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Taliban Leaders Watched U.S. Presidential Debate, Blast ‘Non-Serious’ Trump

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(Last Updated On: September 28, 2016)

gettyimages-610601742-1024x683Taliban leaders followed the U.S. presidential debate closely but heard nothing on Afghanistan, a spokesman said on Wednesday, adding that they were not impressed by Republican candidate Donald Trump, whom they considered “non-serious”.

The leaders watched Monday’s televised debate from a secret location in Afghanistan, but neither Trump nor Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton talked about their intentions for the country, the spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said by telephone.

“The main thing that we would like the next U.S. president to do is to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors,” he said.

“Why are they hated worldwide? It’s because of their aggressive policies. They invade other people’s countries and kill innocent human beings for their vested interests.”

The election winner will have to decide future policy for what has been America’s longest war, started after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 triggered a U.S.-led campaign that toppled the Taliban government in Kabul.

President Barack Obama this year shelved plans to halve the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and instead has kept 8,400 troops there until the end of his presidency, leaving further decisions to his successor.

Zabihullah also had harsh words for Trump, a political newcomer who has attacked what he calls the failed policies of the Washington political classes.

Taliban leaders considered Trump a “non-serious” candidate who said “anything that comes to his tongue,” the spokesman said.

Both Obama, in whose administration Clinton served as Secretary of State, and former President George W. Bush had wasted 15 years and billions of dollars without being able to defeat the Taliban, he added.

“There is a choice for the upcoming president, whether he or she would like to suffer human and financial losses to continue their invasion of Afghanistan or they want to let the people of Afghanistan decide their affairs,” Zabihullah said.

“If the new president doesn’t change policy, the Taliban will continue their armed struggle until they are expelled from Afghanistan.”

Reuters 

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Massive explosion rocks port area in Lebanon’s capital Beirut

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(Last Updated On: August 4, 2020)

A massive explosion rocked Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, Tuesday, injuring many people as glass shattered and balconies collapsed from the impact, Reuters reported.

Lebanon’s state news agency NNA and two security sources said the blast had occurred in the port area where there are warehouses housing explosives. It was not immediately clear what caused the blast or what kind of explosives were in the warehouses.

“I saw a fireball and smoke billowing over Beirut. People were screaming and running, bleeding. Balconies were blown off buildings. Glass in high-rise buildings shattered and fell to the street,” a witness told Reuters.

Local broadcaster LBC quoted the health minister as saying there was a “very high number” of injures and a large amount of damage. Al Mayadeen television said hundreds were wounded.

Another witness told Reuters that she saw heavy grey smoke near the port area and then heard an explosion and saw flames of fire and black smoke: “All the downtown area windows are smashed and there are wounded people walking around. It is total chaos.”

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North Korea has probably developed nuclear devices to fit ballistic missiles: UN report

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(Last Updated On: August 4, 2020)

North Korea is pressing on with its nuclear weapons program and several countries believe it has “probably developed miniaturized nuclear devices to fit into the warheads of its ballistic missiles,” according to a confidential U.N. report.

The report by an independent panel of experts monitoring U.N. sanctions said the countries, which it did not identify, believed North Korea’s past six nuclear tests had likely helped it develop miniaturized nuclear devices. Pyongyang has not conducted a nuclear test since September 2017.

The interim report, seen by Reuters, was submitted to the 15-member U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee on Monday.

“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is continuing its nuclear program, including the production of highly enriched uranium and construction of an experimental light water reactor. A Member State assessed that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is continuing production of nuclear weapons,” the report said.

North Korea is formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). North Korea’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the U.N. report.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said last week there would be no more war as the country’s nuclear weapons guarantee its safety and future despite unabated outside pressure and military threats.

The U.N. report said one country, which it did not identify, assessed that North Korea “may seek to further develop miniaturisation in order to allow incorporation of technological improvements such as penetration aid packages or, potentially, to develop multiple warhead systems.”

‘LUCRATIVE’ CYBERATTACKS

North Korea has been subjected to U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. While the Security Council has steadily strengthened sanctions in a bid to cut off funding for those programs.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump have met three times since 2018, but failed to make progress on U.S. calls for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and North Korea’s demands for an end to sanctions.

In May 2018 North Korea followed through on a pledge to blow up tunnels at its main nuclear test site, Punggye-ri, which Pyongyang said was proof of its commitment to end nuclear testing. But they did not allow experts to witness the dismantlement of the site.

The U.N. report said that as only tunnel entrances were known to have been destroyed and there is no indication of a comprehensive demolition, one country had assessed that North Korea could rebuild and reinstall within three months the infrastructure needed to support a nuclear test.

The U.N. experts said North Korea is violating sanctions, including “through illicit maritime exports of coal, though it suspended these temporarily between late January and early March 2020” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year the U.N. experts said North Korea has generated an estimated $2 billion using widespread and sophisticated cyberattacks to steal from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges.

“The Panel continues to assess that virtual asset service providers and virtual assets will continue to remain lucrative targets for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to generate revenue, as well as mining cryptocurrencies,” the latest report said.

Source: Rueters

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Three killed in clash with Taliban over rape accusation

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(Last Updated On: August 4, 2020)

At least three civilians were killed and three more wounded in a clash between residents and Taliban militants in Khwaja Ghar district of northeastern Takhar province.

Khalil Asir, a spokesman for Takhar police, told Ariana News that the clash broke out after local residents stormed a Taliban prison on Monday afternoon.

According to Asir, members of the community attempted to get access to Taliban insurgents who allegedly raped two girls in the district two weeks ago.

He said the militants opened fire on the residents which resulted in the death of three people. Three more were wounded.

Two weeks ago, a resident of Khwaja Ghar claimed that Taliban fighters raped two of his teenage daughters.

The local Taliban reportedly denied any wrongdoing.

The Taliban has not commented on the incident.

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