The Taliban on Wednesday showed off dozens of American-made armoured vehicles along with newly seized weapons at victory celebrations in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
The CNN reports that fighters waved white Taliban flags from Humvees and armoured SUVs at the military parade, where many of the vehicles appeared in near perfect condition.
The Taliban also organised an air display with a recently seized Black Hawk helicopter flying past the militants along the road while also trailing a white Taliban flag.
The parade came the day after video footage showed the militants making their way through an abandoned hangar in Kabul airport strewn with equipment the US left behind.
In addition to the military vehicles, the parade also featured what appear to be captured police vehicles.
But Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told CNN Tuesday he wasn’t “overly concerned about these images” of Taliban fighters examining the abandoned aircraft.
“They can inspect all they want,” Kirby said. “They can look at them, they can walk around — but they can’t fly them. They can’t operate them.”
He added that the US military had made “unusable all the gear that is at the airport — all the aircraft, all the ground vehicles,” leaving only some fire trucks and fork lifts operational.
Efforts to reopen Kabul airport resumed on Wednesday as a team of Qatari technical experts arrived in the Afghan capital, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
The source said that the technical team traveled to Kabul on a Qatari jet at the request of the Taliban, and that while no final agreement had yet been reached, “talks are still ongoing at the level of security and operation.”
“The objective is to resume flights in and out of Kabul for humanitarian assistance and freedom of movement in a safe and secure manner.”
Afghanistan is heavily reliant on foreign aid, and the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have already struggled to get critical food and medical supplies to the airport amid the mass evacuation operation.
Even before the political upheaval of recent weeks, Afghanistan represented the world’s third-largest humanitarian concern, with over 18 million people requiring assistance, according to UNICEF. But with no commercial aircraft currently permitted to land in Kabul, getting aid in will be difficult.
Restarting commercial flights will also be crucial for people still wanting to leave the country but who did not make it onto military evacuation planes.
More than 123,000 people were evacuated by American and coalition aircraft since August 14, US Central Command Gen. Frank McKenzie said Monday.
The Taliban have pledged to govern more moderately this time around, and said they would still allow foreign nationals and Afghans with proper documentation to leave the country after August 31. But many Afghans are skeptical of their claims, and huge question marks hang over the Taliban’s ability to run the country.
Standing on the Kabul airport runway on Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a small crowd that: “This victory belongs to us all.”
He was joined by heavily armed fighters from the Taliban’s Badri 313 special forces brigade, kitted out in camouflage uniforms and desert boots.
Mujahid congratulated the Taliban fighters who had lined up, and indeed “the whole of the nation.”
Only one Afghan region is still holding out against the Taliban’s rule: the Panjshir Valley — a strategic slice of territory about 90 miles north of Kabul that was once a stronghold for the mujahideen fighting the Soviets and is now the seat of the resistance movement.
Ali Nazary, spokesperson for the anti-Taliban National Resistance Front (NRF) of Afghanistan, said Wednesday that NRF forces had inflicted heavy casualties on Taliban attackers attempting to fight their way into Panjshir via the Gulbahar area, damaging the militant group’s weaponry and sending them retreating.
FG declares public holiday to mark Eid-ul-Mawlud
The Federal Government has declared October 19 as a public holiday in commemoration of the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Shuaib Belgore, on Friday.
The statement stated that the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government.
Aregbesola congratulated all Nigerian Muslim faithful, both at home and in the diaspora, on the occasion of Eid-ul-Mawlud.
He admonished Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of love, patience and perseverance which were the virtues of the Holy Prophet, as doing so would guarantee peace and security in the country.
The minister enjoined Nigerians, particularly Muslims, to refrain from violence, lawlessness and other acts of criminality.
“As the indisputable leader of our race, we (Nigerians) must show responsible leadership in Africa,” he said.
Aregbesola called on Nigerians to refrain from all divisive tendencies capable of causing crisis in the country.
He also urged Nigerians and the youth in particular, to embrace the virtues of hard work and peaceful disposition to fellow humans.
“Irrespective of faith, ideology, social class and ethnicity I urge you to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in its effort to build a progressive and enviable nation that all citizens would be proud of,” he said.
FG establishing oxygen plants in 36 states – NEC
The National Economic Council (NEC) says the Ministry of Health is establishing oxygen plants across the 36 states of the federation.
Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi made this known to State House correspondents after a virtual NEC meeting on Friday presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Umahi said that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, who chaired the NEC Ad hoc committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to ease the lockdown of the economy, presented a report to the council.
“The Federal Ministry of Health is establishing oxygen plants across the 36 states in the country, but currently six states have been provided with oxygen cylinders so far.
“The Federal Government has paid for 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines coming in batches and therefore a considerable amount of the vaccines will come into the country between now and January 2022. Nigeria is now classified among the 50 countries in the green zones.”
Umahi said that NEC also received states’ performance report on COVID-19 from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
He said that the council was also updated on the global situation of COVID-19.
He said, “Over 237 million confirmed cases and over 4.8 million deaths due to COVID-19. There are now over 6.3 billion vaccine doses administered. Nigeria is still in the first wave of vaccination and vaccination tools will improve as the country receives additional vaccines. COVID-19 cases have declined by 7.5 per cent over the last week.”
Umahi said that states were urged to continue to push testing activities in order to detect new cases before the situation worsened.
According to him, an update on travel restrictions on certain countries expected to be announced soon by the Federal Government.
The governor said that the council also received an update on the situation regarding Cholera outbreak.
“Current Cholera situation in the country; suspected number of cases is 88,704. Number of states is 31 and the FCT. Number of deaths is 3,208.
“Multi-sectoral emergency operation centres activated at level 2 continues to coordinate the national response,” he said.
He listed the challenges to include difficulty in accessing some communities due to insecurity, open defecation and lack of potable drinking water.
Umahi said other challenges were lack of basic health primary healthcare infrastructure, inadequate health facility and cholera commodities for case management.
Umahi said that NEC commended the insightful presentations and congratulated the outgoing Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, on his new appointment at the WHO and also welcomed the incoming Director-General, Dr Ifedayo Morayo Adetifa.
Bakare meets with Buhari, opposes clamour for power rotation
Founder of Citadel Global Community Church, Tunde Bakare, says the region to produce the president of Nigeria should not be an issue.
He stated this in Abuja on Friday during an interaction with reporters at the presidential villa after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that Nigerians are only bothered about a leader that would ensure the prosperity of the country.
The pastor said the “immaturity” of the citizens is responsible for “making us say power must either be in the North or be in the South, instead of looking for the best.
“Listen to me, if where the President comes from will make the place he has come from to be better, the northern part of Nigeria should be richest and the most progressive and the most developed because out of 61 years, the North has produced either the President or heads of state for 40 to 41 years and yet, see the retrogression in the North.
“If it’s from the South, why should a person like President Obasanjo freeze and seize the account of Lagos State in his own tenure? If it’s from South-South or South-East, why couldn’t President Jonathan use all his powers to develop South-South/South-East?
“If there are agreements between politicians on rotation, a bargain is a bargain. That is between them. But as far as this country is concerned, what we need at this stage is a man who can drive us to the Eldorado.”
The pastor commended the national assembly for empowering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the mode of transmitting election results.
“Perhaps one of the best things the present national assembly has done, especially the senate, because, with that, Nigerians can vote and then results can be transmitted so easily,” he said.
“Not only that, part of the state of the nation address that I did on October 10, I emphasised how Nigeria youth, especially undergraduates, are disenfranchised in our country.”
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