UK begins inquiry into alleged SAS extrajudicial killings in Afghanistan

Lord Justice Haddon-Cave issues call for evidence, saying it is critical law-breakers be referred to authorities

A judge investigating allegations of more than 50 summary killings by SAS soldiers in Afghanistan has issued a call for anyone with evidence to come forward, saying it was critical that law-breakers be referred to authorities.

Launching his independent inquiry, Lord Justice Haddon-Cave said he was “very hopeful” there would be “full cooperation” with his work, which he said was ultimately about restoring the reputation of the military and “moral authority”.

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MoD apologises for asking Afghans to get Taliban’s approval to come to UK

Citizens who worked with British government or helped army told to get necessary documents stamped by the authorities

The Ministry of Defence has apologised after an investigation found Afghan applicants to a resettlement scheme were told they could only come to the UK if their documents were approved by the Taliban.

The Independent revealed that the mistake affected applicants to the Afghan relocations and assistance policy scheme (Arap), which aims to relocate Afghan citizens who worked with the UK government or helped its armed forces in Afghanistan. The MoD decides which applicants – who may apply with their families – are eligible for relocation to Britain.

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Taliban governor known for fighting Islamic State killed in suicide attack

Mohammad Dawood Muzammil one of the highest-ranking figures killed as Afghan security situation deteriorates

The Taliban governor of Afghanistan’s Balkh province, known for fighting Islamic State (IS) jihadists, was killed in a suicide attack at his office on Thursday, officials said.

The killing, a day after he met top government officials visiting from Kabul, makes Mohammad Dawood Muzammil one of the highest-ranking figures killed since the Taliban stormed back to power in 2021.

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Pakistan crackdown on Afghan refugees leaves ‘four dead’ and thousands in cells

Asylum seekers in Karachi tell of terror of being sent back to the Taliban and despair at being shackled and held in Pakistani jails

Refugees are reportedly dying in Pakistani prisons, and children are being arrested and tied together with ropes, as a wave of detentions and deportations spreads fearamong the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have crossed the border since the Taliban took power.

According to lawyers representing Afghans in detention, at least four people have died in custody, and thousands more, including children, are being held in prisons as Pakistan hardens its stance against Afghan citizens.

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Farzana survived rape, addiction and losing her children. Then the Taliban came – now she is missing

Exiled Afghan psychologist Mariam is desperately trying to trace 15 domestic abuse survivors she was helping before the Taliban seized control

For more than a year, Mariam*, an Afghan psychologist, has been trying to trace Farzana* and 14 other female survivors of domestic violence, whom she was counselling before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

After the takeover in August 2021, the organisation Mariam worked for was forced to close its offices, and many of her colleagues fled the country. But Mariam, who went into hiding and is now living in exile, continued to run a small operation discreetly, providing psychological support to vulnerable women, young people and mental health patients. “But there are 15 women who are untraceable. I have no idea where they are,” she says.

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Pakistani Taliban launch attack on Karachi police HQ killing at least three – video

At least three people were killed and a further 18 injured after members of the proscribed Pakistani Taliban (TTP), launched an attack on Karachi's police HQ. Karachi is Pakistan’s main commercial hub, with a population of close to 20 million people. Gunshots could be heard echoing for several hours as police worked to clear members of the TTP from the police station. Two of the three men were eventually killed and one blew himself up, as security forces regained control of the building. 

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At least four killed as Pakistani Taliban militants storm police HQ in Karachi

Officials say three attackers also dead as police and paramilitary forces clear building in gun battle

Militants launched a deadly suicide attack on the police headquarters of Pakistan’s largest city on Friday, with the sound of gunfire and explosions rocking the heart of Karachi for several hours.

Two police officers, a ranger and a civilian were killed and 14 others wounded, said Murtaza Wahab, a government spokesman in Sindh province, where Karachi is located. Two suicide bombers were killed and at least one blew himself up after entering the police building, officials said.

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Taliban bans contraception calling use a ‘western conspiracy’

Reports that fighters have threatened those issuing birth control medicines come as Afghan midwives and activists warn of impact on women’s health and rights

Taliban fighters have stopped the sale of contraceptives in two of Afghanistan’s main cities, claiming their use by women is a western conspiracy to control the Muslim population.

The Guardian has learned that the Taliban has been going door to door, threatening midwives and ordering pharmacies to clear their shelves of all birth control medicines and devices.

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‘No escape’ for Afghan girls forced out of education and into early marriage

As the Taliban denies women access to any schooling, there has been a rise in students being married off to ease family poverty

It is six weeks since the Taliban closed the door on girls’ education across Afghanistan and Zeina’s last vestiges of hope for her future died.

A very different kind of life now lies ahead for the 20-year-old, a life of domestic drudgery, boredom and seclusion that she has no power to change.

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General Pervez Musharraf obituary

Former president of Pakistan who supported the US in its war on terror and was hailed as George Bush’s ‘best buddy’

Of all Pakistan’s assorted mixture of leaders since independence, none so divided opinion at home and abroad as General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in October 1999.

Vilified and praised in equal measure, Musharraf, who has died aged 79, left a legacy that is certain to compound the uncertainties that have dogged Pakistan since its creation in 1947. For many of his critics, the general was typical of the country’s long line of ruthless military dictators, who appeased Islamic militants in an effort to clip the ambitions of secular parties opposed to military rule.

For others he represented a man of vision, who offered Pakistan the best hope of restoring its image as a beacon of, as he described it, “enlightened moderation”, and an example of a Muslim state at ease with the demands of modernity.

It was, however, beyond the borders of his own country that Musharraf enjoyed his greatest acclaim. In the US he was hailed as President George W Bush’s “best buddy”, and indeed it was to the Bush administration that Musharraf owed his rehabilitation as the respected four-star general who at a stroke helped elevate Pakistan from a “rogue” state peddling nuclear technology on the international black market to a pivotal “frontline” state in the “war on terror”.

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North-west Pakistan in grip of deadly Taliban resurgence

Misguided government efforts to rehabilitate militants have helped fuel recent terrorist activity

The bomber struck shortly before afternoon prayers, when the mosque in Peshawar’s bustling Police Lines district would be at its busiest. Hundreds of people, including many police officers, were inside as the device detonated, creating a blast so strong the roof and wall collapsed and 92 people were killed.

The attack on Monday was among the worst in years to hit Peshawar, a city in north-west Pakistan that has been ravaged relentlessly by deadly terrorist violence over decades. Hours after the attack, responsibility was claimed by a low-level commander from one faction of the Pakistan Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as revenge for the death of a fighter in Afghanistan.

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Former Afghan MP Mursal Nabizada shot dead in Kabul

Bodyguard also killed at home of one of few female parliamentarians who stayed in Kabul after Taliban takeover

A former Afghan MP and her bodyguard have been shot dead by unknown assailants at her home in the capital, Kabul, police have said.

Mursal Nabizada was among the few female parliamentarians who stayed in Kabul after the Taliban seized power in August 2021. It is the first time an MP from the previous administration has been killed in the city since the takeover.

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One Afghan refugee’s stunning photographs of the country’s ‘many stories that need to be told’

When Hazara photographer Muzafar Ali fled, he smuggled a hard drive of 13,000 photos out with him in a sleeping bag. They show an Afghanistan that disappeared when the Taliban took power

Muzafar Ali, who lives in Adelaide, grew up as a refugee in Pakistan after his family fled Afghanistan in the mid-1980s. As a child, the only pictures he saw of his birth country were through Taliban-issued jihadi calendars and the occasional news report.

Ali is Hazara, a long-persecuted ethnic group who faced extreme violence from the Taliban after the Soviet Union left Afghanistan in 1989.

“This man was using a box camera to be photographed, which Afghan people still relied on then. I shot this picture in 2006 when this village was secure and peaceful but later this village fell to the Taliban and it was impossible to visit.”

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British Council workers ‘hunted’ in Afghanistan allowed to come to UK

Contractors forced to move between safe houses given green light to leave but others remain in the country

Nearly 100 British Council contractors forced to live in hiding since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan have been given the green light to come to the UK.

After 18 months of moving between safe houses while they were “hunted” by soldiers of the new regime, about half the contractors who worked for the council had their final security checks signed off.

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If Harry sounds callous about killing, he is. All of us who served were – at least he knows why | Joe Glenton

The prince’s comments about Afghan war deaths have caused a furore, but he was a decent officer, I’m told, and much of what he says is true

As a former soldier, I’ve followed Prince Harry’s career with a mix of ironic and genuine interest. We served at similar times and in the same war. Friends who worked alongside him in the Household Cavalry and Army Air Corps reflect that he was a decent, rather laddish officer who did his job – which is about the highest accolade available to anyone who went to Sandhurst.

I’m an avowed republican and make no secret of it. I was a republican when I took the oath to the monarch required to join the military and I’ve never wavered from that first political commitment. The army was a refuge from drudgery, not an expression of my politics. What I have gleaned from Harry over the years is that The Mob – the army he was preordained to join – may have ended up as a sort of refuge for him too: in his case as a shield from the withering press scrutiny that seems to have shaped his life, rather than from cycles of precarious work and poverty.

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