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40 Taliban militants surrender in Afghan province

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TALIBAN in Afghanistan

Kabul, Jan 22 Forty Taliban militants have surrendered to Afghan National Army in the country’s western province of Ghor amid military pressure in the mountainous region, Afghan Ministry of Defence confirmed on Wednesday.

“About 40 Taliban militants laid down arms and gave up fighting in Shahrak district of western Ghor province on Tuesday,” the ministry said in a statement.

The latest surrendering came as a joint cleanup and search operation conducted by Afghan army, police and intelligence agency personnel has been continuing in Shahrak, Xinhua news agency reported.

About 150 Taliban surrendered to army in Shahrak over the past weeks, according to the statement.

The statement said the former militants found out that “Taliban militants are fighting to harm Afghans so they decided to quit that wrong pathway and join the pace and reconciliation process.”

The surrendered militants also handed over their weapons.

More than 350 armed insurgents have surrendered to local authorities as government forces geared up crackdowns on militants across the country since January.

The militant groups haven’t responded to the reports so far.

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S.Korea warns of more COVID-19 cases as total reaches 2,931

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Seoul, Feb 29 (IANS) South Korea on Saturday warned a large number of virus cases will be reported in Daegu, the epicentre of the country’svirus outbreak, as the total number of infections rose to 2,931, with 17 fatalities.

On Saturday, the country reported 594 new cases of which 476 were in Daegu, 300 km southeast of Seoul, and 60 in neighbouring North Gyeongsang province, Yonhap News Agency quoted the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) as saying.

The sharp increase in cases in Daegu, the country’s fourth-largest city with a population of 2.5 million, came as authorities began intensive tests on followers of the Shincheonji church.

Many more confirmed virus cases were expected in the coming days as health authorities have begun testing more than 210,000 Shincheonji followers.

South Korea’s health authorities have so far surveyed 88 per cent of the followers of the church, with around 2 per cent of them showing symptoms of the novel virus.

The KCDC said it has collected samples from 3,381 church members who showed symptoms of COVID-19 infection.

“The proportion of confirmed cases among Shincheonji followers is very high, and over the next few days, the number of new cases in Daegu will run high till virus tests on the church followers are completed,” Yonhap News Agency quoted Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip as saying at a briefing here.

South Korea confirmed its first new coronavirus case in a Chinese woman from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, on January 20.

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Pakistan’s economy shows positive indicators: PM’s Office

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Imran Khan Pakistan PM

Islamabad, Feb 28 : Pakistan’s economic indicators are seeing a constant improvement due to efforts made by the current government to overcome the serious economic challenges, the Prime Minister’s Office said on Friday.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, chairing a meeting of his economic team, expressed satisfaction over the improvement in all sectors, adding that his government is making efforts to bring a trickle-down effect of the improving economy on general public and in this regard steps are being taken to provide relief to low income and salaried class of the country, Xinhua reported.

He also directed the economic team to keep the public updated about the positive indicators of the economy in a bid to win the confidence of the local businessman to invest in the country.

Earlier this month, the prime minister approved subsidy of Pakistani Rs 10 billion ($65 million) on five essential food items for controlling rampant inflation in the country.

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Iranian vice president tests positive for coronavirus

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Tehran, Feb 28 Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar has tested positive for the coronavirus, an official said on Thursday.

Ebtekar’s adviser Fariba Ibtihaj said the vice president tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Iran’s official IRNA news agency  reported.

“Everyone in the vice president’s team was also tested and the results will be available on Saturday,” she said.

Ebtekar is not the first high-ranking Iranian official to contract the virus.

Ebtekar, joins the deputy health minister, the head of the national security commission and a reformist MP who have been infected with the virus, reports Efe news.

She tested positive on Thursday after showing symptoms the previous day during a cabinet meeting, according to state TV.

The politician is one of the most recognizable in the Islamic Republic and previously held the position of environment minister.

Iran has reported 26 deaths from the deadly disease and 245 cases total with a dramatic surge of 106 new infections registered on Thursday, the Health Ministry said.

Tehran authorities have decided to close down schools and universities in the country to curb the spread of the disease.

Friday prayers in the capital have also been cancelled.

Amid the spread of the virus, neighbouring countries have closed their land borders with Iran and most airlines have suspended their flights or imposed restrictions on air travel to the country.

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