 21 victims have been taken to the hospital.

Investigation is underway.

No group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 08:13:58 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15661-suicide-car-bomber-targets-afghan-police-in-helmand
ELECTION 2014: Audit Resumes After 23-Hour Halt http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15660-election-2014-audit-resumes-after-23-hour-halt alt

The vote auditing process for this year's runoff election came to a grinding halt due to disputes between the two candidate teams, but resumed after 23 hours on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}UuChr3LpPjk{/youtube}

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Muslim Shirzad discusses the topic with the following the guests:

• Amin Habibi, International Relations Analyst
• Sardar Mohammad Rahimi, lecturer at the Kabul University
• Ghafoor Lewal, Director of Afghanistan's Regional Studies Centre
• Faizullah Zaki, member of Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's team

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 07:48:50 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15660-election-2014-audit-resumes-after-23-hour-halt
FARAKHABAR: 20 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15659-farakhabar-20-july-2014 alt

The vote auditing process for this year's runoff election came to a grinding halt due to disputes between the two candidate teams, but resumed after 23 hours on Sunday at 3 p.m.

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}xTIKPoMHXVY{/youtube}

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the audit was expected to continue until 6 p.m., but that it was halted at 3 p.m on Saturday when the two candidates' representatives disagreed about the status of non-standard signs like signatures on ballot papers.

"Based on the decisions of the commission, the audit was expected to continue until 6 p.m. yesterday, but the process halted because of some disputes between the candidates' teams," IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said on Sunday.

Observers have weighed into the dispute between the candidates, arguing the signatures are insufficient in judging the validity of a vote.

But why was the auditing process halted for more than 23 hours?

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

• Waqif Hakimi, member of Abdullah Abdullah's team
• Asadullah Sadati, member of Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's team

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 05:50:04 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15659-farakhabar-20-july-2014
20 Insurgents Killed in ANSF Operations http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15658-20-insurgents-killed-in-ansf-operations alt

At least 20 Taliban militants were killed in the past 24 hours during a nationwide operation led by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said in a statement on Monday.

One insurgent injured and six other were arrested.

"Within the past 24 hours, the Afghan army, police and intelligence agency carried out several operations in Uruzgan, Herat, Helmand, Faryab, Baghlan, Ghazni, Kandahar and Wardak provinces to rid them of insurgents," the statement read.

According to the statement, ANSF did not only seize enemy weapons, but also defused five mines in southern Kandahar and Paktia provinces.

"The mines were recently placed by the insurgents in the areas for terrorism act," the statement said.

The statement did not provide details about the number of ANSF casualties.

The Taliban have not yet commented about the operations.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 05:23:16 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15658-20-insurgents-killed-in-ansf-operations
Bloody Sunday as 100 Gazans, 13 Israeli Soldiers Killed http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15657-bloody-sunday-as-100-gazans-13-israeli-soldiers-killed alt

At least 100 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed on Sunday with Hamas claiming it had captured another, as Israel ramped up a major military offensive in Gaza.

The United Nations Security Council was set to hold an emergency meeting on the Gaza situation at 0130 GMT Monday, following a call by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, as regional leaders met in Doha for urgent ceasefire talks.

The Palestinian death toll soared to 438 in the bloodiest single day in Gaza in five years, with a spokesman for the enclave's emergency services saying more than a third of the victims were women and children.

The Israeli army said 13 soldiers had been killed inside Gaza on the third day of a major ground operation, raising to 18 the number of soldiers killed since the ground operation began late on Thursday.

It was the largest number of Israeli soldiers killed in combat since the 2006 Lebanon war.

Late Sunday, the armed wing of Hamas claimed it had kidnapped an Israeli soldier, prompting celebrations in the streets of Gaza City and West Bank cities.

"The Israeli soldier Shaul Aaron is in the hands of the Qassam Brigades," a spokesman using the nom-de-guerre Abu Obeida said in a televised address.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli military said they were investigating the claim.

More than half of Sunday's Palestinian victims were killed in a blistering hours-long Israeli assault on Shejaiya, near Gaza City, which began before dawn and claimed 62 Palestinian lives, with another 250 wounded.

With ambulances unable to reach the area, the International Committee of the Red Cross arranged a brief ceasefire that allowed paramedics to evacuate some of the dead and wounded before hostilities resumed.

- Ban in peace push –

As the violence raged, Abbas arrived in Qatar to discuss a ceasefire with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, and UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived later to push truce efforts.

"I am calling for an urgent session tonight of the UN Security Council," Abbas said in a speech broadcast on Palestinian TV.

"What the occupation forces did today in Shejaiya is a crime against humanity," he said. "Those who committed it will not go unpunished."

Ban also condemned the "atrocious action" in Shejaiya and urged Israel to "exercise maximum restraint".

"Too many innocent people are dying...(and) living in constant fear," he told a news conference in Doha.

So far, truce efforts have been rejected by Hamas which has pressed on with its own attacks, undaunted by the Israeli bombardment by land, sea and air.

Following a night of terror in Shejaiya, thousands fled for their lives at first light after heavy shelling, an AFP correspondent reported.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA has opened 61 of its schools to shelter more than 81,000 people who have fled their homes.

- Netanyahu blames Hamas –

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed the civilian casualties on Hamas using innocents "as human shields."

He insisted on Sunday that the military campaign had strong international backing.

"We are carrying out a complex, deep, intensive activity inside the Gaza Strip and there is world support for this... very strong support," he said before a security cabinet meeting.

Although Israel said earlier Sunday it was expanding its ground operation to destroy the network of tunnels used by militants to stage cross-border attacks and fire rockets, Netanyahu said troops could end their mission "fairly quickly".

His Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon also suggested it could end within days.

"My assessment is that in another two or three days, the lion's share of the tunnels, from our perspective, will be destroyed," Yaalon said.

But he demanded international action to "demilitarise Gaza", the tiny coastal enclave which is home to 1.7 million Palestinians and is one of the most densely-populated areas on the planet.

Palestinian militants have over the past 12 days fired 1,414 mortars and rockets that hit Israel, with the Iron Dome air defence system intercepting another 377, the army said.

Israel's right to self-defence in the face of rocket fire from Gaza has won repeated US support, but President Barack Obama has expressed concern over the loss of life in a call to Netanyahu.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who is to travel to Cairo to seek an end to the fighting, meanwhile, blamed Hamas for perpetuating the conflict by "stubbornly" refusing all ceasefire efforts.

By its behaviour, Hamas had "invited further actions" by Israel, he said, in remarks which drew an angry response from Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who accused Israel of killing Palestinians "mercilessly".

Thousands participated in rallies in France, Vienna, Stockholm and Amsterdam to oppose Israel's offensive, with a demonstration in the northern Paris suburb of Sarcelles descending into chaos as protesters set fire to bins and looted shops.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 05:10:21 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15657-bloody-sunday-as-100-gazans-13-israeli-soldiers-killed
TOLOnews 6 pm News 20 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15656-tolonews-6-pm-news-20-july-2014 alt

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has taken the responsibility of transporting ballot boxes from all the provinces of Afghanistan to Kabul.

Thus far, ISAF has transferred 1,515 boxes from Heart to Kabul on Saturday. The movement of ballot boxes from the provinces of Kandahar and Helmand are underway.

{youtube}6PSU7X0_-OQ{/youtube}

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 15:16:50 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15656-tolonews-6-pm-news-20-july-2014
Audit Resumes After 23-Hour Halt http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15655-audit-resumes-after-23-hour-halt alt

The vote auditing process for this year's runoff election came to a grinding halt due to disputes between the two candidate teams, but resumed after 23 hours on Sunday at 3:00pm.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the audit was expected to continue until 6:00pm, but that it was halted at 3:00pm on Saturday when the two candidates' representatives disagreed about the status of non-standard signs like signatures on ballot papers.

"Based on the decisions of the commission, the audit was expected to continue until 6:00 pm yesterday, but the process halted because of some disputes between the candidates' teams," IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said on Sunday.

Observers have weighed into the dispute between the candidates, arguing the signatures are insufficient in judging the validity of a vote.

"There was a dispute as to wether the signature violated the secrecy of the ballot and it was agreed by both of the candidates organizations that the IEC's original judgment was the correct one, if there is a signature on the ballots, the ballots will not be counted as part of this process and I think it was the correct conclusion to be reached," Democracy International chief Glenn Cowan told TOLOnews.

It is said that the process resumed after around six hours of negotiations between the candidates and the United Nations (UN).

"We had a meeting with Dr. Abdullah's team and the problem is now solved," said Daoud Sultanzoy, a member of Ghani's team.

"The disagreement was about signatures on the ballots, but it was decided that ballot papers with signatures are invalid," Abdullah's team member Amrullah Aman said.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 14:18:45 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15655-audit-resumes-after-23-hour-halt
Presidential Campaigns Criticize Slow Audit Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15654-presidential-campaigns-criticize-slow-audit-process alt

Slow work by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in its vote auditing process has raised concerns of both campaign teams. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah have criticized commission and said they hope the process speeds up in the coming days.

"We hope that in the upcoming days, the IEC will be able to audit 1,000 boxes as they had said," Abdullah's technical team leader Fazel Ahmad Manawi said.

"During the past two to three days, the process was slower, which is not too concerning, but it would be good if the process is expedited," said Daud Sultanzoy, Ghani's technical team head.

In addition its own delays, however, the IEC has still not received an audit methodology approved by both of the candidates. Mr. Manawi has said that if the methodology is not approved, the entire audit will be meaningless.

"The agreement on cancellation of votes should have been finalized once and then the audit should have started, but based on pressure from the UN, the audit started, promising the bill would be confirmed. If this document is not finalized, what is done so far will be useless," warned Manawi.

Meanwhile, Sultanzoy tried to explain why the methodology bill is taking so long to pass, indicating there remain some issues with it from the perspective of the Ghani camp.

"The approval of the bill took longer because the UN added a few articles to ensure transparency and a few demands of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, which would result in the invalidation of people's votes, which we should not do," Sultanzoy said. "I would say that there are still two more issues that needs to be agreed on, which will be resolved soon."

The IEC has remained steadfast in maintaining that the auditing methodology will only be approved once both candidates have agreed on it. The commission has acknowledged that the auditing process continues to proceed without the approved methodology, and has faced delays on account of observers.

"The process has moved slowly, and any process that starts in the IEC, starts slow, so that all the observers are able to follow," IEC spokesman Noor Muhammad Noor said.

The audit results will feed directly into the final result that the IEC will announce, which will lead to the next president taking office. However, before then, the commission will have to re-examine over eight million votes, all while under the microscope.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 14:12:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15654-presidential-campaigns-criticize-slow-audit-process
Abdullah Abdullah Visits Paktika While Ceremony Held in Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15653-abdullah-abdullah-visits-paktika-while-ceremony-held-in-kabul alt

A ceremony was held at the Eidgah mosque in Kabul on Sunday to commemorate the lives lost during the recent Paktika province attack. A number of citizens and government officials participated in the ceremony, however, presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah was away visiting the province itself.

Participants of the ceremony stressed the importance of supporting the wounded and families of victims, and they drew connections between the attacks and foreign intelligence services in the region.

The Paktika attack has prompted Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, President Hamid Karzai and now Abdullah Abdullah to travel to the province.

On Sunday, while visiting Urgoon, Abdullah said that the current and future government has the chief responsibility of protecting people's lives.

"We saw people who had lost four of their kids in the attack," Abdullah said. "We ask for peace from Allah, we are proud of our security forces who have always worked for bringing peace for the people, but despite the efforts of the security forces, crimes like this take place, resulting in the mourning of all Afghans."

During his trip, Abdullah met with a number of residents of Paktika province and families of victims. Abdullah emphasized on the serious need for addressing the economic and social conditions of people in cities and villages throughout the province.

According to Abdullah's team, he set aside five million Afghanis to help with the families of victims, and said helping the victims is the duty of the government, business community and citizens of Afghanistan.

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was the first to visit Urgoon district, and did so just two days after the incident. Ghani also promised aid to the families of the victims. Three days after the incident, President Karzai visited Paktika province and met with the families.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 14:06:21 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15653-abdullah-abdullah-visits-paktika-while-ceremony-held-in-kabul
ISAF Transports Ballot Boxes to Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15652-isaf-transports-ballot-boxes-to-kabul alt

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has taken the responsibility of transporting ballot boxes from all the provinces of Afghanistan to Kabul.

Thus far, ISAF has transferred 1,515 boxes from Heart to Kabul on Saturday. The movement of ballot boxes from the provinces of Kandahar and Helmand are underway.

"The transfer of the ballot boxes was very transparent, we were welcomed as guests," said Haji Muhammad Qasem, an observer for Abdullah Abdullah's camp. "We are content with the transfer and process of the boxes conducted by the ISAF forces."

Campaign observer from Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's camp says that the transfer has been conducted well, but stresses that some boxes have been tampered with during the transfer.

"So far the transfer process is going well, but some of the seals were broken, which I think could have been done while transporting," Esmatullah Daneshyar, observer for Ghani-Ahmadzai's tea, said.

The duration of the auditing process is still unknown, but national and international officials have estimated that the inspection could take up to three weeks, if not longer.

Millions of Afghans risked their lives and voted in the presidential runoff elections determined to decide the future of their country democratically. For the next five years the future of Afghanistan is weighed on the outcome of the ballots.

In addition to being in charge of the transfer of ballot boxes, ISAF is also responsible for maintaining the security of the boxes in Kabul.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 13:58:15 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15652-isaf-transports-ballot-boxes-to-kabul
ELECTION 2014: The Complaints of the Provincial Council Candidates http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15651-election-2014-the-complaints-of-the-provincial-council-candidates alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Omid Farooq discusses the complaints of provincial council candidates regarding the election process with the following the guests:

• Noor Mohammad Noor, the spokesman for the Independent Election Commission (IEC)
• Najibullah Alokozai, provincial council candidate
• Shirzad Allahdad, provincial council candidate
• Mohammad Naeem Asghari, Director of the Free and Fair Elections Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA)

To watch the whole program, click here:

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 08:35:56 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15651-election-2014-the-complaints-of-the-provincial-council-candidates
TAKANI: Ghani and Abdullah’s Meeting http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15650-takani-ghani-and-abdullahs-meeting alt

In this episode of Takani 93, host Navida Khushbu discusses Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah, presidential candidates meeting with the following guests:

• Srir Ahmad Barmak, a Commissioner of Independent Election Commission
• Ahmad Shah Afghanzai, a member of Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's team
• Mohammad Natiqi, a member of Abdullah Abdullah's team
• Fahim Naeemi, the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) spokesman

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}ylXPU8fuc88{/youtube}

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 08:29:29 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15650-takani-ghani-and-abdullahs-meeting
FARAKHABAR: 19 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15649-farakhabar-19-july-2014 alt

President Karzai's First Vice President, Muhammad Younus Qanooni, has strongly criticized the government's policy toward the Taliban, stating that the released Taliban commanders have returned to insurgency and contributed to rising insecurities in the country.

To watch the whole program, click here:

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"I am against the release of those who kill the people of Afghanistan," Qanooni asserted. "We knew that when they [the Taliban] are released from prison, they would return to the battle fields and commit more crimes."

Qanooni's statements came as he visited the victims of a heavy explosion on Urgoon which had resulted in the death and injury of about 200 civilians on Tuesday.

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siawish discusses President Karzai's decision to release Taliban commanders with the following guests:

Ahmad Saeedi, political analyst

Faizullah Jalal, lecturer at the Kabul University

 

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 08:18:49 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15649-farakhabar-19-july-2014
Optimism Over the Audit Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15648-optimism-over-the-audit-process alt

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) officials on Saturday said that the ballot audit process is proceeding well, emphasizing that international observers are committed to correctly monitoring the process.

According to UNAMA, the auditing process has once again instilled global trust in the country's elections.

"We are optimistic about the process monitored by international observers and under the supervision of UNAMA. We have over 100 international observers--a lot more than we had expected," UNAMA Spokeswoman Nilab Mobarez said. "Auditing all the votes by international observers and candidates' observers has contributed to creating global trust in the Afghan elections.

In the meantime, a number of domestic monitoring groups have also stressed that the ballot audit will ensure transparency and retrieve people's trust in the election process.

"Auditing the run-off is a good option for building trust; it will guarantee transparency," Chairman of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), Mohammad Naeem Ayoubzada, said. "There were some problems in the beginning of the process but the presence of domestic, international and candidate observers show that the process will end successfully."

The Fair and Free Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) has also expressed the same conclusions as TEFA.

"Vote audit and other agreements between the candidates ensure election transparency," FEFA Spokesman Faheem Naeemi said.

The audit process of over 8 million votes from the presidential run-off election has entered its third day. Rumors indicate that the process will likely take more times than anticipated.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 06:51:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15648-optimism-over-the-audit-process
MPs Give Vote of No Confidence to ICOIC Members http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15647-mps-give-vote-of-no-confidence-to-icoic-members alt

Three members of the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of Constitution (ICOIC), including the office's top official, received votes of "No Confidence" from Parliament on Saturday, officially ending their terms at the Commission.

MPs accused the officials of failing to meet their responsibilities. In response, members of the commission blamed that the lack of a budget and the interference of foreign countries for their unsatisfactory performance.

The First Vice President of Hamid Karzai, Yunus Qanuni, brought the commission members to Parliament on Saturday.

Most of the questions posed to the commission officials were regarding violations of the constitution by government officials, but others got a bit more personal.

"A question that has been on my mind is that you, Gul Rahman Qazi and Ms. Huquq Mal, you both are over 88 or 85, do you have the strength to continue your duty?" asked Kunduz MP Amanullah Paiman.

"The President has violated the law many times, right in front of the the ICOIC," Kabul MP Hafeez Mansoor said. "President Karzai gives an order to end the search of homes, releases Taliban members who are dangerous, gives the order for the commandos' arrest who fought the Taliban." 

The discussions also touched on the legality and illegality of increasing the facilities and privileges afforded to MPs, a hot-button issue in recent weeks as a related piece of legislation has gone in front of Parliament.

"What has become controversial in the past few days is the salary law for the MPs," Kabul MP Baktash Seyawash said. "In your opinion, is this law legal, considering what is going on in Afghanistan?"

"Those who have received the people's vote, but were not present in sessions during voting, instead going out during these Ramadan days to spend time with beautiful girls, is that legal or no?"asked Daikundi MP Sadeqi Zada Neeli in response to Seyawash.

The ICOIC officials discussed the challenges they face in implementing the Constitution with the MPs.

"The lack of sufficient resources and a budget, the lack of professional and technical employees, and the interference of foreign countries in the work of the Commission and other major problems," listed off Gul Rahman Qazi, the head of the ICOIC.

However, the vote in the House was one of "No Confidence", meaning Qazi and the two other members of the commission will not return to their posts for the next four years. Now, based on the law, new members must be introduced to Parliament for approval.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 06:12:48 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15647-mps-give-vote-of-no-confidence-to-icoic-members
MoD: Foreign Intelligence Trying to Stop Afghan Air Force Progress http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15646-mod-foreign-intelligence-trying-to-stop-afghan-air-force-progress alt

Discussing a string of suicide and rocket attacks on Afghan Air Force bases in recent months, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense claimed on Saturday that foreign intelligence services were behind the attempts, and want to keep the airborne wing of the Afghan military from developing further.

A number of analysts were more direct, accusing Pakistani intelligence, ISI, outright of being behind the attacks.

Over the past few months, Afghan Air Force facilities and personnel have have come under attack from two suicide bombings and three rocket attacks as well as an assault by a heavily armed group of militants.

The suicide bombers have targeted the Afghan Air Force facilities in the Kart-e-Now and Kart-e Sakhi areas of Kabul.

During these attacks, in addition to civilian deaths, 11 Air Force members were killed and nine others wounded. On one occasion a helicopter was destroyed.

"Afghanistan is in a proxy war, the Air Force of countries are very threatened, meaning that foreign intelligence circles are working to endanger the air force in the long run," Mod spokesman Zahir Azimi said.

The training and education process for Afghan Air Force pilots is time consuming and expensive, and officials fear continued attacks could set the whole program back.

"If a rocket hits a location in air force area, any piece that hits anywhere will result in heavy losses and if a pilot is killed, it will take time and money to train someone else as a pilot," Azimi said. "If it was any other area, it would be possible, but only a pilot can do a pilots job."

In addition to the base at Shindand, Afghan pilots are being trained in the United States, Dubai, Czech Republic and Russia. Every pilot is trained for three years at a cost of around two million dollars.

Analysts have suggested it makes sense that the Air Force would be coming under increased pressure, given the potential threat it poses to enemies of the Afghan government.

"Afghanistan's air force is forming, these forces can fight alongside the ground forces and army, which can really put pressure on the enemy," intelligence analyst Jawed Kohistani told TOLOnews.

Officials hope to see the Afghan Air Force become fully functional and self-sustaining by the end of 2016, especially in areas of transportation, search and intelligence and ground support. But if the attacks continue, it will be hard to meet the deadline.

"All the intelligence agencies and institutions are the given task of identifying and investigating these incidents," Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqi said.

Commanders from the Air Force and National Directorate of Security declined to comment on the attacks.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 04:54:52 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15646-mod-foreign-intelligence-trying-to-stop-afghan-air-force-progress
IEC to Accelerate Audit Process in Coming Days http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15645-iec-to-accelerate-audit-process-in-coming-days alt

Independent Election Commission (IEC) spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said on Saturday that the commission would seek to accelerate the auditing process for votes cast in the runoff election over the course of the coming days.

According to the working plan of the commission, at least 1,000 ballot boxes should be audited per day. However, the commission has failed to inspect more than 235 boxes in the past two days.

"We will speed up the process," Noor told reporters on Saturday. "80 groups worked on Saturday in two shifts, 40 groups in the morning shift and 40 in the afternoon. And I can say that 100 groups will work tomorrow in two shifts."

The ballot boxes of Balkh, Maidan Wardak, Ghazni provinces have reportedly been fully transferred to the IEC's central office in Kabul, but await inspections.

The camps of the both the presidential candidates expressed continued support for the auditing process, but both teams expressed some concerns about the procedures being used.

"The only problem is the absence of a standard operating procedure right now," Abdullah Abdullah team member Fazl Ahmad Manawee said. "Both sides agreed to a procedure but the standard operating procedure is not yet verified, we hope it will be very soon."

"The audit process is proceeding very well, but there are some problems with the IEC's employees, like disagreements about the ticks on the ballot papers," Wakman Hashimi, a member of Ashraf Ghani's team said.

But election monitors like Democracy International's Gregory Minjack seemed optimistic about the audit.

"It seems like it is very true and deliberate and most importantly it looks like the candidate groups agree with it," Minjack told TOLOnews.

So far, 870 domestic and international observers have been registered by election commission to oversee the auditing process, which was the outcome of negotiations between the two candidates, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Nations.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 04:26:39 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15645-iec-to-accelerate-audit-process-in-coming-days
TOLOnews 6 pm News 18 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15644-tolonews-6-pm-news-18-july-2014 altTop news in this bulletin

Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah and opponent Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai continue to discuss ballot audits and other agreements made during the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Kabul. One of the main topics of discussion between the candidates is the role of the second candidate in the country's future government.

To watch the bulletin, click here:

{youtube}Gick5K3h2B4{/youtube}

 President Karzai's First Vice President, Muhammad Younus Qanooni, strongly criticizes the government's policy toward the Taliban, stating that the released Taliban commanders have returned to insurgency and contributed to rising insecurities in the country.

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 15:17:41 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15644-tolonews-6-pm-news-18-july-2014
Candidates Discuss "National Unity Government" http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15643-candidates-discuss-qnational-unity-governmentq alt

Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah and opponent Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai continue to discuss ballot audits and other agreements made during the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Kabul. One of the main topics of discussion between the candidates is the role of the second candidate in the country's future government.

"The candidates talked in regards to important issues such as their political frameworks as well as the start of the ballot audit process, the audit results, the review and the announcement," Abdullah's Campaign Spokesman, Said Fazel Agha Sancharaki, said. "Representatives of both teams will oversee the Independent Election Commission (IEC) secretariat."

The two presidential teams have agreed that the losing candidate will perform an executive position in the future government and become the prime minister after the country shifts to a parliamentarian system in two years.

Electoral analysts believe that unifying the two teams will make for an accountable government, calling it the only way to overcome the current crisis in the country.

"Both candidates and both teams need to be next to each other to form a fair and legitimate government. The society is tired of the high levels of corruption," electoral analyst Muhammad Daud Shujazada said. "A fair and legitimate government is the precondition in attracting foreign aid to Afghanistan."

The most important agreement between the two candidates, the announcement of the national unity government--strengthening national unity by political power-sharing-- has been welcomed by many.

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:18:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15643-candidates-discuss-qnational-unity-governmentq
Qanooni Criticizes Taliban Release http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15642-qanooni-criticizes-taliban-release alt

President Karzai's First Vice President, Muhammad Younus Qanooni, strongly criticizes the government's policy toward the Taliban, stating that the released Taliban commanders have returned to insurgency and contributed to rising insecurities in the country.

"I am against the release of those who kill the people of Afghanistan," Qanooni stated. "We knew that when they are released from prison, they would return to the battle fields and commit more crimes."

While visiting a number of people wounded in the attack on a bazaar in Urgoon district of Paktika province, Qanooni asserted that the Pakistani Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) and the Haqqani Network were behind the attack on district.

"As our security institutions have reported, the Haqqani network was behind the attack," Qanooni said. "They would not have been successful without the cooperation of ISI."

During his visit, Qanooni spoke with some of the 23 people in the emergency hospital.

"I was there with my father and uncle to buy some goods," Samar, a 13-year-old injured in the attack, said.

The bazaar is said to have been one of the busiest areas in the district.

"My brother and father were also there when the blast happened," Padshah, another child wounded in the incident, said.

Qanooni's statements come as the government released hundreds of Taliban prisoners this year. The released prisoners were accused of insurgency arrested by the U.S. forces after they took charge of the Bagram prison. Reports indicate that most of the released members rejoined Taliban insurgency soon after their release.

The heavy explosion on Urgoon on Tuesday resulted in the death and injury of about 200 civilians. Urgoon residents have criticized the government's inadequacy in transporting the wounded to the hospital. The residents stated that due to the lack fast transportation options such as helicopters, many of the injured lost their lives before getting to the hospital.

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:17:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15642-qanooni-criticizes-taliban-release
Karzai Visits Urgoon http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15641-karzai-visits-urgoon alt

Three days after a deadly attack on a bazaar in Urgoon district of Paktika province, President Karzai traveled to the province to offer condolences to the victim families.

While meeting with the survivors, Karzai promised to facilitate the reconstruction of the district.

"We will rebuild your mosque and your bazaar, and we will give land to the survivors," Karzai said. "We will offer any help in our capacity."

President Karzai called on businessmen and aid intuitions to help those affected by the attack.

"From here, we call on all people of Afghanistan to help the same way they helped people in Argo district of Badakhshan province," Karzai added.

Karzai's visit was welcomed by Pakitika Governor Mohebullah Samim.

"We thank you for coming here Mr. President," Samim said. "Your visit will decrease the pain of the people of Urgoon."

A suicide bomber exploded his truck Tuesday afternoon after being stopped for police search in Urgoon.The explosion destructed an entire bazaar, resulting in many civilian causalities.

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:10:51 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15641-karzai-visits-urgoon
Audit Goes Into Second Day http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15640-audit-goes-into-second-day alt

On the second day of audit process, Afghanistan Free and Fair Election Foundation and Abdullah Abdullah observers have said that IEC and UN must audit more precisely. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai campaign team has said that domestic and international observers and representatives from both candidates must confirm quality of audit.

On the second day, domestic observers and campaign teams of both candidates have remarks regarding the audit process. FEFA observers have said that if the audit process does not move forward more in order, the audit time might go beyond the set period of time.

"When I entered the centers today, European Union representatives were not present in all the tables. UN observers were there though. Because, the process is under the supervision of UN, UN must be very precise and Commissions must be accountable" says Muhammad Naeem Asghari, Programs Manager at FEFA.

While Abdullah Abdullah campaign team criticizes quality of audit, other leaves quality and method of the process to the domestic and international observers.

"Here, a number of IEC employees who are behind the desks, do not have any clue of what is happening, and are wasting our time" says Amrullah Aman, member of Abdullah Abdullah campaign team.

"We support the process and leave it on International Observers, UNAMA and observers of both teams to comment on quality of audit" says Muhammad Haleem Fedayee, member of Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai campaign team.

Meanwhile, transfer process of ballots in the provinces has started in cooperation of ISAF, NATO, UN and with the on hand facilities of Afghan National Security Forces and IEC, so that the ballots are transferred on time.

"Based on the mechanism set by the Independent Election Commission, every box must be audited in an hour while speeding up over time, with many boxes being audited in a day" says Noor Muhammad Noor, IEC Spokesman.

IEC adds that so far 135 EU observers, 120 observers from both candidates have been trained alongside 300 IEC employees, so that the results of audit are acceptable.

During the audit of runoff ballots, so far ballots from Kabul province are being audited, with provinces next to Kabul such as Wardak, Logar, Kapisa and other provinces to start upon arrival in Kabul.

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 13:21:59 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15640-audit-goes-into-second-day
ELECTION 2014:Auditing of Runoff Votes http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15639-election-2014auditing-of-runoff-votes alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Omid Farooq discusses the vote auditing with the following guests:

Abdul Rahman Hotaki , IEC Deputy Chairman

To watch the program, click here:

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 07:37:19 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15639-election-2014auditing-of-runoff-votes
TAKANI: Auditing of Runoff Votes Begins http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15638-takani-auditing-of-runoff-votes-begins alt

In this episode of Takani host Shapoor Bakhtiyar discusses the auditing of runoff votes with the following guests:

Abdul Jabar Shelgari, Dr Abdullah's campaign team member

Siddiq Patman, Dr Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's campaign team member

Jandad Spinghar, head of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FFEFA)

To watch the program, click here:

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 07:31:53 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15638-takani-auditing-of-runoff-votes-begins
24 Insurgents Join Baghlan Peace Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15637-24-insurgents-join-baghlan-peace-process alt

A group of 24 insurgents on Wednesday surrendered their weapons and joined the peace process in Northern Baghlan province.

According to the Baghlan Police Chief Gen. Aminullah Amarkhail, the insurgents--who were previously active in Bano district-- joined the government peace process because of the efforts of tribal elders and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

"This is a good step toward building peace and stability in the province," Gen. Amarkhail stated while asking other insurgents to also join the process and ensure everlasting peace and stability in the country.

Meanwhile, about 96 other insurgents had surrendered their weapons in northern Baghlan province earlier this week on Monday.

According to a spokesman for the provincial police chief, Jawid Basharat, the insurgents handed over their weapons in Pul-e-Khumri, the center of Baghlan province. Basharat stressed that the coalition of insurgents with the peace process will improve Baghlan's security.

Insurgent activities have recently escalated as foreign troops get ready to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, handing over all security responsibilities to ANSF.

There are about 50,000 foreign troops still based in Afghanistan. The number of active ANSF members reach roughly 350,000.

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 07:21:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15637-24-insurgents-join-baghlan-peace-process
Malaysian Airliner 'Crashes in East Ukraine': Reports http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15636-malaysian-airliner-crashes-in-east-ukraine-reports alt

A Malaysian passenger liner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has crashed in insurgency-wracked east Ukraine, regional officials said Thursday, as Ukraine's president said the jet may have been shot down.

Malaysia Airlines said it had "lost contact" with the Boeing passenger liner, which Ukrainian officials said had come down in a rebel-held zone in the Donetsk region.

"Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam," the airline, still reeling from the disappearance of flight MH370, said on its Twitter account.

"The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace," it said, promising more details soon.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the jet may have been shot down.

"We do not exclude that the plane was shot down and confirm that the Ukraine Armed Forces did not fire at any targets in the sky," Poroshenko said in a statement posted on the president's website.

Regional officials in Donetsk confirmed the plane had come down near the town of Shaktarsk.

"The number of dead is not yet known," the administration said in a statement.

Emergency services were rushing to the scene, a security source told Interfax-Ukraine.

US stocks fell sharply following reports the Malaysia Airlines plane had been shot down, while Britain's Foreign Office said it was "working urgently to find out what's happened."

The incident comes just months after Malaysia's Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 with 239 on board. The plane diverted from its Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight path and its fate remains a mystery despite a massive aerial and underwater search.

- Ukrainian jet 'downed' -

The reported crash came after Kiev accused Russia of downing a Ukrainian military plane on a mission over the east of the country, stoking tensions in the growing conflict on the edges of Europe that has claimed over 600 lives.

The allegation came a day after the US and EU bolstered sanctions against Russia over its perceived support of the separatist insurgency in the ex-Soviet state.

Moscow condemned the punitive measures against it as "blackmail" and warned of retaliatory actions against Washington.

In the first direct claim of a Russian attack on Ukrainian forces, Kiev said a Russian airforce jet shot down a Ukrainian warplane Wednesday evening -- before the fresh round of Western sanctions were announced -- as it was carrying out its duties.

The pilot of the Su-25 plane managed to eject and was rescued by Kiev forces, Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council said.

Russia's defence ministry -- which NATO claims has massed some 12,000 troops along Ukraine's porous border -- dismissed the claim as "absurd", Russian news agencies reported.

- Sanctions hit Russian stocks -

The dramatic developments on the ground came alongside a major diplomatic fallout over fresh Western sanctions that Washington and Brussels hope will force Moscow to help halt the conflict.

In a tough move that left the EU trailing in his wake, US President Barack Obama took a swipe at major players in Russia's finance, military and energy sectors in sanctions imposed Wednesday.

The Russian foreign ministry reacted in a furious statement: "We do not intend to tolerate blackmail and reserve the right to take retaliatory measures" against the US.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier warned that sanctions would inflict "very serious damage" on the already tattered US-Russia relationship.

- Talks promised -

In eastern Ukraine fierce fighting between government forces and pro-Moscow rebels has intensified in recent days with some 55 civilians killed since the weekend.

The fighting forced more than a dozen Ukrainian border guards to flee into Russia seeking medical help with one dying from his injuries, the Russian authorities said.

Germany and France have been spearheading a push to revive talks between Kiev and the rebels over a potential ceasefire but attempts to hold a Skype videoconference fell through Tuesday.

Ukrainian forces made a string of major gains after Poroshenko tore up an unsuccessful ceasefire earlier this month, but progress has slowed since rebels retreated into two major regional centres where they have pledged to fight to the end.

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 03:11:51 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15636-malaysian-airliner-crashes-in-east-ukraine-reports
Auditing of Runoff Votes Begins http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15635-auditing-of-runoff-votes-begins alt

The auditing of all votes cast in the runoff election in June officially kicked-off on Thursday under the supervision of domestic and international observers. The start of the audit materializes one of the central parts of the agreement made between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai last week when they negotiated a deal to put an end to the election crisis.

Just before the auditing began at the Independent Election Commission's (IEC) headquarters in Kabul on Thursday, the commission's Chairman, Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani, appeared at a press briefing and reminded the presidential candidates that they would have no choice but to accept the outcomes of the audit, as per the agreement they themselves made.

"The outcomes of the auditing will be final, both presidential candidates are obliged to accept the results," Nuristani said.

The deal made last week, which called for a comprehensive vote audit under United Nations (UN) supervision as well as the formation of a "national unity government" after the election is over, was considered an essential step to getting Abdullah back to the process and deescalating tensions between the two candidates' supporters. The gravity of the situation was fully conveyed by the fact that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry felt it necessary to fly to Kabul and mediate the negotiations himself.

The auditing process has remained a key demand of the Abdullah camp since just days after polls closed in June. But the presence of domestic and international observers, which is expected to be extensive during the auditing process, will hopefully convince both camps of the process' credibility.

Election monitoring groups have expressed optimism regarding the start of the audit process. "So far, the process looks very efficient and very careful...very precise, so I am pleased with the process so far," Democracy International's Gregory Minjack said on Thursday.

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham also oversaw the audit's start on Thursday and expressed satisfaction. He assured that the auditing is taking place in accordance with international standards.

"Both the candidates have committed themselves to accept the result of the audit, there will be very strong international supervision and observation of the audit to try to make sure it is as fair and credible as possible," Ambassador Cunningham said. "I understand from walking through the stations that the process is going well, people know what they are doing. The candidate agents are their observing so all the pieces seem to be coming together."

The Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) and the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) have also dispatched up to 80 observers to monitor the auditing process.

"The auditing is taking place in the right way, but there is some mismanagement, and it is the hope that in the coming days things get better as the presence of observers and guests becomes limited," FEFA Chief Nadir Naderi said, noting the reality that most of the auditing process will likely have less involvement from top officials like Ambassador Cunningham as it wears on.

"As we are aware, IEC staffs have been trained, but some of them had their own problems, for instance, they were mixing the ballot papers of the two candidates," TEFA Chief Mohammad Naeem Ayoubzada said.

Meanwhile, observers representing Ghani and Abdullah also spoke out about the audit. Unsurprisingly, Ghani's camp expressed satisfaction with the process while Abdullah's representative suggested there were already some concerns.

"We are completely satisfied about things and we are satisfied about the auditing," an observer of the Ghani team named Ashna Gul Bandawal said.

"Unfortunately, what we were promised by the international community, that the votes would be audited according to global standards, isn't appearing here," Abdullah's observer Amrullah Aman said. "It is hoped that these promises are honored in the coming days."

The auditing process lasted for three hours on Thursday, with thirty groups of three members each auditing up to 30 ballot boxes. The process is expected to continue for three weeks.

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Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:53:08 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15635-auditing-of-runoff-votes-begins
TOLOnews 6 pm News 17 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15634-tolonews-6-pm-news-17-july-2014 alt

A group of suicide attackers early Thursday morning attacked Kabul International Airport (KIA) and started clashes with the Afghan National Security forces (ANSF).

To watch the bulletin, click here:

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Deputy Interior Minister Gen. Ayoub Salangi tells TOLOnews that about 4:20 a.m. local time insurgents positioned under a construction building in Qasaba area began firing at the airport.

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Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:31:19 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15634-tolonews-6-pm-news-17-july-2014
We Have Made an Agreement, Not a Deal: Abdullah http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15633-we-have-made-an-agreement-not-a-deal-abdullah alt

Appearing in a press conference for the first time since the resolution of the election deadlock, presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah revealed behind the curtain discussions with opponent Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai.

"Both sides have agreed that regardless of the final results, it is a win-win situation," Abdullah said. "Vote audits must take place transparently and with the observation of representatives from both campaign teams. Waheed Omer will be our representative."

Creation of the "national unity government" is still one of the most important topics of discussion between the candidates.

"What we have agreed on is a commitment to shared principles regarding the creation of a national unity government," Abdullah asserted. "We reject any claims regarding making a deal."

Moreover, Abdullah stated that the spirit of cooperation between the two candidates is much better, emphasizing that transparency is among his key demands.

"Our observers will work closely in provinces and the capital to ensure transparency this time," Abdullah added. "There is a better spirit between us [the campaign teams] and we would like to keep it up."

People are optimistic about the election results as candidates make truce after the prolonged electoral tensions. One of the most important topics of discussion between the two campaign candidates has been the shift from the country's presidential system to a parliamentarian one.

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Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:39:03 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15633-we-have-made-an-agreement-not-a-deal-abdullah
Saffron to Replace Poppy http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/15632-saffron-to-replace-poppy alt

According to the Agriculture Development Department, it is expected that 5,000 ton saffron will be harvested in 32 provinces of Afghanistan this year. In recent years, the country has witnessed a tangible interest in saffron cultivation.

Known for its high quality in the world market and with the price of 100,000 Afghanis per kg, saffron is considered the best alternative for poppy cultivation in the county. For this reason, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation & Livestock (MAIL) has started to undertake agricultural exhibitions to further promote saffron among farmers.

"We are aware that the interest in saffron production has increased," Head of MAIL's Agriculture Development Department, Hamdullah Hamdard, said. "We have established around 100 exhibitive pieces in various provinces so that the farmers get familiarized with saffron production and receive technical support."

Agriculture experts assert that the government should cooperate with those interested in saffron production in order to further expand the production country-wide.

"Saffron needs very little water and all members of a family can contribute to its cultivation. It also provides good income for the family," agriculture expert Syed Nabil Shinwari said. "The herb is significant for the economic sector; the government must work on expanding its production."

Considering that Afghanistan constitutes as the world's largest producer of opium, the shift to the production of saffron--one of the best alternatives to poppy-- is majorly significant for the country.

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Thu, 17 Jul 2014 12:09:47 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/15632-saffron-to-replace-poppy
Taliban Ambush Karzai Security Team in Paktia http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15631-taliban-ambush-karzai-security-team-in-paktia alt

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's security team is ambushed in Zurmat on Thursday as they were on their way to Urgoon ahead of Karzai's visit to offer condolences. ‎

Karzai's Deputy Spokesperson Faiq Wahidi told TOLOnew "this morning, the security convoy of the president of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan was on its way toward Paktia province when the Taliban ambushed the convoy in the suburb of Gardiz city, after the clash between the two sides, reinforcement dispatched to the area, currently the clash has ended and the security team is continuing on its way, so far we have recorded four injuries."

At least four Presidential Protection Service (PPS) guards are wounded as fighting still continues. Reinforcement has been dispatched.

There are reports of some PPS servicemen being captured by the Taliban in Zurmat district.

Sources says that the guards are either out or low on ammunition.

About two dozen PPS forces were driving to Urgoon as an advance team to prepare for President Karzai's visit.

Afghan National Army Maj. Gen. Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, commander of the 203rd "Thunder" Corps, rejected the Taliban ambush claims on Karzai's security team but confirmed the existence of the team in Zurmat district of Paktia province.

"They are not under any siege, they just lost their way and about 500 assistance forces have been sent to the area," Yaftali told TOLOnews.

According to reports the number of PPS security guards sent in advance is 50. The Taliban siege has been broken by Afghan security forces.

Sources say there are causalities, but the exact number is not clear.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Thu, 17 Jul 2014 08:42:39 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15631-taliban-ambush-karzai-security-team-in-paktia
ELECTION 2014: Candidates Meeting and Audit Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15630-election-2014-candidates-meeting-and-audit-process alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Muslim Sherzad, discusses candidates meeting and audit process with the following guests:

Faizullah Zaki, Dr Ashraf Ghani's Campaign member

Noor Mohammad Noor, IEC spokesman

Fahim Dashti, Journalist

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}GROCsO3Mcq8{/youtube}

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Thu, 17 Jul 2014 06:32:56 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15630-election-2014-candidates-meeting-and-audit-process
Insurgents Attack Kabul Airport http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15629-insurgents-attack-kabul-airport alt

A group of suicide attackers early Thursday morning attacked Kabul International Airport (KIA) and started clashes with the Afghan National Security forces (ANSF).

Deputy Interior Minister Gen. Ayoub Salangi tells TOLOnews that about 4:20 a.m. local time insurgents positioned under a construction building in Qasaba area began firing at the airport.‎

According to the Ministry of Interior (MoI) Spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, there were six insurgents.

Four of the six insurgents were gunned down by ANSF and the two others detonated their explosives killing themselves.

The first suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden car at the start of the clash only claiming his life; the second suicide bomber detonated himself before being gunned down by the ANSF.

The foreign troops supported the ANSF with air force.

Security officials say that Commander of Army Brigade 111, Gen. Qadam Shah Shahim, was wounded in the attack and hospitalized in Sardar Mohammad Daoud Khan hospital for further treatments.

"I was shot but it is not serious. I am doing fine now," Gen. Shahim said.

The clash ended around 9 a.m. local time with no civilian causalities. According to reports, the insurgents were targeting military aircrafts that are housed at the airport. According to Deputy Minister of Interior for Security Affairs, Gen. Mohammad Ayoub Salangi, there were no damages to the military aircrafts the insurgents were targeting.

"Two rocket launchers and ammunitions that belonged to the insurgents have been confiscated," Salangi, said. "No civilian and military personnel were hurt in the attack."

Haq Nawaz Haqiar, commander of the Afghan border police forces at Kabul airport, confirmed Thursday's attack on Kabul airport, saying that no damages were brought to commercial and military aircrafts.

Haqiar told TOLOnews that due to protection of the passengers all flights are delayed. The airport will be ready for takeoff and landing soon.

Meanwhile, a number of eye witnesses in the area shared their accounts of the attack with TOLOnews.

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"It was around 4:00 am when the first rocket was fired," a Kabul resident Mohammad Samim said. "The clash began soon after."

The eyewitnesses express satisfaction with the ANSF's counterattacks.

"We thank the security forces; we are completely satisfied with their performance," Qasaba resident Afzal said.

Moreover, there are allegations that the Pakistani laborers working in the Kabul airport had helped the attackers.

"It is possible that Pakistani laborers working here paved the way for the suicide attackers," Qasaba resident Malikyar said.
This is while Gen. Salangi accused the regional intelligence services of being involved in the attack.

"Without the support of regional intelligence services, the execution of these attacks would be impossible," Salangi asserted.

Furthermore, the MoI has stated that the attack was in a way a revenge for the attack on Karachi Airport.

"The attacks on Kabul Airport have increased after the attack on Karachi Airport--for which the Pakistani government blames the Afghan government," MoI Spokesman Sediq Sediqi said. "We think that Taliban, the Haqqani Network and the Pakistani intelligence want to conduct similar attacks on Kabul Airport."

This is the third attack on KIA in a month. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.

To watch the footage, click here:

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Thu, 17 Jul 2014 02:33:44 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15629-insurgents-attack-kabul-airport
Afghan Constitution to be Amended Within Two Years http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15628-afghan-constitution-to-be-amended-within-two-years alt

Presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah's agreement on a political framework that was arranged by U.S. Secretary of State's visit to Afghanistan states that amendments will be made to the country's constitution within the next two years, according to a copy of the contract obtained by TOLOnews.

The two candidates agreed that Afghanistan's constitution would be amended within two years to work toward a prime ministerial system. Within the two years they agreed to convene a Loya Jirga as well.

The agreement states that the president, once elected, would immediately form a chief executive position as well as a head of opposition post that can either be filled by the losing candidate or someone of his choice.

Once the position is filled, the president and the head of opposition will jointly pick and choose key security and economic posts. Positions at the provincial levels will be consulted with the head of opposition.

The president also promises to keep prominent security chiefs for a period of, at least, 90 days.

The government, according to the agreement, is obligated to bring significant reforms to the electoral bodies within a year.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came to Afghanistan over the weekend to resolve the electoral impasse that hindered the election process prolonging the course of the Afghan elections.

Secretary Kerry left Afghanistan brokering an agreement between the two candidates that included a new political structure as well as auditing all 8.1 million votes in hopes of bringing faith back into the transparency and legitimacy of the process.

The audit process is said to take up to three weeks. The final result of the presidential runoff would be broadcasted once the audits of votes have completed.

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:39:15 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15628-afghan-constitution-to-be-amended-within-two-years
TOLOnews 6 pm News 16 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15627-tolonews-6-pm-news-16-july-2014 alt

The comprehensive audit of votes cast during the runoff election will begin at the central office of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kabul on Thursday, according to officials. The IEC will take the lead in the process and it will be monitored by the United Nations (UN).

According to the election commissions, around 100 groups of two or three people have been formed to audit the ballot boxes, totaling just over eight million votes in all.

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 15:49:47 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15627-tolonews-6-pm-news-16-july-2014
Audit Process to Begin Thursday http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15626-audit-process-to-begin-thursday alt

The comprehensive audit of votes cast during the runoff election will begin at the central office of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kabul on Thursday, according to officials. The IEC will take the lead in the process and it will be monitored by the United Nations (UN).

According to the election commissions, around 100 groups of two or three people have been formed to audit the ballot boxes, totaling just over eight million votes in all.

"God willing, the audit process begins tomorrow," IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said at a press conference on Wednesday. "All the observers can monitor the process and there are no restrictions on them."

The audit was a central part of the deal made between Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah over the weekend when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came to Afghanistan to diffuse the election crisis. Their agreement included the conditions that the IEC reassess all votes before announcing a final result and do so under the supervision of the UN, along with the normal observers from Afghan civil society groups and the candidates' camps.

The IEC announced on Wednesday that the commission, in coordination with candidates, had finalized the auditing procedure they planned to use.

The procedure is said to be guided by the following questions:

1-Are the boxes the same boxes that were distributed by the commission?

2-Are the boxes in good shape?

3-Do the boxes have tags including information about centers and polling sites?

4-How many locks do the boxes have and are they functional?

5-Can we open the locks by hand?

6-Does the serial number the lock match with what's written on the result sheet?

7-Are the copies of result sheets inside the boxes?

8-Are there unused and invalid ballot papers inside the boxes?

9-Do the ballot papers in favor of a candidate include the necessary stamps?

10-Are the markings on the used ballot papers similar to other ballots inside the box?

11-Are the ballot papers signed according to the commission's procedures?

12-Is there evidence proving differences between result sheets and the number of used papers inside the boxes?

13-Are the copies of the result sheets the same as the results that were logged at vote counting centers?

14-Are the minutes from Election Day and list of voters available?

The IEC has said that the votes of centers where a particular candidate got significantly more votes in the runoff than the first round will be audited as well, a condition that Ghani-Ahmadzai's team had originally rejected during talks with Abdullah's camp prior to the arrival of Secretary Kerry.

As the audit begins in the Kabul office of the IEC on Thursday, so too will the process of transferring ballot boxes from the provinces to the capital. Based on the agreement brokered by Mr. Kerry, the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) will oversee the transportation of the boxes.

Whether the audit process will significantly impact the results of the election remains to be seen. However, it is clear that had it not been for the audit, the election standoff would have likely continued, with Abdullah boycotting the process and decrying it as illegitimate on the basis of supposed fraud.

Election monitoring groups have expressed optimism regarding the start of the audit process, and how the rival campaigns would treat it moving forward.

"I have to believe it will be acceptable since they agreed to abide by the outcome of the audit and the audit will proceed under the cooperation of the international community and the Afghan institutions and therefore, we encourage and we hope and we expect that the campaigns will abide by the outcome," Democracy International's Gregory Minjack said.

The audit process could take up to three weeks. The final result of the presidential runoff would then be announced once complaints are addressed by the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC).

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:10:54 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15626-audit-process-to-begin-thursday