A roadside bomb in Kabul targeted first Afghan Vice-President, Amrullah Saleh, on Wednesday, morning but he escaped unharmed, his spokesman said.
The attack killed at least 10 people.
The Taliban denied involvement in the attack, which comes just ahead of long-awaited peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Qatar’s capital Doha.
“Today, once again the enemy of Afghanistan tried to harm Saleh, but they failed in their evil aim, and Saleh escaped the attack unharmed,’’ Razwan Murad, a spokesman for Saleh’s office, wrote on Facebook.
He told Reuters the bomb targeted Saleh’s convoy and some of his bodyguards were injured.
Saleh appeared in a video on his social media accounts soon after, saying he had sustained a minor burn on his face and an injury to his hand in the attack.
Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a post on Twitter that Taliban fighters were not involved in the blast.
The former intelligence chief and the senior of President Ashraf Ghani’s two vice-presidents, has survived several assassination attempts, including one on his office last year that killed 20 people.
Wednesday’s blast killed at least 10 civilians and wounded 15 people including Saleh’s security guards, according to the Interior Ministry.
“Such attacks won’t weaken our resolve for a lasting and dignified peace in Afghanistan,’’ Javid Faisal, spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a tweet.
International powers including the European Union and Pakistan also condemned the attack.
“This is an attack on the Republic and desperate act by spoilers of peace efforts, who must be collectively confronted,’’ the EU Delegation in Afghanistan said in a statement on Twitter.
Officials and diplomats have warned that rising violence is sapping trust needed for the success of talks aimed at ending an insurgency that began when the Taliban was ousted from power in Kabul by United States-back forces in late 2001.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde
‘Watchmen,’ ‘Schitt’s Creek’ rule at virtual Emmys with pandemic and political twists
Media family saga “Succession,” dystopian drama “Watchmen” and feel-good comedy “Schitt’s Creek” dominated the Emmy Awards on Sunday in a show sprinkled with jokes about the coronavirus pandemic, political jibes and appeals for racial justice.
“Hello, and welcome to the PandEmmys!,” said host Jimmy Kimmel, opening the show, where most celebrities took part remotely from their sofas and backyards dressed in a variety of gowns, hoodies and sleepwear.
“It seems frivolous and unnecessary to do this during a global pandemic,” Kimmel said as he opened the live show from Los Angeles.
“What’s happening tonight is not important. It’s not going to stop COVID. It’s not going to put out the fires, but it’s fun.
“And right now we need fun. … This has been a miserable year. It’s been a year of division, injustice (and) disease,” he added.
HBO’s “Succession,” the wickedly juicy tale of a fractious media family, was named best drama series, while Jeremy Strong won best actor for his role as a downtrodden son. “Succession’s seven-Emmy haul included writing and directing.
In one of the most pointed acceptance speeches of the night, “Succession” creator Jesse Armstrong made a series of what he called “un-thank yous.”
“Un-thank you to the virus for keeping us all apart this year. Un-thank you to President Trump for his crummy and uncoordinated response.
“Un-thank you to (British Prime Minister) Boris Johnson and his government for doing the same in my country.
“Un-thank you to all the nationalist and sort of quasi-nationalist governments in the world who are exactly the opposite of what we need right now,” said Armstrong.
HBO’s alternative-reality show “Watchmen,” infused with racial themes, won for best limited series, while actress Regina King won for her lead performance as the show’s kick-ass police detective.
“Watchmen” was the night’s biggest winner with a total of 11 Emmys, including technical awards handed out last week. HBO was the biggest overall winner, with 30 Emmys, followed by Netflix with 21.
“Watchmen” creator Damon Lindelof dedicated his Emmy to the victims and survivors of the 1921 massacre of the Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which partly inspired the series.
Several celebrities, including King, presenter Sterling K. Brown, and “Mrs. America” supporting actress winner Uzo Aduba, wore Black Lives Matter-themed tee-shirts or urged viewers to vote in the Nov. 3 United States elections.
“Schitt’s Creek,” a sleeper hit on the small Pop TV network about a wealthy family forced to live in a rundown motel, won a total of nine Emmys.
“It also won best comedy series as well as acting awards for Canadian stars Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, his son Daniel Levy, and Annie Murphy.
The coronavirus pandemic meant no red carpet and no physical audience. Instead, producers sent camera kits and microphones to all the nominees, scattered in 125 places around the world, who chose how and where they wanted to be seen.
The “Schitt’s Creek” winners got their trophies delivered to them in a restaurant-style setup in Ontario, Canada, by a person dressed in a custom hazmat suit, designed to resemble a tuxedo.
The biggest shock of the night came when former Disney Channel actress Zendaya, 24, was named best drama actress for playing a teen drug addict in HBO’s “Euphoria,” beating presumed favourites Laura Linney (“Ozark”) and Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show.”)
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” was named best variety talk series for the fifth successive year, and the British comedian accepted wearing a red Liverpool soccer shirt in honour of his favourite British team.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara)
Norwegian survey shows 77% displaced people have lost jobs, income due to COVID-19
A survey by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) on Monday shows that 77 per cent of people displaced by conflicts have lost a job or revenue since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jan Egeland, the Secretary-General of the NRC, said this in a statement.
A record 79.5 million people worldwide, or 1 per cent of humanity, were displaced at the end of 2019 after fleeing wars or persecution, according to the UN.
The NRC, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), polled 1,431 refugees and internally displaced people across 14 countries including Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Kenya Libya, Mali, Uganda and Venezuela.
Some 70 per cent of those surveyed said they had to cut the number of meals for their households and 73 per cent said they were less likely to send their children to school due to economic problems.
“The price of food has doubled. We have to collect scraps to feed our children,” said Shayista Gul, 60, who lives in a two-room makeshift home together with 15 others outside Kabul in Afghanistan.
“If the coronavirus does not kill us, hunger definitely will,” she is quoted as saying by the NRC in its report.
The pandemic has led to an economic downturn affecting the most vulnerable populations, including refugees and internally displaced people, pushing them into a “dangerous downward spiral”, the NRC said.
“Already forced from their homes by violence, often with limited rights to work or access to government services, the economic impact of the pandemic is pushing them to catastrophe,” Egeland said.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu
Russia conducts its largest 2020 military exercise in Caucasus
Russia began its largest military exercise of this year on Monday in the southern part of the country’s Caucasus region, with about 80,000 troops to participate.
Forces from Russian allies Belarus, China, Armenia, Myanmar and Pakistan are taking part to strengthen coordination in joint military efforts, Russia’s Defence Ministry said in a statement.
The Caucasus-2020 exercise is to take place for five days at military bases in southern Russia and in the Black and Caspian seas, the statement said.
Russian media reported that Iranian forces would participate in naval drills in the Caspian Sea.
The exercise is to focus on combating cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as electronic warfare activities, the Russian Defence Ministry said.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Maharazu Ahmed
Pakistan resumes polio vaccination drive after hiatus due to pandemic
Tens of thousands of health workers across Pakistan started the first polio vaccination drive in several months, amid a continuing fall in coronavirus cases, officials said on Monday.
Around 40 million children are to be vaccinated for the crippling disease, which has been eradicated around the world aside from in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where it remains prevalent.
The drive, which is part of a UN-funded campaign, is due to run for a week and targets all children under the age of five, said Safdar Rana, the doctor who heads Pakistan’s anti-polio programme.
Healthcare workers administering the vaccine are to be guarded by thousands of police and troops in regions where they are routinely attacked by militants.
Pakistan launched a polio vaccine drive nationwide in February and had planned further campaigns during the year, after a warning by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of the risk of a new epidemic.
But the campaign was suspended for several months due to the novel coronavirus. The number of polio cases has risen steeply during that time.
“We will have to move swiftly to cover the backlog,” Rana said in a video statement.
So far this year, 73 children have been infected with polio in Pakistan, according to official statistics. There were 147 cases in 2019.
After peaking at 306 in 2014, polio cases had fallen to a single-digit figure in 2017, before rising again in recent years.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Maharazu Ahmed