Taliban attack on Afghan government compound kills 10, wounds dozens

A wounded personnel of National Directorate of Security is brought to a hospital after a car bomb exploded in Aybak of Samangan province, Afghanistan. (AFP)
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Updated 13 July 2020

Taliban attack on Afghan government compound kills 10, wounds dozens

  • ‘It’s a complex attack that started with a car bomb’
  • Taliban claims responsibility for the attack

KABUL/MAZAR-I-SHARIF: Taliban militants clashed with security forces following a car bomb blast at a government compound in northern Afghanistan on Monday, killing ten people and wounding dozens more, officials said.
The attack took place at a government facility in Samangan province’s capital Aybak close to an office of the National Security Directorate, the main intelligence agency.
“It’s a complex attack that started with a car bomb,” said Mohammad Sediq Azizi, a spokesman for the provincial government.
The attack ended after four gunmen died following clashes with Afghan security forces, he added.
Abdul Latif Ibrahimi, Samangan’s governor, said ten security members were killed and 54 people, including civilians, were wounded.
In a statement, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes at a sensitive time as violence increases even as the United States tries to usher the government and militants toward peace talks to end more than 18 years of war.
The violence threatens to hamper progress on the talks, which have not started due to a separate disagreement over the release of 600 Taliban prisoners from 5,000 the group has demanded.
Local officials also accused the Taliban of attacking security force checkpoints around the country overnight, killing seven personnel in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, 14 in northern Kunduz, and four in the central province of Parwan.
The Taliban said in statements they had carried out attacks killing nine in Kunduz and eight in Badakhshan.


Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

Updated 13 August 2020

Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

  • Spotlight on economy, security as 67 officials take oath in palace ceremony

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa administered the oath of office to 28 new Cabinet ministers and 39 state ministers on Wednesday during a swearing-in ceremony at the Kandy Royal Palace, a week after the Aug. 5 general elections.

“The Cabinet has been formed in a pragmatic and a realistic manner to implement the national program. Special attention was paid to national security, economic development, infrastructure, education, health and sports,” a Presidential Secretariat statement said.

While President Rajapaksa retained the defense portfolio, his brother, Namal Rajapaksa — the 34-year-old son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa — was named minister for youth and sports.

Several senior politicians, including former president Maithripala Sirisena, were left out of the new Cabinet.

The ninth parliament is set to meet on Aug. 20.

Only two members from minority communities, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda and Justice Minister Ali Sabry, were appointed from the Tamil and Muslim communities, respectively.

“I’m delighted to get this portfolio in recognition of my services to the nation, particularly to the legal field,” Sabry said.

He is the second Muslim justice minister to assume office after Rauff Hakeem of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, led by PM Rajapaksa, polled 6,853,690, or 59 percent of votes, and secured a total of 145 seats in parliament, including 17 of the National List seats.

Sabry said government efforts to limit the coronavirus pandemic had “impressed the nation enough to vote them into power.”

Lawyer Razik Zarook said: “It’s a great victory for the Muslim community. The era of mistrust and suspicion is over, and the foundation is laid to build the bridges of friendship and amity.”

However, international political lobbyist Muheed Jeeran told Arab News that though the Cabinet is promising, it is “full of confusion.”

“Sabry’s appointment has disappointed the nationalist group who want to implement one nation, one law,” he said.

“But it is a joyful moment for Muslims who supported the SLPP. However, it will be difficult for Sabry as justice minister. Will he become the wooden handle of the axe to chop the tree of traditional Muslim laws as per the nationalist agenda, or will he stand for Muslim rights?”