Taliban say peace deal with U.S. near
DOHA, Qatar — The Taliban and Washington’s peace envoy are close to reaching an agreement on U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Islamic insurgents said Tuesday as a new round of talks with the United States takes place.
Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman, said the deal will include guarantees that Afghanistan will not be used again as a staging arena for anti-American attacks.
His remarks came during the second day of talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been trying to negotiate a resolution of the 18-year war in Afghanistan, America’s longest.
“If we do not reach a solution in this round of talks, then we will in the next round of talks, but that is our target,” Shaheen said.
The Taliban, who refuse to talk with the government in Kabul and describe it as a U.S. puppet, have long demanded direct talks with the United States. But until Khalilzad’s appointment in September, Washington had shied away from opening face-to-face negotiations.
Mob attacks, burns Congo Ebola clinic
KINSHASA, Congo — Assailants attacked an Ebola treatment center in Congo’s eastern town of Katwa on Sunday night, killing one caretaker and injuring another as the country works to control the second-largest outbreak in recorded history, Congo’s Health Ministry said Tuesday.
Doctors Without Borders confirmed the attack on its facility in Katwa, saying that the patients, four confirmed to have Ebola and six suspected cases, have been transferred to other centers for continued treatment. It said all staff members and patients are now secure and it deplores the death at the center.
The medical group said the assailants threw stones and then burned down parts of the treatment center and destroyed wards and equipment.
The brother of a patient died while reportedly trying to escape, the group said. The ministry had identified the brother as a caretaker.
Congo Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga called the attack unacceptable. Earlier he said a caretaker had died and another was hospitalized.
The Katwa health zone has become Congo’s new epicenter for Ebola, he said, highlighting that the growth rate of new cases of Ebola has not receded in recent weeks as the security situation also remains tenuous. Katwa has so far been the most affected, he said, with 239 cases of Ebola, from which 182 people have died.
Muslim ex-rebels get Philippines area
COTABATO, Philippines — Former Muslim guerrillas took over governance Tuesday of a poverty- and conflict-wracked Muslim autonomous region under a peace deal partly aimed at combating Islamic State-aligned militants in the southern Philippines.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebel Chairman Murad Ebrahim assumed leadership in a ceremony in Cotabato city of an 80-member transition authority dominated by his guerrilla group to govern a five-province region called Bangsamoro.
The first large group of about 12,000 combatants is expected to be demobilized starting this year under the deal.
The Philippine and Western governments and the guerrillas see effective Muslim autonomy as an antidote to nearly half a century of Muslim secessionist violence, which the Islamic State could exploit to gain a foothold in the region.
Murad and his insurgent group inherit a region of more than 3.7 million people. Many have been exposed to decades of violence and fighting, according to regional government reports prepared for the rebels-turned-officials.
Muslim militant groups including the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Abu Sayyaf continue to threaten the region, the reports said.
Gold mine collapse buries Indonesians
JAKARTA, Indonesia — The collapse of an unlicensed gold mine in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province has buried dozens of people, disaster officials said today, as emergency personnel struggled to rescue victims in a remote location that’s inaccessible to heavy earthmoving equipment.
Disaster official Abdul Muin Paputungan said one person is confirmed dead and at least 13 injured people have been rescued.
As many as 60 people could be buried, he said in a statement released by the national disaster agency.
Makeshift wooden structures in the mine in Bolaang Mongondow district collapsed Tuesday evening because of unstable soil and the large number of mining holes, burying people in the pit.
Informal mining operations are commonplace in Indonesia, providing a tenuous livelihood to thousands who labor in conditions with a high risk of serious injury or death.
Police, search-and-rescue agency workers, military and Indonesian Red Cross personnel are involved in the rescue effort but the operation is complicated by the remote locale.
Paputungan said the mine and a village connected to it are in a steep area that can only be reached by foot.
Print Headline: The world in brief