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140 Afghan soldiers killed in deadly Taliban attack

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KABUL, Afghanistan — A day after a lethal Taliban assault on an army base in northern Afghanistan, an official said on Saturday that at least 140 soldiers had been killed, making it the single deadliest known attack on an Afghan military base in the course of the long war.

The attack was condemned by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the NATO and Afghan CEO Abdullah Abdullah among others.

Taliban militants dressed as army men stormed the 209 Shaheen Corps Headquarters, one of the largest military bases in Mazar-e-Sharif city, during Friday prayers. Ten Taliban militants were killed by the forces, Tolo news reported.

The Taliban group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement said the attack was a retribution for the killings of several senior Taliban leaders in northern Afghanistan, according to reports.

“Strongly condemn the cowardly terror attack in Mazar-e-Sharif. Our prayers and condolences to the families who lost loved ones,” said Indian Prime Minister Modi.

In a separate statement, India’s External Affairs Ministry said the terror attack is “a stark reminder of the need to immediately dismantle the safe havens and sanctuaries that support and sustain terrorism in Afghanistan from outside its borders”.

It said that India remains steadfast in its support to Afghanistan in fighting all forms of terrorism and bringing perpetrators of terrorist violence to justice, wherever they may be.

Afghan Soldier

An Afghan soldier at a hospital on Saturday, a day after a Taliban attack in northern Afghanistan.

A local official said the toll is expected to rise further as some of the injured are in critical condition.

Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said Taliban militants wearing Army uniforms stormed the compound during Friday prayers.

The militants entered the base in a military vehicle and began shooting at the soldiers as they prayed at a mosque in the base.

A spokesman said that 10 militants were killed by the forces.

Afghanistan CEO Abdullah Abdullah has condemned the “cowardly” attack”.

“What Taliban did in Mazar today (Friday) was against all values,” he said.

Former President Hamid Karzai tweeted: “I condemn in strongest terms the terrorist attack on our military base in Mazar-e-Sharif that killed and wounded many of our brave soldiers.”

The NATO Resolute Support Mission also condemned the attack, calling it reprehensible.

General John Nicholson, Commander of NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, said in a statement that the attack “shows the barbaric nature of the Taliban”.

“All of us condemn such murderous and reprehensible actions.”

The statement also reaffirmed the NATO’s support to the Afghan forces.

“The Afghan National Defence and Security forces and the people of Afghanistan have my personal assurance that we will continue to stand with them. We support our valuable friends and partners in the fight against terrorism,” it said.

The attack came just two days after Defence Minister Abdullah Habibi visited the base during a trip to Balkh.

It is the second major attack on an Afghan military installation in 2017.

The Taliban in March attacked Sardar Mohammad Daoud military hospital here killing at least 50 persons.

The attack is the deadliest in Afghanistan since July 2016, when two Islamic State suicide bombers killed 80 Hazara protesters.

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Afghanistan: Blast near office of ‘Save The Children’ aid group in Jalalabad

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Afghan, Jan 25: A blast occurred near office of ‘Save The Children’ aid group in the eastern Afghanistan city of Jalalabad – government official said on Wednesday.

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6.1-magnitude quake hits Jakarta

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Jakarta, Jan 23: An earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale jolted the Indonesian capital on Tuesday, damaging dozens of houses and sending people fleeing into the streets in panic.

The earthquake struck around 1.34 p.m. about 100 miles southwest of Jakarta, with its epicentre in the Indian Ocean. There were no immediate reports of casualties, Efe news reported.

Reports said that buildings in the capital shook for several seconds, with some being evacuated. In Lebak district of Banten province, as many as 116 houses were damaged after the quake, an official of the disaster management agency said.

A total of 13 houses were damaged in Serang district of Banten province and four others in West Java province.

Around Jakarta, panicky Indonesians fled schools, office buildings and other high-rises, the New York Times reported.

“It felt like a giant rock had dropped either in the hallway or just outside the building,” said Marcoen Stoop, a Belgian businessman who lives on the 35th floor of an apartment building in Jakarta.

“Then, the building started swaying and the swaying increased steadily,” he added, saying the rocking lasted less than a minute.

In 2004, a powerful quake in the northern part of Sumatra Island triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed around 230,000 people in a dozen countries, mostly in Indonesia.

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Powerful 8.2 magnitude Earth Quake jolts Alaska

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New Delhi, Jan 23: A powerful earthquake of 8.2 magnitude shook the coast of Alaska on Tuesday. Following this tsunami warning has been issued across the United States.

The quake hit 300 km southeast of Kodiak at a depth of 10 km at 12.21 a.m., the US Geological Survey said.

The US National Tsunami Warning Centre issued a tsunami alert for areas that included the coast of Alaska to British Columbia and the border with Washington State, and a tsunami watch all the way down to the border of Mexico and the coast of Hawaii, the New York Times reported.

Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, issued an extreme warning, saying there was “extraordinary threat to life or property”.

The alert told people to seek refuge on higher grounds in affected areas. Authorities said that based on the preliminary earthquake parameters, “widespread hazardous tsunami waves were possible”.

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