The South Asia Channel
Taliban Will Release Recording to Prove Leader Alive; Floodwaters recede in Chennai, 14 Killed Due to Power Outage; ISIS Targets Pakistani Media
Afghanistan Bonus Read: “Islamic State: Why Afghanistan isn’t panicking – yet,” by Scott Peterson (CSM) Taliban say they will release recording to prove leader alive On Friday, Taliban officials continued to deny claims that new leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour was killed or wounded, and promised to release an audio recording of him to prove ...
Bonus Read: “Islamic State: Why Afghanistan isn’t panicking – yet,” by Scott Peterson (CSM)
Taliban say they will release recording to prove leader alive
On Friday, Taliban officials continued to deny claims that new leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour was killed or wounded, and promised to release an audio recording of him to prove he is still alive (NYT). Taliban chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, “We have already put efforts into sending our men to get a voice recording of the emir himself in order to avoid the growing confusion and assure the people about his well-being.” Mujahid acknowledged that releasing the recording posed a security risk to the allegedly wounded leader, but stated, “Nonetheless, we are trying to get his voice and will be releasing it as soon as we can.”
Fighting between Afghan army and Taliban kills eight, wounds two
Eight people were killed and two wounded in a clash between Afghan army troops and Taliban militants in Wardak province (NYT). According to Gen. Khalil Andarabi, the police chief in Wardak province, the clash took place in front of a mosque in Sayed Abad district, but the circumstances of the fighting are not immediately clear. Authorities are investigating whether the victims were killed by a mortar bomb. It is unknown whether the dead were militants, civilians, or soldiers.
German Chancellor to send back economic Afghan migrants
Speaking at a joint news conference on Wednesday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Afghans migrating to Germany due to economic circumstances will be returned to Afghanistan (VOA, TOLO News). “…where refugees come hoping for a better life — and I know that this hope is big for many — that is no reason to get asylum status or residency status here,” Merkel said. Ghani and Merkel met to discuss ways in which Germany could help Afghanistan stop the exodus of Afghan migrants to Germany. Bonus Read: “The Pariahs of the Global Refugee Flood,” by Priyali Sur (FP)
Afghan-U.S. forces free 40 from Taliban prison
In an operation that began Thursday night, Afghan and United States Special Forces troops freed at least 40 detainees from a Taliban jail in Helmand province (TOLO News). The freed detainees include security personnel from the Afghan National Police, Afghan National Army, and border guards. Details surrounding their capture remain unclear.
Floodwaters recede in Chennai, 14 killed due to power outage
Flood water in parts of the southern Indian city of Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu has started to recede after the rains have halted for the past 24 hours (BBC, Indian Express). More than 260 people died in the floods in the state after the heaviest rainfall in a century. The city of Chennai has virtually shut down with a nearby naval airbase functioning as a make shift-airport and train services suspended until Saturday by officials. According to reports nearly 5000 homes are still under water in the city. A police report said that 14 patients at a local hospital died due to power failure. The federal authorities have predicted two more days of rain in the southern state, where nearly 70 million people live.
Delhi to allow for alternate days of driving private cars
Local government in the Indian capital Delhi has announced a plan to allow private vehicles with even and odd registration numbers to operate in the city on alternate days, starting January 1 (BBC, NDTV). Officials also announced a ban on trucks and buses more than 15 years old earlier, though details about the enforcement of the ban are unclear at the moment. Both these measures are a part of the local government to curb pollution levels in the city, where 1,400 additional cars take to the streets every day. Each year, air pollution is estimated to cause more than 600,000 premature deaths in India. According to a World Health Organization report last year, India has 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities.
ISIS targets Pakistani media
Four people were injured in an ISIS attack on a television station in Lahore on Tuesday, marking the third incident of this kind in the past month (VOA). Another media employee was injured last week when an unidentified gunman attacked a Dawn News satellite news van in Karachi, and three employees of Dunya News channel were injured in a similar attack in November. Pamphlets thrown after the attacks claimed that they were carried out by ISIS’ Khorasan branch. Pakistani journalists in Punjab and Sindh provinces protested the attacks on Wednesday.
Pakistan among countries most affected by climate change
According to a Global Climate Risk Index report published Thursday by Germanwatch, Pakistan is on the list of countries that have been most affected by extreme weather events between 1995 and 2015 (ET). During this time period, approximately 487 people were killed annually in weather-related incidents such as devastating floods and droughts. The report connects extreme weather to global warming. “The Climate Risk Index thus indicates a level of exposure and vulnerability to extreme events that countries should understand as a warning to be prepared for more frequent and/or more severe events in the future,” the report said.
—Alyssa Sims and Udit Banerjea
Edited by Peter Bergen
Abdul Hadi Roshan /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images