Three blasts hit Kabul, killing one and injuring 17

Sticky bombs are a growing danger in Kabul. (File/AFP)
Updated 02 June 2019
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Three blasts hit Kabul, killing one and injuring 17

  • One of the wounded was live-streaming the aftermath of the first bomb when the second bomb detonated
  • The first bomb was a sticky bomb attached to a bus heading to Kabul Education University

KABUL: One person was killed and 17 others wounded Sunday in three successive blasts in Kabul, Afghan officials said, capping a murderous week of mayhem across the city.
Among the wounded was an Afghan journalist who appeared to have been live-streaming the aftermath of the first explosion when a second bomb went off.
The events started with the detonation of a sticky bomb -- a growing menace in Kabul, where insurgents and criminals slap magnetic bombs on the underside of vehicles.
The charge had been placed under a bus carrying officials headed to the Kabul Education University, interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.
In the immediate aftermath, two more bombs that had been planted by the side of the road went off, he added.
"In total, one Afghan civilian was martyred and 17 others, including a local journalist and five Afghan forces, have been slightly wounded," Rahimi said.
Health ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar confirmed the toll.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but both the Taliban and Daesh group have carried out recent blasts.
According to a video circulating on social media, the journalist was hit in the leg by the second bomb.
Last year, nine journalists including AFP Kabul's chief photographer Shah Marai were killed in a secondary explosion after rushing to the scene of an initial blast.
Even though the Taliban and the US are set to begin a new round of peace talks in Doha this month, violence across Afghanistan continues unabated, with civilians often bearing the brunt of the bloodshed.
On Friday, a Taliban car bomber killed at least four Afghan civilians and lightly wounded four US troops in an attack on a US convoy in Kabul.
A day earlier, at least six people were killed and 16 more wounded in an Daesh-claimed suicide blast outside a military academy in the capital.
And eight Afghan police were killed Saturday and seven others wounded in a suicide attack in the eastern Ghazni city, provincial police spokesman Ahmad Khan Seera told AFP.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had proposed a nationwide ceasefire at the start of Ramadan early last month, but the Taliban rejected the offer.
Last year, the Taliban observed a three-day ceasefire over Eid and many Afghans -- exhausted by decades of war and violence -- had pinned their hopes on another truce this year.
Taliban head Haibatullah Akhundzada said Saturday there would be no "cold water" poured on the insurgents' military efforts.


No-deal Brexit looms as race for new British PM wraps up

Updated 17 July 2019
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No-deal Brexit looms as race for new British PM wraps up

  • Many lawmakers, business community fear dire economic outcome
  • A majority of lawmakers in the House of Commons are opposed to a no-deal Brexit

LONDON: The battle to become Britain's next prime minister enters the home straight on Wednesday with both candidates hardening their positions on Brexit, putting the future government on a collision course with Brussels.
Ex-London Mayor Boris Johnson, the favourite to replace Theresa May, and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, are now both referring to Britain's departure with no overall deal in place as a realistic prospect.
The business community and many lawmakers fear dire economic consequences from a no-deal Brexit, which would lead to immediate trade tariffs for some sectors including the automotive industry.
Johnson and Hunt are taking part in a final question-and-answer session later on Wednesday before the result of the vote by Conservative Party members is announced next Tuesday.
The new party leader will be confirmed as prime minister by Queen Elizabeth II on the following day.
Britain has twice delayed its scheduled departure from the European Union after 46 years of membership as May tried and failed to get her deal with Brussels through parliament.
The two candidates vying to replace her have vowed to scrap a "backstop" provision in the agreement that Brussels insisted upon to keep the Irish border open.
Their latest attacks on the measure during a debate on Monday prompted a plunge in the value of the British pound.
The currency fell again Wednesday to its lowest level against the US dollar in over two years.
"The tougher stance from both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt in terms of their rhetoric on Brexit is clearly weighing on the pound," said market analyst Neil Wilson.
"Make no mistake, this decline in the pound is down to traders pricing in a higher chance of a no-deal exit."
The backstop has proved a key stumbling block in the Brexit process.
The measure would keep open the post-Brexit border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU member the Republic of Ireland whatever the outcome of negotiations over the future relationship between London and Brussels.
Johnson announced early in his campaign that he would not sign up to it and would pursue a no-deal Brexit if required, leading his opponent to follow suit.
However, European leaders have been adamant that the backstop must remain a part of any divorce deal, raising the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who will become European Commission president in November, said the draft withdrawal agreement provided "certainty".
She also broached a possible further delay to Britain's departure, saying: "I stand ready for a further extension of the withdrawal date, should more time be required for a good reason."
Johnson has pledged that under his leadership, Britain will leave "do or die" on the current deadline of October 31.
A majority of lawmakers in the House of Commons are opposed to a no-deal Brexit, but attempts to pass legislation blocking the scenario have failed.
Reports this week suggested Johnson is considering plans to end the current session of parliament in early October, leaving MPs powerless.
Finance Minister Philip Hammond said Wednesday it was "terrifying" that some Brexit supporters thought that no deal would leave Britain better off.
And in a speech in London, May said the "best route" for Britain was to leave with a deal.
Delivering her last major address, she railed against the trend towards "absolutism" in Britain and abroad, and urged her successor to compromise.
"Whatever path we take must be sustainable for the long term, so that delivering Brexit brings our country back together. That has to mean some kind of compromise," she said.