Taliban kill 7 Afghan military personnel in raid on army post

Taliban kill 7 Afghan military personnel in raid on army post
The Afghan government has released Taliban insurgents from jail as part of peace negotiations with the group. Above, soldiers escort a Taliban prisoners convoy during their release from Bagram prison. (AFP file photo)
Short Url
Updated 24 June 2020

Taliban kill 7 Afghan military personnel in raid on army post

Taliban kill 7 Afghan military personnel in raid on army post
  • Kabul authorities accuse the insurgents of stepping up attacks against security forces in recent weeks

HERAT, Afghanistan: Taliban fighters killed as many as seven Afghan commandos in an hours-long attack on an army outpost, a lawmaker and the defense ministry said Wednesday.
The assault comes as Kabul authorities accuse the insurgents of stepping up attacks against security forces in recent weeks, after violence dropped across much of the country following a three-day cease-fire announced in May.
The Taliban raided the army outpost located in northwest Badhis province late Tuesday.
Badghis lawmaker Ziauddin Akazi said the insurgents attacked the Bala Murghab district outpost, triggering fierce fighting that lasted for about four hours.
“Most of those killed were members of commando and special forces,” Akazi said.
He said the attack came when a group of commandos and special forces traveled to the outpost from their base nearby.
The ministry of defense said seven security personnel were killed and five were wounded in the attack.
It said security forces later repelled the Taliban attack.
The Taliban have not commented.
In a separate incident in the northern Jawzjan province on Tuesday evening, a roadside bomb ripped through a rickshaw and killed six civilians, the interior ministry said.
Interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian said the Taliban had placed the bomb on the road.


Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign

Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign
Updated 18 January 2021

Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign

Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign
  • Indonesia planning to inoculate 181 million in nationwide vaccination drive

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government’s strategy to promote coronavirus vaccination is under fire after an influencer who received a vaccine jab last week was spotted violating health guidelines just a few
hours later.

Indonesia started the nationwide vaccination drive on Wednesday to inoculate 181 million of its 276 million people, after the national drug regulator authorized the emergency use of the Chinese-made CoronaVac vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech and the country’s highest authority on Islamic affairs approved it as halal, or permissible under Islamic law.

President Joko Widodo, who was the first Indonesian to receive the vaccine, described the campaign as a “game changer,” amid hopes that achieving herd immunity would help to revive the economy, which has been reeling from the pandemic. 

Alongside officials and religious leaders, 33-year-old soap opera star Raffi Ahmad also received the jab. Government strategists hoped he would promote vaccine acceptance with his huge social media presence of some 50 million followers on Instagram and 19 million on YouTube.

However, soon after receiving his shot Ahmad was photographed at a party, without a face mask and violating social distancing measures imposed by the government to contain the virus spread. The photos quickly made the rounds on social media, provoking a backlash to the government’s campaign and resulting in a lawsuit against the celebrity.

“He was really careless. He is tasked with promoting the vaccination drive, but he failed to behave accordingly,” said David Tobing, an independent lawyer who has filed the case against Ahmad for “violating the regulations to control the pandemic and for public indecency.”

“I demand in my lawsuit that the court order Ahmad to stay at home for 30 days after he gets his second vaccine jab and to issue a public apology in national print and broadcast media,” Tobing told Arab News on Saturday. “I filed the lawsuit after I received a lot of feedback from the public, including COVID-19 survivors and those who have lost loved ones because of the coronavirus.”

Ahmad has apologized on social media, saying that he did not want to disappoint the president and the public after getting the privilege of being vaccinated, but justified going to the party as it was held at a private home and said that he taken the mask off only to eat. The first hearing against Ahmad is scheduled to be held at a district court in Depok near Jakarta on Jan. 27, Tobing said. He added that he is aware that Ahmad had apologized but the actor “did not seem to have any regret.”

In response to a question by Arab News at a press briefing after the incident, national COVID-19 task force spokesman Wiku Adisasmito said that officials had reprimanded Ahmad over the blunder. He justified the involvement of celebrities in the vaccination campaign.

“When we have a major program like vaccination, we hope that a big influencer such as Raffi Ahmad can play a pivotal role to make sure young people will support the vaccination,” Adisasmito said.

Experts have criticized the government’s strategy, saying that Ahmad receiving the vaccine is unlikely to appease public concerns over the vaccine’s efficacy and possible side effects.

“Health professionals, religious figures and government officials have more credibility and integrity to promote this vaccination drive than influencers,” said Sulfikar Amir, a sociologist from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Amir, who initiated a petition in early December calling on the government to give vaccinations to all citizens when Jakarta was still planning to inoculate only selected groups, said that by appointing the celebrity influencer to promote immunization the government showed that it “has no ability to influence the public to take part in the vaccination drive.”

“This is not the same as promoting consumer goods that the influencers normally do,” he said. “It is about public health issues.”