Dozens of prisoners freed from Taliban jail in southern Afghanistan

Above, Afghan local police officers stand at a checkpoint in Helmand. Afghan special forces freed up to 30 prisoners during a raid on a Taliban jail in southern Afghanistan. (AFP)
Updated 19 November 2017
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Dozens of prisoners freed from Taliban jail in southern Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan: Dozens of prisoners were freed by Afghan special forces during a raid on a Taliban jail in southern Afghanistan, officials said Sunday.
Up to 30 civilians and police were rescued from the prison in Helmand province, where the militants have a large presence, during the operation late Saturday.
Among those released were four teenagers, Helmand police spokesman Abdul Salam Afghan said.
Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai, commander of the Afghan National Army’s 215 Corps, said 20 civilians who had been chained up and “a number of police” were sprung from the jail in Nawzad district.
The inmates had been accused by the Taliban of “committing various crimes,” Ahmadzai added.
In a statement the Taliban said the prisoners were all criminals.
The Taliban operates its own courts and prisons in areas under its control. While punishments can be harsh the system is often seen as being more efficient and less corrupt than the official one.


Macron reshuffles government, names new interior minister

Updated 16 October 2018
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Macron reshuffles government, names new interior minister

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron reshuffled his government on Tuesday after two weeks of fevered speculation about the changes, which will see former Socialist MP Christophe Castaner take up the key position of interior minister.
The reshuffle was forced by the unexpected resignation of former interior minister Gerard Collomb on October 2, a major blow to Macron as the 40-year-old head of state struggles with record low polling figures.
Castaner is one of the main figures in Macron’s inner circle, having backed him from the early stages of his campaign for the presidency, and currently serves as head of Macron’s party, the Republic on the Move.
Macron will hope the reshaped government — which includes new faces at the culture, agriculture, and the so-called “social cohesion” ministries — will signal a fresh start after a torrid few months.
The centrist suffered the first major scandal of his presidency in July when a security aide was filmed hitting a protester, while three ministers have quit since the beginning of September.
A slowing economy and concerns about spending power in France, coupled with a series of verbal gaffes that have given ammunition to his opponents, have also served to undermine his popularity.
Macron’s polling numbers have slumped to their lowest level since his electoral victory in May 2017, with surveys showing that only around 30 percent of French voters have a positive view of his presidency.