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Taliban siege at Afghan airport; 37 killed

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Afghan security forces on Wednesday battled Taliban insurgents wearing military uniforms who stormed the airport complex in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar in an attack that killed 37 civilians as President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday sought to revive peace talks at a regional conference.

The airport serves as a base for U.S. forces and CIA operations in southern Afghanistan, and is also used by Afghan forces.

Nearly 24 hours after the siege began, one of the 11 assailants was still holding out against security forces late on Wednesday, in the most serious attack on the largest military installation in the south of the country in 14 years of war.

Witnesses said the militants had taken families hostage, using them as “human shields” after storming the sprawling complex, and slowing down the military’s clearance operation. “The fighting started around 6:00 PM (on Tuesday) and intensified over the night,” 30-year-old university student Izatullah, who lives inside the complex, said.

“Soldiers were calling on Taliban attackers to let women and children go, but the attackers declined. We could hear children screaming during the fighting.” The Afghan defence ministry on Wednesday evening said nine insurgents had been gunned down, one was injured and another was still holed up inside a building.

“Unfortunately during the battle, 37 innocent Afghans were killed and 35 others injured,” the ministry added. It did not offer any breakdown of the casualties, but a Western official briefed on the matter said that it included a large number of civilians.

“This is the most serious attack we’ve witnessed against the (Kandahar) complex”, which also houses a joint NATO-Afghan base, the official said. The militants managed to breach the first gate of the high-security air field and took up position in an old school building, engaging security forces in fierce firefights.

The Taliban posted a picture on their website of the militants it said were involved in the brazen attack. It shows 10 young men sporting trimmed beards, Kalashnikovs and identical military uniforms. The face of one of them is obscured with blue ink for reasons that were not revealed. “The martyrdom seekers… entered Kandahar airbase undetected… and began thunderous attacks,” the post said.

wefornews bureau

Health

COVID-19 vaccination: 23 elderly people dead after Pfizer shot in Norway

Norway COVID-19 immunisation: The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has cautioned against vaccinating elderly people above 80 years of age saying those with a short life span may not benefit much from the jab

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In a worrying development, 23 elderly people died within a short time of receiving their first coronavirus vaccine shots in Norway. However, there is no confirmation yet if there is direct correlation between the PfizerBioNTech COVID-19 jab and these deaths.

Although a direct correlation between the Pfizer jab and these deaths is yet to be established, experts have said that 13 out of 23 people who died showed common side effects of mRNA vaccines such as diarrhea, nausea and fever.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has cautioned against vaccinating elderly people above 80 years of age saying those with a short life span may not benefit much from the jab. The Norwegian regulator further told Bloomberg, “For those with the most severe frailty, even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have serious consequences.”

Pfizer and BioNTech are working with the Norwegian authorities to investigate the deaths in Norway. According to Pfizer, the regulator discovered “the number of incidents so far is not alarming and in line with expectations”.

Experts are of the strong opinion that doctors need to exercise strong caution in vaccinating people in the wake of deaths of 23 elderly people. The Norwegian Medicines Agency said in a recent report that 21 women and 8 men reported side effects. Apart from the 23 deaths, nine people have reported serious side effects without fatal outcomes such as allergic reactions, strong discomfort and severe fever. Seven people reported less serious side effects such as severe pain at the injection site.

Meanwhile, Norway had administered at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccines to approximately 33,000 people by end of December.

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Health

China slams US media silence over Pfizer vax deaths in Norway

“If there needs to be some comparison, then China’s inactivated vaccine definitely has more solid foundation in safety than Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine”.

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New Delhi, Jan 16 : China has slammed the US media for its silence over the deaths of 23 Norwegian elderly patients who were vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Twenty-three elderly Norwegian people died after receiving Pfizer vaccines and the country has launched a detailed investigation into the fatalities that have shocked the world.

Thirteen of them have been assessed and common side effects may have contributed to severe reactions in them, according to the Norwegian Medicines Agency.

An editorial in China’s state-run media outlet Global Times said that 23 deaths are a large number.

“But surprisingly, mainstream English-language media did not report the incident immediately, as if they had already reached a consensus. Major US and UK media were obviously downplaying their deaths,” the editorial said on Friday.

“In contrast, those major Western media will immediately hype any unfavourable information about Chinese vaccines and try to amplify their impact on public psychology”.

For example, the data of China’s Sinovac vaccine was lower than expected in Brazil, and it was reported everywhere in Western media.

The death of a Brazilian volunteer who participated in the trials also became a major event in Western media.

“But it was later proven that the death had nothing to do with the vaccination, and Western media lost their interest,” Global Times reported.

Doctors in Norway have been asked to conduct more thorough evaluations of very frail elderly patients in line to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, following the reported deaths, the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ) reported.

“It may be a coincidence, but we aren’t sure,” Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NOMA), told the BMJ.

“There is no certain connection between these deaths and the vaccine.”

In a statement, Pfizer said: “Pfizer and BioNTech are aware of reported deaths following administration of BNT162b2. We are working with NOMA to gather all the relevant information.

“All reported deaths will be thoroughly evaluated by NOMA to determine if these incidents are related to the vaccine. The Norwegian government will also consider adjusting their vaccination instructions to take the patients’ health into more consideration.”

According to Global Times, which first broke the story, some mainstream US and British media are taking the lead in putting geopolitical labels on vaccines.

“They are meddling in political stances with the scientific attitude toward vaccines, using their propaganda to promote Pfizer vaccines and smearing Chinese vaccines”.

“If there needs to be some comparison, then China’s inactivated vaccine definitely has more solid foundation in safety than Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine”.

The inactivated vaccine technology has been very mature and has undergone decades of clinical testing.

“But it is the first time that the mRNA technology was applied to the vaccine. This large-scale promotion of Pfizer’s vaccine is a continuous process of large-scale testing on human beings,” the editorial read.

The Pfizer vaccine has been strongly promoted by the US administration and capital.

“Their potential risk has been deliberately downplayed by Western public opinion. And public opinion has created an impression that Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine, which is being used for the first time, is safer than the Chinese vaccine”.

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Travel

Boeing assisting with investigation in Indonesia flight crash

Indonesian authorities have downloaded the flight data recorder (FDR) belonging to the crashed Boeing 737-500, the country’s National Transportation Safety Committee said on Friday.

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San Francisco, Jan 16 : American airplane giant Boeing has said that its technical experts are assisting with investigation in last week’s Sriwijaya Air plane crash.

“Boeing technical experts are assisting with the investigation and we continue to offer any support needed during this difficult time,” the company said in a statement on Sunday.

“Our thoughts are with the Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182 crew, passengers and their families,” Xinhua news agency quoted Boeing as saying.

The Boeing 737-500 passenger aircraft with 62 people aboard slammed into the Java Sea on January 9, minutes after take-off from Jakarta en route to Indonesian city of Pontianak in West Kalimantan province.

Indonesian authorities have downloaded the flight data recorder (FDR) belonging to the crashed Boeing 737-500, the country’s National Transportation Safety Committee said on Friday.

As many as 239 body bags containing human remains had been retrieved and 12 victims have been identified after forensic examinations in the police’s hospital as of Thursday.

The National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) has retrieved data from the flight data recorder (FDR), but the search team is still looking for the aircraft’s CVR.

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