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Media watchdog slams Ghor govt for failing to protect slain journalist

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(Last Updated On: January 2, 2021)
In a series of tweets, the Afghanistan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) slammed the Ghor provincial government for its lack of cooperation in helping to safeguard the life of slain journalist Bismillah Adil. 
 
This comes after Adil and the AJSC repeatedly requested support from Ghor provincial government regarding his safety. 
 
Adil was gunned down in a targeted attack on Friday in the province. 
 
AJSC said on Twitter: “AJSC condemns the indifference of the local government in Ghor towards repeated requests by AJSC’s local representative and Bismillah Adil for his safety. 
 
“In the light of extensive threats against journalists and their serial killing, protection of journalists must be given priority,” the AJSC stated. 
 
This was the third attempt on Adil’s life in two years. In October 2019, gunmen shot at him in his vehicle in Firoz Koh city, the AJSC reported. 
 
“In November 2020, attackers shot and threw a grenade at his house; AJSC accuses officials of indifference over security of Bismillah Adel,” the organization stated. 
 
Adil was Editor in Chief of Sadai Ghor Radio in Ghor province. 
 
The US has meanwhile once again voiced its concern over the increase in attacks on journalists and as Ross Wilson, US Chargé d’Affaires in Afghanistan, said, this tactic to silence the media was “appalling”. 
 
On Friday Wilson tweeted: “Another Afghan journalist was killed today: Bismillah Adil Aimaq in Ghor province. Attacks on freedom of speech and those who seek to inform society are appalling and must end.” 
 
President Ashraf Ghani also condemned the attack on Adil Bismillah and ordered security institutions to investigate. 
 
However, Adil’s assassination is the latest in a string of targeted killings of media workers, civil society activists and civil servants who have been systematically killed over the past few months. 
 
In just two months, five journalists have been killed in the country in what is perceived as a ploy to silence the free media in the country. 
 
No group has claimed responsibility for any of the killings and while the Taliban reject claims of any involvement, many officials and organizations have blamed the group for this new “scare tactic.”

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Suicide car bomb in Somali capital kills at least 8: official

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(Last Updated On: September 25, 2021)

A suicide car bomb killed at least eight people in the Somali capital on Saturday near the president’s palace, police said.

Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab said it was behind the attack, which targeted a convoy going into the palace.

Police spokesperson Abdifatah Aden Hassan told reporters at the scene of the blast that casualties could be higher, since some of the dead and wounded had been taken away by their relatives.

Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, the government spokesperson, said among those killed was Hibaq Abukar, an advisor of women and human rights affairs in Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble’s office.

It was not immediately clear if Abukar was in the convoy or if she just happened to be close by when the blast happened.

Al Shabaab wants to overthrow the government and impose its own strict interpretation of Islamic law. The group frequently carries out such bombings.

A Reuters witness at the scene of the attack reported seeing seven cars and three rickshaws destroyed by the blast, and the whole junction covered in blood.

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China welcomes Huawei executive home, but silent on freed Canadians

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(Last Updated On: September 25, 2021)

Chinese state media welcomed telecoms giant Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, back to the “motherland” on Saturday, after more than 1,000 days under house arrest in Canada, on what they called unfounded charges of bank fraud.

But they have kept silent about Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians released from Chinese custody in an apparent act of reciprocation by Beijing.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV carried a statement by the Huawei executive, written as her plane flew over the North Pole, avoiding U.S. airspace.

Her eyes were “blurring with tears” as she approached “the embrace of the great motherland”, Meng said. “Without a strong motherland, I wouldn’t have the freedom I have today.”

Meng was arrested in December 2018 in Vancouver after a New York court issued an arrest warrant, saying she tried to cover up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in breach of U.S. sanctions.

After more than two years of legal wrangling, she was finally allowed to leave Canada and fly back to China on Friday, after securing a deal with U.S. prosecutors.

Huawei, founded by Meng’s father Ren Zhengfei, said in a statement that it “looked forward to seeing Ms. Meng returning home safely to be reunited with her family.” It said it would continue to defend itself against U.S. charges.

Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, detained by Chinese authorities just days after Meng’s arrest, were released a few hours later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

State news agency Xinhua formally acknowledged the end of Meng’s house arrest on Saturday, attributing her release to the “unremitting efforts of the Chinese government”.

Hu Xijin, editor in chief of the Global Times tabloid backed by the ruling Communist Party, wrote on Twitter that “international relations have fallen into chaos” as a result of Meng’s “painful three years”.

He added, “No arbitrary detention of Chinese people is allowed.”

However, neither Hu nor other media have mentioned the release of Spavor and Kovrig, and reactions on China’s Twitter-like Weibo social media platform have been few and far between.

The foreign ministry has not commented publicly.

China has previously denied engaging in “hostage diplomacy”, insisting that the arrest and detention of the two Canadians was not tied in any way to the extradition proceedings against Meng.

Spavor was accused of supplying photographs of military equipment to Kovrig and sentenced to 11 years in jail in August. Kovrig had still been awaiting sentencing.

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Four kidnappers killed by IEA forces in hostage drama

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(Last Updated On: September 25, 2021)

Herat security officials said four kidnappers had been killed in a clash with Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) forces on Saturday morning.

The incident happened during an operation to rescue a local man and his son who had been taken hostage by the kidnappers.

According to officials, the kidnapping happened in PD12 in Herat city and the hostages were then taken to PD14.

The officials did not give any further details.

IEA officials said both father and son were rescued.

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