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Roadside Bomb Blast Kills Two Civilians in Helmand

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(Last Updated On: August 25, 2018)

At least two civilians were killed in a roadside bomb blast in southern Helmand province, an official said Saturday.

Provincial governor spokesman Omar Zwak said the incident took place in Khoshal area of Nad Ali district late on Friday when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.

He blamed Taliban militant group for the incident.

But the insurgent group has not made a comment about the report.

Helmand is among the volatile provinces in the south of Afghanistan where the insurgent group is actively operating and usually targeting the government forces by using roadside bombs.

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India records almost 30,000 new cases in a single day

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(Last Updated On: July 15, 2020)

India on Wednesday reported a new record-high number of 29,429 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours taking the country’s total to over 935,000. 

In their morning briefing, the health ministry also said that another 582 people had died from the virus in the same period of time.

This comes after the Indian Institute of Technology on Wednesday launched its low-cost testing kit commercially, Anadolu Agency reported.

The new kit, COROSURE, will be available for 500 Indian rupees (US$6.6), compared to the existing testing kits that cost around US$60.

“This technology should change the paradigm of COVID testing in the country, both in terms of scale and cost … Two million tests [per month] at an unbeatable price,” V Ramgopal Rao, director of the institute, said on Twitter prior to an online launch event.

Anadolu reported that Rao hoped the new testing kit would help India to fight the virus as the nation, with a population of nearly 1.3 billion, has almost one million confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 24,309 deaths.

India’s health ministry on Tuesday confirmed that 86 percent of the total cases are from ten states. Of these, 50 percent are from the western state of Maharashtra (267,665 cases, 10,695 deaths), and the southern state of Tamil Nadu (147,324 cases, 2,099 deaths).

India lifted nationwide lockdown in early June despite the steady upward trend in new cases and deaths and moved instead to locality-based lockdowns in badly-hit areas.

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Swiss court upholds life ban for former Afghan football boss

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(Last Updated On: July 15, 2020)

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld the life ban imposed last year on the former president of the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). 

CAS issued its decision in the appeal arbitration procedure between Karim and FIFA on Tuesday.

A statement issued by the court stated that the CAS panel dismissed the appeal and confirmed the decision taken by the Adjudicatory Chamber of FIFA Ethics Committee on June 8 last year.

At the time, Karim was found to have breached Article 23 (Protection of physical and mental integrity) and article 25 (Abuse of position) of the FIFA Code of Ethics and sanctioned him with a life ban from all football-related activities at both national and international level, and ordered him to pay a US$1 million fine.

The FIFA Ethics Committee investigation into Karim came after complaints were lodged by female Afghan football players accusing him of sexual abuse between 2013 and 2018.

During the CAS hearing, several players of the AFF women’s national team stated that they had been sexually and physically abused by Karim.

According to the court statement: “The players testified from a secured place, by telephone, using a voice scrambler to protect their identity.

The Panel in charge of this matter underlined that, unlike bribery and match-fixing which damage the integrity of the sport, the offenses committed by Keramuddin Karim violated basic human rights and damaged the mental and physical dignity and integrity of young female players.

With his appalling acts, he had destroyed not only their careers but severely damaged their lives.

The Panel determined that Keramuddin Karim should get the most severe sanction possible available under the FIFA Code of Ethics, i.e. a life ban and a fine of (Swiss Francs) CHF 1 million (US$1 million).

FIFA meanwhile welcomed the Swiss court’s decision and said in a statement that it confirms the importance of its “zero-tolerance policy against physical, mental and sexual abuses at all levels of football.”

The organization also praised “the bravery of those victims who, under dreadful personal circumstances in their home country, have come forward and allowed for justice to be served.”

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NATO calls for prisoner release issue to be resolved urgently

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(Last Updated On: July 15, 2020)

NATO has called on the Afghanistan government and the Taliban to “urgently resolve issues related to prisoner releases,” and to enter into intra-Afghan peace talks. 

In a statement issued by the organization on Tuesday, NATO said: “An Afghan-owned and led peace process aimed at finding a political resolution that ends decades of conflict is the only way to deliver sustainable peace to the Afghan people and to ensure Afghanistan’s long-term security and stability.

The organization said it was committed to contributing to an environment conducive to this outcome.

“We call on all sides to rapidly resolve the remaining issues still precluding the start of inclusive intra-Afghan negotiations,” the statement read.

According to them, the “current level of violence – driven especially by Taliban attacks against Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, remains unacceptably high, causing instability and undermining confidence in the peace process.”

They pointed out that during the 2018 and 2020 Eid al-Fitr ceasefires and the period of reduced violence leading up to the signing of the US-Taliban agreement and the issuance of the US-Afghanistan Joint Declaration, all sides demonstrated the political will and capacity to stop the fighting.

The statement went on to point out that given the impact of COVID-19, “we echo the call of the United Nations for the Taliban to agree to a humanitarian ceasefire that applies to all sides. Both sides must also urgently resolve issues related to prisoner releases.”

NATO pointed out that the military presence of the Alliance and its partners in the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan is conditions-based.

“We will continue to consult and, if conditions allow, to adjust our military presence to support the peace process, initiated by the US-Taliban agreement and the US-Afghanistan Joint Declaration.

“We urge the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban to fulfill their commitments, including entering into intra-Afghan negotiations and ensuring terrorists never again find safe haven on Afghan soil.

Highlighting recent attacks, NATO stated that these “heinous attacks targeting civilians, including women, children, civil society members, religious figures, and health care workers throughout Afghanistan underscore the urgency of fulfilling these critical commitments.”

In conclusion, the statement noted that NATO reaffirms its longstanding commitment to Afghanistan, the Afghan people, and the Afghan security forces through the Resolute Support Mission.

“We expect intra-Afghan negotiations to lead to an enduring and comprehensive peace agreement that puts an end to violence, safeguards the human rights of all Afghans, including women and children, upholds the rule of law, and ensures that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists.”

On Tuesday night, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted: “The level of violence in Afghanistan driven by Taliban attacks, undermines confidence in the peace process. We call on all sides to rapidly start intra-Afghan talks. NATO Allies will continue to consult on our military presence to support peace process.”

This statement comes after a disagreement over about 600 prisoners from a total of 5,000 the Taliban want released prevented the launch of US-brokered peace talks.

Although prisoner releases by both sides have taken place, the Afghan government has said it does not want to release some prisoners for security reasons and its Western allies also object to some of them being set free.

The United States and the Taliban struck a landmark agreement in February on the withdrawal of US forces in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.

As part of the pact, the Taliban agreed to open power-sharing talks with the Afghan government.

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