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Germany, Belgium floods: at least 100 dead, more than 1,000 missing

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(Last Updated On: July 16, 2021)

More than 1,000 people were missing and more houses were destroyed in flood-stricken regions in western Germany and Belgium on Friday where further flooding was feared with the death toll already over 100.

Entire communities lay in ruins after swollen rivers swept through towns and villages in the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, Belgium and the Netherlands.

“It was terrible not to able to help the people. They were waving at us out of the windows. Houses were collapsing to the left and right of them and in the house between they were waving,” Frank Thel, a resident of Schuld, told Reuters in front of a pile of rubble in the town, where several buildings had collapsed. “We were lucky, we survived,” he said.

In Germany alone, more than 90 people have died in what is the country’s worst mass loss of life in years. That number was feared to rise further as more houses collapsed, while in Belgium media said the death toll was at least 14.

“The water had such enormous power! We were in the house, it blew the door open and I was thrown against the chimney- stove. That’s how much pressure the water had when filling the house,” Thel said of the shock in the night that changed everything for them.

“It just went so fast. We just couldn’t save anything. The water came so fast, I’ve never seen anything like that. We were on the bridge down there and I thought, this might be getting tight, and then it was over, the water rose and rose continually, and I realized, it’s useless now to try save anything. Car, gone, all gone, digger, gone, it was all gone.”

The Infrastructure has been destroyed completely, roads washed away, the sanitation system submerged and phone and internet networks are either completely down or instable, meaning lots of people cant be traced or accounted for.

“Here in Schuld the question today is: What can be cleared here now? Can we restore roads? Bridges have collapsed, making areas difficult to access. The infrastructure with water, electricity and the sanitation supply etc is difficult. We have to rebuild them. This has already happened here in Schuld. Downstream in Insul, people had to be evacuated yesterday and we still have to rebuild the infrastructure there,” firefighter Andreas Solheid, of the fire-fighter association of Adenau municipalities said.

In the neighbouring Ahrweiler district in North Rhine-Westphalia, around 1,300 people were missing the district government said on Facebook.

Mobile phone networks have collapsed in some of the flood-stricken regions, which means that family and friends are unable to track down their loved ones.

Further north, in Erftstadt near Cologne, several houses collapsed on Friday morning, and rescue crews were struggling to reach residents by boat. Roads around the town Erftstadt were impassable as they were washed out in the floods.

It was not clear whether there were any casualties as rescuers had to rely on walkie-talkies to relay information.

One dam close to the Belgian border, the Rurtalsperre, flooded, while another, the Steinbachtalsperre, was stabilised early on Friday. Some 4,500 people have been evacuated from communities downstream, and a stretch of the A61 motorway has been closed amid fears of a breach.

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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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