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Russia-led bloc holds large-scale drills near Tajik-Afghan border

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(Last Updated On: October 18, 2021)

A Russia-led post-Soviet security bloc started its largest military drills near the Tajik-Afghan border in years on Monday amid cross-border tensions ahead of talks between Afghanistan’s new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) leaders and major regional powers, Reuters reported.

Unlike Afghanistan’s other northern neighbours who have de facto acknowledged the IEA leadership and started building working relationships with Kabul, Tajikistan has refused to recognise the IEA and there are reports of troop build-ups on both sides of the border.

According to the report the exercise carried out by the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) will involve over 5,000 servicemen, more than half of them Russian soldiers, Russia and Tajikistan’s defence ministries said.

The six-day drills follow a series of smaller-scale exercises held in the vicinity of the Afghan border by Russia and its Central Asian allies in August and September.

Russia is worried about the possibility of Islamist militants infiltrating the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, which Moscow views as its southern defensive buffer, Reuters reported.

Moscow operates a military base in the former Soviet republic and has reassured Dushanbe it would assist it in the event of any cross-border intrusion.

A high-level IEA delegation is set to visit Moscow this week for talks that will also involve China, Pakistan, India and Iran, although a senior Russian official has been reported as saying he did not expect any breakthrough.

Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan, also said officials from Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan would meet separately in Moscow on Tuesday to come up with a united position on the changing situation in Afghanistan.

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30,000-year-old baby mammoth found almost perfectly preserved in Canada

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

A gold miner found a mummified baby wooly mammoth that was almost perfectly preserved in the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin Traditional Territory in Yukon, Canada. 

According to a press release from the local government, the female baby mammoth has been named Nun cho ga by the First Nation Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in elders, which translates to “big baby animal” in the Hän language. 

Nun cho ga is the most complete mummified mammoth discovered in North America, Science Alert reported.

Nun cho ga died and was frozen in permafrost during the ice age, over 30,000 years ago, said the press release. She would have roamed the Yukon alongside wild horses, cave lions, and giant steppe bison. 

The frozen mammoth was recovered by geologists after a young miner in the Klondike gold fields found the remains while digging up dirt.

Dr. Grant Zazula, the Yukon government’s paleontologist, said the miner had made the “most important discovery in paleontology in North America,” reported The Weather Channel.

The baby mammoth was probably with her mother when it ventured off a little too far and got stuck in the mud, Zazula told The Weather Channel.

Professor Dan Shugar, from the University of Calgary, part of the team who excavated the wooly mammoth, said that this discovery was the “most exciting scientific thing I have ever been part of.”

He described how immaculately the mammoth had been preserved, saying that it still had intact toenails, hide, hair, trunk, and even intestines, with its last meal of grass still present. 

According to the press release, Yukon is renowned for its store of ice age fossils, but rarely are such immaculate and well-preserved finds discovered. Zazula wrote in the press release that “as an ice age paleontologist, it has been one of my lifelong dreams to come face to face with a real wooly mammoth.”

“That dream came true today. Nun cho ga is beautiful and one of the most incredible mummified ice age animals ever discovered in the world.”

The wooly mammoth, about the size of the African elephant, roamed the earth until about 4,000 years ago. Early humans hunted them for food and used mammoth bones and tusks for art, tools, and dwellings. Scientists are divided as to whether hunting or climate change drove them into extinction.

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2,000 hectares of land cleared of poppies in Herat: officials

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

Around 2,000 hectares of poppy fields have been cleared in recent months in Afghanistan’s western Herat province, officials said Monday.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) in April announced a ban on the cultivation of poppy in Afghanistan.

“If anyone violates the decree the crop will be destroyed immediately and the violator will be treated according to the sharia law,” a decree issued by IEA’s Supreme Leader Hebatullah Akhundzada read.

Speaking at a ceremony to celebrate World Drug Day, Hayatullah Rouhani, head of counter-narcotics unit of the provincial police in Herat, assured the public of a serious fight against the cultivation and trafficking of narcotics.

He also said rehabilitation programs for drug addicts in the province was ongoing.

“Experience shows that the drug addiction rate will not decrease unless we round up drug dealers,” Rouhani said. “We have carried out nearly 250 operations in which we rounded up a large number of drug dealers and referred them for prosecution.”

Syed Mohammad Sadat, a provincial health official, said that IEA was seeking to fundamentally include drug addiction rehabilitation in the country’s public health system.

Around 70,000 drug addicts are estimated to be in Herat, mostly living on the streets and in recreation parks.

“They have a wife and children. There is no one without a family. They are addicted due to unemployment. I studied for 12 years, but look I have been forced to live on the street,” said Nazir Ahmad, one drug addict in Herat.

Experts say poverty, unemployment and easy availability of drugs have contributed to the rise in drug addiction.

Counternarcotic police say more than 200 people have been arrested in Herat on charges of drug dealing during the past 10 months. Over 1,000 kilograms of drug have been seized from them.

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Red Crescent allocates 10 Million AFN for earthquake victims

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

The Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) has allocated 10 million AFN for the victims of last week’s massive quake in Khost and Paktika provinces. 

Speaking at a press conference Monday in Kabul, officials from ARCS said that they would distribute $100 to each affected family, providing thousands of families with cash.

“The donation will be delivered to the areas with survey teams, and we will distribute them in cash as the locals requested,” said Mullah Nooruddin Torabi, deputy director of the Afghan Red Crescent Society. 

In addition to distributing cash, this organization will also provide blankets, tents, and home and kitchen appliances to the victims.

In addition, Torabi called on national and international humanitarian organizations to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Paktika and Khost provinces in coordination with the Afghan Red Crescent Society.

Torabi said the aid already sent by neighboring countries and countries around the world has not been enough for the quake victims. 

“We need to establish shelters, clinics, and schools for those who are suffering in the areas where the incident took place,” he added.

He also said that in order to distribute the aid among victims in a transparent manner all domestic and international humanitarian organizations must collaborate with ARCS.

Last week a deadly earthquake in Paktika and Khost provinces killed at least 1,200 people and injured more than 2,000 others.

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