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Blasts kill 26 in Afghanistan; IS, Taliban claim responsibility

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Kabul, June 20 : Three separate blasts claimed 26 lives including those of two suicide bombers and 14 Nepalese nationals and injured more than 50 others in Afghanistan on Monday. The killings evoked strong condemnation.

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in a statement released by his office blamed the enemies of Afghanistan for the attacks, saying the terrorists by conducting subversive activities in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan want to terrorise the people.

In his message, the president also expressed sympathy with the families of the Nepalese and Afghan victims.

Afghan government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah denounced the deadly bombings by saying, “I condemn the terrorist attack on those travelling to their work places in Kabul this morning. This attack is an act of terror and intimidation.”

In a suicide attack which targeted the minibus of Nepalese nationals reportedly worked as guards at the Canadian embassy at 5.40 a.m. 14 Nepalese citizens were killed and nine others including four Afghans injured.

Both the Islamic State terrorist group and the Taliban claimed responsibility for the bloodbath.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a purported Taliban spokesman, said over 20 people were killed or wounded in the attack. It said its “fighters” carried out the operation.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “strongly condemned the horrible tragedy” and offered “deep condolences” to the governments and people of Afghanistan and Nepal.

Nepal reacted with grief and shock.

Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli said: “I am shocked to hear that 14 Nepalis were killed… I express my heartfelt condolences to their kin.”

He wished early recovery to those injured in the horrific incident.

Nepal has no embassy in Afghanistan. Its mission in Islamabad oversees the Afghan affairs.

The Nato-led Resolute Support Mission said: “The Taliban’s actions repeatedly harm civilians in an effort to undermine the government…”

A similar bombing in a bazaar in Kasham district of the northern Badakhshan province at around 10 a.m. claimed the lives of 10 civilians and injured 40 others, according to provincial government spokesman Nawed Frotan.

A bomb blast injured five people including a member of the Kabul provincial council Attaullah Faizani on the same day.

Afghans from all walks of life have strongly condemned the three bombings in a single day as a cowardly act of terror, calling upon the militants to respect Ramadan.

Kabul resident Abdul Ghani said, “Ramadan is the month of peace and reconciliation and killing people in this month is against teaching of Islam”.

Earlier on the eve of Ramadan, ulema or religious scholars had asked the Taliban to halt hostilities or at least observe a ceasefire during Ramadan.

However, the Taliban outfit described Ramadan as the month of Jihad or holy war and victory and vowed to intensify fighting in the month of Ramadan, a statement that has been widely condemned by Afghans.

Middle East

Gaza protests : 4 killed, 618 injured

Eyewitnesses said Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at journalists and TV crew in eastern Gaza. Palestinian demonstrators brought down an Israeli drone carrying a camera used to film demonstrators in eastern Gaza City.

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Gaza protests

Jerusalem, June 9 (IANS) Four Palestinian protesters were killed and 618 others wounded by Israeli soldiers on Friday during clashes near the Israel-Gaza border, officials said.

Ashraf al-Qedra, the Health Ministry spokesman in Gaza, said Zeyad al-Briem, 25, and Haytham al-Jammal, 15, were killed in east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip, while Emad Darabieh, 26, was shot dead in east of Jabalia in northern Gaza.

Meanwhile, Yousef al-Faseeh, 29, was killed in east of Gaza City, Xinhua reported.

Among the injured Palestinians, 117 were hit with live gunshots, 60 with tear gas inhalation, and 77 by bullets shrapnels or tear gas canisters, said al-Qedra.

The clashes, which broke out on Friday afternoon, were part of the 11th Friday “Great March of Return” held by Palestinians in Gaza since March 30. More than 120 Palestinians have been killed so far.

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The Palestinian organisers called the latest rally “the Friday of the One-million-men March for Jerusalem”.

Local media reported that thousands of Palestinian demonstrators joined the protests at five different spots in eastern Gaza.

Hundreds of kites carrying Molotov cocktails flown by demonstrators landed on Israeli agricultural fields and caused large fires.

Eyewitnesses said Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at journalists and TV crew in eastern Gaza. Palestinian demonstrators brought down an Israeli drone carrying a camera used to film demonstrators in eastern Gaza City.

Five journalists were injured, including AFP photographer Mohamed al-Baba, who was shot in his right foot, and a cameraman working for the al-Aqsa Radio of Hamas, who was hit with a tear gas canister in his back, the Health Ministry in Gaza said.

The Ministry also accused Israeli soldiers of firing tear gas at the medical workers who were treating the injured protesters.

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Middle East

Israel begins building marine barrier with Gaza

Israel claims Hamas constructs these tunnels to attack Israeli civilians.

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Avigdor Liberman

Jerusalem, May 28 (IANS) Israel’s Defence Minister on Sunday announced that construction had begun on a marine barrier with the Gaza Strip extending into the Mediterranean Sea.

Avigdor Liberman said in a statement that the barrier aimed to prevent any attempts by Palestinians in Gaza to enter Israeli territory through the sea, Efe news reported.

“This is an additional setback for Hamas, which has lost another strategic capability that it has invested massive amounts in developing. We will continue to protect the citizens of Israel with might and sophistication,” Liberman said.

The barrier is to consist of three layers, one of which is to be underwater, and is expected to be completed within a year, the statement added.

During Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, members of the military wing of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that governs the Gaza Strip, managed to swim to Israeli territory and launch an attack on a Israeli army installation before being killed.

Israeli authorities are also constructing an underground barrier beneath the Gaza-Israel boundary to stop Hamas from digging tunnels into Israeli territory.

Israel claims Hamas constructs these tunnels to attack Israeli civilians.

An independent inquiry into the 2014 war in Gaza by the UN Human Rights Council concluded that “the tunnels were only used to conduct attacks directed at IDF (Israeli army) positions in Israel in the vicinity of the Green Line, which are legitimate military targets.”

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Middle East

US drone strikes kill 11 IS militants in Afghanistan

The drone strikes were launched on Sunday. Two IS militants were also wounded and three vehicles were destroyed after the raids.

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Kabul, May 28 : At least 11 Islamic State (IS) militants were killed after US and NATO-led coalition forces launched airstrikes in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, authorities said on Monday.

“The drone strikes were launched on Sunday. Two IS militants were also wounded and three vehicles were destroyed after the raids,” an Army statement said.

Also on Sunday, Afghan Army helicopters struck and destroyed two heroin factories in Khogyani district, reports Xinhua news agency.

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