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Taliban, Afghan govt hold talks in Doha amid intense fighting in war-ravaged country

Doha: The Afghan government representatives and the Taliban delegation held talks in Doha on Saturday as violence mounted in the country .

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Taliban, Afghan govt hold talks in Doha amid intense fighting in war-ravaged country
Taliban, Afghan govt hold talks in Doha amid intense fighting in war-ravaged country

The two sides have been meeting on and off for months in the Qatari capital, but the talks have lost momentum as the insurgents have made battlefield gains.

Several high-ranking officials, including former Afghan former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, gathered in a luxury hotel on Saturday after morning prayers.

They were joined by negotiators from the Taliban’s political office in Doha.

Former president Hamid Karzai had also been due to travel to Doha but remained in Kabul, according to a source.

“The high level delegation is here to talk to both sides, guide them and support the (government) negotiating team in terms of speeding up the talks and have progress,” said Najia Anwari, the spokeswoman for the Afghan government negotiating team in Doha.

“We expect that it (will) speed the talks and... in a short time, both sides will reach a result and we will witness a durable and dignified peace in Afghanistan,” she told AFP.

The Taliban have capitalised on the last stages of the withdrawal of US and other foreign troops from Afghanistan to launch a series of lightning offensives across the country.

“We are ready for dialogue, for talks and negotiations, and our priority is to solve the problems through dialogue,” Taliban spokesman Muhamad Naeem told the Al Jazeera broadcaster ahead of Saturday’s talks.

“The other side must have a true and sincere will to end the problems.”

Talks between the government and the Taliban side led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar began with Koranic recitations, Naeem tweeted Saturday.

Pakistan on Saturday partially reopened its side of the southern border crossing with Afghanistan, shut after the Taliban seized control of the strategic Afghan frontier town of Spin Boldak from government forces last week.

Muhammad Tayyab, a local paramilitary official, said the decision was taken because of “relative calm on the other side”, but that the crossing would remain closed to trade.

The Taliban have also tightened their grip on the north, with clashes continuing Saturday in the stronghold of infamous warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, that borders Turkmenistan.

Also on Saturday, the French government flew out around 100 of its citizens and Afghans working for the embassy from the capital, as security deteriorated, a French diplomatic source said.

Several other countries including India, China, Germany and Canada have flown out their citizens or told them to leave in recent days.

There have been weeks of intensifying fighting across Afghanistan, with the Taliban pressing multiple offensives and overrunning dozens of districts at a staggering rate.

As fighting raged over large swathes of Afghanistan, a war of words was also heating up between Kabul and Islamabad, after the Afghan vice president accused the Pakistani military of providing “close air support to Taliban in certain areas”.

Pakistan strongly denied the claim, with a foreign ministry statement saying the country “took necessary measures within its territory to safeguard our own troops and population”.

Islamabad had touted a conference of regional leaders to address the spiralling violence.

Instead it announced it would delay the summit until after the Muslim Eid al-Adha feast, due to start next week at the end of the annual hajj pilgrimage, clearing the way for the Doha gathering.

Afghanistan’s southern border has long been a flashpoint in relations with its eastern neighbour.

SOURCE: AFP 

Faisal Ali Ghumman is a senior editor at GNN, known for writing top quality content which garner very high readerships and has been covering every field of journalism, including politics, media, sports and scholarly articles. Faisal Ali Ghumman is nothing less than a Veteran Editor and has been writing for GNN for the past 3 months.

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North Macedonia: Massive fire engulfs COVID hospital, kills ten patients

Skopje: At least 10 people were killed and many more injured after a massive fire broke at a hospital treating coronavirus patients in Tetovo, North Macedonia.

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North Macedonia: Massive fire engulfs COVID hospital, kills ten patients

The huge blaze erupted Wednesday night—claiming lives of ten. Fire services and rescue teams rushed to the scene and fought to douse the flames for a couple of hours.

It’s not yet clear how the large blaze started or how many patients were inside.

While the cause has yet to be established, the country's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev posted on social media that the fire had followed an on-site explosion.

Footage shared on social media showed a building in flames and a thick cloud of black smoke billowing into the air near a main road in the city of Tetovo.

The facility was reportedly built last year to help care for COVID-19 patients.

Tetovo deputy fire Chief, Saso Trajcevski said, "The fire was huge because the hospital is modular, there was plastic".

The fire occurred as the former Yugoslav republic celebrated the 30th anniversary of its independence, with festivities in the capital Skopje, including a military parade.

However, investigators have gone to the scene to determine the cause of Yesterday’s fire.

Meanwhile, North Macedonia has been battling a surge in COVID-19 cases recently with 701 new cases and 24 deaths in the past 24 hours.

It has recorded more than 6,100 fatalities in total since the start of the COVID outbreak.

Macedonia government had to impose stricter measures, in a bid to prevent the spread of virus.

North Macedonia has a population of around 2 million and its healthcare services are run down as hospitals are overwhelmed in some areas, particularly where vaccination rates are low.

Covid-19 hospitals in other countries have been hit by explosions followed by fires. In Iraq, dozens of people were killed in fires that occurred after oxygen cylinders exploded in April and July.

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SumaiL and YawaR to contest for $40 million prize money from Dota 2, The International 10

Two Pakistani brothers, Syed Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan and Yawar "YawaR" Hassan will participate in The International 10 which has a prize pool of $40 million.

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Phote: Yawar "YawaR" Hassan (left), Syed Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan (right) in their team jerseys

Hailing from Karachi, Pakistan, Syed Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan and Yawar "YawaR" Hassan have shown their immense talent in the well acknowledged MOBA and MMORPG game, Dota 2. Sumail has previously participated and won the 5th version of the tournament at the age of 16 years and 176 days old and became the youngest player ever to win over a million dollars. Both of them have briefly played together in the same team Quincy Crew, but Sumail left in nearly 3 weeks of being in the team. 

Sumail and Yawar are brothers. Yawar is 2 years older than Sumail. They both moved to Rosemont, Illinois when their family relocated in 2012 and started competing in the North American region where competition has always been very tough. Sumail's gameplay was so impressive that he was recruited by the number one North American ESports organization at that time in 2015, Evil Geniuses, who not only recruited him when he was only 16 years old but also gave him the responsibility of one of the leading core roles of the game, the midlane. Not only did he impress the world with his classy and bold plays, he proved his skills to the world by winning The International 2015, becoming the youngest millionare in the history of ESports.

His older brother Yawar, has also been competing at the highest level since they both began playing the North American region, however, Yawar only had the opportunity to play The Internation only once before, while Sumail had been participating in TIs since 2015 representing EG. This would be the second time the brothers will be up against each other representing different teams for a prize pool of $40 million.

SumaiL will be representing the team OG with the ingame name of OG.SumaiL in the coming tournament where he would be playing the role of a core player as position 1, more commonly known as the 'carry' position in the game, whereas Yawar will be playing in the well acknowledged team from North America, Quincy Crew, with the in game name QC.YS. His position would be the same as SumaiL's which is position 1.

Sumail in ESL Frankfurt 2015

SumaiL has been hailed as the King of the game for almost 6 years now given that he astonished the world with his immensely aggresive and smart plays when he used to play the role of position 2, also known as the midlaner, for the North American team 'Evil Geniuses'. In 2015, SumaiL claimed the Aegis of the Immortal, which is the name of the trophy presented to the winners of the largest esports tournament in the world, The International, Dota 2 Championships. His total earnings as of 21st of September, 2021 are $3,617,984.01 from 73 tournaments around the world, making him the highest esports earner as well as the youngest millionare in the history of eSports.

Yawar playing Dota 2
Yawar has prominently risen to fame in the recent years where he and his team the Quincy Crew, ranked number one in the North American region beating their rivals Evil Geniuses in the ranking system of Dota 2 called the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) in the year 2020, following multiple tournament wins from different small to medium level tournaments of Dota 2. Due to Yawar's immensely versatile set of heroes, he has been playing a vital role in the team providing the team the ability to drive many different strategies due to his large hero pool. Yawar's current total earnings are $432,911 From 43 Tournaments.

The path to qualification for this year's The International was not at all easy for both the brothers as SumaiL was no longer playing in the DPC as he was a free agent, he played as a stand-in for Team Liquid, also a top tier team and a former TI winner, when one of their players Samuel 'Boxi' Svahn  decided to take a break, however, that pairing didn't work out as the team poorly performed in the Major. Yawar on the other hand, played immensely well in this tenure, beating top tier teams from around the world with his team QC. Due to multiple wins at the highest level, QC was already very high in the rankings of the DPC, following up with a mediocre performance in the Major where his team stood 6-7th place. This was enough to secure a position at The International 10 which will be held between Thu, Oct 7, 2021 – Sun, Oct 17, 2021.

For Sumail, the days turned to joy when he was recruited back to the only two times back to back TI winners in the previous years 2018 and 2019, OG as position 1 carry player, but it wasn't easy as OG had been poorly performing in the DPC causing them to be very lower ranked in the DPC rankings and due to this they had to fight through the NA qualifiers to earn a place at the TI to defend their title. The path through the qualifiers wasn't easy, fan favourite teams like Nigma, Team Liquid and Tundra ESports were also fighting in the qualifiers. However, once Sumail was settled in the team, his performances immensely improved and stunned many of their competitors as they marched through to the upper bracket finals in the qualifiers, only to be beaten by Tundra Esports and fall down to lower bracket where one of the toughest teams in the world, Team Nigma, was waiting for them. Following up with the loss to Tundra, OG didn't lose their motivation as they beat Team Nigma 2-1 in a best of three series to progress to the grand finals of the NA qualifiers where they had to face Tundra again. This time around, however, OG didn't make the same mistakes they previously made agaisnt Tundra and fought to the last battle and defeated them very convicingly in the 5th and final game of the grand finals which was a best of five, 3-2 to OG.

Tournament Dates to follow:

 Thu, Oct 7, 2021 – Sun, Oct 17, 2021

As Pakistanis, GNN wishes them the best of luck and is rooting for the both of them.

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Pakistan

Pakistan records dip in daily new COVID-19 cases

Islamabad: Pakistan has reported 2,928 new coronavirus cases in last 24 hours, the lowest spike in daily new infections in nearly a week.

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Pakistan records dip in daily new COVID-19 cases

Pakistan is presently experiencing the fourth wave of coronavirus which is said to be deadlier and more contagious than previous three COVID waves.

According to National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), around 2,928 cases of coronavirus were reported while 68 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 27,072.

The total number of cases has reached 1,218,749.

As many as 1,125,952 patients have recovered from the disease with 4,960 critical cases.

Punjab              

The number of patients swelled to 419,423 in the province with 12,345 causalities.

Sindh

The number of infections has surged to 448,658 in the province, while the death toll has reached 7,224.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The confirmed cases have surged to 170,391 in the province with 5,354 casualties.

Balochistan

There are 32,707 confirmed cases while 344 patients have died from the infection so far.

AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan

There are 33,628 coronavirus cases in the AJK while the death toll has reached 728. On the other hand, there are 10,222 cases in GB with 182 coronavirus deaths.

Islamabad

There are 103,720 cases in the capital city while 895 people have lost their lives.

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