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Kabul University Professor Reportedly Killed By Taliban

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(Last Updated On: November 7, 2019)

Baghlan authorities reported that Aziz Ahmad Panjshiri, a professor at Kabul University, was killed on Wednesday by Taliban militants along the Baghlan-Kunduz highway.

Provincial police spokesman Ahmad Jawed Basharat stated that Panjshiri’s body has been transferred to a local hospital in Baghlan’s Markazi District.

Meanwhile, Khalil Narmgoi Chief Surgeon at Baghlan Markazi Hospital told Ariana News that their investigations show that Mr. Panjshiri was almost 65 years old and killed by a gunshot.

The Taliban insurgent group has not commented on the issue yet, although Baghlan police hold them responsible for the death of Mr. Panjshiri.

Mr. Panjshiri retired from teaching at Kabul University almost four years ago and was currently working with The Kabul Municipality and Ministry of Information and Culture.

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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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Top Daesh leader arrested in Kunar raid

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(Last Updated On: August 5, 2020)

The Afghan Special Forces have arrested a key commander of the Daesh militant group in Afghanistan.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement the ISIS-K leader was arrested during a raid in eastern Kunar province on Tuesday night.

The Daesh commander was identified as Mohammad Saeed son of Mohammad Afzal, who was involved in transferring foreign ISIS insurgents along with their families in the country.

“He (Mohammad Saeed) was one of the masterminds of the recent attack in Nangarhar,” the statement said.

The Daesh said that 11 its fighters – four Tajiks, three Indians, three Afghans and a Pakistani – stormed Nangarhar prison at around 6:30 Sunday evening killed at least 30 people and wounded 50 more.

The attack began after an Indian doctor, Ijas Kallukettiya Purayil, detonated an explosive-loaded vehicle at the entrance gate of the jail.

During the attack which lasted for over 18 hours, hundreds of the 1,700 prisoners in the Jalalabad facility escaped. 

On Tuesday, an Afghan MP confirmed as many as 800 Daesh prisoners were still on the run. 

Abdul Karim Karimi, a Member of Parliament, said: “1,700 prisoners were inside the jail during the attack, they all attempted to escape. Out of which, 500 of them failed to escape, whereas 800 more prisoners including Daesh, Taliban, and criminals fled.”

According to officials, prisoners being held in that particular jail were political prisoners and criminals. Among them were Taliban and Daesh militants.

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Survey finds at least 10 million Afghans infected with COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: August 5, 2020)

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health said Wednesday that 10 million people have been infected with COVID-19 in the country.

Addressing a press conference, acting Health Minister Jawad Osmani said according to a survey conducted across the country, 31.5 percent of Afghans – which is about 10 million people – have contracted the Coronavirus.

He said the survey had been based on antibody tests on people across the country, with technical support from the World Health Organisation.

Osmani said that 11,500 people from 34 provinces participated in the survey.

The highest infection rate was in Kabul where more than half of the city’s five million population was thought to have been infected.

Osmani said 37 percent of the population in cities and 27 percent of the population in villages have been infected with the virus.

“The studies divided 34 provinces of the country into nine zones, of which Kabul as a zone – 53 percent of its total population is affected by the Coronavirus.

He said 42.9 percent of the total population in eastern provinces had been infected along with 36.3 percent of the population in central provinces, 34.1 percent in the north and 32.4 percent of the total population in northeastern provinces.

He also said the survey found that 25.3 percent of children had contracted the virus. That was 24.2 percent of all boys in the country and 26.8 percent of all girls.

With the adult population, 35.2 percent had contracted the virus. This meant 33.9 percent of all men in the country had contracted COVID-19 and 37.2 percent of all women had been infected.

But the country of around 32 million people has only limited testing capacity and has an official recorded number of cases of just under 37,000.

Earlier Wednesday, the Ministry of Public Health announced its daily updates and said 36,782 people had so far tested positive for COVID-19.

The ministry stated that so far 1,288 people had died of the virus while 25,556 had recovered.

The ministry meanwhile warned people of a second wave of the pandemic, asking the public to fully adhere to precautionary measures to prevent the continued spread of the virus.

“A second wave of the infection is happening everywhere in the world and we cannot be an exception. We will use the findings of this survey to better prepare ourselves for a possible second wave,” Osmani said.

More than 18 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus since it first emerged in China late last year.

The virus entered Afghanistan in February as thousands of migrants returned from neighbouring Iran, which at the time was the region’s worst-hit nation for the virus.

Since then Afghanistan has been ravaged by COVID-19.

A survey on the mortality rate of coronavirus in Afghanistan is now under way.

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