BLAST RIPS THROUGH MOSQUE IN AFGHAN CAPITAL

A huge bomb exploded during evening prayers at a mosque in Afghanistan’s capital, killing many worshippers and injuring dozens of others on August 17. In multiple videos posted on Twitter following the blast, blood was seen throughout the main prayer hall of Abu Bakr Siddique Mosque in Kabul, which is adjacent to an Islamic seminary in the Khairkhana Kotal neighbourhood. The mosque’s prayer leader, Maulvi Amir Mohammad Kabuli, a renowned Afghan scholar and preacher of Sufi Islam, was targeted, and a majority of those killed and wounded were seminary students, according to the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP). Khalid Zadran, a spokesman for the Kabul Police Department, said a large number of security and first aid teams were dispatched to the area. Emergency Hospital, one of the largest health care centres in Kabul, announced on Twitter that 27 patients, including five children, were treated there, while the Al Jazeera news network claimed that around 20 people lost their lives.

UN ‘DEEPLY CONCERNED’ OVER ABUSE ALLEGATIONS IN B’DESH

The UN high commissioner for human rights on August 17 expressed deep concern over allegations of extrajudicial killings, torture in police custody and enforced disappearances in Bangladesh. Michelle Bachelet, the first UN rights chief to visit Bangladesh, speaking at a press conference in Dhaka, told journalists that enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings are “a matter of great concern” for international rights defenders, including the United Nations. Referring to Bangladesh’s elite force, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), she said many of the enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings have been attributed to the RAB and there is a lack of accountability for such violations. Analysing the types of human rights violations in Bangladesh, she said “there are continued, alarming allegations of both short-term and long-term enforced disappearances and concerns about the lack of due process and judicial safeguards.”

IRAN SAYS PREPARED TO SWAP PRISONERS WITH US

Iran on August 17 said it is ready for a prisoner swap with the United States. “We are ready to swap prisoners with Washington,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani told reporters in Tehran. “The US must release jailed Iranian citizens without any conditions,” he added in statements cited by the semi-official Fars news agency. “We are ready to get the innocent Iranians imprisoned in the United States released, those who have become victims of injustice by the judicial system of the country on false charges of violating the cruel and illegal US sanctions, and make their … quick return to the open arms of their families possible,” he added. A day earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Tehran to release Iranian-American nationals imprisoned in the country. Iran says these people have been jailed on espionage charges. There are no specific estimates of Americans held by Iran.

ISRAEL, TURKIYE ANNOUNCE NORMALISATION AGREEMENT

Israel and Turkiye announced the full normalisation of their relations on August 17. According to the report, the normalisation agreement was released by Israel’s Prime Minister, Yair Lapid’s office. The agreement highlights the new appointments of the ambassadors and consuls to Tel Aviv and Ankara, the report says. Ankara, in turn, said that its decision to restore diplomatic relations with Israel did not mean that Turkiye would abandon its support for Palestinians. “We are not giving up on the Palestinian cause,” Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, told reporters. Relations between Turkiye and Israel deteriorated after the assault by Israeli commandos on the Turkish-registered Mavi Marmara in international waters in May 2010; nine Turkish citizens on board were killed and another died of his wounds later.

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