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Southern provinces witness intense battles as Taliban pushes for more ground

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(Last Updated On: August 2, 2021)

Helmand, Kandahar and Herat have been hit hard these past few days by intense battles between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban, officials confirmed.

One of the hardest hit has been Herat, which has witnessed two days of solid fighting around the city itself, while heavy attacks have been launched on villages to the west of the city.

As fighting continued to rage Sunday night, officials said clashes were ongoing but had intensified in the west of the city.

Officials said in the past 24 hours, at least 30 people were wounded in the battles. This included soldiers and civilians.

Doctors at the Herat Hospital said the bodies of five people had been brought into the facility.

Provincial officials said more than a dozen Taliban fighters had been killed in clashes during the course of Sunday, including a prominent commander named Sadam.

According to the officials, the Taliban launched the attacks on the city from the western districts of Herat, mostly from Ghoryan and Zinda Jan districts.

Kandahar meanwhile also witnessed heavy fighting but security officials said Taliban attacks in Takhta Pul district were repulsed by security forces and air support.

Officials said the Taliban attacked at around 2 am Monday in the Mel area between Takhta Pul and Spin Boldak districts.

Hashem Regwal, district police chief, said 37 Taliban had been killed and three Humvee tanks had been seized from the Taliban.

The Taliban have not yet commented.

Sources meanwhile said US warplanes were used to push back the Taliban and targeted and destroyed a Taliban artillery facility in the center of Panjwai district.

US forces have not yet commented.

In Helmand, sources said that the provincial governor’s office, police headquarters, NDS office, and PD1 police station in the city are under siege by the Taliban.

Mohammad Jami, a Helmand civil activist, stated: “situation is very critical in Helmand, Taliban have attacked the Police Command, Governor’s office, NDS office, and Helmand prison.”

Meanwhile, the 215th Maiwand Military Corps said a Taliban offensive on Lashkargah prison was repulsed.

The corps said a group of at least 40 Taliban launched an offensive on the city’s prison on Sunday night but that the group was taken down by security forces.

According to the corps, 38 Taliban were killed in the clash and two others were wounded.

The Ministry of Defense also said the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), with the support of the air force, targeted the Taliban on Sunday night in a joint operation in Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand province.

At least 36 Taliban were killed and 19 others were wounded in this operation, the MoD said.

The ministry said that three vehicles, one of which contained three million Pakistani rupees, were destroyed in the airstrike.

The Taliban have confirmed the clashes in Lashkargah, but said their fighters are advancing.

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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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