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Fire at Bangladesh juice factory kills 52

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2021)

At least 52 people were killed, 20 injured and many more feared trapped after a massive fire raged through a juice-making factory in Bangladesh, officials said on Friday, the latest industrial fire accident in the country.

The fire started on Thursday evening at the ground floor of a six-storey factory building in the Narayanganj district, 20 km (12 miles) southeast of the capital Dhaka, run by the private firm Hashem Food and Beverage, which is a unit of Bangladesh‘s multinational Sajeeb Group. The factory makes mango fruit drinks under the Shezan brand.

“Three people died from jumping off the building to escape the fire and 49 charred bodies have been recovered so far,” Mustain Billah, the administrator for the Narayanganj district, told Reuters by phone from the scene.

“It is still burning on the top floor. Firefighters are struggling to control it, as chemicals and flammable materials were stored inside the building.”

He said that the cause of the fire is not yet known.

“Plastics and flammable substances and chemicals all made it hard to douse the fire,” said Abdullah Al Arefin, a district fire service official, adding the severe heat from the fire caused cracks in the building.

Al Arefin said each floor in the building is about 35,000 square feet (3,250 square meters) but they were only accessible by two stairways and that many workers could not get out as the fire spread to the stairs.

One of the doors leading from the stairs to the roof was locked, he said.

“We rescued 25 people after setting a ladder to the rooftop. We could have saved more if others could reach the rooftop,” said Debashish Bardhan, deputy director of the national fire service.

Many workers were injured in trying to jump off the building’s second and third floors to escape, said Shah Alam, another district fire service official.

Officials at Hashem Foods and Sajeeb Group did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

As relatives of the missing staged protests around the factory site, a mother searching for her son, Nazma Begum, cried out, “There is no justice! Where is my son?”

Narayanganj in central Bangladesh is packed with factories making everything from jute to textiles.

Disasters because of poor fire and building safety standards are common in Bangladesh, largely in the textiles sector that employs millions and contributes the most to its economy.

Industry officials promised better safety standards after the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory building in 2012 in Dhaka that killed more than 1,000 workers and injured hundreds. But many factories inside and outside the textiles sector still fall short, leading to accidents each year.

The Narayanganj district administration has formed a five-member probe committee to examine the incident, Al Arefin said.

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ANDSF to launch offensives in north to retake fallen districts

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(Last Updated On: July 27, 2021)

The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are expected to start offensives in Balkh province and across the country to retake fallen districts and areas, said Bismillah Mohammadi, acting minister of defense on Tuesday during a trip to Balkh.

According to Mohammadi, if the Taliban think they can win militarily, they are wrong.

“Hopefully we will witness our offensives across Afghanistan and we will recapture areas one after another,” said Mohammadi.

He also praised ANDSF for their achievements in Balkh, Samangan and Herat provinces.

“It is our obligation to defend the country until our last breath. We assure people that yesterday Kaldar was recaptured and earlier one district in Herat was recaptured,” said Mohammadi.

The acting minister of defense said that people, especially youths, stand by the ANDSF to defend the country.

“When I assessed the situation in Mazar, I saw that most people who stand by ANDSF were youths. Not only in the north but in all Afghanistan, uprising forces were established to defend people,” added Mohammadi.

During his visit to Balkh, Mohammadi also met Afghan army soldiers.

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Well known Afghan comedian gunned down in Kandahar

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(Last Updated On: July 27, 2021)

A well-known local comedian, Nazar Mohammad, who was known as Khasha Jawan, was gunned down on Tuesday, allegedly by the Taliban, in Kandahar, sparking widespread condemnation.

According to sources, Khasha Jawan was assaulted by the militants before being killed.

He was allegedly then dragged out of his house, with his hands tied behind his back and his body dumped in the Dand district of Kandahar.

A video doing its rounds on social media shows the militants assaulting Khasha Jawan before killing him.

Vice President Amrullah Saleh wrote on his Facebook page that Khasha Jawan was executed by the Taliban in a “kangaroo court.”

“Footage of the moments before the execution of Khasha Jawan Kandahari in a kangaroo court shows that the Taliban does not abide by Sharia; they have no court, no law, and no humanity,” Saleh said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture and Information stated that Khasha Jawan sent out strong messages through “art and allegory” to the people.

Waheed Omer, Director General at the Office of Public and Strategic Affairs of the Afghan government, stated: “Footage of Taliban killing a bound local comedian in Kandahar is a drop [in the ocean compared to] the massacre campaign that the Taliban has waged across Afghanistan.”

“Please don’t look the other way. Raise your voice on whatever stage that you have access to. These savages are after rooting our people out,” Omer tweeted.

The Taliban, however, stated that Nazar Mohammad was a member of the Afghan security forces.

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Taliban negotiating team member’s son killed in clashes in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 27, 2021)

Anas Haqqani, a member of the Taliban’s negotiating team, confirmed Tuesday that the son of Mohammad Nabi Omari, a member of the Taliban leadership and negotiating team, was killed in a battle with government forces.

In a tweet, Haqqani confirmed the killing of Omari. But he did not give any further details.

The Afghan government also confirmed that Abdul Haq Omari, who was the deputy chief of the Taliban military wing in Paktia province, was killed in a clash with Special Forces.

Meanwhile, Shaheen 209th Military Corps claims that a Pakistani army officer Javed was killed by NDS forces.

According to the Corps, he was a serving Pakistani army officer and was leading the Taliban in Logar, Paktia, and Paktika provinces and was killed on Tuesday morning in an operation by NDS 01 unit.

The Corps also said that a commander of tactical training and head of the Taliban Red Unit in Faryab province, along with seven of his fighters was killed.

“Qari Hayatullah, known as Osama, the head of the Taliban’s red unit and commander of the Taliban’s tactical and terrorist training for Faryab province, was killed Monday afternoon in a joint operation by defense and security forces in the village of Deh Azizan in the Sabz area of Pashtun Kot district,” read the statement.

During the operation nine other members of the group were wounded, the Corps added.

The Taliban has not commented yet.

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