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Kabul remains calm but residents live in uncertainty

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Afghanistan’s capital Kabul
Afghanistan’s capital Kabul
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Afghanistan’s capital Kabul has been experiencing relatively peaceful days since the Taliban took control of the city on Sunday

Afghanistan’s capital Kabul has been experiencing relatively peaceful days since the Taliban took control of the city on Sunday, but the residents have been living in uncertainty as the new establishment has yet to formally replace the former administration.

In a rapid but peaceful move, the Taliban fighters captured Kabul on Sunday.

Since then the city has been calm with no major security incidents reported.

However, the government offices, as well as private and state-run schools and universities, have mostly remained closed in spite of the Taliban’s call on the employees to attend their offices and continue their works.

On Tuesday evening, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in his first news conference since entering Kabul, called upon government employees and those in the private sector to resume their normal duty.

Mujahid assured the people that their lives and properties would be safe and protected.

Defending Taliban’s 20 years of war against the U.S.-led forces, Mujahid said they have defeated the invading foreign forces and liberated the country from foreign occupation.

Announcing the end of the protracted war in Afghanistan, Mujahid said the “Islamic Emirate (of Afghanistan)’’ has no enmity with anyone and has declared general amnesty to all Afghans including the former foes.

The Afghan national defense and security forces said the former government employees including the army and police could live free of fear in the homeland.

He also assured that foreign diplomatic missions, United Nations offices, and non-government agencies can continue their work and the Taliban wanted to have a broad-based government in Afghanistan.

Addressing the concerns of certain countries, Mujahid said at the news conference that “we assure the international community, our neighbours and regional countries and the United States of America’’ that Afghanistan will not be used against any country.

The Islamic Emirate (of Afghanistan) would respect the right of women and women can work in the sector of education, health, and other fields within the framework of sharia or Islamic law, he said.

Since the U.S. troops started to pull out of Afghanistan from May 1, the Taliban began to launch major offensives on Afghan forces.

During the past two weeks, the military group has captured most of Afghanistan’s territories in its blitz attacks, including the capital of Kabul.

Amid the fast-evolving situation, some Kabul residents fear the eruption of another war and worried about the uncertain future, as the intra-Afghan talks have failed to bear fruit.

“Many former warlords have gone missing

either outside the country or been hidden inside the country, they could fight back,’’ a street vendor Mohammad Azim said.

“Afghanistan is the depot of weapons and any mistake could spark a violent war,’’ a Kabul resident Noor Khan added.

Khan, who was attempting to flee the country due to the unstable situation, said apart from maintaining peace and security, the authorities also needed to ensure job opportunities and economic stability for the citizens. (Xinhua/NAN)

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International

Ruto Sworn In As Kenya’s President

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William Ruto takes Oath of Office as New Kenya President
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William Ruto was sworn in as Kenya’s fifth post-independence president at a pomp-filled ceremony on Tuesday, after his narrow victory in a bitterly-fought but largely peaceful election.

He was sworn in by the Chief Judge, Martha Koome, on Tuesday at a ceremony held in the packed Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani.

Amid cheers from the excited crowd, Ruto swore an oath of allegiance and another oath for the execution of the functions of the office.

“I William Samoei Ruto, in full realisation of the high calling I assume as president of Kenya, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the public of Kenya, that I will obey, preserve and protect this constitution of Kenya,” he said.

Ruto beat his rival Raila Odinga — who had been backed by outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta — by less than two percentage points in the August 9 poll.

The 55-year-old rags-to-riches businessman, who once sold chickens on the roadside, now faces a daunting task to steer a polarised country gripped by a cost-of-living crisis and punishing drought.

His rise to State House has been closely watched by the international community, which looks to Kenya as a reliable and stable democracy in a turbulent region.

Foreign allies and independent observers praised the conduct of the vote, which was largely peaceful and free of the violence that has marred past elections in the country of 50 million people.

Ruto won by only around 200,000 votes out of 14 million but the Supreme Court on September 5 upheld his victory, dismissing his opponents’ claims of fraud and mismanagement.

Outgoing head of state Kenyatta, who in a stunning turn of events had backed his longtime arch-rival Odinga in the election race, has promised a smooth transfer of power.

Kenyatta finally shook hands with Ruto at a meeting at the presidential residence on Monday after pointedly failing to publicly congratulate his deputy for several weeks.
Ruto has struck a conciliatory tone, extending a “hand of brotherhood” to his rivals and their supporters.

“We are not enemies. We are Kenyans,” Ruto said after the court’s decision.

But Odinga turned down an invitation to attend Tuesday’s ceremony and instead travelled outside the country, charging in a statement that the election body did not conduct a “free and fair” poll.

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Queen Elizabeth II dies at age 96

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Queen Elizabeth II
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The United Kingdom’s longest serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II has died

The Queen died at Balmoral at the age of 96, after reigning for 70 years.

Family members gathered at Queen’s Scottish estate after concerns grew about her health earlier on Thursday.

The Queen came to the throne in 1952 and witnessed enormous social change.

With her death, her eldest son Charles, the former Prince of Wales, will lead the country in mourning as the new King and head of state for 14 Commonwealth realms.

A statement by the Buckingham Palace said: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.

“The King and the Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”

All the Queen’s children travelled to Balmoral, near Aberdeen, after doctors placed the Queen under medical supervision.

Her grandson, Prince William, is also there, with his brother, Prince Harry, on his way.

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International

Pakistan Flood: Death Toll Tops 1,000

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Pakistan Flood: Death Toll Tops 1,000
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The death toll from monsoon flooding in Pakistan since June has reached 1,033, according to figures released Sunday by the country’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

It said 119 people had died in the previous 24 hours as heavy rains continued to lash parts of the country.

The annual monsoon is essential for irrigating crops and replenishing lakes and dams across the Indian subcontinent, but each year it also brings a wave of destruction.

Officials say this year’s monsoon flooding has affected more than 33 million people — one in seven Pakistanis — destroying or badly damaging nearly a million homes.

The NDMA said more than two million acres of cultivated crops have been wiped out, 3,451 kilometers (2,150 miles) of roads destroyed, and 149 bridges washed away.

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