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Rockets fired at Kabul airport as Afghan withdrawal looms

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About five rockets were fired at Kabul airport early on Monday, a US official said, as the United States rushed to complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan to end its longest war.

Afghan media said the attack was launched from the back of a vehicle. The Pajhwok news agency said several rockets struck different parts of the Afghan capital.

According to Reuters, initial reports did not indicate any US casualties. The attack followed a huge Islamic State suicide bombing outside the airport gates on Thursday that killed scores of Afghans and 13 US troops and another reported attempted bombing on Sunday.

The US and allied forces have evacuated about 114,400 people, including foreign nationals and Afghans deemed “at risk”, in an effort that began a day before Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15.

The forces themselves are due to pull out by a Tuesday deadline agreed with the Islamist militants.

US President Joe Biden reconfirmed his order for commanders to do “whatever is necessary to protect our forces on the ground” after he was briefed on Monday’s rocket fire, the White House said. He was told airport operations continued uninterrupted, it added.

On Sunday, Pentagon officials said a US drone strike killed a suicide car bomber who had been preparing to attack the airport on behalf of ISIS-K, a local affiliate of Islamic State that is an enemy of both the West and the Taliban.

US Central Command said it was investigating reports of civilian casualties.

“We know there were substantial and powerful subsequent explosions resulting from the destruction of the vehicle, indicating a large amount of explosive material inside that may have caused additional casualties,” it said.

The drone attack killed seven people, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told China’s state television CGTN on Monday, criticising the U.S. action on foreign soil as unlawful.

It was the second such condemnation after a U.S. drone strike on Saturday killed two Islamic State militants in the eastern province of Nangarhar, in an attack the spokesman said had wounded two women and a child.

Afghans fearful of reprisals under Taliban rule continued to crowd the airport, appealing to foreign powers for a way out.

“We are in danger,” said one woman outside the airport. “They must show us a way to be saved. We must leave Afghanistan or they must provide a safe place for us.”

Two U.S. officials told Reuters evacuations would continue on Monday, prioritising people deemed at extreme risk. Other countries have also put in last-minute requests to bring out people in that category, the officials said.

The Taliban will take full control of Kabul airport after the American withdrawal on Tuesday, Qatar’s Al Jazeera television network cited an unidentified Taliban source as saying.

As the evacuations wind down, a “far greater humanitarian crisis” looms ahead for the nation of 39 million people, the UN refugee agency warned.

Agency chief Filippo Grandi reiterated a call for borders to remain open and for more countries to share the “humanitarian responsibility” of accepting refugees with Iran and Pakistan, which already host 2.2 million Afghans.

“More resettlement options are sorely needed. They are critically important, not only to save lives but also as a demonstration of good will,” added Grandi, whose agency said last week that up to 500,000 Afghans could flee by year-end.

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Sudan military declares state of emergency after coup, shuts down internet

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Sudan’s military leader has declared a state of emergency across the country and dissolved its transitional cabinet, which is seen as a huge blow to the country’s already fragile transition to democracy.

Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan made a televised announcement on Monday as thousands of pro-democracy protesters flooded the streets of the capital Khartoum, and its twin city of Omdurman, after soldiers arrested several government officials.

Among those detained on Monday is Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. He was moved to an undisclosed location after refusing to issue a statement in support of the coup, said the information ministry, still apparently under the control of Hamdok’s supporters.

The military also raided the television and radio headquarters and shut down the internet. The capital’s airport has been also closed, together with some of the city’s roads and bridges.

At least 12 people have been wounded so far in the protests that have been called by the pro-democracy coalition born out of the uprising which put an end to the 30-year long rule of Omar al-Bashir.

In his announcement, Burhan said that the military will continue the process towards democracy, but dissolved the sovereign council, a joint military and civilian body created to run the country since al-Bashir’s removal.

“We have started our path towards the state of freedom and peace but some political powers are still trying to maintain everything in their hands, without giving attention to political, economic and social threats,” he said.

Al-Burhan said the military will appoint a technocratic government to lead the country to elections, set for July 2023.

But he made clear the military will remain in charge.

“The Armed Forces will continue completing the democratic transition until the handover of the country’s leadership to a civilian, elected government,” al-Burhan said.

The move came just before the military was supposed to hand leadership of the country’s joint military-civilian administration to civilians next month.

The information ministry called his speech an “announcement of a seizure of power by military coup”.

Tensions have been rising for weeks between Sudan’s civilian and military leadership over Sudan’s course and the pace of the transition to democracy.

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Sudan: UN condemns military takeover, PM detention

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The United Nations Secretary General António Guterres has condemned the military coup in Sudan, and called for the release of the prime minister and other officials.

He said this in a tweet Monday

In a military takeover on Monday morning, Sudan’s armed forces dissolved a governing council that included civilians and detained the prime minister and other civilian officials, endangering the country’s transition to democracy.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, his wife and members of Sudan’s cabinet were detained and taken to an undisclosed location.
In a security alert posted Monday, the US Embassy said it “has received reports that armed forces are blocking certain areas in and around Khartoum” and “internet in Khartoum is non-functional.”

Guterres said the UN would “continue to stand” with the people of the country.

“I condemn the ongoing military coup in Sudan. Prime Minister Hamdok & all other officials must be released immediately. There must be full respect for the constitutional charter to protect the hard-won political transition. The UN will continue to stand with the people of Sudan.”
An aide and office director of Sudan’s now-arrested Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok told CNN that the premier was aware of army plans and was under pressure to dissolve the government.

The adviser, Adam al-Hireika, said that he visited Hamdok on Sunday evening where he discussed the current state-of-affairs.

Hamdok had just met with army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who declared the coup on state-TV on Monday.

“I say he was cautiously optimistic that there was an opening for agreement, but I think the military side wanted him to dissolve the government and he insisted on not unless there is a process and there is an agreement between political parties,” he told CNN’s Becky Anderson.
“This morning, when I heard about what happened I went to the PM’s residence, he is my boss and friend. I went to his residence unfortunately he wasn’t there. His wife and him were taken to an unknown destination by soldiers,” he added.

Burhan said in a statement that power-shared council and government were dissolved and declared a state of emergency after a balanced power-sharing agreement with the civilian component “became a conflict” over the past two years, “threatening peace and unity” in Sudan.

“What, General Burhan mentions in his address, actually what most of a lot of it was agreed between the two parties, but as the PM stood very strongly against dissolving the government without a process. I think that was the biggest issue of contention,” Hireika said.
Hireika warned of a civil war in Sudan if there was a return to military rule. “
“Well, I think the bigger picture, a return to military rule will mean more civil war in Sudan and instability in the region as a result,” he added.
Amnesty International calls on Sudan authorities “to respect human rights” following military takeover
From CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq
Amnesty International has urged the authorities in Sudan “to respect human rights” following the arrest of the country’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other officials in an apparent coup.
“We are concerned by the escalating tensions in Sudan following the reported arrest of the Prime Minister and other civilian leaders and the imposition of an internet shutdown,” Amnesty International said in a post to Twitter on Monday.
Amnesty International “calls on the authorities in Sudan to respect human rights—including the right to life, right to freedom of association, expression and assembly, both offline and on the internet. The right to peaceful protest must be respected, now more than ever.”
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s armed forces, dissolved the power-sharing Sovereign Council and transitional government, saying in a televised statement that an “independent and fair representative government” would assume power until one is elected in 2023. Burhan also announced a state of emergency across Sudan.
Several articles of the constitution were suspended and state governors were removed, Burhan said.
Those arrested by “joint military forces” include various civilian ministers of Sudan’s transitional government and members of Sudan’s sovereign council, the Information Ministry said. CNN could not independently verify the Information Ministry’s claims, however family members said the Minister of Information was one of several senior officials detained.
Protesters who opposed the coup have taken to the streets in the capital Khartoum and have faced gunfire near the military’s headquarters, according to the information ministry.

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Boko Haram attacks Yobe military base, three soldiers injured

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Three soldiers were wounded on Saturday when Boko Haram insurgents attacked a military base at Katarko village in the Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe State.

The reportedly insurgents drove into Katarko village in about 10 gun trucks and attacked the military formation.

They were said to have engaged the security operatives at the base in a gun duel.

The Cable reports that troops of the Nigerian Army, who repelled the attack, alongside airstrikes by the Nigerian Air Force, were said to have killed many of the insurgents.

However, a precise number of fatalities had not been ascertained as of the time of filing this report. It was only gathered that three soldiers were injured in the attack.

“Two to three soldiers were injured and have been taken to hospital in Damaturu for treatment,” the source said, adding, “Many Boko Haram members are also feared dead. They were struck by foot soldiers and air support.”

 

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