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Defense Ministry calls out Taliban on increased number of roadside bombs 

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(Last Updated On: September 10, 2020)

Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said Thursday the Taliban had carried out 368 attacks in 22 provinces last week.

He said at least 49 civilians had been killed in these attacks and that dozens more had been wounded. 

These figures do not however reflect Wednesday’s explosion in Kabul that targeted Vice President Amrullah Saleh’s convoy – killing at least 10 people. 

The Ministry of Defense meanwhile tweeted Thursday that the Afghan National Army had in the past few days safely defused dozens of IEDs planted by the Taliban, intending to kill civilians. 

In one Twitter post, the MoD said the Taliban “have increased planting explosives and IEDs on public roads to kill innocent people.”

On Wednesday alone, the Afghan National Army (ANA) defused 29 IEDs in Mawand district of Kandahar province. 

Another 22 IEDs planted by the Taliban on public roads in Nahresaraj and Nadali districts of Helmand province were also discovered and defused. 

“The IEDs were intended to kill civilians. TB’s explosive inflict heavy casualties on civilians, while ANDSF risk their lives to protect Afghans,” the MoD stated.

In another incident, a “large IED on a public road” in Sancharak district of Sar-e-Pul province was detected and defused on Wednesday and a further 10 were found in two districts in Farah province. 

All were found on public roads and “intended to kill civilians”, said the MoD. 

These reports reflect findings by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Afghanistan, which highlights serious conflict across the country in the past week. 

In their weekly update Wednesday night, UNOCHA stated that 78,610 people had been displaced by conflict in the north-east in the past week. 

Fighting resulted in the deaths of at least 11 civilians in Kunduz alone. 

To date, the clashes in Kunduz have resulted in the displacement of an estimated 10,730 families (approximately 75,110 people). 

Hundreds more have been displaced due to fighting In Takhar province, Badakhshan, and Baghlan. 

In the eastern part of the country, fighting displaced 4,634 people and the security situation remained volatile in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces.

The security situation also remained volatile in the north with continued armed clashes between ANSF and insurgents in Balkh, Faryab, Sar-e-Pul and Jawzjan provinces. 

During the reporting period – August 31 to September 6 – the security situation deteriorated across the south, UNOCHA stated adding that the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) continued to hinder civilian movements between districts and provincial capitals in Helmand and Zabul provinces. 

Their report stated that roads connecting Shah Wali Kot and Arghestan districts are reportedly contaminated with IEDs which is also affecting the movement of supplies to districts.

Also, in Uruzgan province, the road connecting Trinkot and Chinarto districts remained blocked affecting approximately 800 families (about 5,600 people) who are unable to access food and medical services. 

UNOCHA stated that the security situation continued to be tense across the west. 

In Ghor province, three civilians were killed in an IED explosion. They also stated that about 10,406 undocumented people returned to Afghanistan from Iran from 29 August to 3 September.

Fighting was also ongoing in Farah and Badghis provinces. 

“Needs assessments of people affected by conflict are ongoing across the west,” UNOCHA stated. 

The central parts of the country also remained volatile with violence ongoing in Kabul province. 

 

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Desert Vipers secure 7 wicket win against MI Emirates

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(Last Updated On: January 25, 2023)

Alex Hales and Sherfane Rutherford’s sparkling unbeaten half centuries and skipper Colin Munro’s cameo knock carried Desert Vipers past MI Emirates in the 15th match of the DP World ILT20 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Tuesday night. 

Desert Vipers, through a fine display of intelligent bowling, had also restricted MI Emirates to 169 for 5 despite half centuries from Kieron Pollard and Nicholas Pooran.

Hales hit an unbeaten 62 runs off 44 balls with six boundaries and two sixes while Sherfane Rutherford scored a breezy unbeaten 56 off 29 balls with four boundaries and three sixes to put on an unbeaten 94 off 52 balls for the fourth wicket. 

Desert Vipers’ skipper Colin Munro set the momentum through a fine knock of 41 runs off 22 balls with four boundaries and three sixes. 

Speaking about their performance Desert Vipers’ Sherfane Rutherford said: “I want to keep things simple and just watch the ball. I was just trying to react to the ball. The key was just to use the pace and that worked for me.”

Meanwhile, MI Emirates’ Trent Boult said: “It becomes easier to bat on in the second innings here. I thought they played extremely well. They timed their innings quite nicely. That’s a luxury when you’re chasing 170.”

 

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Iranian arrested in Germany, suspected of plotting chemical attack

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(Last Updated On: January 8, 2023)

A 32-year-old Iranian man has been arrested in Germany on suspicion of planning an attack with deadly chemicals, officials said Sunday.

Police and prosecutors said the man and another person were detained overnight in the town of Castrop-Rauxel, northwest of Dortmund.

In a joint statement they said the man is suspected to have planned a serious attack motivated by Islamic extremism, for which he had allegedly obtained the potent toxins cyanide and ricin, the Associated Press reported.

German news agency dpa reported that specialists wearing anti-contamination suits carried evidence out of the man’s home.

Tabloid newspaper Bild reported that German authorities had received a tip from an allied intelligence agency about the alleged plans for a chemical attack.

Five years ago, German police arrested a Tunisian man and his wife on suspicion of planning to carry out a ricin attack in the name of the Islamic State (ISIS) group. They were later found guilty and sentenced to 10 and eight years’ imprisonment, respectively.

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Traders expect Pakistan’s Rupee to lose ground in coming week

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(Last Updated On: January 8, 2023)

Traders expect the Pakistani rupee to weaken further in the coming week owing to a sharp decline in foreign exchange reserves brought on by fresh repayments of external debt.

Traders say this is causing concern for investors who are worried about how the country’s economic situation will develop.

“We expect the rupee to depreciate much further during the course of the upcoming week due to declining foreign reserves and repayment of foreign loans. Any developments on the IMF (International Monetary Fund) front are being eagerly watched by the market,” a forex trader said.

The local currency closed at 226.94 against the US dollar on Monday while it ended the week at 227.14 against the dollar on Friday.

Pakistan paid back $600 million to the Emirates NBD Bank and $420 million to the Dubai Islamic Bank, causing the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) reserves to fall to a critically low level of $4.5 billion.

The coming week is turning out to be significant for Pakistan’s economy as a donors’ conference is set to begin on Monday, January 9, which will be led by the US in partnership with Pakistan to garner support for post-flood aid, according to Geo TV.

Currently, Pakistan’s chief of army staff is visiting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Experts have said “no one is second guessing what this trip is about.”

Meanwhile, the delay in IMF funding of $1.1 billion has made Pakistan struggle to allay default fears.

Islamabad and the IMF differ over a review of policy and reforms the Fund is requiring in the country. The IMF’s programe review was supposed to be finished in November, Geo TV reported.

The IMF programe is connected to another essential foreign financing, making it difficult for the country to meet its external funding requirements. Up until June, they amounted to more than $30 billion and included imports, especially energy, and debt repayments.

The decline in the forex reserves put pressure on the rupee owing to the government’s slow progress in rolling over and securing foreign inflows from international lenders.

Given that elections are slated to take place this year, the government keeps delaying the IMF’s requirements out of concern for further political capital loss.

The local currency has lost 28.3% of its value against the dollar in 2022.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has assured that the government would complete the IMF programe.

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