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US to keep two larger military bases in Afghanistan after drawdown

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(Last Updated On: December 3, 2020)

The Pentagon has approved drawdown plans in Afghanistan but will still keep two large military bases in the country, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said on Wednesday.

Speaking at an event hosted by Brookings Institution think tank, Milley said that in addition to the two bases, the US would also keep “several satellite bases.”

This was the first time a Pentagon or White House official has offered any details following outgoing US President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement last month of another major drawdown of troops – from around 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January.

This decision also left many NATO allies questioning the future of the mission in Afghanistan without US assistance.

Milley meanwhile said on Wednesday that the US military will also continue its two core missions – assisting Afghan security forces who are locked in conflict with Taliban insurgents and carrying out counterterrorism operations against IS-K (Daesh) and al-Qaeda.

However, Milley did not say which bases in Afghanistan would be shut down nor which bases would remain.

He also declined to speculate about what President-elect Joe Biden may decide. “What comes after that, that will be up to a new administration,” he said.

Milley also said the United States had “achieved a modicum of success” in Afghanistan.

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Finance Ministry’s HR director arrested 

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2021)

The Human Resource Director of the Ministry of Finance (MoF) Ghulam Mullakhel has been arrested over misuse of authority, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) confirmed on Sunday.

Mullakhel was arrested jointly by police and the AGO on Saturday night, the AGO said.

The AGO stated although Mullakhel had recently been fired, he continued to work illegally and appointed several individuals during this period.

The AGO added that the MoF official’s case is under investigation.

The Ministry of Finance confirmed the arrest of MullaKhel but did not provide further details.

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Norway concerned as death toll rises to 29 from COVID vaccine 

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2021)
Norway has raised concerns about the safety of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine after reporting that 29 Norwegians died after receiving the inoculation. 
 
According to Bloomberg, it’s unclear exactly when the deaths occurred, but Norway has given at least one dose to about 42,000 people and focused on those considered most at risk if they contract the virus, including the elderly.
 
Until Friday, the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech SE was the only one available in Norway, and “all deaths are thus linked to this vaccine,” the Norwegian Medicines Agency said in a written response to Bloomberg on Saturday.
 
“There are 13 deaths that have been assessed, and we are aware of another 16 deaths that are currently being assessed,” the agency told Bloomberg.
 
All the reported deaths related to “elderly people with serious basic disorders,” it said. 
 
“Most people have experienced the expected side effects of the vaccine, such as nausea and vomiting, fever, local reactions at the injection site, and worsening of their underlying condition.”
 
Bloomberg states that official reports of allergic reactions have been rare as governments rush to roll out vaccines to try to contain the global pandemic. However, US authorities reported 21 cases of severe allergic reactions from December 14 to 23 after administration of about 1.9 million initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine. 
 
The first Europe-wide safety report on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is due to be published at the end of January.
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Two female judges killed in targeted attack in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2021)

Two female judges were killed and three others including a driver and a civilian were wounded in an attack by unknown gunmen in Kabul city on Sunday morning, police confirmed.

According to police three gunmen attacked the convoy of vehicles carrying Supreme Court employees in the Qala-e-Fathullah area of PD10 in Kabul city this morning.

Police did not provide further details about the attack.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

This comes as targeted attacks have sharply increased in Afghanistan amid peace talks in Doha.

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