Kabul - An attack on a hotel in western Afghanistan on Saturday has left at least 11 people dead after five hours of fighting, according to officials.

The assault began at around 12.40 pm when several suspects entered a hotel in Qala-e-Naw, Badghis province, before firing at people indiscriminately, spokesperson for the interior ministry, Nasrat Rahimi, said on Twitter.

“Three attackers were killed and two others arrested,” according to Rahimi. The spokesperson later confirmed to news agencies that eight police officers had been killed.

The attack also left a number of others injured, though an exact figure was not yet known.

Provincial health chief Dr Abdul Latif Rostaie had earlier told newsmen that three people had been killed and 18 others injured.

Taliban spokesperson Qari Yusof Ahmadi said in a post on Telegram that several fighters “in search of martyrdom” had entered a building near the police headquarters, adding that the shootout was ongoing.

Fierce fighting has taken place in Badghis in recent months between Taliban militants seeking control over swathes of territory and members of the Afghan security forces.

Turkey delivers $4.5 million worth military aid to Kabul

Badghis is a strategic location in that it shares a border with Turkmenistan and connects the country’s western and northwestern provinces.

In April, at least 99 Taliban fighters and 12 security forces members were killed during clashes for control over the Bala-Murghab district.

The government currently controls around 55 percent of Afghan territory, while the Taliban holds nearly 11 percent. The remaining territory is disputed, according to the US Congress’ special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

US SERVICE MEMBER KILLED

A US service member was killed in action in Afghanistan on Saturday, the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said in a statement.

It gave no further details and withheld the name of the service member until the next of kin were informed.

The latest fatality brings the tally of US service member deaths in Afghanistan to at least 10 in 2019.

About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are in Afghanistan as part of a US-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces. Some US forces carry out counter-terrorism operations against hardline Islamist militant groups.

A record 3,804 Afghan civilians were killed last year due to stepped-up air attacks by US-led forces and more suicide bombings, the United Nations said in a February report.

President Trump wants to secure a political settlement with the Taliban to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan. The Taliban, however, demand a complete foreign force pull-out before entering into a formal peace agreement.

 

RADIO ANCHOR KILLED IN PAKTIA

Nadir Shah Sahibzada, a local radio anchor in the eastern province of Paktia was killed in an attack by unknown men in Gardiz, the central city of the province, the provincial police spokesman Sardar Wali Tabassum said on Saturday.

Nadir Shah was working as a producer and anchor of cultural and social programmes in Sada-e-Gardiz Radio Station for the past three years, officials from the radio station said.

Tabassum said police have started an investigation into the incident, but so far no one has claimed responsibility for it.

Abdul Rashid Jalalzai, an official from the radio station, has said that Nadir Shah was disappeared on Friday evening and security forces found his body in Bagh-e-Per area in Gardiz on Saturday.

Quoted by NAI, a journalists rights organization, Jalazai said the marks on Nadir Shah’s body show that he was stabbed and tortured to death. According to NAI statistics, Sahibzada is the seventh journalist killed in Afghanistan so far this year.

NAI in a statement called on the Ministry of Interior Affairs to run a thorough investigation into the murder of the journalist.

According to local officials, this is the first time that a local journalist was killed in Paktia.

TURKEY DELIVERS MILITARY AID

Turkey has delivered military aid worth 4.5 million dollars to Afghanistan, as part of the bilateral agreement, the Turkish Embassy said in a statement on July 13.

According to the Turkish Embassy in Kabul, this aid will support logistical operations of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces. It said the aid was part of the bilateral agreement inked on Sept 21, 2018.

Last year, Ankara ratified a motion to extend the deployment of Turkish troops in Afghanistan for another two years as part of the NATO’s support mission in the war-torn country.

The legislation that was first passed by the Turkish parliament in 2015 also grants the government authority to permit foreign army personnel to be transported to and from Afghanistan through Turkey.

It is worth recalling the two countries share time-tested and deep-rooted ties. One of the first resolutions adopted by the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) Government was related to opening a representation in Kabul.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established through the signing of Turkey-Afghanistan Alliance Agreement in 1921. Thus, Afghanistan has become the second country recognising the TGNA.