A double suicide bombing at a Shi’ite mosque Friday at prayer time left at least twenty dead and 50 wounded in a remote province of eastern Afghanistan, according to a report still provisional.
The suicide bombers broke into the building in Gardez, Paktia province, near the Pakistan border, and opened fire on the pilgrims before blowing themselves up, authorities said.
“We counted twenty dead and about fifty wounded, all the victims are pilgrims who gathered for Friday prayers when they were mown down,” said the head of the provincial police, General Raz Mohammad Mandozai.
According to him, “there were two suicide bombers, who first fired at the crowd inside the Shiite mosque, before triggering their charge,” the general reported.
For his part, the spokesman of the governor Abdullah Hasrat announced in a statement a provisional total of “25 dead and 33 wounded” insisting that “this assessment is not definitive”.
According to him the attack occurred at the beginning of prayer, shortly after 13H30 (9H00 GMT). He confirmed the double explosion.
Dr. Wilayat Khan Ahmadzai, head of health services in Paktia province, spoke of “more than 70 dead and wounded pilgrims (received) at the Gardez Civil Hospital” as relief and clean-up operations continue.
The perimeter of the mosque was completely cordoned off by police forces, he added.
This attack was not immediately claimed.
But for two years the Shiite minority of Afghanistan is regularly targeted by attacks generally claimed or attributed to the group Islamic State (IS). On the other hand, the Taliban announced in July that they would no longer conduct operations in urban areas if any risk of reaching civilians was not averted.
ISIS, whose fighters are suffering heavy casualties on the military front, facing Taliban assaults in the north and Afghan and US armies in the north and eastern province of Nangarhar, is ramping up attacks.
More than 150 of them and their commanders surrendered to Afghan forces earlier this week in Jawzjan province in the north.
The mountainous province of Paktia, mostly Pashtun and tribal, is a remote and hard-to-reach territory bordering the tribal areas of Pakistan from which the Taliban come and go and members of the Haqqani network affiliated with them.
Brazil Records Another 1,000-Plus Daily Coronavirus Death
Brazil, the second most affected country by the novel coronavirus has again recorded more than 1,000 new deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours.
The country which has confirmed more than four hundred thousand cases with nearly twenty-six thousand deaths on Wednesday, reported 1,086 casualties which brought the total number of deaths to 25,598.
The number of infected people in the country reached 411,821 after recording 20,599 new cases in the past 24 hours.
Brazil is grappling with a severe hit by coronavirus that has now made it the second highest infected country in the world behind the United States.
According to US-based Johns Hopkins University, United States the most affected country has confirmed 1,698,581 cases and 100,276 deaths.
A new study by researchers at Washington University suggests the numbers in Brazil could increase five-fold over the next month.
China’s Parliament Backs Controversial Hong Kong Security Law
China’s parliament has on Thursday approved a new security law for Hong Kong which would make it a crime to undermine Beijing’s authority in the territory.
Earlier, clashes broke as riot police were out in force in Hong Kong legislators debated another piece of legislation which would make it a crime to disrespect the Chinese national anthem.
The decision to impose such a law upon Hong Kong has led to a major backlash both domestically and internationally.
Police in Hong Kong made 300 arrests as thousands of people took to the streets after China unveiled plans to introduce national security legislation in Hong Kong.
On the developments in Hong Kong, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said developments in Hong Kong meant it could no longer be considered to have “a high degree of autonomy” from mainland China.
Details of the law are expected to be drawn up in coming weeks. It is expected to be enacted before September.
EU Proposes €750bn Virus Recovery Package
The European Union’s executive Commission has proposed a major recovery fund worth €750bn ($825bn) to help the bloc tackle an “unprecedented crisis”.
European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde said in Frankfurt on Wednesday that the eurozone GDP is likely to fall by between 8% and 12% in 2020, adding that the matter of issuing grants to EU countries struggling from the COVID-19 outbreak is a contentious one, as it pits member states against each other.
Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will officially present the recovery plan to the European Parliament. She will also put forward a proposal for the EU’s next budget covering 2021-2027, reportedly of around €1tn.
Ursula von der Leyen said “this is Europe’s moment”.
The Commission has dubbed the plan Next Generation EU. Without the backing of all 27 EU member states, it cannot go ahead. But Germany and France have backed plans for the money to be raised on the capital markets.
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