NATO troops take over Taliban stronghold
By FISNIK ABRASHI, Associated Press Writer
KABUL, Afghanistan - More than 1,000 NATO and Afghan troops clashed with Taliban and took over control of a district center in southern Afghanistan long held by the militants, officials and witnesses said Saturday.
The troops used helicopters, armored vehicles and infantry in their push toward the town of Sangin in Helmand province, the world's biggest opium-producing region, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said in a statement late Friday.
"Military troops have successfully engaged several Taliban extremist strongholds and discovered a number of large weapon caches," the statement said.
The operation to retake Sangin from militants started late Wednesday and is part of NATO's largest ever offensive in Afghanistan, Operation Achilles, launched last month to flush out Taliban militants from the northern tip of Helmand province and open the way for multimillion-dollar repair work on a dam in Kajaki district which would supply the country's south with electricity.
"There was very heavy fighting between foreign forces, Afghan forces and Taliban in Sangin two nights ago," Sangin resident Haji Akhtar Mohammad said Saturday.
NATO and Afghan troops are in control of the center of Sangin and the Taliban appear to be moving toward the neighboring district of Musa Qala, which is still under the militants' control, Mohammad said.
About 4,500 NATO and 1,000 Afghan forces are in and around Helmand province as part of Operation Achilles. In the last several months, Taliban militants and foreign fighters have streamed into the province, according to U.S. and NATO officials.
There have been over 220 "tactical engagements" since the start of the operation and dozens of militants were killed or captured, according to NATO officials in Kabul.
Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez contributed to this report.
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Two French confirmed kidnapped in Afghanistan
Sat Apr 7, 4:16 AM ET
KABUL (AFP) - Two French aid workers who went missing this week have been kidnapped by Taliban militants in southwest Afghanistan and taken to volatile Helmand province, a provincial governor said Saturday.
"According to intelligence service reports, they were kidnapped on the highway in Khash Rod district (in Nimroz province) and taken to neighbouring Helmand," Nimroz governor Ghulam Dastgir Azad said by telephone.
He is the first official to confirm that the French nationals, who went missing on Tuesday, were kidnapped.
The two aid workers from the organisation Terre d'Enfance (A World for Our Children) were travelling with three Afghan colleagues from Nimroz westwards to neighbouring Farah province when they went missing.
The Taliban militia, who have mounted a bloody insurgency since they were ousted by US-led forces in 2001, claimed late Wednesday to have captured the five.
The governor said a search operation by some 200 security officials for the missing people in Khad Rod district had been called off Saturday after the troops failed to locate the aid workers.
"Most of our troops have returned and the operation has been called off. We conducted a very massive operation including searching suspected houses but we couldn't find them in the area," he said.
Helmand province, where the intelligence reports say the hostages have been moved to, is a Taliban stronghold where the rebels hold several districts.
An Italian journalist was kidnapped March 5 by the Taliban in Helmand province, which adjoins Nimroz.
Daniele Mastrogiacomo was released two weeks later in a controversial deal.
The Taliban are still holding Mastrogiacomo's translator, Afghan reporter Ajmal Naqshbandi, and have demanded the release of two more Taliban in exchange for his freedom. The rebels beheaded a driver captured with them.
Karzai pledged Friday to make no more hostage deals, saying that the one he made last month to free the Italian journalist was because the Italian government -- which has 1,800 troops in Afghanistan -- could have collapsed.
Karzai ordered the release of five Taliban prisoners, including some high-profile figures, in the controversial trade which resulted in the freedom of Mastrogiacomo.
"It was an extraordinary situation and won't be repeated again," he said. "No more deals with no one and with no other country."
The rebels are also holding five Afghan medics they kidnapped on March 27 in the southern province of Kandahar.
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Price of Afghan prisoner exchange may be more hostages
Several kidnappings follow the trade of an Italian journalist for five jailed Taliban. Critics suggested that might happen.
By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer April 7, 2007
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — The government's exchange of five Taliban prisoners for a kidnapped Italian journalist last month appears to have touched off a spate of abductions, as some critics had feared.
In the last two weeks, at least 13 Afghans and two French aid workers have been kidnapped in three incidents. The Taliban claims to be holding at least 10 of the hostages and has said it will free some only if more jailed Taliban are released.
Meanwhile, interpreter Ajmal Naqshbandi remains in captivity nearly five weeks after he and the Italian journalist, Daniele Mastrogiacomo, were abducted, with their driver, during a reporting trip in southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban's resurgence is strongest. The driver was beheaded.
Some critics said Afghan President Hamid Karzai's decision to swap five Taliban prisoners, two of them fairly senior members of the radical Islamist group, for Mastrogiacomo's freedom would only encourage more kidnappings. Others faulted Karzai for not securing the release of the interpreter as well.
Mastrogiacomo was released March 19.
Naqshbandi's captors have publicly taunted Karzai, suggesting that he should show the same concern for the life of an Afghan as for a foreigner by releasing three more of their fellow Taliban. The government has refused to comply.
"This act will not be repeated in anyone's case, with no one, and there will be no favor to any country," Karzai said at a news conference Friday, referring to the deal that won Mastrogiacomo's release. "It is not possible."
The Afghan president said he had been under pressure from Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, whose government "was facing collapse." Karzai said Prodi "called me several times and asked for cooperation from our side."
Karzai defended his decision, saying it was an act of gratitude for the continued presence of 1,800 Italian troops in Afghanistan. "Even though we knew what this action will cause," he said, "we had to do it."
Sultan Ahmad Baheen, a foreign affairs spokesman, said the government had not forgotten about Naqshbandi, whose "fate is also very important for us."
"We are trying our best through all means to save him. But no exchange."
Nonetheless, fears that insurgents would be emboldened to carry out more abductions to wring concessions from the government apparently are being realized.
Four Afghan health workers and their driver were kidnapped last week outside the southern city of Kandahar. The Taliban reportedly has said the price for their freedom is the release of some Taliban prisoners held in Kandahar.
"The exchange of five Taliban for the Italian journalist has created this problem," Kandahar's police chief, Gen. Esmatullah Alizai, was quoted as saying.
On Tuesday, two French aid workers with the charity Terre d'Enfance and three Afghan staff members disappeared in Nimruz, the southwestern province where they were based, prompting a huge police search. The aid workers' car was found abandoned. A purported Taliban spokesman has said that the five are being held by the group.
The same day, suspected insurgents dragged off five police officers in an attack in Paktia, a province not far from Kabul, the Afghan capital.
The kidnappings come as North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops gear up for an expected "spring offensive" by militants after the relative lull of winter. International security forces have stepped up patrols and operations in southern Afghanistan.
Although the recent abductions have injected another element of uncertainty in an edgy atmosphere, kidnapping is not a new phenomenon in this violence-racked country.
In the last 12 months, there has been an average of one kidnapping a week in Afghanistan, according to Interior Ministry statistics. In the same period, 169 arrests were connected to kidnappings.
Most of those abducted were Afghans, and in the majority of cases they were released, ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said.
Though ransom money is the motivation for many abductions, news media and aid organizations are worried that their members have become even more valuable targets as a result of the Mastrogiacomo deal.
Bashary said the Italian reporter and the French aid workers had neglected basic safety precautions by failing to apprise police of their plans and movements. In the case of the aid workers, authorities did not know they had vanished until notified by their colleagues.
"This is a clear sign that the police were not informed where they were going," Bashary said. "These districts are not safe either for Afghans or foreigners. The insurgents do not know or discriminate."
Mastrogiacomo, who writes for La Repubblica newspaper, was kidnapped with his companions March 5 in Helmand province, an increasingly lawless region in the south where the Taliban insurgency has made its greatest inroads.
Western governments, including Washington, were quick to denounce the release of five Taliban prisoners as giving in to terrorist demands. The criticism was echoed by Afghan lawmakers, political analysts and aid organizations.
"Before, the Taliban had one gun in their hands. Now they have two," said Shukria Barakzai, a member of the Afghan parliament.
"It was really a big mistake…. The president of Afghanistan crossed the constitution. He has the legal right to [pardon], but not to exchange. He has a clear responsibility to protect Afghan citizens."
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Aziz and Karzai agree to continue cooperation
Friday, April 06, 2007 Pakistan Link
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to continue cooperation to combat terrorism and achieve peace in the region.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, at a 90-minute meeting on Wednesday afternoon before the final session of the 14th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in New Delhi, agreed that frequent bilateral contacts at senior levels would help remove misunderstandings and bridge the divide between the two countries. Aziz and Karzai stressed the need to create a conducive environment in which both countries could build a relationship of trust, said a press statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Secretariat on Thursday. Aziz said Pakistan wanted a peaceful and stable Afghanistan so that both countries face meet their mutual challenges.
He said Pakistan thought that the international community needed to take a “Marshall Plan-type approach” to expedite reconstruction of Afghanistan and improve living standards there. Karzai said his government was committed to improving relations with Pakistan and bilateral contacts should be increased to improve the situation. He said the Joint Economic Commission would meet in Kabul this month, adding Pakistan’s decision to host the Afghanistan Development and Reconstruction Conference in Islamabad was a welcome step. staff report
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Whether new or old, tanks just not for this war
Hard to win the hearts of Afghans with battle tanks
April 07, 2007 James Travers Toronto Star, Canada
If crew comfort and safety are the biggest problems with deploying battle tanks in Afghanistan, then the federal government has a compelling solution. Air-conditioned and more heavily armoured, the new generation of German Leopards are far superior to the ones the Canadian Forces declared obsolete before hurriedly deploying them against the Taliban last year.
But as important as those considerations are, they are not the ones that should concern Canadians most. The rush to lease nearly two dozen Leopard 2 A6M tanks is the most compelling evidence yet that neither the Afghan mission nor the master plan for the new military is unfolding as predicted.
No matter how sophisticated, tanks are inconsistent with this country's objectives of rescuing a failed state and creating a light, fast and flexible armed forces capable of responding to a new century's chaotic threats.
Designed for set-piece, Cold War confrontations, the 55-tonne behemoths are hardly the weapons of choice in the close and often urban encounters of today's hearts-and-minds wars. Too often they cause the collateral damage that turns locals against foreigners and isolates soldiers from the civilians they were sent to help.
Worse still, even the world's best battle tanks – and the new Leopards are among them – are vulnerable to fast-evolving insurgent tactics and improvised weapons. During last summer's failed Israeli incursion into Lebanon, a minimum of 18 of its tanks, all various generations of the highly regarded Merkava series, were seriously damaged and at least two destroyed.
For complex political reasons, the deadliest anti-tank arms used by Hezbollah have not yet surfaced in Afghanistan. But it's far from certain that even the newest Leopards would fare as well against mines and rocket-propelled grenades as the specially modified Merkavas.
What is known is that the commander of Canada's army, the parade-ground crisp and refreshingly cerebral Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, studied the Israeli experience and drew vital conclusions. Among the most important is that even though the Merkavas had weaknesses, the survival rate of crews was high.
It's no coincidence that Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor stressed this week that Canadian casualties have dropped since September when the nearly 30-year old Leopards were pressed into service. While the reasons for that happy decline have more to do with changed enemy tactics and limited winter fighting, any equipment that saves soldiers' lives is both welcome and a persuasive part of the continuing military campaign for more procurement.
Not surprisingly, Stephen Harper's government is susceptible to that persuasion. Having planted the Conservative flag alongside Canada's in Afghanistan, the Prime Minister now has little choice but to write monster cheques when the military argues publicly that its fighting machinery isn't up to the job.
That raises interesting questions. Did the military not know that its aging Leopards would be unusable in Afghanistan's summer heat? Or was it an exercise in planned failure, one that would put irresistible political pressure on the government to acquire the tanks that, in more cost-conscious times, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier deleted from his already-long shopping list?
Whatever the answers, this week's abrupt and typically secretive change of course demands far closer scrutiny. Canadians need to know if a mission already heavily skewed toward war and away from reconstruction is morphing into the kind of protracted, all-out conflict alien armies don't win in Afghanistan.
Even if that's so, Canada's most coherent response is not necessarily to withdraw. What's often lost in assessing the 3-D approach to stabilizing fragile states is that the application of defence, development and diplomacy must change with the situation. As is now painfully obvious in Kandahar, meaningful assistance is not possible without increased security, and that will only be achieved if international pressure forces Pakistan to control its border.
What's more uncertain is what useful role battle tanks can play beyond offering thicker insulation against explosives and providing a psychological show of superior force. It's hard to fathom how a weapon too heavy for roads, too large for village streets and primarily designed to fight other tanks can effectively advance Canada's goals of defeating an insurgency indistinguishable from the local population while reconstructing a shattered society.
More than just a solution to the twin problems of heat and security, the new Leopards are also central to Canada's Afghanistan conundrum. In protecting its troops from an innovative enemy, this country is deploying weapons that alienate soldiers from the Afghans they must make friends.
In the best-case scenario, modern tanks will keep troops cooler and safer. In the worst, Canada will lease expensive weapons it decided it didn't need and lose a war that must be fought and won among the people.
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On grueling mountain trek, U.S. troops patrol a gray Afghan world, watched by Taliban
The Associated Press Friday, April 6, 2007
BAYLOUGH BOWL, Afghanistan: Rarely do the insurgents take on American troops — who are few but formidable — in the Baylough Bowl. But in a gray world where allegiances are fluid and identities are closely guarded, the Taliban are always watching and waiting.
Barely do patrols step or drive out of their primitive mud fort ringed by mountains in the southeastern province of Zabul when the chatter on Taliban frequencies begins — "The Americans have just left. They're coming this way. We will need more reinforcements if they approach any closer...."
"They're probably looking at us right now from one of those peaks," says Abdul Farid, an Afghan interpreter and radio monitor leaving Forward Operating Base Baylough with one of the almost daily patrols.
These are the staple of U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan, coping with a rekindled Islamic insurgency more than five years after the Taliban regime fell to American and anti-Taliban Afghan forces.
What all this expenditure of sweat, sometimes blood, on these slow, grinding slogs will do to win the war is difficult to gauge.
Here, 1st Lt. Jason Cunningham, who has logged about 300 tortuous kilometers (185 miles) on foot over the past three months, says being on the ground, face-to-face with villagers establishes authority, hopefully keeps some Taliban at bay and enables troops to take the pulse of the locals, dispensing doses of aid to win converts to their cause.
"It's very possible that I've had tea with the Taliban," says Cunningham, who commands 50 U.S. Army soldiers tasked with pacifying the far-flung bowl, where loyalties of villagers are questionable and at times violence erupts.
At one stop, the soldiers and a group of Afghan police inspect a roadside bomb, a mortar round attached to a trip wire, detected among rocks at the base of a pole flying a national flag.
It's the fifth such explosive planted in the immediate area of the Daychopan district seat, says the police commander, Bashir Ahmad Frozan. The last one killed a passing girl and a dozen sheep, he says.
The next day the unit — a platoon of B Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment — launches a 15-kilometer (9-mile) patrol which eight hours later leaves the legs of even the superbly fit soldiers weak and rubbery.
The troops push through the basin, which measures some 10 by 12 kilometers (6 by 7.5 miles) — part moonscape of soaring rockpiles, part idyll of blossoming almond orchards and grazing lambs, all girded by mountains capped with the remnants of winter's snows.
En route, the 14-man patrol stops villagers going to fields and the main bazaar, riding donkeys or negotiating the rough trails on old motorcycles. The locals seem bored by the routine searches, raising their hands high with little prompting. Some checks turn farcical.
"Ask the guy why he's jumping around," a suspicious soldier tells the interpreter as he slides his hands up and down a farmer's pants. "He thinks you are gay," the smiling interpreter responds.
The turn-around point is Sinan, a hamlet of low-walled compounds, each a little medieval fortress of mud that seems as one with the dun earth. Children and veiled women peer out from behind heavy, timbered doors.
"It's sort of a gray village. They're friendly to us when we are here and when we leave the Taliban moves in," says Staff Sgt. Lukas Hearn, resting against a compound wall in the heart of the settlement. "Because the Taliban have the guns and knives," Cunningham interjects.
The lieutenant, from San Francisco, has delved into the district's gray world, where allegiances are fluid and nobody puts their identities on display.
During visits to two powerful local figures, who like others in Afghanistan make their accommodations with all sides, Cunningham is almost certain he mixed with Taliban fighters, but never felt threatened.
The two elders had guaranteed his safety. They would thus be shamed if any harm had come to him, their guest, in violation of Pashtunwali, the traditional code of the dominant Pashtun tribe in Zabul and the Taliban heartland of southern Afghanistan.
On the patrol's return leg, six soldiers are ordered to set up an observation post. It's a heart-pounding clamber up a cliffside littered with boulders, made harder by the 9,000-foot (2,700-meter) altitude and the strength-sapping load, up to 100 pounds (45 kilograms), the soldiers carry.
"Everybody in the bowl knows we're up here," says Hearn, of Moore, Oklahoma, moments after his team begins to scan a vast, 180-degree panorama through sniper rifle scopes and binoculars.
Sometimes the Taliban — "dudes dressed in black carrying AK-47s" — can be spotted from such heights, the soldiers say. But it's not easy to pinpoint them among the sea of rocks or mingling with the tiny figures of villagers in the hamlets, fields and orchards far below.
Most of the Taliban and foreign infiltrators, coming from Pakistan which borders Zabul, trek along distant ridgelines, skirting the bowl to reach a stronghold outside it, he says. Even if they're seen, pursuit is difficult.
"They all can run faster than we can," Hearn says.
One of the soldiers, Spc. Torrey Gray, is called down from the hilltop. A woman nearby who had given birth two hours earlier was hemorrhaging, suffering severe pain and low blood pressure. Her family asked the Americans for help.
The medic, from Bangor, Maine, administers an intravenous injection, antibiotics and painkillers to grateful words.
"It shows that we have genuine concern for the people in this area, that we're not just here to deter the Taliban, that we're not just putting up a facade," Gray says.
An hour earlier, the patrol had searched the same family compound where the child was born after finding an expended shotgun shell just outside. It was an unwelcome intrusion into the inner sanctum of the conservative Muslims.
Perhaps the patrol had scored a draw in the seesaw battle for loyalties in the Baylough Bowl.
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Pakistani army secures militant stronghold
By Hafiz Wazir Sat Apr 7, 3:13 AM ET
WANA, Pakistan (Reuters) - The Pakistan army moved into a known stronghold of foreign al Qaeda militants near the Afghan border after a tribal militia battled the Islamist militants this week, residents and officials said on Saturday.
Ethnic Pashtun tribesmen in the South Waziristan region vowed last month to expel the foreign jihadists, most of them Uzbeks, from their lands. More than 200 foreigners and up to 50 tribal fighters have been killed in clashes since then, government officials say.
Pakistani troops were deployed on Friday evening in mountainous Shin Warsak, about 10 km (6 miles) west of South Waziristan's main town of Wana.
The bodies of many Uzbeks littered the ground in the area and tribesmen used tractors to bury them.
Sporadic firing could be heard in the area, but most of the foreigners appeared to have fled.
The army moved into bunkers the foreign jihadists built in the mountains.
It was the first movement of Pakistani troops outside Wana in the tribal region since the government struck a peace deal with tribal elders in February 2005.
Military spokesman Major-General Waheed Arshad said the troops moved into Shin Warsak to provide security to the people and were not involved in the fighting.
Shin Warsak, Azam Warsak and nearby villages saw heavy fighting in 2004 after the Pakistan army launched a major offensive against jihadists commanded by Tahir Yuldashev, head of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
Yuldashev, who is accused of a series of bomb blasts in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, in 1999, is at large but believed to be still in the region.
Residents say up to 1,200 Uzbeks were in the region. The Pashtuns refer to them as "gungas," meaning "the dumb ones" because they can't speak Pashto.
Clashes broke out in South Waziristan last month after Uzbek militants tried to kill a pro-government tribal elder.
Malik Saadullah Khan, a tribal elder involved in the campaign against foreign jihadists, said the tribesmen were committed to driving foreigners out of their lands.
"We are ready to give every sacrifice to get rid of these people," he told Reuters.
Thousands of foreign fighters, including Uzbeks, Chechens and Arabs, fled to Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal lands after U.S.-led forces defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001.
After unsuccessful military campaigns to clear al Qaeda nests from Waziristan, the government made pacts with tribesmen in the hope of driving a wedge between them and the foreign fighters.
Critics say the pacts risked creating a sanctuary for al Qaeda and the Taliban, but the military said the clashes in South Waziristan showed the strategy was working.
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Governor seeks help to stem threat from Taliban
KABUL, Apr 5 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Expressing concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in Nuristan, Governor Tamim Nuristani warned of a possible increase in Taliban attacks in the coming months.
Addressing newsmen, the governor said districts abutting the border areas of Pakistan, were more vulnerable to Taliban attacks.
The governor was summoned by the complaint commission of the lower house to reply to some objections against him.
Criticising some MPs from Nuristan province for calling him 'murderer' and 'thief', the governor said he was ready to face the court if the MPs provided evidence against him.
Seeking help from government in ensuring security in the province, the governor said the 'enemies' might launch attack on Kamdesh district in the coming summer.
"Due to the mountainous nature of Kamdesh and Bargmatal districts, cutting of supply line of the 'enemy' is quite a difficult job," said the governor.
Those district would have long before fallen to Taliban if there was no support from the people, said the governor while pointing to the weaknesses in the border police and Afghan National Army (ANA) stationed there.
He said Nuristan needed at least 500 more reserve police, 700 border police and more personnel of the ANA to defend the borders.
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Information Resource Centre opened at US embassy
KABUL, Apr 5 (Pajhwok Afghan News): The embassy of the United States opened its Information Resource Centre here on Thursday.
Addressing the ceremony organised in this connection, the US ambassador Ronald Neumann said the centre would prove helpful for those Afghans wanted to get information about the United States.
Staffers of the US embassy at the centre would share views with Afghan visitors to get information about Afghanistan, said the ambassador.
Shah Mansoor, head of the newly-established centre, said those who wished to visit the centre must take prior permission from the US embassy.
Around 500 books on different subjects, like politics, culture, history etc have been placed in the centre with four computers to facilitate the visitors.
Minister for Information and Culture Abdul Karim Khuram said the United States should open more such centres in Kabul and other cities.
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Elders defy Taliban ban on schooling
GHAZNI CITY, Apr 5 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Hundreds of elders in Andar district of the southern Ghazni province gathered to defy the Taliban threats of stopping people from sending their children to schools.
The meeting was held on Thursday, during which the elders announced their support for opening of schools in the district.
Taliban, in the lawless Anadar district, had warned people against sending their children to schools a few days back.
Andar chief Abdul Rahim Desiwal told Pajhwok around 600 elders and influential attended the gathering.
The participants unanimously voiced support for opening of schools and sending of children to educational institutions, said the district chief.
An elder Anayatullah said Taliban should not create hindrances in the way of education. His call to the Taliban was joined by a teacher Juma Khan, who said seeking of knowledge is compulsory in Islam.
Secretary of the Ghazni provincial council Ustad Habibur Rahman told Pajhwok the elders had started negotiations with the Taliban regarding the reopening of schools.
Earlier, Taliban had said they did not agree with the curriculum introduced by the government and wanted to teach their own curriculum at the schools.
Sher Ahmad Haidar
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Investor donates 5% income for Achiana
KABUL, Apr 5 (Pajhwok Afghan News): A local investor on Thursday announced he would donate five per cent income from his business to the Achiana, a non-governmental organisation working for the welfare of destitute children.
"I'm proud of helping the destitute children of my country," said Atta Amin, head of the Amin Company while addressing a ceremony held in Achiana main office in Kabul.
Engineer Mutasel Kamkai, Deputy Minister for Commerce and Industries, appreciated the announcement and said the donation would go a long way in rehabilitation of destitute children.
Wasil Noor Mohmandi, Deputy Minister for Works, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, also lauded the assistance by the entrepreneur and said other well-to-do people should also come forward to take part in the pious cause.
He said supporting the needy children was the responsibly of the government. The ministry had prepared plan to support the street children in future.
Achiana is currently providing vocational training to 10,000 children in Kabul and other parts of the country.
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