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A sombre day as Taliban takeover remembered

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(Last Updated On: September 27, 2020)

Sunday, September 27, marked the 26th anniversary of the takeover by the Taliban of Afghanistan – a day they entered Kabul city flying their white flags, abruptly ending the Burhanuddin Rabbani government. 

From 1996 to 2001 the Taliban controlled roughly three quarters of Afghanistan, enforced a strict interpretation of Sharia law and imposed a totalitarian Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – even transferring the country’s capital from Kabul to Kandahar. 

During their regime, the Taliban were condemned internationally for the harsh enforcement of their interpretation of Sharia law which resulted in the brutal treatment of ethnic minorities and especially women. 

They also denied basic access for aid organizations – including the UN – banned hobbies, music and activities including kite flying and would not allow women to work or girls to be educated –  while men were prohibited from shaving their beards. 

In 2001, after the 9/11 attacks in the US, the Taliban was overthrown by the American military but the group later resurfaced as an insurgent movement and has waged war with the US and the Afghan government ever since. 

Today – 26 years later – the Taliban is at the peace talks tables with a representative negotiating team from Afghanistan and all hopes are pinned on an eventual peace deal that will bring peace to the country – but a deal that will be acceptable to both sides and to all Afghan citizens – women and ethnic minorities included. 

 

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Brazilian volunteer in COVID-19 vaccine trial dies 

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2020)

Brazilian health authority Anvisa confirmed a volunteer in a clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University had died but said the trial would continue.

Oxford confirmed the plan to keep testing, saying in a statement that after careful assessment “there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial,” Reuters reported.

A source told Reuters the trial would have been suspended if the volunteer who died had received the COVID-19 vaccine, suggesting the person was part of the control group that was given a meningitis vaccination.

The Federal University of Sao Paulo, which confirmed the volunteer was Brazilian, said a review committee had suggested the trial continue. 

The university is helping to coordinate phase 3 clinical trials in Brazil.

 

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Saleh rejects claims of civilians killed in Takhar airstrike

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2020)

First Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Thursday rejected claims of civilian casualties, including children, following an airstrike in Takhar province on Wednesday night. 

In a message on Facebook, Saleh said: “The news of the killing of children in the mosque in Takhar is baseless.”

Referring to Tuesday night’s attack by the Taliban in the same province – which left more than 50 Afghan national security force members dead – Saleh said: “Those who buried our forces yesterday have been destroyed and we have undeniable proof.”

Earlier, security sources stated at least 12 people were killed and 14 wounded in the airstrike which they stated had targeted a mosque in Taloqan city.

Security sources said among the victims were children and the mosque’s imam.

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Two Romanian soldiers wounded in Kandahar IED explosion

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2020)

Two Romanian soldiers were wounded on Wednesday evening when the vehicle they were patrolling in hit an improvised explosive device (IED) in Kandahar. 

In a Twitter post on Thursday, NATO’s Resolute Support mission stated: “On 21 Oct, a NATO Ground Defense Area patrol in Kandahar Province struck an IED injuring two Romanian soldiers. Coalition forces regularly conduct GDA patrols in the immediate areas surrounding bases.”

The Romanian Defense Ministry said a convoy of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles had been on patrol.

“The Romanian military was traveling with a convoy of MRAP vehicles in the Kandahar region. The explosive device went off when the last vehicle in the column passed. Sergeant Adrian Ioan Czifrak and Second Class Corporal Iosif Ioan Reman were injured as a result of the explosion,” the ministry reported.

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