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Fuel tanker explosions on Afghan-Iran border spotted from space

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(Last Updated On: February 14, 2021)
Two explosions of fuel tankers at the Islam Qala border crossing between Afghanistan’s western province of Herat and Iran were powerful enough to be spotted from space by NASA satellites on Saturday afternoon. 
 
One of the explosions happened at about 1.10pm Afghanistan time and the other about half an hour later at 1.42pm local time. 
 
According to local officials the fire started at about midday when a fuel tanker exploded at the customs facility at the border crossing. 
 
This caused a massive fire that consumed more than 500 trucks carrying natural gas and fuel, sources and Iranian state media indicated. 
 
Younus Qazizada, the head of the Herat Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said the fire had caused millions of dollars in damage. “Preliminary investigations show that more than $50 million of damage has been caused by the fire so far,” he said.
 
The Islam Qala border crossing is around 120km west of the city of Herat, and is a major transit route between Afghanistan and Iran.
 
The US allows Afghanistan to import fuel and oil from Iran as part of a special concession that exempts Kabul from US sanctions against Iran. 
 
It wasn’t clear early Sunday what caused the blast but officials said the fire was being investigated. The exact number of casualties was also not known although at least a dozen people had been taken to hospitals on Saturday night for injuries sustained in the fire. 
 
Wahid Qatali, Herat’s provincial governor, told The Associated Press on Saturday night: “For the time being, we can’t even talk about the casualties.”
 
The intensity of the flames meant ambulances were having trouble reaching the wounded or getting close to the site of the blast, said Mohammad Rafiq Shirzy, spokesman for the regional hospital in Herat city. 

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Bayat Foundation steps in to help at-risk families in Maidan Wardak province

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(Last Updated On: January 20, 2022)

Bayat Foundation officials said Friday they have sent in a huge consignment of food aid to Maidan Wardak province to help hundreds of needy families.

According to officials, the aid includes flour, rice and oil, which they have started distributing to deserving families in the province.

“In continuation of the Bayat Foundation aid campaign, which sees us distribute aid every winter, today we had a program in Maidan Wardak province to distribute to deserving people. The aid included flour, rice and oil. The aid will be distributed in other provinces also,” said Haji Mohammad Ismail, deputy head of Bayat Foundation.

Recipients of the food parcels welcomed the initiative and called on other charity organizations to help families in need.

“This winter, many people are in need [of aid]; they assisted us, we are grateful. We want them to help us again [in the future],” said one Maidan Wardak recipient.

“Our people are in need. No one has helped them so far. We are grateful to Bayat Foundation that helped us during this difficult time,” said another recipient.

“We are very grateful, because they helped us. We want them to continue their aid so we can survive this difficult situation,” said another resident of Wardak.

Each year, Bayat Foundation carries out a winter campaign, providing needy people with food. This winter, however, the foundation has ramped up efforts to reach as many Afghans as possible across the country amid the ongoing economic crisis.

Already thousands of desperate families have received food parcels from Bayat Foundation in over a dozen provinces in the country.

Food parcels are given to only the most at-risk families who are identified through a comprehensive assessment carried out by the foundation once an area has been earmarked for distribution.

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IEA warns media against publishing rumors

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(Last Updated On: January 20, 2022)

The intelligence department of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government said Thursday that media outlets should not spread false news and baseless rumors.

“A number of figures want to insult Islamic values so that they can achieve western citizenship,” the General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) tweeted.

According to the GDI, these individuals have made untrue statements about the IEA which some media have reported on.

The country’s media, in accordance with the principles of journalism, should strictly refrain from publishing false news and baseless rumors, GDI tweeted.

The intelligence department has pointed out that insulting religious sanctities and rituals is not acceptable to the people.

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Biden defiantly defends Afghanistan exit, makes ‘no apologies’

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(Last Updated On: January 20, 2022)

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday firmly defended the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and said he makes no apologies.

Addressing a press conference, Biden said: “I make no apologies for what I did.”

His administration drew criticism for the way troops were withdrawn and the sudden collapse of the previous government.

Biden suggested Wednesday there was nothing else that could have been done to bolster Afghan allies.

“Raise your hand if you think anyone was going to be able to unify Afghanistan under one single government,” he said.

“It’s been the graveyard of empires for a solid reason. It is not susceptible to unity.”

He also suggested it was not the responsibility of the U.S. to fix Afghanistan’s challenges, The Week reported.

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