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World Still no justice a year after Afghan hospital massacre

09:40  12 may  2021
09:40  12 may  2021 Source:   afp.com

Taliban, Afghan forces clash as US hands over base

  Taliban, Afghan forces clash as US hands over base Fighting between Afghan government forces and the Taliban has left more than 100 insurgents dead in the past 24 hours, the defence ministry said Sunday as it took control of a US military base in a restive province. The US military handed over Camp Antonik in the southern Helmand province to Afghan forces, a day after it formally began withdrawing its remaining troops from the country. The Taliban and government forces clashed across several provinces, the ministry said, including in the former insurgent bastion of Kandahar where the US military carried out a "precision strike" on Saturday as it began the final troop pullout.

Last year 's massacre in Kandahar by a US soldier is far from forgotten. The families of the victims continue to demand justice and observers fear there could be an uprising. Samiullah cannot forget how the members of his family lay there in a pool of blood. The images continue to give him nightmares a year later. The incident caused an outrage. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the US government promised a quick investigation. Bales has been charged with 16 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of assault and attempted murder. He is currently being held in a military prison in Kansas.

No justice for Farkhunda means no justice for all Afghan women who are victims of violence. It is long past due for a rectification of Afghanistan 's laws protecting women. On the day she died, Farkhunda had no protection from the state or those around her. The struggle to achieve justice for her has become a sign of the struggle to protect the rights of women throughout Afghanistan . Like many Afghan activists, I have spent the last year attending protests and writing about and working with local organizations to advocate for justice for Farkhunda.

It has been a year since Atiqullah Tanha's wife was murdered during a cold-blooded killing spree at a Kabul maternity ward, leaving their twin daughters motherless.

a small child sitting on a bed: The 2020 attack left Atiqullah Tanha's twin daughters motherless © Wakil KOHSAR The 2020 attack left Atiqullah Tanha's twin daughters motherless

"They cry a lot at night," Tanha told AFP, saying the children are frequently unwell.

"The doctor says mother's milk would have helped prevent most of the health issues."

Even in a war-weary nation already deeply scarred by decades of conflict, the massacre of 16 mothers and mothers-to-be in western Kabul's Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood caused horror.

Afghanistan Ambassador Fears for Women Under Taliban as U.S. Troops Leave

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^ " Afghan Massacre : After Losing Homes in NATO Attacks, Victims Moved Near U.S. Base Hoping for Safety". "Calls for justice follow deaths of Afghan civilians". The Washington Post. The Boston Globe. " After Afghan massacre , how deep are the wounds?". USA Today. 12 March 2012.

But seventeen years and almost trillion later, the country is still in turmoil as the Taliban maintains its grip on almost 60 percent of the country, the most territory it has controlled since 2001. In October, the U.N. said Afghan civilian deaths were the highest since 2014: from January to September But activists say his administration has failed to take responsibility for clear backslides in women’s rights. In 2015, 27- year -old Farkhunda Malikzada was beaten to death by a mob in Kabul after being falsely accused of burning the Quran. The government did little to mete out justice and ignored demands for

a man sitting on a bed: Akram Muradi (left) had just left the maternity ward after his wife gave birth to their daughter, Maryam (right), when he received a call that the facility was under attack © Wakil KOHSAR Akram Muradi (left) had just left the maternity ward after his wife gave birth to their daughter, Maryam (right), when he received a call that the facility was under attack

International groups issued bold statements of condemnation, while Afghan politicians decried the violence and promised justice, though the assault -- which killed 25 in total -- went unclaimed.

But, like with most attacks in Afghanistan, there was little to no follow-up.

Only on Saturday, a series of bombs targeting a school in the same neighbourhood -- which is largely populated by Shiite Hazaras -- killed more than 50 people, most of them schoolgirls.

Few expect authorities to track down the perpetrators of the latest carnage -- or prevent similar massacres in the future.

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image captionAn Afghan soldier cradles a baby in his arms after the attack in Kabul. Two babies and 12 mothers and nurses were killed in a militant attack on a hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday morning. Another 15 people, including a number of children, were injured in the attack by several gunmen, officials said. A maternity ward in the hospital is run by the international medical charity Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) and some of those working there are foreigners. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the attack on the hospital "sheer evil" and an "unconscionable assault".

At least 40 civilians attending a wedding were killed Sunday night when Afghan military forces struck against a Taliban hideout in the building adjacent to the ceremony.

And those fears are rising as Washington and NATO accelerate the withdrawal of their troops, leaving Afghan government forces to fend for themselves and protect the vulnerable population.

a group of people walking down the street: Last year's brazen attack at the Kabul maternity ward caused horror © STR Last year's brazen attack at the Kabul maternity ward caused horror

Still, many had hoped the sheer savagery of last year's attack would finally usher in change.

- Giving birth in hiding -

That May 12, three gunmen rampaged through the hospital, shooting mothers in their beds and forcing many pregnant women to hide in safe rooms, where one gave birth.

One infant, just hours after being delivered, was shot in the leg, but survived.

In the immediate aftermath several women volunteered to help.

"Being a mother myself I feel their pain," said Ghazal Sharifi, a lecturer, who along with her friends collects aid for the babies.

"No one is like their (real) mother... but we still have several women going to their houses to feed them."

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The Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen in flames, after an explosion in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, on Saturday. In a statement released by the White House, President Barack Obama offered his ‘deepest condolences’ for the ‘tragic incident’ - and promised a full investigation will take place. ‘The Department of Defense has launched a full investigation and we will await the results of that inquiry before making a definitive judgement as to the circumstances of this tragedy,’ he said. Meanwhile, Reuters reported Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s reticence since the strike shows his reliance on

Afghan men bury a victim of the bombings at a cemetery west of Kabul on Sunday. Photograph: Mariam Zuhaib/AP. “We buried 37 bodies in one cemetery alone - all were female students, many wearing their black and white school uniform,” said Sharif Watandoost, a member of a volunteer group helping Ali Doosti, a college student who lives in west Kabul, spent Saturday going from hospital to hospital looking for a friend’s sister who had not returned from school. “There were people coming to hospital after hospital , looking for their loved ones as dead bodies and injured girls were arriving in

Weeks after the attack, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), an international medical charity that managed the ward, pulled out of the facility.

a man sitting on a bed: Akram Muradi with the newborn Maryam after last year's attack © WAKIL KOHSAR Akram Muradi with the newborn Maryam after last year's attack

"The assailants have also left women and babies without access to essential medical care," said Isabelle Defourny, MSF's director of operations.

The Afghan government has continued to blame the Taliban, but interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian says no arrests were ever made.

The US, however, pinned the blame on the Islamic State group.

"No evidence was publicly brought to support those claims," Defourny told AFP.

"Since then, MSF only received oral information that an Afghan investigation into the attack is ongoing," she said.

- Little hope for justice -

Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict as the US and international troops withdraw.

And there is little confidence that the already battered Afghan security forces will be able to turn the war's tide, as peace talks between the Taliban and the Kabul government stall.

Death toll rises to 50 from blasts near Afghan girls school

  Death toll rises to 50 from blasts near Afghan girls school The death toll from bombs planted outside a girls' school in an area of the Afghan capital populated largely by Shiite Hazaras rose to 50 Sunday as the Taliban denied government accusations that they were behind the bloody attack. The Saturday's blasts -- the deadliest in more than a year -- rocked the west Kabul district of Dasht-e-Barchi, a regular target of Sunni Islamist militants. It comes as the United States military continues to pull out its last 2,500 troops from the violence-wracked country despite faltering peace efforts between the Taliban and Afghan government to end a decades-long war.

There is also little hope that the brutality will be met with justice.

"One thing that's clear is that the Afghan government hasn't been doing a very credible job of investigating previous attacks," Heather Barr, co-director of the women's rights division at Human Rights Watch, told AFP days after the school blasts.

"(They should) really try and figure out who did this and hold them accountable."

Tanha and his family are still coming to terms with the tragedy.

"My elder daughter Zakia asks for her mother the most," he said as the twins played in his lap.

A year on, Dasht-e-Barchi resident Akram Muradi still cannot comprehend the events of that day.

He had just left the maternity ward after his wife gave birth to their daughter, Maryam, when he received a call that the facility was under attack.

"Nobody would believe somebody would attack such a place and massacre mothers who are giving birth," he said.

He rushed back, hoping to find his wife, frantically calling her mobile phone before hearing the ringtone coming from a nearby body bag.

"It was the saddest moment of my life," said Muradi.

Muradi still bristles at the government's failure to find those responsible.

"I have no hope they will be found," he said.

"I'm now looking for a way to take my children out of the country... I have lost all hope for Afghanistan."

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Afghanistan: mortal explosion in a mosque, the cease-fire flashes .
© supplied by the point U Explosion has made at least 12 deaths in a mosque in the suburbs of Kabul, navalizing the cease- Provisional Le-Fire of Eid el-Fitr, shortly after the American withdrawal of Kandahar's air base, one of the largest Afghanistan . The attack occurred during Friday prayers, alleging victims about fifteen wounded among the faithful, according to the police.

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