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Fighting Has Intensified Across Many Afghan Provinces

The insurgents had tried to capture the city in August but were beaten back by Afghan forces with the help of American special forces and airstrikes. Most of the districts in the province are controlled or contested by the Taliban.

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Afghanistan
Fighting Spikes Across Many Afghan Provinces. VOA

A mortar attack on a school Saturday in the volatile southeastern Ghazni province of Afghanistan killed at least four school students and injured more than a dozen. The assault comes on the heels of the Taliban capturing a strategically important northeastern district in Afghanistan and inflicting fresh casualties on government forces elsewhere in the country.

A provincial government spokesman, Arif Noori, told VOA that two teachers also were among 15 other people injured in the incident. It was not known immediately whether Afghan forces or Taliban rebels fired the mortar shell on the school in the Andar district.

Noori said a government investigation has been launched into the incident.

Afghanistan
A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for what he described as an “infiltrator operation” that killed eight pro-government forces and detained another. Pixabay

Fighting has intensified across many Afghan provinces with the advent of spring amid U.S.-led efforts to find a negotiated settlement with the Taliban to end the 18-year-old Afghan war.

Within the past week, about 35 Afghan civilians, including 20 children and six women, have died in conflict-related incidents across the country.

The United Nations has confirmed that almost 90 percent of the casualties were caused by Afghan security forces and U.S. airstrikes. The world body says the armed conflict last year killed more than 3,800 civilians, including 927 children, the highest number of civilian deaths recorded in the past 10 years.

Officials confirmed Saturday that Afghan security forces retreated overnight from the Arghanj Khwa district center in Badakhshan province following fierce clashes with Taliban assailants.

A provincial government spokesman told VOA the fighting killed at least four police personnel. A provincial council member, Tahira Alamyar, said clashes Friday night killed about a dozen Afghan forces. She told VOA Taliban insurgents also captured at least five security forces.

FILE - Afghan border police walk the Afghanistan side of the border with Tajikistan, in Ishkashim, Badakhshan province, far northeastern Afghanistan, Aug. 16, 2016.
Afghan border police walk the Afghanistan side of the border with Tajikistan, in Ishkashim, Badakhshan province, far northeastern Afghanistan, Aug. 16, 2016. VOA

An insurgent spokesman said the Taliban has consolidated its control over the district after overrunning the district police headquarters, seizing several military vehicles and a “huge quantity of weapons-equipment.”

Separately, officials in southern Zabul province confirmed that at least eight police officers were killed Saturday morning at a security outpost in the Shahr-e-Safa district when one of their colleagues with suspected links to the Taliban turned his gun on them.

A provincial police official told VOA on condition of anonymity that the whereabouts of eight other Afghan forces were not immediately known. A provincial police spokesman, Asif Tokhi, confirmed the incident to VOA but would not share further details immediately.

The post is located on the main highway linking the national capital, Kabul, to southern Afghan provinces.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for what he described as an “infiltrator operation” that killed eight pro-government forces and detained another.

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Afghan officials also confirmed a Thursday night Taliban attack on the provincial capital, Ghazni, killed at least 15 security forces, including a district police chief.

The insurgents had tried to capture the city in August but were beaten back by Afghan forces with the help of American special forces and airstrikes. Most of the districts in the province are controlled or contested by the Taliban. (VOA)

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UN: World Showing Lack of Ambition in Reducing Inequality, Countering Climate Change

The natural environment is deteriorating at an alarming rate: sea levels are rising; ocean acidification is accelerating

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climate change, reducing inequality
UN document stresses that 75 per cent of children who suffer from stunted growth and physical development live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Pixabay

The world’s governments are showing a lack of ambition in pursuing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially in terms of reducing inequality and countering climate change, the United Nations said in a report published Tuesday.

The findings were presented at the opening of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which brings together some 2,000 participants from around the world to evaluate progress toward meeting the 17 SDGs that the world body’s 193 member-states set in 2015, the Efe news reported.

Time is running short to take effective action on climate change, the head of UN Economic and Social Affairs, Liu Zhenmin, said. “The challenges highlighted in this report are global problems that require global solutions. Just as problems are interrelated, the solutions to poverty, inequality, climate change and other global challenges are also interlinked,” he said.

climate change, reducing inequality
The natural environment is deteriorating at an alarming rate: sea levels are rising; ocean acidification is accelerating. Pixabay

While the report notes some progress, including lower levels of extreme poverty, expanded immunization, improved access to electricity and a 49 per cent reduction in mortality among children 5 and under, the emphasis is on the need for greater urgency.

“It is abundantly clear that a much deeper, faster and more ambitious response is needed to unleash the social and economic transformation needed to achieve our 2030 goals,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

“The natural environment is deteriorating at an alarming rate: sea levels are rising; ocean acidification is accelerating; the last four years have been the warmest on record; one million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction; and land degradation continues unchecked,” Guterres said.

climate change, reducing inequality
Climate change it says is worsening the ability of people to get enough to eat. Pixabay

Liu said that climate change remains the greatest obstacle to “our shared prosperity,” as extreme weather affects agriculture and, by extension, efforts to reduce hunger.

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The UN document stresses that 75 per cent of children who suffer from stunted growth and physical development live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, while people residing in at-risk states are twice as likely to lack basic sanitation and four times more likely to be without reliable access to potable water.

Looking forward, the report said that steps to combat climate change can also help in reducing poverty and inequality. In that regard, Liu said that moving toward renewable, non-polluting sources of energy will in turn begin to reverse deforestation, just as sustainable agriculture can ease both hunger and want, as nearly 80 per cent of people living in extreme poverty are residents of rural areas. (IANS)