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More than 300 Afghans flee into Tajikistan as Taliban advances

At least 347 refugees from Afghanistan have crossed into the Central Asian country of Tajikistan over two days, fleeing sweeping gains by Taliban fighters as foreign forces withdraw.

State information agency Khovar, citing Tajikistan border guards, said on Wednesday the refugees “fled from the Taliban to save their lives”, adding two babies died during the border crossing.

The fighters in recent weeks have brought huge swaths of the country under their control as foreign troops draw down.

In June, they seized Afghanistan’s main Shir Khan Bandar border crossing with Tajikistan in the far north of Afghanistan about 50km (30 miles) from Kunduz city.

On Wednesday, they claimed to have taken the strategic border crossing of Spin Boldak on the frontier with Pakistan.

The Afghan interior ministry, however, insisted the armed group’s attack was repelled and government forces had control.

Afghan refugees

Tajikistan said the refugees, who included about 64 boys and 113 girls, had crossed from Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province, bringing with them herds of livestock.

“Tajik border guards, guided by humanistic principles and good neighbourliness, allowed Afghan refugees to enter,” Khovar said in a statement.

It said the group of Afghans were being accommodated in two sites in the mountainous Murghab region in the east of the ex-Soviet country.

The border guard said they confiscated more than 3.5kg (7.7 pounds) of narcotics from the Afghans crossing into Tajikistan.

The refugees brought livestock, including 300 yaks, three camels and 30 horses.

The border guards said the situation along the shared frontier with Afghanistan was under control.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Kremlin’s envoy to Tajikistan, Zamir Kabulov, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that Moscow was “closely monitoring” the situation at Afghanistan’s borders with Central Asian countries.

But he added the Taliban reconfirmed it would not launch attacks on Afghanistan’s neighbours.

Also on Wednesday, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) foreign ministers called on the Afghan sides to stop violence and start peace talks about the future of the country.

In a joint statement following a meeting in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, the SCO foreign ministers voiced concern over the rising concentration of outlaw and armed groups in the north of the country.

“One of the most important factors for preserving and strengthening security and stability in the SCO space is the early settlement of the situation in Afghanistan,” the diplomats said.

They also prompted the Afghan government to increase efforts aiming for peace restoration, economic development of the country, and countering “terrorism” and drug crime.

India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Twitter: “The world is against seizure of power by violence and force. It will not legitimise such actions.”

Recently, a video emerged that the CNN broadcaster said it had verified, showing a group of Afghan commandos being gunned down by the Taliban in June after surrendering.

On Wednesday, the US State Department spokesman, Ned Price, told reporters: “The video, which, I should say, we don’t have any reason to doubt, depicts horrifying scenes. The killing – in this case, the slaughter – of unarmed individuals is – it’s an atrocious act. It’s an outrageous sight and, of course, we condemn it.”

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This post originally posted here Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera

Northwich train station roof collapse sparks emergency – terrified passengers flee debris

Footage posted online showed the aftermath of the emergency, with terrified passengers fleeing the debris. 

An emergency siren can be heard as the platform is cleared.

Massive piles of rubble amassed on the platform, with concrete slabs jutting out at dangerous angles. 

More images posted on social media also show a pile of rubble in the waiting room area.

READ MORE: Eurostar bailout crisis: Cash-strapped rail firm secures £250m

Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury told the Northwich Guardian: “I was shocked to learn of a serious roof collapse at Northwich Railway Station this morning.

“My team have spoken to police and, miraculously, it appears nobody has been injured although there has been major disruption to the railway.

“Clearly there will need to be an official investigation to understand what has happened.

“Having just spoken to a senior Northern Rail manager, the priority is to make the area safe and get the trains running again.

“I am raising this matter with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps as a matter of urgency.”

A spokesperson for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Everyone present at the time is accounted for.

“The crew is assessing the scene with representatives from Network Rail and has notified council engineers.”

Northwich is a quiet commuter town in the North West of England.

Its links to Manchester and Chester make it a busy route for workers in the region.

There are expected to be severe delays on the line, which operates London Northwestern and Avanti rail services.

Services running through that station will now be delayed by at least 40 minutes. 

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

‘Stranded’ Aussie IPL cricket stars face jail & fines if they attempt to flee Covid-stricken India

Over 30 Australian cricket players, coaches and commentators remain in India after officials made it illegal for them to return home from the coronavirus-stricken Asian country in light of a controversial travel ban.

Aussie stars Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson managed to land in their homeland’s second-largest city Melbourne earlier this week after using a travel loophole via Doha which has now been closed.

The country’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, commented that the route, plus others through Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur and neighboring Singapore, have now been shut down to complete a total ban on all travel from India – which is currently reeling from a collapse of its public healthcare system to become one of the world’s most affected countries by Covid. 
Also on rt.com Accusations of racism, criticism as Australia introduces CRIMINAL sanctions for citizens intending to arrive home from India
Going a step further to halt returns, the Australian government rolled out an emergency bill that sees anyone landing on their territory from the subcontinent nation – which recorded a record 400,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday – hit with a jail term of up to five years behind bars or fines able to reach US$ 51,000.

At present, 34 Australian cricket figures are “stranded” in India, according to the Daily Mail, where they are part of the hugely popular Premier League (IPL).

Among them are 12 players, including national team members Pat Cummins, David Warner and disgraced former captain Steve Smith, plus 11 coaches such as former legends Ricky Ponting, Simon Katich and David Hussey.

Two commentators are there as well, in addition to two umpires, five support staff, and a Kiwi commentator from New Zealand who resides in Australia.

Yet PM Morrison has insisted that they will receive no special treatment to be brought home.

“They have traveled there privately,” he said on Tuesday.

“This wasn’t part of an Australian tour. They’re under their own resources and they’ll be using those resources too, I’m sure, to see them return to Australia in accordance with their own arrangements.”

Separately, Cricket Australia released a statement which began declaring it would “assist where possible”.

“We will continue to liaise closely with the Australian government following today’s announcement that direct flights from India to Australia will be paused until 15 May, and monitor the situation between now and the tournament’s scheduled conclusion on 30 May,” it added.

But Karlie Andrews, girlfriend of Mumbai Indians star Chris Lynn, told the Daily Mail that she hoped the organization would put on a charter plane to get the group out of Asia.

“I know the IPL is doing everything they can to keep our players safe in their bubble,” Andrews said. 

“And I know all partners would obviously love to have their significant other home safe and well ASAP when the IPL is complete. 

“[But] hopefully [Chris] is home at the end of May. It is not ideal and I miss him heaps, but it won’t be forever and so I just have to hang in there,” she finished.
Also on rt.com Australia mulling heavy fines, five years in jail for travelers circumventing flight ban from Covid-19 hotspots – reports
Away from the cricket world, the move from Morrison has been dubbed “racist” and “disproportionate” by some compatriots. 

This is an outrageous response. Australians have a right of return to their own country,” remarked Elaine Pearson, who is the director of Human Rights Watch in Australia.

“Indian-Australians are seeing this as a racist policy because we are being treated different than people from other countries who have had similar waves of infection like the US, the UK and Europe,” an Australian surgeon with family in India, Neela Janakiramanan, said, as quoted by Reuters.

It is very hard to feel anything other than targeted as an ethnic group.”
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Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Sport News

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