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With flagship electric car, Mercedes takes fight to Tesla

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Reuters
(Last Updated On: April 16, 2021)

Daimler AG, a German multinational automotive corporation, Thursday unveiled the electric “sibling” of its flagship Mercedes-Benz S-Class luxury sedan, taking the fight to market-leader Tesla Inc in the battle for market share as electric car sales take off.

The EQS is the first in a family of Mercedes-Benz cars built on a dedicated electric vehicle platform built from the ground up. It will go on sale in Europe and the United States in August, then in China in January.

Sales of electric and plug-in hybrid cars in the European Union almost trebled to over 1 million vehicles last year, accounting for more than 10% of overall sales.

“We set the bar very high,” with this car, Daimler Chief Executive Ola Källenius told reporters. “Customers in this segment expect a blend of hi-tech innovation and modern luxury… and that’s what we’re trying to achieve with the EQS.”

Daimler has not revealed pricing yet for the EQS, saying that will come in the summer closer to the launch date.

In interviews and conference calls on Thursday Källenius

avoided making any comparisons with Tesla, whose market cap of more than $700 billion dwarfs all other carmakers.

But with a range of up to 770 kilometers (478 miles) and a new display screen that will cover almost the entire dashboard – an optional feature – analysts see an effort to seize the initiative from Tesla, which had a head start over other carmakers and boasted a longer battery range and hallmark touchscreen infotainment system.

In a client note earlier this week, Deutsche Bank referred to the EQS as “Mercedes’ Tesla fighter” and said the car “will likely set the benchmark in terms of technical features, as well as design and quality,” for both traditional carmakers and newer entrants like Tesla.

Källenius said he expects more than 50% of customers will pay extra to get the display screen, which Mercedes-Benz unveiled in January.

At 56 inches (142 cm) the new “Hyperscreen” – which in width dwarfs Tesla’s vaunted 17-inch screen – will also feature in Mercedes-Benz’s other new electric models.

Källenius said the company would not provide forecasts for how many EQS models it aims to sell, or what sort of profit margins he expected the vehicle to generate.

But he said he had high expectations for the Chinese market, where there is “tremendous demand” for the traditional combustion engine S-Class model.

Daimler now joins rival Volkswagen AG with a dedicated electric platform. BMW will launch a dedicated platform in 2025.

Mercedes sales chief Britta Seeger said the launch of the EQS coincides with demand for electric vehicles that is growing faster than company executives once forecast.

“We thought by 2030 that half of our sales will be electric vehicles” and plug-in hybrid vehicles, Seeger said during a conference call. “What we currently see… is a stronger request of customers for EVs. We are even more positive that this jump can be a little bit faster.”

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Day 3 of ceasefire: MoD accuses Taliban of violating ceasefire

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(Last Updated On: May 15, 2021)

The Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) said on Saturday that Taliban has violated the three-day ceasefire in seven provinces across the country that killed and wounded dozens of civilians.

“The ceasefire has been violated in several cases and several points of the country and terrorist groups under Taliban leadership violated the ceasefire. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is committed to the ceasefire, but enemies are not committed and violated the ceasefire,” said Fawad Aman, deputy spokesman for the MoD.

This comes after an IED was reportedly detonated inside a mosque in Shakardara district in Kabul during Friday prayers. On Saturday, sources said 14 people were killed, including the mosque’s Imam.

The following incidents were reported on Saturday, day three of the ceasefire.

1 – One policeman and two civilians were wounded in an explosion in Surobi district of Kabul province on Saturday.

2- Two civilians were killed and two others were wounded in Kunduz province in an IED explosion.

3- Two civilians killed in Ghazni province in an explosion

4- Two explosions were reported in Kandahar province that killed and wounded civilians.

5- An explosion in Kapisa reportedly killed and wounded civilians.

In addition to this, Mohammad Omar Sherzad, the governor of Uruzgan province said that Taliban attacked Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in the province.

“In two areas of Uruzgan province the ceasefire has been violated. One attack was on a security forces convoy along the Kandahar-Uruzgan highway and second they (Taliban) attacked an ANDSF check post close to Tarin Kot city, that wounded Afghan forces. The Taliban are not committed to their commitments,” said Sherzad.

Meanwhile, some members of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) said that all the attacks are not carried out by the Taliban.

“Shakardara attack was a series of killings of religious scholars; such attacks are carried out by Takfiri (non-believing) groups; but attacks in Uruzgan, Kandahar and other provinces are Taliban actions,” said Mohammad Arif Rahmani, an MP.

The three-day ceasefire was widely welcomed by the Afghan people but most called for the tenuous truce to be extended and to become permanent.

However, going into the ceasefire, the Taliban said it would observe the truce but would resume hostilities after the Eid holidays.

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Atmar conveys condolences to Palestine just hours before media offices bombed

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TRT World
(Last Updated On: May 15, 2021)

Afghanistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Haneef Atmar spoke with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine, Riyad Al-Maliki, on Saturday and condemned the escalation of attacks and encroachment on the Palestinian people during the holy month of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr.

In a statement issued by his office, Atmar said the bloody attacks were unacceptable for Islamic countries and the world’s peace-loving nations. 

He also called for an immediate end to the violence in the region.

Expressing the Afghan people’s solidarity with the people of Palestine, Atmar stated that Afghanistan supported the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to an independent state, within the borders set out in the 1967 UN Security Council Resolution.

Atmar’s conversation came just hours before Israel bombed a building in Gaza City that houses The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and a number of other foreign media outlets. 

The airstrike on the high-rise came nearly an hour after the Israeli military ordered people to evacuate the 12-story building, which also housed residential apartments. 

The strike brought down the entire structure, which collapsed in a gigantic cloud of dust. There was no immediate explanation for why it was attacked, AP reported

The spiraling violence has raised fears of a new Palestinian “intifada,” or uprising at a time when there have been no peace talks in years. 

AP reported the strike on the building housing media offices came in the afternoon after the building’s owner received a call from the Israeli military warning that it would be hit. AP’s staff and others in the building evacuated immediately.

Al-Jazeera, broadcast the airstrikes live as the building collapsed.

“This channel will not be silenced. Al-Jazeera will not be silenced,” an on-air anchorwoman said, her voice thick with emotion. “We can guarantee you that right now.”

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Hamas said it fired a salvo of rockets at southern Israel in response to the airstrike.

 

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Taliban faction’s deputy dies in Kabul from injuries sustained in Herat skirmish

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(Last Updated On: May 15, 2021)

Deputy head of the Taliban splinter group in the western part of the country, Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, died in Kabul on Saturday from injuries sustained last week in a skirmish in Herat.

Sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed his death and said he had been transferred to a Kabul hospital on Thursday afternoon due to the severity of his wounds. 

Niazi, who was reportedly shot three times in the head, was initially taken to Herat District Hospital after being seriously wounded in an apparent Taliban-on-Taliban attack. 

Sources said three insurgents were killed and three others were wounded in the clash. 

Provincial officials told Ariana News last week that Niazi was wounded on Wednesday in a skirmish with Taliban militants in the Guzara district of the province.

The sources stated at the time that Niazi, a pro-Taliban commander, was taken to Herat’s public hospital.

According to the sources, three of Niazi’s bodyguards were killed in the skirmish.

The Taliban has not commented in this regard.

Niazi was believed to have been Mullah Mohammad Rasool’s deputy – the head of the faction that split from the Taliban in November 2015, following the announcement in July that year that the Taliban’s longtime leader Mullah Omar was dead.

The dissident faction’s announcement was at the time believed to be the first public and official split of the Afghan Taliban since the group formed in the 1990s.

Omar’s deputy at the time was Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, who claimed power — sparking a battle over the group’s leadership.

Rasool and Niazi were among several Taliban commanders who challenged Mansoor’s appointment as leader. Mansoor was the leader of the group from 29 July 2015 to 21 May 2016 but was killed in a drone strike by the United States in Pakistan.

Niazi was born 1968 in Pashtoon Zarghoon district, in Herat province and served as governor of Kabul Province under the Taliban regime.

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