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Campbell: Afghan Islamic State loyalists growing

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(Last Updated On: December 16, 2015)

1024x1024Supporters of the Islamic State group in Afghanistan are attempting to establish a regional base in the eastern city of Jalalabad, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, said on Tuesday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Campbell said that “foreign fighters” from Syria and Iraq had joined Afghans who had declared loyalty to the group in the eastern province of Nangarhar, bordering Pakistan.

He said there were also “indications” that the IS supporters in Nangarhar were trying to consolidate links with the group’s leadership in Syria and Iraq.

The Islamic State group controls large regions of Iraq and Syria. Fighters loyal to the group in Afghanistan include disaffected Afghan and Pakistani Taliban who have fought fierce battles with the Taliban in recent months.

Afghan officials have said that IS supporters control a number of border districts in Nangarhar and have a presence in some other southern provinces, including Zabul and Ghazni.

Until now, however, it was unclear whether loyalists in Afghanistan had institutional links to the group’s leadership.

Many of those who had declared allegiance to IS were “disenfranchised Taliban” from both sides of the border, Campbell said. But, he added, “they’ve been reaching out. I’m sure there are folks who have come from Syria and Iraq – I couldn’t tell you how many but there are indications of some foreign fighters coming in there.

“But they don’t have the capability right now to attack Europe, or attack the homeland, the United States. But that’s what they want to do, they’ve said that’s what they want to do,” he said.

During the summer months, Taliban and IS loyalists fought fierce battles in the far eastern districts of Nangarhar, with residents reporting a range of atrocities, including arbitrary imprisonment, forced marriages for young women, and beheadings.

Written by: The Associated Press

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Afghanistan records highest Coronavirus death toll in single day

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(Last Updated On: June 5, 2020)

Nine people have died of Coronavirus in Afghanistan in the past 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry.

In a statement released on Friday, the ministry said that three people in Balkh, two in Herat, two in Samangan, and two others in Kunduz lost life after suffering COVID-19.

According to the statement, 915 people were tested positive for the Coronavirus in the past 24 hours.

The cases were registered as follow: 423 in Kabul, 201 in Herat, 116 in Balkh, 29 in Kunduz, 23 in Kunar, 21 in Kandahar, 21 in Farah, 21 in Sar-e-Pul, 20 in Helmand, 15 in Samangan, 11 in Paktia, 7 in Nangarhar, 4 in Maidan Wardak, and three in Laghman, the statement said.

It brings the total affected people to 18,969 in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, 178 people have recovered and fully discharged from the hospitals, bringing the total recoveries to 1,763, the ministry added.

So far, 309 people have died of the virus since its first case was detected in western Herat province.

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Facebook labels state-controlled media outlets

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(Last Updated On: June 5, 2020)

Facebook – a social media giant – said Thursday that it would start labeling state-controlled media outlets on Facebook.

Facebook would reportedly add labels to the Facebook pages of Russia Today, Russia’s Sputnik, China’s Xinhua News, Iran’s Press TV, and the People’s Daily, among others, saying that these were state-controlled outlets.

The Company said in a statement, “We’re providing greater transparency into these publishers because they combine the influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state, and we believe people should know if the news they read is coming from a publication that may be under the influence of a government.”

The giant tech company would also block state-controlled media outlets from buying advertising in the US this summer ahead of the US presidential election in November without setting an exact date.

“State-controlled media outlets rarely advertise in the US. Nevertheless, later this summer we will begin blocking ads from these outlets in the US out of an abundance of caution to provide an extra layer of protection against various types of foreign influence in the public debate ahead of the November 2020 election in the US,” Facebook said.

Other outlets that are run independently, would not be included in the labeling, Facebook said.

It comes as the company has recently faced a backlash from its employees for not adding warning labels to comments from the U.S. president linked to the ongoing violence across the country.

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Dr. Ayaz Niazi laid to rest in Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque

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(Last Updated On: June 4, 2020)

The lifeless body of Dr. Ayaz Niazi, a prominent religious scholar, was laid to rest in a special ceremony at the Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque, Kabul.

Niazi died after receiving severe injuries in an IED explosion at the mosque on Tuesday evening.

The Acting Minister of Hajj and Religious Affairs says that there is no justification for the attack, and that ulema (religious scholars) should unite to stop such crimes.

It should be noted that Dr. Aaz Niazi was one of the prominent religious figures who held two master’s degrees from Al-Azhar University in Egypt.

The Acting Minister of Hajj and Religious Affairs, Abdul Hakim Munib, said, “There is no justification for this attack. With these attacks, the enemies of the country will never be able to stop the religious activities of scholars. They will try even more to raise awareness based on Islamic studies.”

At the same time, a number of religious scholars have condemned the incident, warning that if the government fails to identify the perpetrators of the attack on Dr. Ayaz, they will go on widespread protests.

“We have set a ten-day deadline for the government to identify the perpetrators of this case, otherwise we will protest,” said Abdul Qadir Qanet, a religious scholar.

“This must stop. We hope the government takes action to prevent the assassinations of religious scholars,” said Fazl Hadi Wazin, a university professor.

Although the Taliban have denied involvement in the attack and considered it a crime, the First Vice President, Amrullah Saleh, says on his Facebook account that the Taliban cannot acquit itself by writing a sentence of denial, adding that mostly those religious scholars are being targeted who are not graduated from Pakistani schools.

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