Botswana said on Monday that it is fighting rhino poaching harder in the Okavango Delta in the northern part of the country.
The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism said in a statement that the government has stepped up its efforts to address rhino poaching and recovered some horns and hunting weapons in related operations.
Statistics show that nine rhinos were killed between April 1 and Oct. 4 this year.
"From October 2019 to date, 13 more rhinos have been poached," said the statement.
"During engagement with the poachers, seven casualties occurred amongst poachers who were resisting arrest. The government will continue to do all it can to ensure the protection of this iconic species," Alice Mmolawa, spokesperson of the ministry, said in the statement.
She appealed to stakeholders including communities and the private sector to support rhino protection efforts.
"We further call upon members of the community to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities in and around the Okavango Delta to the nearest security agents," Mmolawa said.
Seven Afghan army soldiers were killed and six security personnel were wounded after Taliban insurgents attacked a joint military camp in the country's northern Balkh province on Tuesday, the defense ministry confirmed.
"Unfortunately, the terrorists attacked a joint military base of Afghan National Army (ANA) and National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Khili Guli area of Dawlat Abad district of Balkh," the ministry said in a statement, adding that seven ANA soldiers were killed.
The statement said three army soldiers and three personnel of the country's national intelligence agency NDS were wounded in the attack.
Earlier a provincial official told Xinhua that 10 security forces members were killed and three others were wounded in the incident in the northwestern part of the province.
"Ministry of Defense shares its deepest condolence with the families of Army and hope speedy recovery for the wounded Army soldiers," the statement read.
The statement did not provide details about the casualties on the side of the attackers, but the provincial official told Xinhua several militants who arrived at the camp on vehicles and motorcycles were also killed and wounded.
Fighting rages across Afghanistan as Taliban militants have been attempting to take territory and consolidate their positions ahead of winter in the mountainous country.
On Monday, one U.S. soldier was killed in a Taliban attack in neighboring Kunduz province.
Taliban militants, who ruled the country before being ousted in late 2001, renewed armed insurgency, killing government troops as well as civilians.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday conveyed a message of peace to the world ahead of Christmas, official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
"Despite the suffering, injustice and oppression because of the Israeli military occupation of our land ... we are determined to celebrate the glorious Christmas and New Year, with a message of joy and peace to the rest of the world," Abbas said in a statement.
"I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the churches of the holy land that have given me the responsibility for overseeing the rehabilitation and restoration of the Church of the Nativity, which we have proudly accomplished," he added.
The city of Bethlehem has been as confirmed as the Capital of Arab Culture for the year 2020 when the restoration works at the Church of the Nativity in the city are completed.
Notably, the Church of the Nativity was successfully removed from the endangered world heritage sites of the UNESCO in July.
The Arab Capital of Culture is an initiative taken by the Arab League under the UNESCO Cultural Capitals Program to promote and celebrate Arab culture and encourage cooperation in the Arab region.
The southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, home to the Church of Nativity which is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, is a main attraction to tourists and pilgrims from all over the world.
Abbas and top religious and political officials as well as diplomats from all over the world join the midnight mass at the Church of Nativity on Christmas eve every year.
A senior official of U.S. State Department said on Monday that Saudi Arabia's sentencing of five people to death over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was "an important step" to hold the perpetrators accountable.
"Today's verdicts were an important step in holding those responsible for the terrible crime accountable," the official said in a press briefing anonymously.
"We've encouraged Saudi Arabia to undertake a fair and transparent judicial process, and we will continue to do so," the official added.
Saudi Public Prosecution earlier in the day announced that five people had been sentenced to death over the case of Khashoggi, and three others were given jail terms.
Spokesperson of the Saudi Public Prosecution Shalaan Al Shalaan noted that the former Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmed al-Asiri was released for insufficient evidence. Saud al-Qahtani, the advisor at the Royal Court, was investigated in the case but was not charged.
Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October 2018, and a number of top Saudi officials were arrested in connection with the case. The Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud also ordered to restructure the intelligent authority.