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August 28, 2021 / 10:54 PM IST

Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis Highlights: Superstar Vio repeats Rio gold as Afghan athletes arrive in Tokyo

Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis Highlights: The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan after the US-backed Afghan government collapsed and President Ghani fled the country

Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis Highlights: The United States has launched a drone strike against an Islamic State attack planner in eastern Afghanistan, said the military, a day after a suicide bombing at Kabul airport killed at least 92 people, including 13 US troops. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the coordinated suicide bomb and gun assault, which came just days after President Joe Biden warned that the group an affiliate of the Islamic State group operating in Afghanistan was
seeking to target the airport and attack US and allied forces and innocent civilians. The IS affiliate in Afghanistan is far more radical than the Taliban, who recently took control of the country in a lightning blitz. The Taliban were not believed to have been involved in the attacks and condemned the blasts. Meanwhile, Taliban forces have taken up position in Kabul airport and are ready to take full control as early as this weekend, two senior Taliban figures have said. The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan after the US-backed Afghan government collapsed and President Ghani fled the country, bringing an unprecedented end to a two-decade campaign in which the US and its allies had tried to transform the war-ravaged nation. In a Facebook post, Ghani said he had left the country to avoid clashes with the Taliban that would endanger millions of residents of Kabul. After its swift takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban issued the first 'fatwa' in which their officials in the restive Herat province banned co-education in government and private universities. Days after vowing to respect women's rights in Afghanistan, the Taliban described co-education as the 'root of all evils in society'. Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar had earlier arrived in Kabul for talks with other leaders to hammer out a new Afghan government, according to a Taliban official.
  • August 28, 2021 / 10:53 PM IST

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  • August 28, 2021 / 10:53 PM IST

    Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis LIVE Updates | Superstar Vio repeats Rio gold as Afghan athletes arrive in Tokyo

    Fencing icon Beatrice "Bebe" Vio successfully defended her women's Paralympic gold on Saturday as Afghanistan's two athletes arrived in Tokyo to compete in the Games.

    Vio, one of the world's best-known Paralympians, was in unstoppable form as she defeated China's Zhou Jingjing 15-9 in the Women's Individual Foil Category B gold medal match, just as she had done in Rio five years ago.

    The 24-year-old Italian, who had both forearms and legs amputated when she contracted meningitis as an 11-year-old, screamed in joy before bursting into tears in the arms of her coach after the winning point was scored.

    On day four of the competition, a total of 54 gold medals were up for grabs across nine different sports, including 17 athletics finals at the Olympic Stadium.

    The number of teams taking part rose to 163 as the International Paralympic Committee said Afghanistan's Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli had arrived safely in the athletes' village.

    Khudadadi and Rasouli were evacuated last weekend to France as the Taliban took control of their country, it said.

    They will compete next week in taekwondo and athletics, and are "sending out a strong message of hope", IPC chief Andrew Parsons said.

    AFP

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  • August 28, 2021 / 10:15 PM IST

    Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis LIVE Updates | Future of Kabul airport subject of intense negotiations 

    Who will ultimately run the airport in Kabul after US forces leave? That question -- a vital one for Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers but also for Western nations still hoping to evacuate everyone eligible -- is the subject of intense and complex talks.

    Next week, on September 1, Hamid Karzai International Airport will be under the control of the hardline Islamists, who already on Friday claimed to have moved into certain areas of the military side of the facility.

    "We are departing by August 31. Upon that date, we are delivering -- we're essentially giving the airport back to the Afghan people," State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday, cutting off speculation about the possibility of it falling into international hands. 

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  • August 28, 2021 / 09:31 PM IST

    Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis LIVE Updates |  France is in talks with the Taliban on humanitarian operations, said Emmanuel Macron. 

    French President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday that discussions were underway with the Taliban through Qatar to "protect and repatriate" Afghans at risk since this month's takeover by the group.

    Evacuations are planned jointly with Qatar and may involve "airlift operations", Macron said after a summit in Baghdad, adding that France had evacuated 2,834 people from Afghanistan since August 17.

    AFP

  • August 28, 2021 / 09:27 PM IST

    Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis LIVE Updates | French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday said his country would continue to deploy troops in Iraq to battle terrorism even if the US were to withdraw.

    "No matter what choices the Americans make, we will maintain our presence in Iraq to fight against terrorism," Macron told a news conference in Baghdad where he attended a regional summit.

    "We have the operational capacity to ensure this presence," he added after the meeting, which has been overshadowed by the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan and Thursday's suicide bombing in Kabul claimed by an Islamic State group affiliate. 

    (AFP) 

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  • August 28, 2021 / 08:59 PM IST

    Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis LIVE Updates | Pentagon says drone strike killed two 'high profile' ISIS targets in Afghanistan

    A US air strike in Afghanistan killed two high-profile ISIS targets and left another wounded, the Pentagon said Saturday.

    No civilians were hurt in the attack early Saturday, which followed the suicide bombing Thursday that killed scores of people including 13 US troops at Kabul airport, Major General Hank Taylor told a news conference.

    The Pentagon declined to say if the people targeted in the US strike were directly involved in the suicide bombing.

    "They were ISIS-K planners and facilitators. That's enough reason there alone," said spokesman John Kirby.

    "The fact that two of these individuals are no longer walking on the face of the Earth, that’s a good thing,” Kirby added.

    The suicide bombing, which targeted throngs of Afghans gathered outside the airport in hopes of fleeing Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, opened a deadly new chapter in the drama unfolding as the frantic US evacuation drive approaches its Tuesday deadline for completion.

    US officials have said more attacks on the evacuation effort are likely.

    The US evacuation of vulnerable Afghans has continued, with Taylor saying there were around 1,400 at the airport Saturday who have been "screened and manifested for flights today."

    Altogether, around 117,000 people have been flown out of Afghanistan since August 14, the day before the Taliban seized power.

    AFP

  • August 28, 2021 / 08:46 PM IST

    Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis LIVE Updates | U.S. warns of more attacks after retaliating for Kabul airport blast 
    The United States attacked an Islamic State "planner" in Afghanistan in retaliation for a deadly bombing outside Kabul airport and said there was a high risk of further blasts as it winds up its mission to evacuate civilians and withdraw troops A U.S. official said on Saturday the target of its overnight drone strike was not believed to be a senior Islamic State militant, and did not rule out future action against the group. U.S. and allied forces have been racing to complete the evacuations and withdraw by the Tuesday deadline set by President Joe Biden after two decades of American military presence in Afghanistan. As of Saturday, there were fewer than 4,000 U.S. troops at Kabul airport, the U.S. official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters, down from 5,800 at the peak of the evacuation mission.

  • August 28, 2021 / 08:41 PM IST

    Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis LIVE Updates | Order descends on Afghan evacuations after airport carnage 

    Order replaced chaos at Kabul airport Saturday with Taliban fighters escorting a steady stream of Afghans from buses to the main passenger terminal, handing them over to US troops for evacuation. Gone are the tens of thousands clamouring to get inside the airport grounds in the hope of getting aboard a flight before August 31, when the US-led evacuation ends and the last foreign troops depart. The deadly Islamic State suicide blast at a secondary entrance on Thursday likely scared away many looking for a way to escape the return to power of the hardline Islamists, but the Taliban have also  sealed off all roads leading to the airport and are now only letting sanctioned buses pass.

  • August 28, 2021 / 07:50 PM IST

    Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis LIVE Updates | Russia wants CSTO security alliance to boost cooperation over Afghanistan 
    Moscow will work more closely with fellow members of a post-Soviet security alliance as the withdraw of U.S. forces from Afghanistan raises regional security risks, Russia's defence minister was quoted as saying on Saturday. The U.S. exit from Afghanistan has created a security headache for Moscow, which sees former Soviet Central Asia as part of its southern defensive flank and fears the spread of radical Islam. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow had stepped up contacts within the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Moscow-led alliance that groups six former Soviet states. "We're in close contact with CSTO members over Afghanistan ... That's why our interaction within CSTO should be strengthened," Shoigu was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency. He said the risk of Afghan militants crossing into neighbouring countries had spread following the Taliban's rapid takeover of the country this month as U.S. forces withdrew. Drug trafficking is another concern, he added. The CSTO said on Friday it would hold military exercises in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan from September to October involving several thousand troops due to the situation in Afghanistan. Shoigu said an ongoing programme to rearm the armies of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan would continue.

  • August 28, 2021 / 07:05 PM IST

    Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis LIVE Updates | Last British civilian evacuation flight leaves Kabul 

    The last British flight evacuating civilians from Afghanistan has left Kabul, bringing to an end an operation that has airlifted almost 15,000 Afghan and British citizens in the two weeks since the Taliban took control. Britain's armed forces are now preparing to leave and will take small numbers of Afghan citizens with them on remaining flights this weekend, a defence ministry spokesperson said on Saturday. "It's time to close this phase of the operation down. But we haven't forgotten the people who still need to leave, and we will do everything we can to help them," Britain's ambassador to Afghanistan, Laurie Bristow, said in a statement filmed on the tarmac at Kabul's main airport. Some British troops have already departed, and a British military transport plane carrying armed forces members landed at an airbase in southern England on Saturday. British defence minister Ben Wallace said on Friday that Britain was entering the final hours of its evacuation and would process only people who were already inside Kabul airport.

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  • August 28, 2021 / 06:48 PM IST

    Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis LIVE Updates | US evacuates over 111,900 people from Afghanistan since Aug 14, says White House

    The US has evacuated and facilitated the shifting of approximately 111,900 people from the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul since August 14, the White House has said. The US evacuated approximately 6,800 people in the time period between August 27 at 3:00 AM EDT and August 28 at 3:00 AM EDT, following the deadly suicide attack near the Kabul airport on Thursday, it said.This is the result of 32 US military flights (27 C-17s and 5 C-130s) which carried approximately 4,000 evacuees, and 34 coalition flights which carried 2,800 people, according to a White House official. Since August 14, the US has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 111,900 people. Since the end of July, we have re-located approximately 117,500 people, the official said

  • August 28, 2021 / 06:18 PM IST

    Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis LIVE Updates | UK and Germany seek common G7 approach on Taliban 
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the situation in Afghanistan on Saturday and agreed on the need for international aid and a common approach by the G7 to the future government of Afghanistan. "The Prime Minister and Chancellor resolved to work, alongside the rest of the G7, to put in place the roadmap on dealing with any new Afghan government discussed at last week's leaders' meeting," Johnson's office said in a statement. "The Prime Minister stressed that any recognition and engagement with the Taliban must be conditional on them allowing safe passage for those who want to leave the country and respecting human rights," the British statement added.

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