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Swedish Aid Group Reopens Afghan Health Centers After Taliban Threats

Ahmad Khalid Fahim, program director for the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan shows the group's website during an interview with The Associated Press in Kabul on July 17.

Afghanistan's Health Ministry says a Swedish aid group has reopened dozens of health centers it operates in the country.

The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA), which has been operating in the country for decades, said on July 17 that it had closed 42 health centers in the central province of Maidan Wardak following threats by the Taliban.

"Luckily, all the 42 health facilities that were closed in Maidan Wardak Province have resumed their normal activities today," Dr. Wahidullah Mayar, a Health Ministry spokesman, tweeted on July 19.

Khalid Fahim, a program director for SCA, told RFE/RL on July 19 that the Taliban had contacted the aid group and told them they could reopen the clinics.

The Taliban controls large swaths of Maidan Wardak, which is located west of the capital, Kabul.

Mohammad Nadir Nadiry, the head of the main hospital in the province, said the SCA closed its clinics because "health workers are frightened."

The decision followed a threat by the Taliban that came in response to a deadly night raid carried out by Afghan forces on an SCA-run clinic in Maidan Wardak that was treating Taliban fighters.

Human Rights Watch criticized Afghan special operations forces who, the group said, entered the clinic in Dai Mirdad district on the night of July 8-9, detaining staff and family members accompanying patients.

The rights group said Afghan forces "executed" a family caregiver, a lab worker, a guard, and another person caring for a patient.

A clinic run by the SCA in the province was attacked in 2016, allegedly by both international and Afghan forces. Two patients and a caretaker were killed in the incident.

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