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.


Sri Lanka launches online portal for migrant workers amid virus scare

A municipal worker sprays disinfectant on an ambulance in Atulugama on March 29, 2020, after the town was sealed off by health authorities following fears that it could be a cluster for COVID-19 infection after two positive cases. (AFP)
Updated 14 min 39 sec ago

Sri Lanka launches online portal for migrant workers amid virus scare

  • Inquiries include the welfare of student populations, extension of visa permits, lack of financial support for the unemployed, non-payment of salaries, the closing down of commercial establishments and questions related to quarantine measures on arrival

COLOMBO: To help its overseas migrant workers deal with the coronavirus, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Relations has launched an online portal where citizens can voice their concerns, officials said on Sunday.

“All Sri Lankans living abroad were invited to register voluntarily on the platform . . . allowing the government to reach out and provide assistance during emergencies such as the Covid-19 outbreak. This platform will allow the ministry to access real-time data for quick action,” an official from the foreign ministry said on Sunday.

Since its launch on March 26, the “Contact Sri Lanka” portal has seen 17,000 registrations, with several saying they want to return home as soon as possible.

“A bulk of the 700 inquiries received through the portal relate to the possibility of a return to the country,” excerpts from a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and made available to Arab News, read on Sunday.

Registration by residents in the country will also allow the ministry to propose concrete policy decisions in critical response situations, such as evacuation measures, depending on the number of emergency assistance requests generated, the statement said.

It added that establishment of the portal was based on a “call made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for coordinated efforts by all government stakeholders to fight the Covid-19 outbreak and to harness digital technology to prompt faster and more efficient service delivery.”

Deputy General Manager of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) W. Leelaratne told Arab News that Sri Lankan employees, particularly at missions in the Middle East and Asia, would be working with host governments “to secure fair treatment and concessions for expatriate workers to the maximum extent possible.”

“This includes safeguarding the rights of the workers related to the payment of salaries and ensuring job security, ” he said.

Leelaratne said that due to the current global situation; the SLBFE has opened a 24/7 help desk for all migrant workers who could seek assistance by contacting the hotline.

Inquiries include the welfare of student populations, extension of visa permits, lack of financial support for the unemployed, non-payment of salaries, the closing down of commercial establishments and questions related to quarantine measures on arrival.

Dr. Anil Jasinghe, director general of Health Services, said that the number of coronavirus cases had risen to 110 with the detection of four new cases on Sunday.

Two of the four cases were arrivals from the south Indian city of Chennai, with Jasinghe saying that the government had requested all those flying in from Chennai to report to the nearest health facility for mandatory quarantine arrangements.

As an additional measure, the villages of Atulugama, Akurana and Kadayankulam have been placed under lockdown, while the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Puttalam and Jaffna have been declared high-risk zones with a full-day curfew to continue in these areas until further notice.