Rocket Attack On Afghan Capital As President Performs Eid Prayers

Afghan security personnel stand guard near a charred vehicle from which rockets were fired that landed near the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul on July 20, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

 

At least three rockets landed near the Afghan presidential palace on Tuesday as Ashraf Ghani and a group of other leaders marked the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha with prayers in the garden.

Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, it was the first rocket attack on Kabul since the Taliban launched a series of offensives to coincide with the final drawdown of foreign troops from the war-wracked country.

The early morning holiday calm was shattered by the sound of incoming rockets heard across the heavily fortified Green Zone that houses the presidential palace and several embassies, including the US mission.

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In a video posted on the official palace Facebook page, dozens of men can be seen continuing with their prayers even as the rockets are heard overhead and exploding nearby.

President Ghani, dressed in traditional Afghan clothing and a turban, stands at the front and appears to not even flinch as the crowd bows together.

“The Taliban have proved that they have no will and intention for peace,” he said in a speech afterwards.

Interior ministry spokesman Mirwais Stanikzai said three rockets appeared to have been fired from a pickup truck. One did not detonate, he said.

“Based on our initial information, we have no casualties,” he added.

The palace was attacked last year as hundreds of people gathered to watch Ghani’s inauguration ceremony, prompting some to flee.

The jihadist Islamic State group (IS) claimed responsibility for that attack, with no reports of casualties.

Tuesday’s attack coincides with a sweeping Taliban offensive across the country as foreign forces wind up a troop withdrawal scheduled to be complete by August 31.

It also comes a day after more than a dozen diplomatic missions in Kabul called for “an urgent end” to the insurgents’ ruthless military offensive, saying it was at odds with claims they want to secure a political deal to end the conflict.

The statement follows another round of inconclusive talks in Doha over the weekend between the Afghan government and the Taliban that many hoped would kickstart the ailing peace process.

 

– Little progress –

“The Taliban’s offensive is in direct contradiction to their claim to support a negotiated settlement,” the statement read.

“It has resulted in loss of innocent Afghan lives, including through continued targeted killings, displacement of the civilian population, looting and burning of buildings, destruction of vital infrastructure, and damage to communication networks.”

For months, the two sides have been meeting on and off in the Qatari capital but have achieved little, with talks appearing to have lost momentum as the militants make battlefield gains.

A joint statement late Sunday said they had agreed on the need to reach a “just solution”, and to meet again next week.

“We also agreed that there should be no pause in the negotiations,” Abdullah Abdullah, who oversees the Afghan government’s delegation, told AFP on Monday.

He noted, however, that neither side was currently pursuing a joint ceasefire during the talks, despite urgent calls from Afghan civil society and the international community to end the fighting.

The Taliban and government have previously announced ceasefires during some religious holidays.

Following the weekend summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his administration hoped to start talks with the Taliban over the group’s refusal to let Ankara run the Kabul airport after US troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

Turkey has been negotiating with US defence officials over an offer to secure the airport, which is key to allowing countries to retain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan after the troop withdrawal.

Last week, the Taliban called Turkey’s offer “reprehensible”.

Fighting, meanwhile, continued in Afghanistan, with both the Taliban and government claiming gains in various parts of the country.

Over the weekend, the Taliban’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada said he “strenuously favours” a political settlement — even as the hardline Islamist movement continues its offensives.

The Taliban has been capturing districts, seizing border crossings and encircling provincial capitals as foreign forces prepare to fully exit by late August.

In Washington, the State Department said that some 700 interpreters and their immediate family members who are fleeing Afghanistan will be relocated to an army base in the state of Virginia.

AFP

President Buhari, Family Observe Eid Prayers At Home

President Muhammadu Buhari and his family members at home.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari and his family members on Sunday morning observed the Eid-el-Fitr prayers at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The prayers were held at the villa with members of the first family including the First Lady Aisha; their son Yusuf, and other children in attendance.

President Buhari observed the Eid prayers at home this year, as against the usual tradition of going to prayer grounds, in line with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) directive against mass gathering to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

READ ALSO: Eid-El-Fitr: Keep Your Spirits Up In Spite Of COVID-19, Buhari Tells Muslims

At the end of the prayers, he urged Nigerians to observe health advisories, noting that these measures will help in curtailing the spread of the virus.

The presidency had earlier on Saturday announced that President Buhari will be observing Eid prayers at home.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, while making the announcement said the President’s decision to pray at home is also in line with the directive of the Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III which suspended all congregational prayers.

“This is also in line with the directive of the Sultan of Sokoto & President General of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III suspending Eid congregational prayers across the country as well as the protocol against mass gathering issued by the PTF on COVID-19.

“Further to this, the President who has traditionally shared the joyous moment with top government officials, political leaders, community heads, Muslim and Christian leaders and children, will not be receiving these homages in a bid to stop the coronavirus from further spreading,” Shehu said.

This year’s Edi-el-Fitri is being held amid Coronavirus pandemic which has caused thousands of death globally and hundreds of fatality in Nigeria.

See below photos of President Buhari observing Eid with his family at home:

Syria Bans Public Prayers During Eid

File photo of a mosque in the Iranian capital Tehran’s Shemiran district. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)

 

Syria will not hold public prayers during Eid al-Fitr holidays at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, authorities announced Monday, mirroring restrictions in Egypt and Algeria.

Inviting the faithful to pray at home with family, Damascus announced “the suspension of collective prayer in mosques for Eid,” state news agency SANA reported.

The decision by the legal committee of the ministry of religious endowments was aimed at restricting the spread of the new coronavirus.

Damascus has reported 58 cases and three deaths from the COVID-19 respiratory disease in areas of Syria under government control.

Eid al-Fitr is traditionally celebrated by morning prayers in mosques, family visits and large public gatherings.

On May 14, Syrian authorities banned public assemblies during the religious holiday, including at fairs popular with children, and imposed a nighttime curfew from 7.30 pm.

Egypt plans to tighten its curfew during Eid to combat the spread of the virus, as businesses and public transport remain closed.

Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s leading institution in Cairo, has authorised the suspension of mass prayers at mosques.

Algeria has also ordered specific virus control measures during Eid al-Fitr.

AFP

Those Who Planned To Kill Buhari Are Sons Of Devil – Jonathan

Jonathan AgbadaThose who planned to kill General Buhari and Dahiru Bauchi are sons of the devil who wanted to plunge the whole nation into chaos.

Those were the words of President Goodluck Jonathan while receiving Vice President Namadi Sambo and other Muslim faithful who were in his residence to pay him the traditional Salah homage after the Ramadan fast.

Muslim faithful, started arriving the residence immediately after the Eid prayers, with those living in the Federal Capital Territory led by the Vice President. The President, clad in white agbada joined the visitors in the living room, welcoming everyone with warm handshakes.

Vice President Sambo expressed appreciation to the President for participating in the one month fast. He prayed that Allah would grant the President wisdom to lead Nigeria and that the country would overcome the crisis bedevilling it, and enjoy the transformation going on in its polity.

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, who joined the Vice President to lead the group, described the courtesy call as a tradition, especially following the President’s humane disposition, a character that has endeared him to many.

President Jonathan, while thanking his special guests, condemned the Kano attacks and others in the country and pleaded with Nigerians, especially Muslim clerics and other men of God, to pray for the country. He wondered where Nigeria could have been if the two prominent Nigerians were killed in the Kano attack, saying that the country could have been in turmoil.

He thanked Allah for saving their lives and preventing a major calamity that would have befallen the country.

He added that only a collective effort by Nigerians and support for the Government could bring the excesses of Boko Haram to an end.

More prayers were offered to Allah as the living room got filled up to its brim with guests, some of them in Government and many others, friends of the President.

A Salah greetings card and other gifts were presented to the President as he looks forward to getting huge support and contributions from Nigerians at the launch of the Victims Support Fund scheduled for Thursday.

It is expected that money from the launch would be used to cushion the effect of terror, while security personnel make extra effort to bring it to an end.