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Kashmir Avalanches Kill Dozens, Destroy Villages

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(Last Updated On: January 15, 2020)

At least 69 people died after avalanches hit the Pakistani and Indian administered Kashmir during the last 24 hours, Reuters reported.

According to the report, at least 59 people were killed and many more were missing after avalanches in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir over the last 24 hours, senior government officials said, Tuesday.

In the Indian administered Kashmir too, at least 10 people were killed after several avalanches hit the northern part of Kashmir.

Two Pakistani officials said many villagers were still stranded by the avalanches in the Neelum Valley following heavy rain and landslides. Many people were reported missing and feared dead as rescue efforts got underway, an official told Reuters.

Rescuers had managed to extract more than 50 people from the snow and airlifted them out of the area for treatment. Authorities also scrambled to provide relief to local people with another spell of heavy snow expected on Friday.

At least 53 houses have been completely destroyed by avalanches in the Pakistani administered region known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir abbreviated as AJK, officials said.

“I have asked the National Disaster Management Authority, the military, and all our federal ministers to immediately provide all humanitarian assistance on an emergency footing to the affected people in AJK,” Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted.

A senior Indian police official said five soldiers were among the 10 killed near the border between India and Pakistan.

The area is one of the world’s most militarily tense frontiers, where the neighboring armies have confronted each other over disputed territory for decades. Kashmir has been divided between Indian and Pakistan since their independence in 1947.

In 2012, an avalanche engulfed a Pakistani army battalion headquarters near the Indian border, killing at least 124 soldiers and 11 civilians.

Meanwhile in western Pakistan, heavy snowfall in southwestern Balochistan destroyed several houses in the mountainous region, killing 17 people.

The disaster management authority declared an emergency in seven districts of the mineral-rich province and sought the army’s help for relief and rescue operations.

Key highways connecting Pakistan and Afghanistan were blocked due to heavy snow, forcing officials to suspend transportation of essential goods into Afghanistan.

In addition, severe cold and heavy snow led to the death of 39 people in six provinces of Afghanistan in the past two weeks said Tamim Azimi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Natural Disaster Management Authority in Kabul.

“We are distributing emergency assistance, including cash to the affected families,” said Azimi, adding that heavy rain and snow have hampered the rescuers.

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Afghanistan’s population closes to nearly 33 million

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(Last Updated On: June 1, 2020)

According to the 1399 census – Persian calendar – the population of Afghanistan is estimated at 33 million roughly.

The National Statistics and Information Authority said that 51 percent of the country’s population is male, and more than 23 million Afghans live in rural areas.

The population of the country in 1399, the Persian calendar, saw an increase of almost 700,000 people.

The number of nomads is estimated at 1.5 million, and the youth under the age of 15 make up to 15.5 million.

Sixteen million and eight hundred thousand people are men and sixteen million and one hundred thousand are women, according to the authority.

A number of sociologists believe that in the official procedure of census, the estimation faces technical challenges, and therefore, there is social skepticism about these statistics.

On the other hand, some citizens say that the war in Afghanistan has been going on for years and that the government has not been able to keep track of the count on those living under the Taliban dominance.

It is worth noting that currently over 54% of the Afghans live under poverty, and as the population grows, so will the poverty.

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COVID-19

Coronavirus update Afghanistan; outbreak rapidly on the rise

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(Last Updated On: June 1, 2020)

The outbreak of the Coronavirus in Afghanistan is shocking, and the Ministry of Public Health says it will be difficult to manage if people do not follow the health guidelines.

According to the ministry’s deputy, 545 cases of the Coronavirus have been reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the number of infections to 15,750 in the country.

The Ministry of Public Health said that 265 people have died and 1,428 others have been cured so far.

“In the last 24 hours, 1,166 samples were tested, of which 545 were positive, with ten deaths and 100 recoveries,” said Wahidullah Majrooh, a deputy of the MOPH.

He added, “The message from the Ministry of Health is that the Coronavirus is controllable with the cooperation of people. If people work together to follow the advice, the ministry will be able to stop the circulation of the virus in the community.”

Meanwhile, the ministry emphasizes that the increase in the number of infections is concerning, and if people ignore the pandemic, they will risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

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Shaheen: The number of prisoners released by the gov’t is conflicted

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(Last Updated On: June 1, 2020)

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has said that the government has released less than 2,500 prisoners while claiming the release of 3,000.

According to him, the government has so far released only 2,284 Taliban prisoners, to be exact.

Shaheen added that the release of prisoners had to be transparent, and there should not be any flaws in the process.

Meanwhile, Jawed Faisal, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said that 1,000 Taliban prisoners had been released before Eid-ul-Fitr.

According to him, on the occasion of the Eid, the president announced the release of 2,000 Taliban prisoners, out of which, 1,000 were released over Eid holidays.

Reportedly, in the past three days, the government has released 710 Taliban prisoners and another 290 are expected to be added to the number, bringing the total of the released prisoners to 3,000.

Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban member, said that according to some credible sources, some drug traffickers had also been released among the Taliban prisoners.

According to the government, civilians are included among the over 400 prisoners released by the Taliban and were claimed as men of the government.

The government’s negotiating team has been urging the Taliban to start the Intra-Afghan negotiations soon.

Farooq Majrooh, a member of the government’s negotiating team, said that some countries were ready to host the talks and that the government and the Taliban had to agree on a specific location as soon as possible.

On the other hand, the High Council of National Reconciliation, which is responsible for advancing the peace talks, has announced working on the structure of the council.

Fawzia Kufi, a member of the government’s negotiating team, stressed that women should leading roles in the High Council for National Reconciliation.

The release of 2,000 Taliban prisoners came to an end on Sunday, but the government has said nothing about future steps in the matter; however, the Taliban’s technical team to verify the detainees is still in Kabul.

Earlier, sources told Ariana News that the Intra-Afghan talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban will begin between 10th and 15th June – no official acknowledgment has been made though.

The government hopes that the release of prisoners could lead to starting the Intra-Afghan talks and a reduction in the level of violence; while the Taliban insist on the release of all 5,000 prisoners as a precondition to the talks.

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