Taliban car bomb blast kills four Afghan special forces in Kabul

Afghan National Army (ANA) solders inspect the site of a suicide car bomb attack near a base of elite Afghan special forces in Char Asiab district, south of the capital Kabul on September 12, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2019

Taliban car bomb blast kills four Afghan special forces in Kabul

  • The bomber blew up an explosives-laden minibus at the entrance to the camp in Chahar Asyab district

KABUL: A suicide bomber targeted an Afghan Special Forces base in Kabul on Thursday, killing at least four commandos, officials said, as violence continued to escalate following the collapse of peace talks between the United States and Taliban insurgents.
The bomber blew up an explosives-laden minibus at the entrance to the camp in Chahar Asyab district, killing the four special forces members and wounding another three, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, which he said killed more than 200 commandos. The insurgents routinely issue exaggerated casualty claims.
Mujahid said the bomber had been infiltrated into the base well before the attack.
The latest attack underscored expectations of an escalation in violence following US President Donald Trump’s sudden cancelation of the talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and ending 18 years of war in Afghanistan.
In Washington, Trump’s nominee to be the secretary of the US Army said walking away from the talks was the correct decision.
“I think that it was the right decision to step back from the table and try to look at how do you get to a framework to bring a political end state to the conflict,” Ryan McCarthy told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
McCarthy said that he believed that the United States would continue to need not only a counterterrorism capability, but also the ability to advise and assist Afghan security forces.
“We can’t take our eye of the ball there until a time where there is a much greater maturity in the strength within the Afghan government,” McCarthy added.
Last week, a Taliban suicide blast killed at least 10 civilians and two NATO service members near the US embassy in Kabul.


Japan joins Malaysia in Olympics race to train 1,000 halal chefs for 2020 summer Games

Updated 19 February 2020

Japan joins Malaysia in Olympics race to train 1,000 halal chefs for 2020 summer Games

  • Japan has teamed up with Malaysia to introduce Muslim-friendly standards (MFS) for the Japanese food industry
  • The MFS partnership with Malaysia is expected to extend beyond the 2020 Olympic Games

KUALA LUMPUR: Olympics host Japan is going for gold in a race against time to train 1,000 chefs in halal food preparation for the summer 2020 Games.
With 5 million Muslim visitors from the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia expected to descend on Tokyo for the sporting spectacular, which takes place between July and September, Japan has teamed up with Malaysia to introduce Muslim-friendly standards (MFS) for the Japanese food industry.
“Most Muslim tourists would want to try Japanese food,” said Keith Wong, CEO of Acrosx Malaysia, which has been appointed to the halal expert training committee of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to help develop halal versions of Japanese dishes.
Demand for halal Japanese food was booming and Wong told Arab News: “Tempura is popular among Middle Easterners and in South Asia, while ramen and unagi (eels) are popular among Muslims from Southeast Asia. Sashimi and sushi are very popular among all Muslims.”
He pointed out that MFS were needed because the number of halal restaurants in Japan was currently insufficient to cater for all visitor preferences during the Olympics.
The Japanese government has partnered with Malaysia’s Halal Industry Development Corporation to have more than 1,000 chefs trained in preparing halal food and become MFS-certified.
“We are aiming to train 500 restaurants for ‘Muslim-friendly’ certification for the Olympics,” Wong said, adding that MFS were even stricter than general halal standards.
Restaurants adopting MFS would be required to have a separate halal kitchen and provide different utensils for Muslim customers.
The Japanese chefs and restaurant operators taking part in the training will learn about the history of Islam, halal food storage and cooking methods.
The global halal industry is estimated to be worth around $2 trillion, and the Japanese see Muslim travelers as being more valuable than Chinese tourists, Wong said. “Chinese travelers to Japan would usually spend money on high-end, luxury goods. While Muslim travelers, with their friends and family, would spend money on food, lodgings and tourism.”
He noted that the MFS partnership with Malaysia was expected to extend beyond the 2020 Olympic Games.
“We will be aiming for the World Expo 2025 in Osaka,” he said, adding that Japan may become a global and high-quality player in the halal industry.