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Omar Ismail Mostefai identified as assailant in Paris attack

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(Last Updated On: November 15, 2015)

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Source : BBC
One of the attackers who killed 129 people in Paris has been identified by French investigators.
French citizen Omar Ismail Mostefai was named by local media and a French parliamentarian.
The 29-year-old had a criminal record and was known to have been radicalised.
Investigators identified him after his severed fingertip was found at the Bataclan concert hall, where three attackers blew themselves up, AFP news agency reports.
Friday’s attacks, claimed by Islamic State (IS) militants, hit a concert hall, a major stadium, restaurants and bars in the French capital.
Prosecutors say seven assailants – armed with Kalashnikovs and suicide belts – were organised into three teams, and there are fears that some may have fled the scene.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said France will continue with air strikes against IS in Syria, and described the group as a very well-organized enemy.
History of petty crime
Police are trying to find out whether Mostefai travelled to Syria in 2014, judicial sources told AFP.
His father and brother have been taken into police custody.
“It’s crazy, insane. I was in Paris myself last night, I saw what a mess it was,” Mostefai’s older brother told AFP before being detained after voluntarily attending a police station on Saturday.

Mostefai came from the town of Courcouronnes, 25km (15 miles) south of Paris. He lived in the nearby town of Chartres until 2012, according to the local MP and deputy mayor Jean-Pierre Gorges.
He had a history of petty crime but was never jailed. The security services deemed him to have been radicalised in 2010 but he was never implicated in a counter-terrorism investigation.
Mostefai’s brother said he had not had contact with him for several years following family disputes, but said he was surprised to hear he had been radicalised.
He was one of six children in the family and had travelled to Algeria with his family and young daughter, the brother said.
Belgian link?
The investigation is also focusing on a possible link to Belgium after police there arrested three men near the French border.
A black Volkswagen Polo with Belgian registration found at the Bataclan had been rented by a Frenchman living in Belgium, the Paris chief prosecutor said.
The French national was identified while driving another vehicle in a spot check by police on Saturday morning as he crossed into Belgium with two passengers.
The BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris says investigators are working on the theory that these three may be another team of attackers who managed to flee the scene.
Speaking in Paris, chief prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters: “We can say at this stage of the investigation there were probably three co-ordinated teams of terrorists behind this barbaric act.
“We have to find out where they came from… and how they were financed.”
Mr Molins said the police were also investigating a black Seat used by gunmen at two of the attacks, which remains untraced.
The Greek authorities say two people under investigation by the French police had registered in Greece as Syrian refugees. A Syrian passport was found near the body of one the attackers at the Stade de France.
An Egyptian passport has also been linked to the attacks.
French President Francois Hollande has imposed a state of emergency after the worst peacetime attack in France since World War Two. It is also the deadliest in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings.
Islamic State released a statement on Saturday saying “eight brothers wearing explosive belts and carrying assault rifles” had carried out the attacks on “carefully chosen” targets, and were a response to France’s involvement in the air strikes on IS militants in Syria and Iraq.
Shortly before, President Hollande said France had been “attacked in a cowardly shameful and violent way”.
“So France will be merciless in its response to the Daesh [Islamic State] militants,” he said, vowing to “use all means within the law… on every battleground here and abroad together with our allies”.

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Bayat Foundation provides much needed food parcels to Balkh residents

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2021)

Hundreds of poverty-stricken families in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, were given food parcels on Sunday in a drive by the organization to help desperate families ahead of winter.

Committed to helping the hungry, Bayat Foundation has so far sent hundreds of packages that include rice, flour and oil, to the destitute in Kandahar, Herat and now Balkh.

According to foundation officials, they are working as fast as possible to provide the essential food items to people before winter sets in.

“The Bayat Foundation continues to provide assistance to the deserving and displaced people. We have already distributed aid to people in Kandahar and Herat and today we have distributed in Mazar-e-Sharif,” said Haji Mohammad Ismail, Deputy Chairman of the Bayat Foundation.

Bayat Foundation has carried out comprehensive assessments in these areas to identify recipients in urgent need of help.

“Based on the Bayat Foundation’s survey results, we are distributing foodstuff for really deserving people,” said Yafes Saqeb, Head of Bayat Foundation in Balkh.

Recipients of the food parcels welcomed the foundation’s initiative and said a large percentage of local families are facing serious financial problems.

“People don’t have food. We welcome their assistance and want them to continue their help,” said Abdul Ghafar, a resident.

“In this dangerous time that people are living in, hungry, we really welcome the assistance. We want them to continue with this assistance,” said Mohammad Baqer, another resident.

“There is no work. Women have problems, and can’t leave [their homes]. We are grateful to them and hope they carry on helping us,” said Shakela, another resident.
Bayat Foundation officials have said they will continue to provide food parcels and hope to reach as many people across the country.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghan families are desperate amid a looming humanitarian crisis following the abrupt end to foreign financial aid and the freezing of Afghanistan’s assets by the US.

Families have been hit hard by the unexpected withdrawal of foreign organizations, diplomatic missions as well as the withdrawal of US troops.

Together these entities employed hundreds of thousands of people both directly and indirectly – people who now have no income. In addition to this, the 300,000 former security force members, who were paid by the US, are also now unemployed and penniless.

Afghanistan’s winters are particularly harsh, and given the collapsing economy, Afghans are extremely worried about what lies ahead.

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MoD to form a new, independent national army

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2021)

Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) officials said Saturday that they will establish a new army that is independent in order to defend Afghanistan’s territory and airspace.

Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, acting minister of defense and son of Mullah Mohammad Omar, founder of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), said in a voice clip on Sunday that efforts are being made to safeguard Afghanistan’s territory and airspace.

“We intend to create a national and independent army under MoD to defend the country with high values. We will attempt to equip the IEA army with modern weapons. The army should have ground and airspace capabilities,” said Mullah Yaqoob.

The acting minister assured the international community and countries in the region that no one will be allowed to use Afghanistan terrority to carry out attacks against them.

“Countries in the world know that an army is impossible without foreign assistance. The world should help Afghanistan in this regard,” said Mohammad Sarwar Naizai, a military analyst.

The caretaker minister did not however provide further details about how the IEA will finance the army or whether it will include soldiers from the former government.

The previous Western-backed government paid the salaries of the then soldiers with money from the United States. On August 15, when former president Ashraf Ghani and all his top officials fled the country, the US and NATO-trained army and airforce disintegrated within hours.

The same day, IEA forces rolled into Kabul and took over as the new rulers. However, the foreign donor community and the US immediately cut off financial aid to Afghanistan and froze all the central bank’s foreign reserves – cutting off salaries to hundreds of thousands of former soldiers and government workers.

Some IEA officials meanwhile said that former government soldiers will be brought back into the army.

“We have left the way open for those people who were in security institutions in the former government. Some of them have returned already,” said Qari Saeed Khosti, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

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Pakistan denies reports it struck deal with US on Afghanistan operations

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2021)

Pakistan’s foreign ministry denied a media report which claimed that the two countries are “nearing a formalised agreement” to give Washington access to Pakistan’s airspace for operations in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has denied it struck a deal to allow the US to use its airspace for military and intelligence operations in neighboring Afghanistan.

“No such understanding is in place,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said in a statement on Saturday in response to media reports.

“Pakistan and the US have longstanding cooperation on regional security and counterterrorism and the two sides remain engaged in regular consultations.”

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said earlier this year that “there is no way we are going to allow any bases, any sort of action from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. Absolutely not.”

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