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Afghan President Flees Country As Taliban Captures Kabul

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Afghan President Flees Country As Taliban Captures Kabul
Afghan President Flees Country As Taliban Captures Kabul
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President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan on Sunday, a top official said, effectively ceding power to the Taliban as they reached the capital Kabul to seal a nationwide military victory in just 10 days.

“The former Afghan President has left the nation, leaving the people to this situation,” Abdullah Abdullah, who heads the peace process, said in a video on his Facebook page.

“God hold him accountable, and the people will have their judgement.”

He gave no indication where Ghani was going, but leading Afghan media group Tolo news suggested he was heading to Tajikistan.

Ghani’s departure from office was one of the key demands of the Taliban in months of peace talks with the government, but he had stubbornly clung to power.

In just over a week, the Taliban have carried out a lightning sweep of the country, with troops incapable of holding onto territory without US military support.

The insurgents said they want a “peaceful transfer” within the next few days, two decades after US-led forces toppled it in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The group ordered its fighters earlier Sunday not to enter the capital, saying the remnants of the government’s forces were responsible for security.

But later, a spokesman tweeted that Taliban forces should enter areas deserted by Afghan forces in order to maintain law and order.

“God forbid the common thieves and robbers in Kabul do not mix, the abusers do not harm the people, the Islamic Emirate ordered its forces to enter the areas of Kabul from which the enemy went,” a statement by the Taliban said.

“There is a risk of theft and robbery.”

There are fears of a security vacuum in the capital as thousands of police and other armed services members have abandoned their posts, uniforms, and even weapons.

The United States began moving its citizens and Afghan staff to Kabul airport, with the help of thousands of troops deployed to the capital to assist with the evacuation.

However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday dismissed comparisons with the chaotic American departure from Saigon in 1975.

“The fact of the matter is this: We went to Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission in mind,” he said.

“That was to deal with the people that attacked us on 9/11. That mission has been successful.”

The Taliban’s imminent takeover triggered fear and panic in Kabul among residents fearful of the group’s hardline brand of Islam.

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International

Bin Laden’s Deputy Al-Zawahiri Killed In US Drone Strike

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Al Zawahiri
Al Zawahiri
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A United States drone strike killed Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri at a hideout in Kabul, President Joe Biden said Monday, declaring that “justice had been delivered” to the families of the 9/11 attacks.

Zawahiri’s assassination is the biggest blow to Al-Qaeda since US special forces killed Osama bin Laden in 2011 and calls into question the Taliban’s promise not to harbour militant groups.

It was the first known over-the-horizon strike by the US on a target in Afghanistan since Washington withdrew its forces from the country on August 31 last year, days after the Taliban swept back to power.

“Justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said in a sombre televised address, adding he hoped Zawahiri’s death would bring “closure” to families of the 3,000 people killed in the US on September 11, 2001.

Zawahiri was believed to be the mastermind who steered Al-Qaeda’s operations — including the 9/11 attacks — as well as bin Laden’s personal doctor.

A senior administration official said the 71-year-old Egyptian was on the balcony of a three-storey house in the Afghan capital when targeted with two Hellfire missiles after dawn Sunday.

“We identified Zawahiri on multiple occasions for sustained periods of time on the balcony where he was ultimately struck,” the official said.

The house is in Sherpur, one of Kabul’s most affluent neighbourhoods, with several villas occupied by high-ranking Taliban officials and commanders.

The interior ministry previously denied reports of a drone strike circulating on social media, telling AFP a rocket struck “an empty house” in Kabul, causing no casualties.

Early Tuesday, however, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that an “aerial attack” was carried out.

“The nature of the incident was not revealed at first,” he said.

“The security and intelligence agencies of the Islamic Emirate investigated the incident and found in their preliminary investigations that the attack was carried out by American drones.”

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International

African Union Hails Landmark Russia-Ukraine Grain Deal

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African Union
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The African Union on Saturday hailed a landmark deal between Ukraine and Russia that will allow Kyiv to resume exports of grain through the Black Sea and relieve a global food crisis.

Ukraine’s farms are a major source of grain for the world market, in particular in the Middle East and Africa, where food supplies are critically tight.

Cereal prices in the world’s poorest continent have surged because of the slump in exports, sharpening the impact of conflict and climate change and sparking fears of social unrest.

“The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat welcomes the signing by Russia and Ukraine of agreements,” a statement said, praising Senegalese leader and AU chair Macky Sall “for having called for the urgent need for the resumption of cereals from Ukraine and Russia to global markets as made to President Vladimir Putin during a joint AU mission to Sochi” in early June.

Ukraine and Russia and two of the world’s largest grain producers.

But Ukrainian mines laid across the Black Sea to avert an amphibious assault, as well as Russian warships, have blocked exports from Ukraine, leaving up to 25 million tonnes of wheat and other grain in danger of rotting in ports and silos.

Sall thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who oversaw the signing ceremony in Istanbul on Friday, as well as presidents Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.
“This was the objective of the mission I led in Sochi on June 3,” Sall tweeted.

The International Rescue Committee, which helps people affected by humanitarian crises, also welcomed the accord, saying countries in East Africa relied “on Russia and Ukraine for over 90 percent of their wheat imports”.

“The lifting of these blockades will go some way in easing the extreme hunger that over 18 million people in East Africa are facing, with three million already facing catastrophic hunger conditions,” Shashwat Saraf, IRC’s East Africa emergency director, said.

AFP

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Boris Johnson Agrees To Resign As Prime Minister

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
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British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on Thursday finally agreed to step down as Britain’s prime minister.

The Tory leader announced his resignation this afternoon at 10, Downing Street, London.

His agreement to step down comes after several weeks of intense calls for his resignation and a loss of party support, borne out of his mishandling of damaging scandals including parties held at Downing Street in defiance of coronavirus lockdowns and the appointment of Chris Pincher into his government despite knowing of past allegations of sexual misconduct.

“It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new prime minister,” Mr Johnson announced.

“I have agreed with Graham Brady, the Chairman of our back bench MPs, that the process of choosing that new leader should begin now.”

More details soon

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