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Deadly bombing near Kabul girls school sparks international outcry

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(Last Updated On: May 9, 2021)

Saturday’s bombing near a girls school in Kabul city has sparked outrage among the international community, including the US, the UK, Germany and the United Nations, who have all condemned the incident in the strongest terms.

In a statement issued by the US State Department, Washington called the attack “barbarous” and called for the immediate end to violence.

Early Sunday, reports indicated that the death toll had risen to 58 with over 150 people wounded.

The incident happened on Saturday evening when a car bomb was detonated close to the school. Among the victims are many students, including girls.

In their statement, the US said: “The United States condemns the barbarous attack near a girls’ school in Kabul, Afghanistan.”

The State Department also said that the US will continue to support and partner with people of Afghanistan.

“We will continue to support and partner with the people of Afghanistan, who are determined to see to it that the gains of the past two decades aren’t erased.”

According to the Afghan Ministry of Interior, three explosions took place close to the school. The first was a car bomb followed by two IEDs.

No group or individual have so far claimed responsibility for the explosions but the Taliban denied involvement in the attack in a tweet posted shortly after the incident.

However, President Ashraf Ghani has blamed the Taliban for the attack.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also strongly condemned the “horrific attack”.

He said those responsible for “this heinous crime” must be held accountable.

Guterres also underlined the urgency of ending the violence in Afghanistan and achieving a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Alison Blake, the UK’s Ambassador to Kabul also condemned the attack and said: “Children must never be the target of violence.”

“Our sympathies and deepest condolences to the families and all affected by this atrocious attack on schoolchildren in Kabul.

“Words are not enough. Those responsible must be brought to justice and held to account,” she said.

The German Embassy in Kabul also issued a statement and said: “We condemn yesterday’s horrific attack on Sayed-ul-Shuhada girls high school. Killing children is an assault on the future of Afghanistan.

“Our thoughts are with victims of this despicable act and their families. Our deepest condolences to families and friends of the murdered students.”

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore also issued a statement and said violence around schools is not acceptable.

“Schools should be a place of peace and a place where children can play, learn and socialize with a sense of security and safety,” she said.

“Children should never and under no circumstances be the target of violence.

“UNICEF urges the warring parties to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law and to ensure the safety and security of all children,” Fore said.

A senior security official meanwhile told Reuters on Sunday on condition of anonymity that most of the casualties were students coming out of the Sayed ul Shuhada school, and many were badly wounded in hospital.

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IEA, US meet in Doha to discuss freeing of Afghanistan’s frozen assets

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

A senior Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) delegation, led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, headed to Qatar on Wednesday to hold talks with US officials to release some of the $9 billion of frozen reserves. 

According to a Washington Post report, US officials have tried to set up a system for assets to be managed, while simultaneously erecting safeguards to ensure the funds are not siphoned off for misuse by the IEA.

One option discussed by those close to the talks involves having a third party trust fund administer the money, according to the report.

Bloomberg also reported that the discussion will center around “creating a mechanism for releasing the frozen Afghan reserves.” 

Ahmad Wali Haqmal, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s finance ministry told Bloomberg: “We’re expecting this would be a serious round of talks.”

US officials have expressed optimism about the progress on talks but cautioned that several obstacles to the deal remain.

“It would be accurate to say negotiations are underway,” said Shah Mehrabi, an economics professor at Montgomery College in Maryland and a senior member of  Afghanistan’s central bank board since 2002. 

“We are in the process of trying to come up with a mechanism that will allow the transfer of reserves to the central bank of Afghanistan,” he said.

Mehrabi said food costs have skyrocketed by 18 percent in the past several months. Basic household goods rose in cost by 35 percent during the first few months of the year; in May, inflation for household goods hit 42 percent, Mehrabi said.

“These reserves belong to the Afghan people; they are needed to stabilize prices,” he said. “The faster it is delivered to the central bank of Afghanistan, the sooner we will see the impact of the reduction in prices that are critical to enable ordinary Afghans to afford food, cooking oil, and sugar and fuel. Now, they can’t do that.”

The delegation includes central bank Governor Mohammad Idris and Deputy Finance Minister Nazir Kabiri. They will meet with the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West and officials from the treasury department, Haqmal said.

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‘If Putin was a woman’ he would not have invaded Ukraine: UK PM

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have invaded Ukraine if he were a woman, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday.

“If Putin was a woman, which he obviously isn’t, but if he were, I really don’t think he would’ve embarked on a crazy, macho war of invasion and violence in the way that he has,” Johnson said in an interview to German broadcaster ZDF.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is “a perfect example of toxic masculinity”, he said, calling for better education for girls around the world and for “more women in positions of power”.

The British prime minister acknowledged that “of course people want the war to end”, but for the moment “there’s no deal available. Putin isn’t making an offer of peace”.

Johnson’s comments come ahead of a NATO meeting where allies will discuss how to respond to future threats.

Western allies must support Ukraine to enable it to be in the best possible strategic position in the event that peace negotiations with Moscow do become possible, Johnson said.

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Grand assembly to discuss ways to improve economic, social conditions: Hanafi

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

The grand assembly of religious scholars, scheduled to begin Thursday, is expected to discuss ways to improve economic and social conditions, Abdul Salam Hanafi, deputy prime minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said on Wednesday.

Hanafi said people from various ethnic groups and with different views will sit for discussion, which is a positive step in maintaining stability and strengthening national unity in the country.

 “After years, Afghans from various sections and ethnic groups and with different views sit with each other for discussion without foreign interference,” Hanafi said in an interview to RTA. “It is in itself a positive and valuable step for maintaining stability and strengthening national unity.”

He said that more than 3,000 people will participate in the gathering under the mega Loya Jirga tent in Kabul.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the IEA, also said that the gathering will be held under tight security measures.

He said that all technical preparations have been finalized and there will be several committees discussing key issues.

It will be the largest gathering in Kabul after the IEA took over in August last year. 

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