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News & Announcements

Nigerian Begins COVID-19 Vaccination

Nigeria has officially rolled out the Covid-19 vaccination with four frontline health workers receiving jabs of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine at the National Hospital, Abuja.

The vaccines were administered after undergoing final assessment by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the country’s regulatory agency, with positive results.

The first set of health care workers to receive the vaccine in Nigeria are Dr. Ngong Cyprian, Nurse Faith E. Eragbai, Dr. Nuru Joseph and Dr. Thairu Yunusa.Vanguard reports that flagging off the exercise, the Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and Secretary General to the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, described the event as a watershed.

“Nobody is safe until everyone is vaccinated. We must believe our government on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.

“I salute the commitment of all health workers in saving and ensuring the protection of all Nigerians. This is a novel roll-out and the only authorised source is the Federal Government”.

Mustapha urged Nigerians not to patronise fraudsters who are out to defraud.

“We must understand that nobody is safe until everyone is vaccinated. We must believe our government on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines brought to Nigeria,” he noted.

The Minister of Health.  Dr Osagie Ehanire, confirmed that NAFDAC had declared the vaccine doses safe for use on Nigerians.

He said: “The vaccination campaign we kick off today will be in four phases, and will align with the planned arrival of vaccines in batches. Each phase targets a specific segment of our eligible population, to ensure equity in vaccine deployment.”

“The vaccines (COVID-19) are our common assets and the responsibility is on every person to protect them and ensure proper use.

“I will like to emphasis that we are not out of the woods. Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel but we are still in the tunnel.”

According to the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib: “It’s a momentous occasion today as we administer the first dose to one of our foremost frontline medical doctors in the fight against COVID-19.

“Defined frontline health workers are prioritized globally, for vaccination against COVID-19, due to their exposure to the risk infection with COVID-19 virus in the course of duty.”

On his own part, the Speaker, House of Reps. Femi Gbajabiamila, said: “We must not play politics with the health of our neighbour. We have to be mindful of the person that has not been vaccinated… you need to protect your neighbours.”

“This is a time for everyone to rally round the government. The vaccines being introduced in Nigeria are safe and effective”.

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Ivory Coast Oppositions Return For Parliamentary Election

Ivory Coast’s parliamentary election on March 6 will see President Alassane Ouattara’s party challenged by two opposition parties led by former presidents.

The vote on Saturday is the first test for Ouattara since last year’s turbulent presidential election that saw him re-elected with a landslide and was marred by deadly violence.

The governing party, Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP), faces challenges from both Henri Konan Bedie’s Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI) and Laurent Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), which both boycotted the presidential vote.

According to the Aljazeera report, this is the first election that Gbagbo’s faction will contest since 2011 when the former leader was sent to The Hague to stand trial on charges of crimes against humanity over a wave of violence that followed the 2010 election. The violence, sparked by his refusal to concede defeat to Ouattara, led to about 3,000 deaths. Gbagbo was acquitted in 2019.

“We believe this is the time for us to return to the political scene, and for the opposition to return to power,” said Michel Gbagbo, Laurent Gbagbo’s 50-year old son, during a rally in Abidjan’s Yopougon neighbourhood on Thursday.

The parties are vying for power in West Africa’s biggest economy and the world’s top cocoa producer. Under Ouattara, a 79-year-old former central banker and senior International Monetary Fund official, Ivory Coast has seen an economic growth average of more than 8 percent in the past 10 years.

Chic shopping centres have popped up across the country’s largest city and economic hub, Abidjan, and investment has poured into infrastructure and agriculture. Last year, the economy avoided a recession despite a night-time curfew and restrictions on travel and businesses to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

A faction of the FPI loyal to Gbagbo and Bedie’s PDCI, hoping to unseat Ouattara’s RHDP in several constituencies, are running with a joint list of candidates.

Michel Gbagbo, who is running in the populous Yopougon, traditionally an FPI stronghold, said he hoped for a high voter turnout, echoing a call by the 86-year-old Bedie. The former president last week took to Facebook to urge party supporters to vote massively.

“I believe this is the time for the opposition to retake the majority in parliament and also restore some faith in the electoral process,” said Yasmina Ouegnin, a candidate for the PDCI party in Abidjan’s Cocody neighbourhood.

Ivory Coast is still recovering from the short civil war that led to Ouattara’s 2010 election victory. His latest election win was preceded by clashes between political supporters and security forces. At least 85 people died in the violence surrounding the vote, with the opposition accusing Ouattara of defying presidential term limits.

Ivory Coast’s constitution limits presidents to two terms, but Ouattara argued a new constitution reset the clock, allowing him to run again.

Campaigning for the legislative elections has mostly been smooth. Residents have gathered at rallies on dusty football pitches to see candidates hand out T-shirts, and sometimes cash while reminding voters of their achievements. Still, some voters said last year’s tense presidential poll had raised their concerns ahead of the vote.

“This political bickering isn’t good for Ivory Coast,” Brigitte Koffi, a vendor outside an election rally in Abidjan, said above blaring zouglou, Ivorian style music. “We don’t want violence. On Saturday, I’ll vote for my candidate and for peace and stability.”

The March 6 poll will be more representative of the political landscape in Ivory Coast than any election since the 2010 post-election crisis, according to Tochi Eni-Kalu, an Africa analyst with the Washington-based Eurasia Group.

“These elections are less about cementing the majority’s power than about demonstrating Ouattara’s commitment to de-escalating political tensions given ongoing talks with the opposition,” Eni-Kalu said.

It will allow the parties to see where “they stand” and also be an important step for continued dialogue, said Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani, a governing party spokesman.

“This time around the opposition understood it’s important they take part. We welcome their participation in peaceful elections,” Adjoumani said.

The challenge now will be to ensure that the election results are seen as credible by all actors, said William Assanvo, an Abidjan-based analyst with the Institute for Security Studies.

“It’s a return to a less disrupted political scene compared to previous elections. With all parties participating for the first time since 2011 this vote is a real test in terms of credibility for the electoral commission to organise the vote, for the participating parties and for the voters” as the country moves forward.

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US Hits China Over New Veto Powers On China

The United States has called China’s moves to change the Hong Kong electoral system “a direct attack” on its autonomy and democratic processes, saying Washington is working at “galvanising collective action” against Chinese rights abuses.

The US condemnation came on Friday, shortly after Beijing proposed legislation that would tighten its increasingly authoritarian grip on Hong Kong by making changes to the electoral committee that chooses the city’s leader, giving it new power to nominate legislative candidates.

The measure, set to be approved during a week-long session of China’s rubber-stamp parliament, would further marginalise a democratic opposition decimated after Beijing imposed national security legislation following anti-government protests that rocked Hong Kong in 2019.

Aljazeera reports that the US condemns China’s “continuing assault on democratic institutions in Hong Kong”, State Department spokesman Ned Price told a regular news briefing.

Price called Beijing’s moves “a direct attack on Hong Kong’s autonomy … freedoms and the democratic processes”.

“If implemented these measures would drastically undermine Hong Kong democratic institutions,” he said.

Price said Washington was working to rally allies and partners to speak with one voice in condemning China’s abuses against minority Muslims in Xinjiang and the “repression” taking place in Hong Kong.

“I don’t think anyone is satisfied yet, with the international response to what has taken place in Xinjiang. And that’s precisely why we are, in many ways, galvanising the world, galvanising collective action, to make clear that these sort of abuses against human rights in Xinjiang and elsewhere will not be tolerated,” he said.

US President Joe Biden’s administration, which took office in January, has endorsed a determination by the former US administration that China is committing genocide in Xinjiang and said that Washington must be prepared to impose costs on Beijing for its actions there, its crackdown in Hong Kong and threats towards Taiwan.

Robert Scott, a senior international economist at the Economic Policy Institute, told Al Jazeera that the US has limited options to put pressure on China.

“Certainly we can sanction China in international arenas. We can consider putting limits on their diplomats, limit their voting rights in international forums like the International Monetary Fund where China has sought increased representation,” he said.

Scott said the key was to curtail China’s growing economic power which the US had failed to do for over two decades as China filled up enormous trade surpluses and it has used these to fuel its growing influence around the world.

“There are sanctions that the United States can put in place on businesses operating in Hong Kong, especially Chinese businesses,” he said.

“Unfortunately, China has decided that it does not need the financial power that was tested in Hong Kong before it is powerful enough itself. China is sitting on some $5 trillion in foreign exchange reserves.

“It has become one of the largest foreign investors in the world. So it is going to be less damaged by the fact that businesses may move from Hong Kong to Taiwan or to Singapore and other countries.

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Kamala-Harris To Netanyahu: US Opposes To ICC War Crime Probe In Palestine

US Vice President Kamala Harris, in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has reaffirmed the United States’s opposition to an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, the White House said.

The call, the first between the two since Harris and President Joe Biden took office in January, followed the ICC’s announcement of the investigation on Wednesday.

The court determined in February that the occupied Palestinian territories fall under its jurisdiction, paving the way for an investigation of war crimes committed by Palestinians and Israelis.

Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has promised the inquiry will be conducted “independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favour”.

Bensouda, who will be replaced by British prosecutor Karim Khan on June 16, said in December 2019 that war crimes had been or were being committed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Bensouda named the Israel army and armed Palestinian groups such as Hamas as possible perpetrators.

During Thursday’s call, Harris and Netanyahu noted their governments’ “opposition to the International Criminal Court’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel,” the White House said.

A day earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said that Washington “firmly opposed and deeply disappointed”by the ICC decision.

“Israel is not a party to the ICC and has not consented to the Court’s jurisdiction, and we have serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel,” Blinken said in a statement.

Harris and Netanyahu also agreed to continue to cooperate on regional security issues, specifically Iran’s nuclear programme and its “dangerous” behaviour, the White House statement said.

Harris “emphasised the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security,” the statement added.

Biden’s bid to revive a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, however, sets him and Netanyahu on a potential collision course.

The Israeli prime minister opposed the nuclear deal and had applauded former President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon it in 2018.

Harris also congratulated Netanyahu on Israel’s coronavirus vaccine programme and they agreed to increase cooperation on the coronavirus, water, green energy and other initiatives, the White House said.

Israel has released the world’s fastest vaccination campaign, administering at least one dose to more than half its 9.3 million people and the required two doses to about one-third of its population in less than two months.

In contrast, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories have struggled to have their people vaccinated due to lack of access and financial means.

Critics contend that Israel is responsible for vaccinating the Palestinians under occupation.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) earlier condemned Israel’s plan to send coronavirus vaccines to far-away countries while ignoring the five-million-strong Palestinian population living kilometres away under its military occupation as an “immoral measure”.

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Ebola: WHO Expresses Fears Over Possible Spread To Guinea’s Neighbors

World Health Organization (WHO) officials say the risk of an Ebola outbreak spreading to Guinea’s neighbours is “very high” and that some of those countries are not prepared for vaccination campaigns.

WHO’s Guinea representative Georges Alfred Ki-Zerbo told a virtual briefing on Friday that so far 18 Ebola cases had been identified, and four of those infected had died.

So far, 1,604 people have been vaccinated against Ebola in the new outbreak in Guinea, the first resurgence of the virus there since a 2013-2016 outbreak – the world’s worst – which spread to several other West African countries and killed more than 11,300 people.

The Ebola virus causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea and is spread through contact with bodily fluids.

According to an Aljazeera report, officials said a readiness assessment for Guinea’s neighbours – Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Liberia – showed gaps in their preparedness.

“There are six neighbouring countries to Guinea and we conducted an assessment of readiness. Two of the countries are not ready and one is borderline and there are three countries more or less ready,” the WHO’s Regional Emergency Director Abdou Salam Gueye said by videoconference from Guinea.

He said none of the neighbouring countries was completely ready to start Ebola vaccinations, should they be required, and that there were not enough vaccines doses available in any case to begin vaccinating preventively.

“But those neighbouring countries agreed on cross-border cooperation and coordination to control the outbreak,” he said.

Ebola vaccines, like some COVID-19 shots, require ultra-cold chain storage, which presents logistical challenges. Guinea received COVID-19 vaccine doses donated from China this week.

“We are dealing with quite fragile health systems including (lack of) capacity to address many public health challenges so dealing with both COVID and Ebola remains a challenge,” said the WHO’s Michel Yao, director of strategic health operations.

Separately, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Thursday launched an appeal to raise $8m for efforts to stop the resurgence of the Ebola virus in Guinea.

The funds will be used to support essential outbreak preparedness and response activities, as well as critical coordination efforts at the national and prefectural levels and key border crossings, the United Nations body said in a statement.

“We have witnessed the devastation that delayed action on public health emergencies can do to a community and societies at large,” Maximilian Diaz, head of IOM Guinea.

“We must stand by the people of Guinea, and we must act fast.”

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Belarus Urges To Extradite Opposition Leader

Belarus says it has requested the extradition of exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was forced from the country last year amid a crackdown on critics of leader Alexander Lukashenko.

A report by Aljazeera says Tikhanovskaya, who challenged Lukashenko in a presidential vote last August, which the opposition denounced as rigged, sought refuge in neighbouring Lithuania as Lukashenko moved to stifle dissent in the wake of his controversial election win.

The Belarus General Prosecutor’s Office said on Friday it had requested that Lithuania, a European Union member state, extradite her “to face prosecution for crimes against the governing order, public safety and the state”.

Investigators had earlier in the week accused Tikhanovskaya, who stood in the August vote in place of her jailed husband, of planning with associates to instigate riots and capture government buildings in Gomel, Belarus’s second-most populous city.

Tikhanovskaya has dismissed the allegations.

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis responded that his country “has been and will be a brick wall behind which all democratic forces persecuted by regimes will find refuge”.

“We can say only one thing to the Belarusian regime: hell will first have to freeze over before we consider your requests,” he said.

Belarus’s move to launch extradition proceedings came after Tikhanovskaya on Wednesday said she expected mass protests against Lukashenko to start up again in the spring following a bout of rallies that erupted in the immediate aftermath of last year’s election.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Finland, Tsikhanovskaya said a majority of Belarusians still thought Lukashenko should step down and they had spent the winter getting organised.

“The chair under Lukashenko is shaking,” she told Reuters news agency.

Lukashenko has been in power since 1994 and claimed a sixth term in office with 80 percent of the vote in August’s poll, according to official results.

Facing the biggest crisis of his rule since then, the 66-year-old has overseen a sweeping crackdown on the anti-government protests and dissent in the ex-Soviet republic.

Thousands were detained for taking part in the demonstrations, and journalists and rights defenders are facing a slew of legal cases, which have been condemned by international advocacy groups, for reporting on the crackdown.

The size of the protests dwindled over the winter and Lukashenko, who has promised to make unspecified reforms to the constitution, appears to have weathered the storm.

But Tsikhanovskaya said the opposition was talking to people in the Belarusian elites, the state administration and riot police, who “understand the [Lukashenko] is not the leader any more”.

“It is better for them to support the majority of Belarusian people,” she told Reuters.

“Lukashenko has put the country into a political, humanitarian and economic crisis.”

Lukashenko’s alleged vote-rigging and the crackdown on Belarusian protesters have prompted the United States and the EU to introduce sanctions against the country’s officials.

While in exile, Tikhanovskaya been meeting EU leaders and representatives of Western countries. Her team has also reached out to China and Japan.

The Belarus opposition is now “looking for friends everywhere”, she said on Wednesday.

Asked if she had tried to talk to Russia, which has played a key role in supporting Lukashenko, Tsikhanovskaya said the opposition had sent many messages since the August election but has not received a reply.

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FBI Arrests Trump’s Appointee Over Capitol Attack

The FBI has arrested a former State Department aide from the administration of former President Donald Trump in connection with the January 6 storming of the United States Capitol, according to US media.

Federico Klein was charged with unlawful entry, violent and disorderly conduct, and obstructing Congress and law enforcement, the New York Times reported.

He is the first member of the Trump administration to be implicated in the storming of the Capitol by supporters of the former president in an attempt to overturn the results of the November presidential election that was disputed by Trump.

The newspaper reported that 42-year-old Klein had worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign and began working at the State Department shortly after Trump’s victory. The violence left five dead.

A former colleague told the Politico news site that Klein had worked with the office of Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs before being transferred to the office that handles Freedom of Information Act requests.

The Trump appointee was seen in videos of the riot assaulting officers with a stolen riot shield, federal investigators said in court documents obtained by the Times.

He is wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and is seen trying to push through a line of officers in a tunnel near the west terrace of the Capitol building and also tried to push through a doorway into the complex, “where he physically and verbally engaged with the officers holding the line”, the document says.

The FBI said Klein was still employed by the State Department at the time of the incident and maintained top-secret security clearance.

The buareau had previously released Klein’s photo and received tips identifying him.

Federal prosecutors have so far charged more than 300 people in connection with the US Capitol breach. Those include members of the far-right Proud Boys group and the Oath Keepers militia.

Trump was also impeached by the House of Representatives on the charge of “incitement of insurrection” for his campaign of disinformation leading up to the riot and a rally he gave moments before the Capitol breach.

He was later acquitted in a Senate trial. The former president could still potentially face federal and local charges for his alleged role in inciting the violence.

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Libya’s prime minister-designate has submitted a proposed government lineup

Libya’s prime minister-designate has submitted a proposed government lineup to parliament for approval, his office said, a key step towards unifying the country that descended into chaos after long-term leader Muammar Gaddafi was removed in 2011.

“In accordance with the roadmap of the political agreement, Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah handed over to the speaker of elected parliament his proposals for ministerial portfolios,” his office said in a statement on Thursday.

Dbeibah was selected in early February in a United Nations-sponsored inter-Libyan dialogue, the latest internationally-backed bid to salvage the country from a decade of conflict and fragmented politics.

A significant oil producer, the North African country has been mired in chaos since the 2011-NATO backed uprising against Gaddafi.

Since 2015, it has been divided between two rival administrations: The UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and the House of Representatives (HOR) in the eastern city of Tobruk.

Names in Dbeibah’s proposed government were not made public, but the House of Representatives is slated to vote on the list on Monday in the central coastal city of Sirte, located roughly halfway between the two rival administrations.

Under the UN plan, the prime minister has until March 19 to win approval for a cabinet, before tackling the giant task of unifying Libya’s proliferating institutions and leading the transition up to December 24 polls.

Dbeibah, a billionaire from the western city of Misrata, had already sent to parliament his “structure and a working vision of a national unity government”, but had not provided names.

If approved, a new cabinet would replace a Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), set up in 2016 and headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, and a parallel administration in eastern Libya backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

An interim three-member presidency council – selected alongside Dbeibah – is to head the unity administration.

It faces the daunting challenge of addressing the grievances of ordinary Libyans, hit by a dire economic crisis, soaring unemployment, wretched public services and crippling inflation.

The UN’s special envoy for Libya, Jan Kubis, spoke to both Dbeibah and the influential parliamentary speaker Aguila Saleh on Thursday, where he “stressed the importance of moving forward” with the vote of confidence on the cabinet set for March 8.

The political process emerged from the latest bid for peace through the UN effort of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), launched in Tunisia in November.

But the process has been marred by allegations of vote-buying.

They centre on claims in a confidential report by UN experts that at least three participants were offered bribes of hundreds of thousands of dollars in November.

Dbeibah’s administration issued a statement on Tuesday demanding the UN experts publish the report, defending the “integrity of the process through which the new authority was selected”.

Meanwhile, this week an advance team of a UN observer mission flew into the capital, Tripoli, tasked with monitoring a ceasefire between the country’s rival armed factions.

According to the UN, some 20,000 mercenaries and foreign fighters were still in Libya in early December.

A January 23 deadline for their withdrawal passed without any signs of them pulling out.

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Body Of Woman Missing During Japan Tsunami In 2011 Finally Identified

The remains of a woman who went missing in the devastating 2011 Japan tsunami have been found and identified, police said on Friday, days before the 10th anniversary of the disaster.

“Skeletal remains including a skull were found on February 17 on a beach in the northeastern region of Miyagi, a local police spokesman told the AFP news agency.

Forensic dental and DNA analysis this week revealed her to be Natsuko Okuyama, a 61-year-old from Higashimatsushima who disappeared as the wave of black water swept ashore on March 11, 2011, he said.

The confirmed death toll in the 2011 quake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown stood at 15,899 in December 2020, according to Japan’s national police agency.

But more than 2,500 are officially still considered missing 10 years after the disaster.

That has left many families in limbo, feeling unable to fully process the loss of loved ones whose bodies have never been retrieved.

Local media quoted Okuyama’s son as thanking the person who found the remains.

“I’m extremely happy that my mother was found as the 10th anniversary is coming up,” the Kyodo news agency quoted him as saying.

“This will allow me to get my emotions in order and move forward.”

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Killing Of Female Media Worker Shocks Afghanistan

Outrage rippled through Afghanistan on Wednesday as funerals were held for three female media workers gunned down in the eastern city of Jalalabad with violence increasing as peace talks stall.

Journalists, activists and judges have recently been ambushed by gunmen or killed by explosives attached to their vehicles as surging violence forces many into hiding – with some leaving Afghanistan.

The three women were shot and killed in two separate attacks just 10 minutes apart after they left the Enikass TV station on Tuesday in what one colleague described it as an “orchestrated hit”.

An ISIL (ISIS) affiliate later claimed responsibility for the killings, saying its gunmen carried them out against what it called “journalists working for one of the media stations loyal to the apostate Afghan government”.

Friends and family gathered at the women’s funerals in Jalalabad where men took turns digging fresh graves with a shovel as others pleaded for an end to the deaths.

Rohan Sadat described his sister Sadia Sadat as “shy but active” who was also passionate about fighting for women’s rights and had planned to attend university and study law.

“We have buried her with all her hopes here,” Sadat told AFP news agency.

Another colleague at Enikass TV, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the station was reeling from the murders, saying the three victims were like “family”.

“Three innocent girls were shot dead in the daylight in the middle of the city. Nobody is safe any more,” said the colleague.

In December, another female employee working for Enikass TV was murdered in Jalalabad in similar circumstances.

Anger also simmered online with social media users lashing out over the latest killings.

“It seems this war is not for Islam, it is just for power through spreading fear and terrorism,” wrote Ghani Khan.

“These girls were working to help their families. They were not [at] war with the Taliban. They were poor, they just worked to feed their family,” said Rauf Afghan.

Afghanistan has long been ranked as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.

At least nine media workers have been killed since the peace talks with the Taliban started in September, according to the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee.

US officials have blamed the Taliban for the wave of violence, while the Kabul government said the armed groups routinely hide behind ISIL claims to cover their tracks.

The assassinations have been acutely felt by women, whose rights were crushed under the Taliban’s five-year rule, including being banned from working.

Intelligence officials have previously linked the renewed threat against female professionals to demands at the peace talks for their rights to be protected.

Many of the targeted hits are believed to take months of careful planning – to catch officials off-guard – and are increasingly more sophisticated than the formerly favoured suicide bomb used by armed groups.

The killings come as the US special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, returned to Kabul this week for meetings with Afghan leaders, in a bid to revive a flagging peace process as violence soars across the country and a deadline for US troop withdrawal draw closer.

Donald Trump’s administration, eager to end the US’s longest war tasked Khalilzad with negotiating with the Taliban, culminating in a deal signed in Qatar on February 29, 2020.

The accord states that the US will withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by May, with the Taliban promising not to allow the territory to be used by armed groups.

Speculation is rife over the US future in Afghanistan after the White House announced plans to review the withdrawal deal brokered by Khalilzad and the Taliban.

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