Several killed as Taliban mortars hit Afghan market

Wounded men receive treatment in a hospital after a Taliban attack in the Nahrin district of Baghlan province north of Kabul, Afghanistan. (AFP file photo)
Updated 06 July 2019
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Several killed as Taliban mortars hit Afghan market

  • Several Taliban shells hit the market Friday morning in the Khwaja Sabz Posh district of Faryab province
  • The deadly incident comes as the war between the Taliban and Afghan security forces rages on

At least 14 people were killed and dozens more wounded when a busy market in northern Afghanistan was hit by mortar fire, officials said Saturday.

Several Taliban shells hit the market Friday morning in the Khwaja Sabz Posh district of Faryab province, according to Hanif Rezaee, an Afghan army spokesman.

“Fourteen civilians were killed and 40 — including women and children — were wounded,” Rezaee said.

He said the Taliban had been trying to hit an army checkpoint near the market. The insurgent group did not immediately comment.

Naem Musamim, Faryab’s public health director, said 14 bodies and 39 wounded people including four children had been taken to local hospitals. Some victims with critical injuries were airlifted to hospitals in Mazar-i-Sharif in Balkh province.

Also Friday, a bomb detonated inside a Shia mosque in Ghazni city in central Afghanistan, killing two worshippers and wounding 20 more, according to Ghazni governor spokesman Aref Noori.

Baz Mohammad Hemat, the director of Ghazni hospital, said that one of those killed and 14 of the wounded were children.

Friday is Afghanistan’s day off and many children attend mosque for prayers on the day of worship.

On Twitter, the Taliban denied involvement in the attack.

The Daesh group’s Afghan affiliate, which has a growing footprint, has conducted frequent prior attacks on Shia targets. While Afghanistan is a mainly Sunni country, it has a sizeable Shia minority, mainly represented by the Hazara community.

The deadly incidents come as the war between the Taliban and Afghan security forces rages on, even as Taliban officials are meeting with US negotiators in Doha in a bid to bring about an end to the conflict.

An agreement with the Taliban is expected to have two main points — a US withdrawal from Afghanistan and a commitment by the militants not to provide a base for terrorists, the main reason for the US invasion nearly 18 years ago.

On Sunday, the insurgents will meet in the Qatari capital with various representatives from Afghan society as part of a potential peace process.


Widespread blackout hits Venezuela, government blames ‘electromagnetic attack’

People pour to the streets in Caracas on July 22, 2019 as the capital and other parts of Venezuela are being hit by a massive power cut. (AFP)
Updated 3 min 3 sec ago
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Widespread blackout hits Venezuela, government blames ‘electromagnetic attack’

  • Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the outage on Monday was caused by an “electromagnetic attack,” without providing evidence

CARACAS: More than half of Venezuela’s 23 states lost power on Monday, according to Reuters witnesses and reports on social media, a blackout the government blamed on an “electromagnetic attack.”
It was the first blackout to include the capital, Caracas, since March, when the government blamed the opposition and United States for a series of power outages that left millions of people without running water and telecommunications.
The blackouts exacerbated an economic crisis that has halved the size of the economy.
Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the outage on Monday was caused by an “electromagnetic attack,” without providing evidence. He added that authorities were in the process of re-establishing service.
Power returned for about 10 minutes to parts of southeastern Bolivar state, site of the Guri hydroelectric dam — the source of most of Venezuela’s generation — but went out again, according to a Reuters witness. Electricity was still out throughout Caracas.
“It terrifies me to think we are facing a national blackout again,” said Maria Luisa Rivero, a 45-year-old business owner from the city of Valencia, in the central state of Carabobo.
“The first thing I did was run to freeze my food so that it does not go bad like it did like the last time in March. It costs a lot to buy food just to lose it,” she said.
The oil-rich country’s hyperinflationary economic crisis has led to widespread shortages in food and medicine, prompting over 4 million Venezuelans to leave the country.
Venezuela’s national power grid has fallen into disrepair after years of inadequate investment and maintenance, according to the opposition and power experts.
“These blackouts are catastrophic,” said 51-year-old janitor Bernardina Guerra, who lives in Caracas. “I live in the eastern part of the city and there the lights go out every day. Each day things are worse.”