(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)
Updated: Nov 22, 2019 04:24 IST
Officials in the national security agencies and South Block are now convinced that Pakistan has embarked on a tit-for-tat designation of Indian nationals as terrorists under the UN Security Council’s 1267 Al Qaida sanctions committee as a response to India’s success, with assistance from the US and France, in having got Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist on May 1.
Last week, Pakistan, with the support of UN Security Council permanent member and its all-weather ally China moved the 1267 Al Qaida sanctions committee to designate two Indians global terrorists after accusing them of past terror attacks in Balochistan and Peshawar, and even registered FIRs against them. This takes to four the number of Indians labelled terrorists by Pakistan. All four persons were evacuated by Indian security agencies from Afghanistan, with the last one being flown out of Kabul on November 18.
Hindustan Times has reported on three of the cases. The fourth is that of Andhra Pradesh resident Appaji Angara, who was working as a software developer in a bank in Kabul, Afghanistan. While Angara was moved out of Kabul as early as January 18, Pakistan accused him of a terrorist attack on Mall Road in Lahore on February 13, 2017, along with the Jamat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a splinter group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan.
ALSO WATCH | PM Modi hails ‘big victory’ after UN sanctions on Jaish chief Masood Azhar
In the dossier submitted to the 1267 committee, Angara has been accused of the attack on Army School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014, in collaboration with JuA, and a bombing in Warsak colony in Peshawar on September 2, 2016. An FIR number 77 (dated July 13, 2019) under sections 312, 324, 353, 14B, 149, ¾ F & P, 7 ATA, counter-terrorism department, police station Peshawar, has been registered against him. The residence address, passport number and personal details of Angara are being withheld by HT.
Earlier this week, HT reported Pakistan’s effort to designate Gobinda Patnaik Duggivalasa. The Odisha-born Duggivalasa, 54, was hurriedly evacuated from Kabul by Indian security agencies on November 18 after he was accused of a terror attack on Siraj Raisani, a Pakistani politician, on July 13, 2018 in Mastung, Baluchistan in which 160 persons were killed. An FIR number 12/18 (dated July 13, 2019) under sections 109-427-34-ATA counter terrorism department, police station Quetta, Balochistan, and another FIR number 08/2018 (dated July 9, 2019) under section 109-427-07 ATA CTD, police station Quetta, Balochistan, names Duggivalasa as a terrorist.
A B. Com graduate from Odisha, with a diploma in computer applications from Chennai and a MBA from Vishakapatnam, Duggivalasa, according to dossier, worked as President of Phoenix Consulting Services in Kabul, Afghanistan. The company was a wholly owned subsidiary of Fluentgrid, and involved in capacity-building projects in Afghanistan. The full details of Duggivalasa are being withheld by HT.
Several Indian companies are working on projects in Afghanistan as the country seeks to rebuild its infrastructure after years of conflict.
Indian intelligence officials point to the two other instances, involving Indian nationals Ajoy Mistry in October and Venu Madhav Dongara in September – HT was the first to report on both – where Pakistan, with the help from China, tried to embarrass India in the UN through the 1267 route.
In the backdrop of the Imran Khan government showcasing two Indians arrested this week near Bhawalpur, despite New Delhi having informed Islamabad about their inadvertent crossing over to Pakistan months ago, the proposals before the 1267 committee are ominous, officials say it is evident from the chain of events that Pakistan, with the help of China, wants to brand India as a terror factory to “achieve parity”.
Had these Indians not been extracted, it is possible that they may have been abducted by ISI from Afghanistan, in much the same way Indian naval officer-turned-businessman Kulbushan Jadhav was from Iran, the officials added. Islamabad claimed in 2017 that he was arrested from Balochistan and accused him of terrorism and spying for Indian spy agency Research & Analysis Wing. He was sentenced to death by a court in Pakistan but the International Court of Justice stayed the execution. In July, it asked Pakistan to review his trial and conviction and to also provide consular access to India.
While the first two proposals (involving Mistry and Dongara) were blocked by the US, New Delhi has again sought the help of its friends within the UNSC to stop any further attempts by Pakistan to tarnish India’s reputation.
As most of you know, I loathe Donald Trump and his adult family but I am not going to knock him in this article. The reason is the reality that he is stuck in a no win situation with Afghanistan. Once again our politicians and our military rushed into a combat situation with no thought of an exit plan. This 18+ year war was started under the George W. Bush administration in the fall of 2001 so it ate up over seven of his eight years as President. The war then continued for all eight years of the Obama administration and is now continued for the first three years of Mr. Trump’s term in Office.
During this war there have been almost 2,500 American Soldiers killed plus another one thousand of our Allies Soldiers. There has also been right at 2,500 American Soldiers wounded. Plus the Congressional Budget Office says that the American tax payers have spent right at thee Trillion Dollars on this war. There is no such thing as leaving with honor or making an honest deal with the Taliban no matter what Mr. Trump thinks or tries. The civilians of the Nation of Afghanistan know that as soon as the U.S. pulls out all of our troops with those of all of our Allies that they will be back under the control of the Taliban and many thousands more of their civilians will be butchered. Even if our Government is able to strike some type of Government Sharing deal with the Taliban as Mr. Trump is trying to do and as Mr. Obama tried to do that is never going to end ‘Honorably’. Those of us old enough remember when President Nixon got on TV when we pulled out of Vietnam and lied to us all saying that we ended the war ‘with honor’ while we were still bombing the countries around Vietnam and with him knowing that we were leaving American POW’s there. There was no ‘Honor’ the way we left thousands of people there to be butchered nor will there be any Honor in our leaving Afghanistan.
Mr. Trump is between the preventable ‘rock and a hard place’. Our enemies always play the ‘long game’ while America always does not. If our Government had spent about 2 of that 3 Trillion dollars fixing Afghanistan’s infrastructure, building roads, schools, hospitals, and grids for electricity and water for the citizens maybe we could have won the hearts of the Afghan people. Several times I have heard the stat that about 90% of their people only have the single set of clothes they have on and that food is still a major issue for their people. These wars are great for American business that supply the war materials but couldn’t a lot of other type of businesses done well also if we had chosen to go that route?
I know that several folks who are reading this are thinking about how much our Nations own infrastructure and our own American workforce could have helped our own Nation’s people if we had spent that money here. If our Government would have looked at how to do only surgical strikes at the Leaders of these Islamic groups there would be many more people alive and uninjured today. In the short term there may be some propaganda put out by our Government about how we ended the war in Afghanistan ‘with honor’ but it will be in fact just a line of BS. When we eventually do completely leave Afghanistan the Taliban will retake over governing that Nation, we the people of America have in fact wasted our Blood and our Gold and the Afghanistan people will be right back where they were in September of 2001.
So President Trump had a very normal weekend. He tweeted repeatedly about his mistake in telling Alabama it was in the path of Hurricane Dorian, insisting that it wasn’t a mistake at all. The controversy grew into something quite serious when it became obvious Trump was ordering an admiral to fall on his sword and take responsibility, and forcing political appointees at the NOAA to say his lie was actually the truth. Orwell has been mentioned. A lot.
Then Trump had an angry Twitter tantrum on Saturday night, announcing that he was canceling a secret meeting with leaders of the Taliban, that had apparently scheduled for Sunday morning at Camp David.
According to this tick-tock in the New York Times, Trump had decided to inject himself into the later stages of the negotiation with this Camp David gambit. But the whole thing was upended by his ego-maniacal desire to one-up Jimmy Carter and get credit for a big peace deal without having the first clue what he was doing or understanding the stakes. One of the parties he wanted for his photo-op was anathema to the Taliban, so they balked and then the whole thing fell apart — supposedly when Trump suddenly realized that the Taliban was still killing people. Nobody can quite figure out why he tweeted it out. One gets the feeling he doesn’t know either.
Those two stories dominated the news this weekend, but there was another brewing that will start to come into focus this week — if, that is, the Democrats do what they say they’re going to do. Congressional committees are reconvening and new reporting indicates they may have more information about Trump’s corruption than has been made public.
A couple of weeks ago I wondered if President Trump wasn’t hedging his bets a little bit on 2020 by accelerating the usual promotional activities for his properties. On some level he must know that he’s vulnerable, and perhaps sees that his window for using his power to benefit himself may be closing. In the last week we’ve received even more evidence that he’s been quite successful at dipping his beak ever since he became president.
Last Friday, Politico reported that the House has been investigating a strange incident in which the Air Force made an unusual refueling stop at a small government-owned airport in Scotland that just happened to be next to Trump’s failing golf course in Turnberry. The crew was befuddled at the order, and even more so when they ended up at Trump’s pricey club, feeling out of place and without enough per-diem money to buy food and drink. It was, to say the least, unexpected.
The reporting shows that many millions of dollars were spent since 2017 at this out-of-the way little airport, and more than just those airmen were shuttled to Turnberry to funnel government money into Trump’s pocket. The Guardian reported that that the airport gives complimentary rounds of golf and discounted rooms to some of the military personnel who stay at Turnberry, which suggests this is an orchestrated racket.
It’s highly unlikely that Trump would have directly given an order to do this. As Mike Pence’s spokesman said when the veep was criticized for staying at Trump’s Doonbeg resort on his recent trip to Ireland, it’s more like the president just “suggests” it. More likely people just know that pleasing Trump by putting money in his pocket is smart politics. He does love money.
It may be that this is not technically illegal. But it certainly appears to be massively unethical, especially if what the Guardian reports about the Scottish government’s involvement turns out to be true:
An investigation by the Guardian has revealed Glasgow Prestwick airport is a base for live missions by the US Air Force, while its executives have highlighted its close relations with President Trump’s nearby resort at Turnberry to promote its bid to become a spaceport backed by the US government.
The Scottish government knew all about this, apparently, clear back to Trump’s presidential campaign. If anyone still cared about the Constitution, that emoluments clause would clearly be in play here. From the looks of it, that clause is only in effect for presidents who take bags of cash in a paper bag from a foreign potentate. Other than that it’s no longer operative, and presidents are now allowed to take as much money from foreign governments as can be channeled into the businesses they refused to divest from when they became president. If the next Republican president isn’t already a businessman, he’ll have to set up some pass-through corporations so that he too can legally receive bribes from foreign governments.
Politico reported on Sunday that the Air Force was conducting a full review of the process after “additional instances of military personnel staying at Trump properties have been uncovered.” But Air Force personnel aren’t the only ones putting taxpayer money into Donald Trump’s Turnberry coffers. The Scotsman reported in 2018 that the State Department had paid for staffers to stay at the resort and that family members’ Secret Service details routinely spend tens of thousands at Trump hotels, Turnberry included, when their charges travel.
That’s nothing compared to the money that Republican officials, foreign dignitaries and fans spend at the Trump hotels, whose profits go directly into the president’s pockets. Nobody knows exactly how much money is being spent, but it’s in the tens of millions. The New York Times reported over the weekend:
Since Mr. Trump became president, there have been thousands of visits to his properties, not only by Mr. Trump himself, but by foreign leaders, lobbyists, Republican candidates, members of Congress, cabinet members and others with ties to the president. At least 90 members of Congress, 250 Trump administration officials and more than 110 foreign officials have been spotted at Trump properties since 2017, according to social media posts and counts by various watchdog groups.
That is undoubtedly a low estimate. And nobody knows how much money has really been spent. Some are looking for favors, some probably just want to be seen and some simply want to give the president money because they love him so much:
“President Trump has really been on the side of the evangelicals and we want to do everything we can to make him successful,” said Sharon Bolan Yerby, an evangelical minister from Dallas, who had dinner at the hotel last fall, and then headed over to the White House the next day for a “faith briefing” of religious leaders. “And if that means having dinner or staying in his hotel, we are going to do so.”
This is corruption in plain sight by Republicans, lobbyists, foreign dignitaries and supporters. Trump excuses it by saying that people just like his “product” and claiming that he’s actually lost $3 billion to $5 billion on this president deal. How could anyone possibly object if he makes a few measly million from people who appreciate his greatness?
Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.
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Through Ignorance World Leaders Wasted Our Blood And Gold
Yes I did say our, as in (you and I) we are all part of this world conversation we call our lives. There is a section of the world’s population who have no faith system of any kind, what percent, I don’t know that answer but it probably varies from nation to nation wouldn’t you think? What I am going to get at is this, you don’t have to believe in something, for that something to kill you. Here in the States there are a lot of Atheist type folks who through their lack of knowledge degrade Christianity and Judaism every chance they get. Unfortunately we find many of these people in seats of power throughout many nations.
I want to ask you what you thought when your nation (if yours did) put blood and money into these Islamic nations, putting our soldiers in direct open conflict with various Islamic faith factions. I totally agree that after 911 when the experts figured out that Osama was behind it and they learned that he was in Afghanistan being protected by the Taliban whom would not give him up, we should have removed them from the face of the earth. The bigger problem after running those Satanic embers out of power was in how to rebuild this broken nation both physically via helping them build a national infrastructure and a solid national pride in getting all of it’s people a quality education both boys and girls. But, big but, how do you cure the inside of a person when their moral fiber is evil and they refuse to change their beliefs or culture within their own brains?
Our nations leaders should all have known that there is no way to help create a puppet government that can only stand for as long as we prop it up with a lot of our blood and money and honestly expect the nations of fundamental Islam to not retake everything once we leave? O, but isn’t that the same lesson our leaders didn’t learn in Iraq either? There is a fundamental reality about the Islamic faith at it’s core, they do not believe in democracies as the rule of law.
The whole world is in a position to have it’s ground stained with the blood of their own children. There are many major brewing and open conflict areas on the globe, all are dangerous, but no conflict can ever be as dangerous as one that is about what a group’s Faith teaches, especially if that Faith teaches global enslavement by force. I would like to say to the world, please wake up, but I have no faith that we will. Folks the world of Islam is very much at war with you and they will kill you whether you believe in them or not, they would prefer we all be foolish, it makes us all easier to kill. Only Islamic believers can put an end to Islamic violence that is generated by Islamic believers who believe that they are following the teachings of G-d via the Quran and the Hadith. I believe that there is little chance of this ever happening as I believe that way to many folks within the different clans are complicit with this evil.
Burials are taking place in the Afghan capital, Kabul after a bomb exploded at a wedding hall killing 63 people and wounding more than 180.
The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind for the attack.
The blast happened on Saturday during a wedding ceremony at around 22:40 local time (18.10 GMT).
President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the attack, describing it as “barbaric”. He blamed the Taliban for “providing a platform to terrorists.”
The Taliban has denied involvement and condemned the attack.
An IS statement said that one of its fighters blew himself up at a “large gathering” while others “detonated a parked explosives-laden vehicle” when emergency services arrived.
The Afghan interior ministry confirmed the death toll hours later. Pictures on social media showed bodies strewn across the wedding hall amid overturned chairs and tables.
Afghan weddings often include hundreds of guests who gather in large halls where the men are usually segregated from the women and children.
The groom who gave his name as Mirwais told local TV: “My family, my bride are in shock, they cannot even speak. My bride keeps fainting.
“I lost my brother, I lost my friends, I lost my relatives. I will never see happiness in my life again.”
“I can’t go to the funerals, I feel very weak … I know that this won’t be the last suffering for Afghans, the suffering will continue,” he said.
The bride’s father told local media that 14 members of his family were killed in the attack.
Wedding guest Mohammad Farhag said he had been in the women’s section when he heard a huge explosion in the men’s area.
“Everyone ran outside shouting and crying,” he told AFP news agency.
“For about 20 minutes the hall was full of smoke. Almost everyone in the men’s section is either dead or wounded.”
A waiter at the hall, Sayed Agha Shah, said “everybody was running” after the blast.
“Several of our waiters were killed or wounded,” he added.
Writing on Twitter, president Ashraf Ghani said he had called a security meeting to “review and prevent such security lapses.”
The explosion took place in the west of the city, mostly populated by Shia Muslims.
Sunni Muslim militants, including the Taliban and the Islamic State group, have repeatedly targeted Shia Hazara minorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
A Taliban spokesman said the group “strongly condemned” the attack.
“There is no justification for such deliberate and brutal killings and targeting of women and children,” Zabiullah Mujaheed said in a text message to the media.
The latest blast comes just 10 days after a huge bomb outside a Kabul police station killed at least 14 people and injured nearly 150.
The Taliban said they carried out that attack.
On Friday a brother of Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada was killed by a bomb planted in a mosque near the Pakistani city of Quetta.
No group has so far claimed that attack.
A source in Afghan intelligence told the BBC that Hibatullah Akhundzada had been due to attend prayers at the mosque and was probably the intended target.
Tensions in the country have been high even though the Taliban and the US, which has thousands of troops stationed in Afghanistan, are reportedly getting closer to announcing a peace deal.
Taliban and US representatives have been holding peace talks in Qatar’s capital, Doha, and both sides have reported progress.
On Friday, US President Donald Trump tweeted that both sides were “looking to make a deal – if possible”.
The deal would include a phased US troop pullout in exchange for Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan will not be used by extremist groups to attack US targets.
The Taliban would also begin negotiations with an Afghan delegation on a framework for peace including an eventual ceasefire. The militants have been refusing to negotiate with the Afghan government until a timetable for the US withdrawal is agreed upon.
The Taliban now control more territory than at any point since they were forced from power in 2001.
At least two people were killed and 25 others wounded on Sunday after the political office of the Afghan president’s running mate was hit by a large explosion and stormed by unknown attackers.
Nasrat Rahimi, an interior ministry spokesman, said the attack targeted the Green Trend party headquarters in the Afghan capital, Kabul, but denied reports that vice presidential candidate Amrullah Saleh was wounded.
The Reuters news agency reported Saleh was hit by shrapnel before being safely evacuated from the office. Photographs shared by a government official showed Saleh sitting in a garden with bloodstains on his right arm. He was surrounded by security guards.
Ferdous Faramarz, a spokesman for Kabul’s police chief, said the explosion was likely a suicide car bomb and the gunfight was still ongoing after the assailants stormed the building following the blast.
Health ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar said at least two people were killed and 25 wounded.
Afghan soldiers battled gunmen in a four-storey building near the blast site for more than six hours, Rahimi said, adding about 40 civilians were rescued and all attackers killed.
It was unclear how many died in that shootout.
The violence underscored the risks facing the presidential election, which is scheduled for September 28 but has already been delayed twice this year.
Saleh is an uncompromising opponent of the Taliban and other hardline groups. President Ashraf Ghani, Saleh and more than a dozen other Afghan politicians launched their presidential campaign on Sunday.
Ghani said in a tweet: “My brother, true son of the Afghan soil and first VP candidate of my electoral team, Amrullah Saleh has survived a complex attack by enemies of the state. We are relieved and thank the almighty that the attack has failed.”
Earlier on Sunday, a buoyant Ghani kicked off his campaign by insisting “peace is coming” and pivotal talks with the Taliban would take place.
Saleh, who commands strong support among Afghanistan’s minority ethnic Tajiks, was not immediately available for comment.
Elsewhere, a Taliban suicide bomber killed four police early on Sunday in an attack on a police station in the eastern Ghazni province, according to Ahmad Khan Serat, a spokesman for the provincial police.
Ghani is seeking a second term on promises of ending the 18-year war, but has been largely sidelined over the past year as the United States has negotiated directly with the Taliban.
The armed group, who effectively control about half the country, have continued to carry out daily attacks on Afghan security forces with civilians caught in the crossfire.
The two sides appear to be closing in on an agreement in which the US would withdraw its forces in return for a pledge from the Taliban to keep the country from being used as a launchpad for global attacks.
The Taliban and the ISIL are sharply divided over ideology and tactics, with the Taliban largely confining its attacks to government targets and Afghan and international security forces.
The two armed groups have fought each other on a number of occasions, and the Taliban is still the larger and more imposing force.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES
Washington (CNN)Sixteen US Marines were arrested Thursday for alleged involvement in various illegal activities ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses, according to a statement from the Marine Corps.
Updated: Jul 23, 2019 08:55 IST
The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is working closely with Islamic State in Afghanistan and has drawn up plans with the Pakistan Army to target Indian and US assets and interests in the war-torn country, people familiar with developments said on Monday.
During a recent meeting between LeT operatives and a team of Pakistan Army and the country’s spy agency Inter- Services Intelligence in Jaba area of Dangam district in Kunar province, the terror group was directed to attack Indian and US assets, the people, including intelligence officials and diplomats in New Delhi and Washington, said on condition of anonymity. LeT commanders were tasked to carry out different types of attacks, including with suicide bombers sent from Pakistan, they added. The move comes at a time when Pakistan is under intense pressure from the US and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to crack down on LeT and other groups such as Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). LeT founder Hafiz Saeed was recently arrested on terror financing charges.
This also coincides with reports by the Pentagon and a UN panel about the presence of hundreds of LeT cadres in Afghanistan. The Pentagon report put the number of LeT operatives at 300, while the UN report said 500 fighters are active in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces alone.
“LeT’s presence in Afghanistan has been observed to be steadily on the rise. According to recent inputs, Hafiz Saeed’s son Talha Saeed is taking more interest in operational affairs in Afghanistan,” said an official who didn’t want to be named. The information on LeT activities has been shared with the US and Afghanistan.
The reasons for LeT focusing on Afghanistan are strategic rather than ideological, including the creation of safe havens for its fighters and a belief the Taliban are in a commanding position, the people said. With its fighters easily crossing the porous border, LeT wants to take credit for an “Islamic victory” in Afghanistan and has been increasing its presence in Kunar, Nangarhar and Nuristan, they said.
The presence of LeT fighters has also been reported in Badakhshan, Laghman, Kabul, Ghazni, Wardak, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Kandahar and Helmand provinces and it maintains good relations with IS, the people said. The IS has provided tacit support for LeT to increase its presence, they added. While the LeT has so far avoided carrying out direct attacks in Afghanistan, it coordinates with al-Qaeda and Taliban in attacks on foreign and Afghan forces. The UN panel had also reported the LeT was a key provider of fighters, weapons and finance for the Taliban and Haqqani Network.
Several madrassas in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar are supporting the LeT in Afghanistan, including Ganj Madrassa, which helps recruit cadres, Jamia Ashrafia, Hazrat Bilal Madrassa, Markaz Khyber, which is headed by local JuD leader Qari Nouman, Markaz Al-Madina.
The JeM, which has traditionally had strong ties with the Afghan Taliban, has also stepped up its operations in Afghanistan and its cadres are fighting under the leadership of the Taliban, the people said. These cadres include a significant number of battle-hardened JeM militants and suicide bombers from Pakistan’s Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces, they said.
The JeM leadership also conducts its own operations in Afghanistan that are directed from a base in Peshawar, the people said.
JeM has also set up another front in Quetta that is used for attacks in Afghanistan’s Ghazni provinces. JeM currently has its cadres in Nuristan, Kunar, Laghman, Khost, Ghazni, Geelan, Helmand and Nangarhar areas.
First Published: Jul 23, 2019 05:45 IST
At least eight people were killed, while almost 33 were wounded, according to police and health officials, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
A number of the wounded are reported to be in critical condition.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest to target Kabul. However, both the Taliban and ISIS often stage large-scale bombings in the city.
The early blast also set two vehicles ablaze although it wasn’t clear if the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber or a remotely detonated bomb, stated Kabul police spokesman Ferdous Faramarz.
The casualty tolls were released by the Health Ministry spokesman, Dr. Wahidullah Mayar over Twitter.
“All the wounded patients were evacuated to our hospitals and have been receiving the required treatment,” he tweeted.
According to AP, after initial reports of six dead, Mayer said two people died of their wounds and that the number of wounded rose to 33, following reports from hospitals around the city.
The university compound houses several hostels where many students stay over the summer, attending classes and working on research projects.
In a 2016 attack, 13 people were killed, mostly students, and more than 40 people were wounded when militants attacked the American University in Kabul. In that attack, a car bomb exploded outside the university gates, followed by a blistering, hours-long attack in which gunmen roamed through the compound shooting at students and teachers.
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