Afghan authorities in Kabul are increasing security in the area of the capital that houses foreign embassies and government offices after a series of attacks killed hundreds of people in the city and across the country. Salem Ehsaas, acting police chief of Kabul, told Reuters on August 6 that our priority is the diplomatic area” in the new security plan for the center of the city.
“The highest threat level is in this area, and so we need to provide a better security here,” he said. United Nations figures show that 209 civilians have been killed and 777 injured in suicide and other attacks, mostly blamed on the Taliban, in the first half of the year in the Afghan capital.
Among the larger attacks, a massive truck bomb blast in Kabul s diplomatic sector on May 31 killed about 150 people and wounded around 400 others, mostly civilians. On July 24, a Taliban suicide car bomb killed at least 26 people and wounded 41 others in the western part of the city. Outside of the capital, up to 50 people, including women and children, were killed after Taliban militants seized control of a village the Sayad district of the northern province of Sari Pu on August 5.
Underscoring concerns in the capital, Afghan intelligence officials said on August 6 they had seized a truck in Kabul carrying more than 16 tons of explosives hidden in boxes marked as poultry feed.
“It was loaded with explosives to make bombs, suicide vests . and conduct terrorist activities in Kabul,” the National Directorate of Security said. Included in the new security will 27 permanent checkpoints along the 42 roads through the diplomatic zone.
They will be supported by mobile explosives scanners, sniffer dogs, and security cameras. Trucks arriving in the city will be checked by scanners at four of the eight main entry points . The other four sites will get scanners at a later date, officials said.
Officials estimated that the measures will be fully in place within six months.
With reporting by Reuters and ToloNews
CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan security forces took up positions outside the office of the country’s chief prosecutor on Saturday, a day after the government inaugurated a new legislative body that the prosecutor said was fraudulently elected.
Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega had asked a local court to halt the inauguration of the country’s new 545-member constituent assembly, citing allegations that the government fudged the results of the vote that created it.
The new legislative body has no checks on its powers.
It could re-write the constitution, re-arrange state institutions and allow socialist President Nicolas Maduro to rule by decree . Assembly members had said they would fire Ortega the first chance they got . It took less than 24 hours from the assembly’s inauguration for her offices to be cordoned off.
Ortega, in a tweet, asked the international community to denounce what she called “arbitrary action” of security forces blocking entrance to her offices.
Luis Almagro, head of the Organization of American States, said he was concerned that evidence against Maduro’s government was at risk of being compromised by the security forces surrounding Ortega’s office.
“Aggression against her is aggression against all of us,” Almagro tweeted, adding that the presence of the security forces “puts evidence of human rights violations and corruption on the part of the (Maduro) regime at risk.”
Venezuelan National Guard members stand guard in front of the Prosecutor’s office in Caracas, Venezuela August 5, 2017.Andres Martinez Casares
Since the opposition started a round of protests in April, Ortega has become the president’s main challenger from within the ruling socialist movement, accusing him of human rights abuses and of running roughshod over democracy.
The opposition, which won control of congress in 2015, boycotted Sunday’s vote, calling it a naked power grab by Maduro .
The boycott meant that all candidates for the new assembly were from Maduro’s coalition, giving him carte blanche to pass laws aimed at locking his policies into place.
The assembly was installed despite opposition street protests . More than 120 people have died in four months of sustained marches against Maduro . Critics say his policies have pushed Venezuela into an economic crisis marked by triple digit inflation and severe shortages of food and medicine.
Maduro says the U.S. “empire” is waging economic war on Venezuela and refuses to allow humanitarian aid to enter the country . He says the new assembly is the only way to unify Venezuela into a peaceful, prosperous socialist state.
Former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, a hard-line Maduro loyalist, was named president of the new assembly.
“There is no humanitarian crisis here . What we have is love . What we have is a crisis of the right-wing fascists,” said Rodriguez, in a fiery inaugural address in which she paid homage to late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s mentor and predecessor.
The assembly will function in the same downtown Caracas legislative complex as the existing opposition-run congress, which could potentially be dissolved . For now, the two bodies are set to hold sessions in parallel, separated by an ornate cobblestone courtyard.
Reporting by Hugh Bronstein, Corina Pons and Girish Gupta; Editing by Andrew Bolton and Steve Orlofsky
BEDMINSTER, N.J. (Reuters) – Three military helicopters hovered over Anne Choi’s backyard, engaged in what appeared to be a drill ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit three weeks ago to this tranquil town of farmland and horse barns in rural New Jersey.
“My sheep were terrified,” Choi, 44, said on Thursday inside her two-story barn a mile east of Trump National Golf Club, as half a dozen Shetland sheep grazed outside. “It’s awful . We don’t have the infrastructure here . We can’t support the weight of his presence.”
As Bedminster prepared this week for the president’s latest trip to the 600-acre (240-hectare) private club, a 17-day stay that is his first extended vacation in office, some of the town’s 8,000 residents expressed frustration at the security protocols, road closures and daily disruption that will begin with his arrival on Friday.
On Wednesday, the U.S .
Secret Service said safety measures would also include a “tethered drone,” equipped with optical and infrared cameras and powered by a wire attached to a ground controller, that could impede on the privacy of nearby residences.
“It’s super creepy,” said Julie Henderson, an artist who lives down the road from Trump National, as two military helicopters roared overhead before circling and heading back towards the golf club.
The Secret Service said the drone would focus primarily on the outer perimeter and would not “physically intrude upon or disturb the use of private property outside the Trump National Golf Course.”
Trump’s movements can also lead to the closure of local roads and highways . Julie Henderson’s husband, Paul Henderson, said he has twice been stuck on an Interstate on his way to work while Trump’s motorcade used the highway.
Not everyone in this town about 40 miles (60 km) west of New York City agrees Trump’s visit will be a nuisance . Steve Desiderio, who owns a restaurant and catering business in Bedminster’s modest downtown, said the influx of federal agents and journalists would be a welcome boost to his business.
Desiderio, a 48-year-old Trump supporter, added that complaints about the disruption were overblown and media-driven.
“It’s just fake news,” he said, echoing one of the president’s favourite phrases. “They try to spin it like it’s gridlock . So there are five more cars at the stoplight?”
FILE PHOTO -U.S . President Donald Trump departs in his motorcade after a weekend at his golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S . May 7, 2017.Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
Bedminster’s Republican mayor, Steven Parker, also brushed off the criticism.
“It’s really been a big non-event,” he said.
Some residents said Trump has been a generous neighbour in past years, allowing local events to be hosted at his club . As in previous years, the township committee held its annual reorganization meeting in 2017 at Trump National, where Parker was selected to continue as mayor.
While Trump’s visit may help the town’s eateries, it will shut down the local airport, where 110 private planes and 60 flight school students will be grounded from Aug .
4 to Aug .
“Our summertime is our busiest time,” said Somerset Airport President Chris Walker, as a Coast Guard helicopter landed on the runway in preparation for the weekend. “We’re just rolling with the punches.”
About half of the planes were being moved to other airports outside the 10-mile (16-km) no-fly zone, Stewart said . Some workers will be sent home until Trump returns to Washington.
Trump has also drawn local protesters, both for and against him . Anti-Trump activists have been staging a weekly “People’s Motorcade,” driving slowly down the road past Trump National and honking their horns.
The town’s administrator, Judith Sullivan, said they were more of a distraction for her 16-member police department than the president, though they have largely been well behaved.
She hopes to recoup the $30,000 in overtime for officers working during Trump’s visit from the U.S .
Choi, who moved to Bedminster from Maryland two years ago, said she likely would not have chosen her house had she known the “summer White House” would be only a mile away.
“Even if you agree with his politics, I think we can all agree that this is not what we bargained for,” she said.
Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Jonathan Oatis