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Afghan security forces reclaim Yamgan district after killing 120 Taliban militants

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Kabul: The Afghan security forces killed at least 120 Taliban militants and regained control of the strategically important Yamgan district in Badakhshan province after days of heavy fighting, the Interior Ministry said on Sunday.

“Following several days of joint operations of police, army and national directorate for security, Yamgan district was recaptured today and the enemies after suffering huge casualties fled the area,” Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

A number of Taliban key commanders, including Mullah Rustam, Mullah Hashim Kolabi and Mullah Shukrullah, were among those killed during the operations, according to the statement.

Some foreign fighters were among those killed in the clash for Yemgan district, it added.

Yamgan district was captured by Taliban militants two weeks ago, forcing the government forces to retreat.

Earlier, Badakhshan police chief General Baba Jan said that the security forces entered Yamgan district at 8:30 a.m. and a cleanup operation was ongoing in the area.

Although Taliban did not acknowledge losing ground in Yamgan district, the armed militant group in a statement claimed that they captured Chardara district in Kunduz province on Saturday night after several hours of heavy fighting with government forces.

The provincial capital city of Kunduz and even the neighbouring Baghlan province would be threatened if Taliban insurgents were able to strengthen their grip in Chardara district, according to political observers.

“Our security forces launched counter-offensive early Sunday to free Chardara district from the clutch of Taliban rebels,” said army spokesperson Major Ghulam Hazrat.

Taliban militants have intensified activities since their spring offensive on April 24 and have conducted series of attacks in various parts of the country, leaving hundreds of people, including militants, security personnel and civilians, dead. (IANS)

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Afghan Girl Coders Design Game to Fight Biggest Problems of Their Country

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Like the team of Afghan schoolgirls who rose to fame last year when they competed in a robotics competition in the United States, the coders show what reserves of talent there are to be tapped when Afghan girls are given a chance.
Afghan Girls design games to fight opium and inequality, wikimedia commons

Think Super Mario Bros., but with an Afghan twist. This is how Afghanistan’s first generation of female coders explain their abilities as game-makers after uploading more than 20 games on digital app stores this year.

More than 20 young women in the western city of Heart have established themselves as computer experts, building apps and websites as well as tracking down bugs in computer code.

Like the team of Afghan schoolgirls who rose to fame last year when they competed in a robotics competition in the United States, the coders show what reserves of talent there are to be tapped when Afghan girls are given a chance.

“Coders can work from home and it is in this process women are building a new career path for themselves and for the next generation,” said Hasib Rasa, project manager of Code to Inspire, which teaches female students coding in Herat.

One of the games designed by the all-female team has caught the eye of developers and gamers as it illustrates the scourge of opium cultivation and the challenges the Afghan security forces face as they try to stamp it out.

The 2-D game “Fight Against Opium” is an animated interpretation of the missions that Afghan soldiers undertake to destroy opium fields, fight drug lords and help farmers switch to growing saffron.

Afghanistan is the world’s largest source of opium but it also grows saffron – the world’s most expensive spice – which has long been pushed as an alternative to wean farmers off a crop used to make heroin.

Despite a ban, opium production hit a record in 2017, up 87 percent over 2016, according to a U.N. study.

The 2-D game "Fight Against Opium" is an animated interpretation of the missions that Afghan soldiers undertake to destroy opium fields, fight drug lords and help farmers switch to growing saffron.
Afghanistan Flag, wikimedia commons

Khatira Mohammadi, a student who helped develop the anti-opium game, said she wanted to show the complexities of the drug problem in the simplest way.

“We have illustrated our country’s main problem through a game,” said Mohammadi.

At the institute, more than 90 girls and young women, wearing headscarves and long black coats, are trained in coding and software development, a profession seen by some in conservative Afghanistan as unsuitable for women.

In Afghan society, it is unusual for women to work outside the home. Those who do, are mostly teachers, nurses, doctors, midwives and house helpers.

Also Read: North Korea warns US to Not Misread Peace Overtures as Weakness 

After the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, women regained freedom to work in offices with male colleagues – but many consider working as a software developer a step too far.

Hasib Rasa said girls are encouraged to design original player characters, goals, and obstacles that reflect Afghanistan’s ethos.

The course is exclusively aimed at females, aged 15-25, who are unable to pursue a four-year degree due to lack of funds or hail from families where they are prevented from enrolling in co-education schools.

“In Afghanistan the ability to work remotely is a key tool in the push for equality,” said Rasa. (VOA)