Kabul, Sep 2 (AP/UNB) — U.S. Army Gen. Austin Miller has assumed command of the 41-nation NATO mission in Afghanistan following a handover ceremony.
Miller took over Sunday from Gen. John Nicholson, who held the post for more than two years, at a ceremony attended by senior Afghan officials and foreign ambassadors.
The handover comes at a time when Afghan forces are struggling to contain a resurgent Taliban and an increasingly powerful Islamic State affiliate. The Taliban control several districts across Afghanistan, and both groups have launched a relentless wave of attacks in recent months.
The NATO mission began with the U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban after the Sept. 11 attacks. The U.S. and NATO formally ended their combat mission in 2014 but still routinely come to the aid of Afghan forces.
Nairobi, Sep 2 (AP/UNB) — At least three people were killed, including a child, after a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle outside the compound of a district headquarters in Somalia's capital, police said Sunday.
Capt. Mohamed Hussein said the bomber tried to speed through a checkpoint but was stopped by security forces, prompting him to detonate the vehicle near the gate of Howlwadag district headquarters.
He said another four people were wounded, mostly young students at a nearby Islamic school. Officials warned there could be more casualties as the blast pulled down nearby buildings including a mosque.
"They have literally failed to achieve their goal of inflicting maximum casualties," Hussein said, accusing the al-Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabab of carrying out the attack.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion, which shattered a period of calm in seaside Mogadishu. The Somalia-based al-Shabab often targets the capital with bombings, including a truck bombing in October that left at least 512 people dead.
Somali troops are meant to take over the Horn of Africa nation's security in the coming years from an African Union force but concerns about their readiness remain high. The U.N. Security Council recently voted to delay the reduction of troops in the AU force from October to February and the target date to hand over security to Somali forces to December 2021.
Kathmandu, Sep 3 (UNB) – A domestic aircraft of a private air service provider skidded off the runway of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu, injuring five passengers on board, reports NDTV.
"The Aircraft bearing the call sign 9NAHW was carrying 21 passengers from Nepalgunj to Kathmandu. It skidded off the runway at around 8:30 PM (Local Time) on Saturday," TIA General Manager Raj Kumar Chettri told ANI.
According to Chettri, five of the passengers sustained minor injuries without any serious threats, while remaining passengers and the crew members were safe.
The airport is, however, shut for maintenance as the decade-old runway bears cracks on the surface.
London, Sep 2 (AP/UNB) — Britain's prime minister has again spoken out against calls for a second referendum on Britain's decision to split with the European Union.
Theresa May wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that it would be a "gross betrayal of our democracy" to have another vote.
She said "millions came out to have their say" in the June 2016 vote that set Brexit in motion.
Her embattled government has faced increasingly strident calls for another vote once the terms of Britain's future relations with the EU are known.
The prime minister used the column to defend her "Chequers proposal" that would maintain some ties with the EU, and said she won't be pushed around by EU negotiators.
Britain is expected to leave the EU in March and enter a transition phase.
Moscow, Sep 2 (AP/UNB) — Russians are holding rallies throughout the country to protest a government plan to raise the age for receiving state pensions.
Several thousand people gathered in central Moscow on Sunday for a protest organized by the Communist Party. Other demonstrations were reported in Vladivostok in the Far East, and Barnaul and Novosibirsk in Siberia.
The plan was introduced in June and has passed first-reading in the lower house of parliament. But widespread opposition has persisted and President Vladimir Putin's approval ratings in polls have fallen notably since the plan was announced.
In an unusual televised address to the nation, Putin last week conceded that the pension age for women will be raised only to 60 rather than the proposed 63. The current pension age for women is 55.