Afghan gov't to ensure security of journalists: government chief

May 05, 2018, 18:13
Afghan gov't to ensure security of journalists: government chief

The White House condemned Tuesday the "heinous" twin suicide attacks that killed at least nine journalists and 16 others the day before in Kabul, the deadliest assault on Afghan media since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Mattis said in response to a question.

The second attack was timed 30 minutes later to target journalists arriving on the scene and emergency services personnel seeking to provide aid to victims of the first attack.

"Well stand by the Afghan people, well stand by the Afghan government and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission will continue as we drive them to a political settlement", Mattis said.

RSF noted that the double suicide-bombing in Kabul was the latest in an already long list of bloody attacks on media outlets and journalists, who have been "deliberately killed in cold blood in many countries because their reporting caused annoyance".

While meeting with Mattis in Kabul, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called Trump's strategy a "game-changer". "The Taliban realize the danger of the people being allowed to vote", Mattis said.

The head USA commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Nicholson, later said that he agreed with Ghani's assessment.

As the Pentagon asserts that Afghan troops and US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces are making steady progress in the 16.5-year-old Afghanistan war, a U.S. watchdog on Tuesday warned that the Taliban and other insurgent groups are gaining control over increasing numbers of the Afghan population and the strength of local security forces has declined sharply. He also indicated the actual numbers of Afghan troops doesn't matter, rather, it's how capable they are in deterring the enemy.

The Afghan military is being made more capable, Mattis said, adding that more of the forces are special forces, advised and assisted, accompanied by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mentors and these are the most effective forces.

According to the SIGAR report, Taliban and other militant groups control or influence 14 percent of the 407 districts in Afghanistan - the highest level since 2015, when the group started recording data.

The United States now has about 15,500 troops in Afghanistan with 7,800, assigned to the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support.

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