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Car Bomb in Kabul Kills 1, Wounds 22

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(Last Updated On: March 2, 2018)

A suicide car bomber detonated his explosives-laden car in the Qabil Bay area of the capital Kabul, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said on Friday.

“At least one killed and 22 others wounded when a suicide car bomb targeted a foreign forces convoy which was passing through Police District 9,” said Nusrat Rahimi, the deputy spokesman of MoI.

Rahimi noted that civilians were among the victims, but the blast did not harm international troops.

No insurgent group has claimed the responsibility for the attack, so far.

Today’s bombing comes two days after President Ashraf Ghani offered a plan for peace talks with the Taliban, including a proposal to eventually recognize them as a political party.

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Rescue workers still digging for missing people after devastating Beirut blast

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(Last Updated On: August 6, 2020)

As foreign countries prepared to send in search teams and medical supplies, Lebanese rescue teams pulled out bodies and continued to dig for missing people through the night and into Thursday after Tuesday’s massive explosion sent a devastating blast wave across Beirut, killing at least 135.

On Wednesday, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared three days of mourning from Thursday as early investigations blamed negligence for the explosion at Beirut port, which has left a large number of people missing and more than 5,000 injured. 

Officials have also said that up to a quarter of a million people were without homes fit to live in, after shockwaves smashed building facades, sucked furniture out into streets and shattered windows miles inland.

In addition, hospitals were inundated and health officials were on Thursday appealing to the public to donate blood. 

Tuesday’s explosion was the most powerful ever in Beirut, a city still scarred by civil war that ended three decades ago and reeling from an economic meltdown and a surge in coronavirus infections. 

But countries around the world have rushed to help and so far Lebanon has received four field hospitals from Qatar, Iraq and Jordan, in addition to urgent medical assistance to help deal with the aftermath of the explosion. 

Anadolu Agency reported Qatar sent two field hospitals with a capacity of 500 beds for each, as well as Iraq and Jordan sending one field hospital each.

An Amiri Air Force aircraft carrying two field hospitals and other medical supplies reached the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut arriving from Qatar on Wednesday. 

Lebanese media reported that the country had received oil supplies to continue until the country recovers from the tragedy.

The Iraqi oil minister informed Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab that Baghdad will provide fuel assistance to Beirut and shipments of wheat will arrive on Friday – also from Iraq.

Local Lebanese media indicated that France had also sent assistance to Lebanon, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that his country would dispatch urgent assistance to Lebanon.

A Turkish military plane carrying aid and a search and rescue team arrived in Beirut early Thursday carrying medical aid and search and rescue teams. 

The aircraft was sent on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s orders.

The aircraft was carrying 21 National Medical Rescue personnel, two emergency units, three tents, medicine and medical equipment, 10 Disaster and Emergency Management (AFAD) personnel, equipment, a search and rescue vehicle, three Kizilay personnel, a search and rescue team and medical and humanitarian aid. 

Speaking to the press right before the aircraft took off, AFAD President Mehmet Gulluoglu told Anadolu Agency that Turkey is preparing to send the required support for Beirut following the blast.

He said 20 more National Medical Rescue personnel including trauma experts, surgeons, orthopedics experts and emergency medical doctors will be on their way to Beirut.

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UN Security Council condemns Daesh attack on Jalalabad prison attack

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(Last Updated On: August 6, 2020)

The UN Security Council has condemned Sunday’s attack on Jalalabad prison and said terrorism in all its forms constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. 

This comes after Daesh militants attacked the prison on Sunday evening. The siege lasted at least 18 hours and 30 people were killed. 

Daesh immediately claimed responsibility for the incident and later issued information and photographs of the 11 attackers who had been involved. Only three were reportedly Afghan. The rest were Tajiks, Indians and one Pakistani. 

In a statement issued late Wednesday by the council’s president, Dian Triansyah Djani,  the Security Council said: “The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.

“The members of the Security Council underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice, and urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Government of Afghanistan and all other relevant authorities in this regard.”

The Security Council reiterated that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed. 

They reaffirmed the need for all countries to combat, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and other obligations under international law, including international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.

The council also expressed its sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Afghan government. 

 

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Facebook launches TikTok-like product inside Instagram

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(Last Updated On: August 5, 2020)

Facebook rolled out its own version of social media rival TikTok in the United States and more than 50 other countries on Wednesday, embedding a new short-form video service called Reels as a feature within its popular Instagram app.

The debut comes days after Microsoft said it was in talks to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations from China’s ByteDance. ByteDance has agreed to divest parts of TikTok, sources have said, under pressure from the White House which has threatened to ban it and other Chinese-owned apps over data security concerns.

The launch of Reels escalates a bruising fight between Facebook and TikTok, with each casting the other as a threat. Both have been eager to attract American teenagers, many of whom have flocked to TikTok in the last two years.

Reels was first tested in Brazil in 2018 and then later in France, Germany, and India, which was TikTok’s biggest market until the Indian government banned it last month following a border clash with China. Facebook also tried out a standalone app called Lasso which did not gain much traction.

Similar to TikTok, Reels users can record short mobile-friendly vertical videos, then add special effects and soundtracks pulled from a music library.

Those similarities led TikTok Chief Executive Kevin Mayer to call Reels a “copycat product” that could coast on Instagram’s enormous existing user base after “their other copycat Lasso failed quickly.”

Facebook faced similar charges at a congressional hearing on U.S. tech companies’ alleged abuse of market power last week, with lawmakers suggesting the company has copied rivals like Snapchat for anti-competitive reasons.

Vishal Shah, Instagram’s vice president of product, acknowledged the similarities in a Tuesday video conference call with reporters and said that “inspiration for products comes from everywhere,” including Facebook’s teams and “the ecosystem more broadly.”

Instagram is not yet planning to offer advertising or other ways for users to make money through Reels, although it did recruit young online stars like dancer Merrick Hanna and musician Tiagz – who was recently signed by Sony/ATV after rising to fame via TikTok memes – to test the product ahead of launch.

The company paid the creators for production costs, Shah said.

Joe Gagliese, chief executive of influencer marketing agency Viral Nation, said Reels was poised to mimic Instagram’s success with Stories, a product modeled on Snapchat’s core offering.

“They’re a huge monstrous threat [to TikTok],” he said. “The current turmoil couldn’t be playing more into [Instagram’s] court to launch this thing.”

Source: Reuters

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