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15 dead, more than 50 missing in landslide in India

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(Last Updated On: August 8, 2020)

At least 15 people have been killed after a massive landslide destroyed a tea plantation workers’ settlement in India, local media reported.

The incident took place in Rajakkad in Idukki district of Kerala, India, early on Friday morning.

The Hindustan Times reported that around 50 others are feared trapped in a mound of slush and rock debris.

According to the report, so far, at least 16 people were rescued and taken to the hospital for treatment.

“It is a major tragedy. It is a hilly terrain and some roads connecting to the settlement were washed away in torrential rain. We have sought the Air Force help for airlifting the injured but we were told it will be difficult in inclement weather,” State Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan to the Times.

He added that a team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has arrived at the scene.

Meanwhile, local people said the area has been witnessing heavy rains over the last three days and power and communication networks in the area were disrupted due to this. This delayed the rescue work. Since the mishap took place in the early hours, many of those affected were in deep slumber due to which they couldn’t escape, they said.

“We have information that at least 84 people lived in the settlement. Most of them are from neighboring Tamil Nadu. And there was also a canteen to cater to their needs at the settlement,” Parthasarathy, a social worker from the area said quoted by the Hindustan Times.

He added that the death toll may rise up.

The place where the incident took place is about 25 kilometers away from hill resort Munnar which was ravaged by the 2018 flood.

The India Metrological Department (IMD) has declared a red alert in three districts, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Idukki, and orange alert in five other districts. Many rivers are in spate after a heavy downpour and the irrigation department said shutters of some dams, including Idukki, will be opened if the wet condition continued.

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Trump calls Taliban tough but says US military can’t police Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2020)

US President Donald Trump said Friday night that the Taliban was tough and smart but also “tired of fighting.”

Speaking to journalists at a press conference, Trump reiterated his decision on troop withdrawals and said “we’ll be down very shortly over the next couple of weeks to 4,000 — less than 4,000 in Afghanistan.

“And then we’ll make that final determination a little bit later on.”

On the Taliban, Trump said: “We’re dealing very well with the Taliban. They’re very tough, they’re very smart, they’re very sharp. But, you know, it’s been 19 years, and even they are tired of fighting, in all fairness.”

Trump also said the US had been serving as a “police force” in Afghanistan. 

“And we really served as a police force, because if we wanted to do what we had to do, we would have fought a lot differently than they have over their 19 years.

“They didn’t fight it properly. They were police, okay? They’re not police; they’re — they’re soldiers. So there’s a difference. The police — nobody has more respect for police than I do, but they have to do their own policing.”

Trump went on to say the US is “having some very good discussions with the Taliban, as you probably heard. It’s been public. And — but we’ll be down to — very shortly, we’ll be down to less than 4,000 soldiers.”

“And so we’ll be out of there, knowing that certain things have to happen — certain things have to be fulfilled.  But 19 years is a long time, 8,000 miles away. Nineteen years is a long time,” he said.

This comes amid the first rounds of intra-Afghan negotiations following the US-Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February that set out certain conditions – one of which is the withdrawal of all foreign troops by around April next year. 

 

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UN Security Council welcomes start of intra-Afghan talks

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(Last Updated On: September 18, 2020)

UN Security Council (UNSC) has welcomed the start of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban negotiators in Doha, aimed at finding a political settlement for ending the long-term conflict in the country.

In a statement released on Friday, the UNSC reaffirmed its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and national unity of Afghanistan. 

The organization emphasized that a sustainable peace can be achieved only through a comprehensive and inclusive Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process.

“The members of the Security Council strongly encouraged parties to the negotiations to continue pursuing confidence-building measures including reductions in violence, and to continue to engage in good faith,” the statement noted.

Noting the importance of the United Nations’ role in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan, the council welcomed the efforts of all regional and international partners of Afghanistan in facilitating intra-Afghan negotiations and in helping the parties reach peace.

“The members of the Security Council thanked the Government of Qatar for facilitating the first round of negotiations,” the statement read.

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Pakistan to set up markets along Afghanistan-Pakistan border

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(Last Updated On: September 18, 2020)

Pakistan has decided to establish 18 markets along the Pakistan-Iran and Pakistan-Afghanistan borders, Pakistan government said.

Pakistan’s government would establish the markets aimed at boosting trade with the two countries and preventing the menace of smuggling.

The decision was made during a high-level meeting chaired by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday, Khan’s office said in a statement.

“The meeting was told that twelve border markets will be established on the Pak-Afghan border while six border markets will be established on the Pak-Iran border,” the statement read.

“The Prime Minister has approved the establishment of two border market in Balochistan Province and one border market in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as a pilot project which will be completed and activated by February.”

Imran Khan’s Office noted that the decision to take more effective measures regarding the prevention of smuggling through borders

Talking about the establishment of border markets, the Prime Minister said that the establishment of markets where the population on border areas, especially youth, will get better business and trade opportunities, will come after fencing on the borders, the statement added.

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