NATO airstrike kills Police ‘by mistake’
The Afghan interior ministry says at least eight police officers have been killed in a NATO air strike on a checkpoint in the southern Helmand province. The Afghan authorities and NATO are now investigating how the police check post came to be targeted. Attaullah Afghan, head of the provincial council, told the media that the airstrike took place on Thursday as Afghan police were fighting the Taliban near the city. He also says 14 policemen were wounded in the strike. It wasn’t immediately clear who carried out the airstrike, Afghan or U.S. forces. There was no immediate response to a query to the U.S. military in Kabul. American forces regularly back Afghan troops when asked to. Helmand’s governor, Mohammad Yasin, says the airstrike is being investigated. A Taliban statement claimed US forces were behind it.
IEC rules out a biometric system
Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission has announced that a biometric system cannot be used in the coming presidential election, scheduled for 28 September, due to lack of resources and time, Tolo News TV has reported. Independent Election Commission (IEC) has reportedly said that biometric machines would not be used in the upcoming presidential elections. US embassy in Kabul has welcomed the IEC decision.
Electoral Watchdog officials criticize the government for failing to take necessary measures to ensure transparent elections. Naim Asghari, a deputy head of Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA), told the media that there is still enough time to implement the verification system during the voting. “Ensuring use of biometric devices was one of the reasons that led to postponement of the presidential election, but now the commission is saying it cannot use new technology. This shows that the commission’s new members are worse than the previous ones”, Asghari told a TV channel.
Afghanistan’s electoral laws recommend use of technology to ensure fair voting. During the parliamentary election, held last October, initially, the IEC was reluctant to use a biometric system. However, under pressure from various political groups, it agreed, and the devices were imported hardly three weeks before the polling day – 20 October. But there were several reports of malfunctioning devices on the voting day. It was also alleged that in many polling centers people were allowed to cast their votes without biometric verification.
Other news headlines of the day:
- A number of lawyers say forming an interim government is against the country’s constitution. They also said that President Ghani’s term in office has been officially extended by the Supreme Court until the elections and it is legal. This comes at a time when the council of 12 presidential candidates has proposed to form an interim government.
- India has donated two MI-35 helicopters to the Afghan air force. Acting defense minister hails the move. Defence Ministry has said they will be given two more such helicopters.
- Two Pakistani nationals of Daesh (the so-called Islamic State, IS), along with their families, surrendered to NDS forces in Nangarhar province. They were carrying out activities in Achin district of the province. One of them says they had been told in Pakistan to do jihad in Afghanistan. The provincial governor says they will hand them over to Pakistan.
- Afghan MPs failed to elect the parliament speaker today. Next round of the election will be held on Saturday.
- Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) secretariat, Mohammad Omar Daudzai, is in India. He is to hold talks with high-ranking Indian officials over the Afghan peace process.
- Afghanistan sends commercial goods to Azerbaijan through Lapis Lazuli transit route. Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) says it has exported a consignment via Lajaward (Lapiz Lazuli) route to Azerbaijan. They say they will send more goods to Azerbaijan.