Taliban storm hotel building in west Afghanistan

Soldiers walk in formation during an operation against the Taliban in Bala Morghab district of Badghis province in this March 26, 2017 file photo. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2019

Taliban storm hotel building in west Afghanistan

  • The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks by three militants

KABUL: Taliban insurgents stormed a commercial building housing a hotel in western Afghanistan, killing three security officials and injuring 10, officials said on Saturday, the latest in a surge of attacks despite reported progress in peace talks.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks by three militants and said their fighters had positioned themselves in a building and were firing at the police headquarters.
The militants assaulted the building containing a hotel, several eateries and shops situated near the police headquarters and the governor’s house in Qala-e-Naw, the capital city of Badghis province.
Abdul Latif Rustayee, the director of a hospital in Qala-e-Naw, said the 10 wounded, including four security force members, were rushed to hospital.
Abdullah Afzali, a member of Badghis provincial council, said security forces were still battling Taliban gunmen, and officials at the interior ministry in Kabul said that two of the three insurgents had been killed.
Police had surrounded the targeted building, said Nasrat Rahimi, an interior ministry spokesman.
Last week the Taliban and US officials wound up the seventh round of peace talks with signs of progress in efforts to end the 18-year war. At the same time, an Afghan delegation and the members of the hardline Islamist militant group agreed on a “roadmap for peace.”
But the warring sides continue to mount attacks to expand or recapture territory in attempts to increase their leverage. The Taliban control or have influence on more Afghan territory than at any point since they were ousted from power in 2001.


Thailand’s lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plastic

Updated 17 August 2019

Thailand’s lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plastic

  • Marium, the female baby dugong had already lost her mother when she was initially found
  • Biologists tried saving her, but they believe she died of a combination of the plastic and shock

BANGKOK: An 8-month-old dugong nurtured by marine experts after it was found lost near a beach in southern Thailand has died of what biologists believe was a combination of shock and ingesting plastic waste, officials said Saturday.
The female dugong — a large ocean mammal — was named “Marium” and became a hit in Thailand after images of biologists embracing and feeding her with milk and seagrass spread across social media. Veterinarians and volunteers had set out in canoes to feed Marium up to 15 times a day while also giving her health checks.
Last week, she was found bruised after being chased and supposedly attacked by a male dugong during the mating season, said Jatuporn Buruspat, director-general of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.
She was brought in for treatment in the artificial sea on Libong Island in Krabi province.
“We assume she wandered off too far from her natural habitat and was chased and eventually attacked by another male dugong, or dugongs, as they feel attracted to her,” Jatuporn said Saturday.
An autopsy showed a big amount of plastic waste in her intestine, which could also have played a part in her death as it led to gastritis and blood infection, he said.
“She must have thought these plastics were edible,” Jatuporn said.
The dugong is a species of marine mammal similar to the American manatee and can grow to about 3.4 meters (11 feet) in length. Its conservation status is listed as vulnerable.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-arcpha said Marium’s death saddens the whole nation and the world.
“Her death will remind Thais and people all over the world not to dispose trash into the oceans,” Varawut said at a news conference.