KABUL: A suicide bomber killed at least 14 people and wounded 60 at the entrance to Kabul international airport on Sunday, officials said, as scores gathered to welcome home Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum from exile.
Senior government officials, political leaders, and supporters were leaving the airport after greeting the powerful ethnic Uzbek leader and former warlord when the explosion happened.
“This is the first time I have seen a suicide attack,” one witness told the Media. “People were collecting human flesh with their hands,” he said, shaking as he spoke. “What is going on in Afghanistan?”
Dostum, clad in a Western suit and sunglasses and traveling in an armored vehicle, was unharmed, said his spokesman Bashir Ahmad Tayanj.
Kabul Police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said 14 people had been killed and 60 wounded, adding that nine members of the security forces and traffic police were among the dead.
The suicide bomber was on foot, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said, adding that civilians, including a child, and security force members were among the casualties.
Dostum, who is linked to a catalog of human rights abuses in Afghanistan, was mobbed like a celebrity as he left the chartered plane from Turkey, where he has lived since May 2017.
His return, which has been the subject of much speculation, comes amid violent protests in several provinces across northern Afghanistan, his traditional power base.
Thousands of Dostum’s supporters have taken to the streets in recent weeks, shuttering election and government offices and blocking sections of highways to demand the release of a pro-government militia leader and call for Dostum’s return.
Expectations of the return did little to quell the unrest, with protesters vowing Sunday to continue demonstrating until the burly leader of the Uzbek ethnic minority tells them otherwise.
“We don’t trust the government. We will continue our protests unless General Dostum tells us to stop,” Ehsanullah Qowanch, a protest leader in Faryab province, told the Media.
Qowanch also repeated calls for the release of Nezamuddin Qaisari – a district police chief and Dostum’s provincial representative in Faryab – whose arrest earlier this month ignited the protests.
Another protester, Massoud Khan, said: “We have been on the streets for 20 days now. We are not going to stop our protests unless our demands are met.”
China’s property market stabilizing on tough curbs
BEIJING: China’s property market remains generally stable as the government continues stepping-up property curbs.
New home prices in four first-tier cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou – rose 0.2 percent in July from a month ago, 0.4 percentage points lower than that in June, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed today.
New home prices in Shanghai fell while prices in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen rose 0.2 percent, 0.6 percent, and 0.5 percent, respectively.
New home prices in 31 second-tier cities rose 1.1 percent in July, 0.1 percentage points lower than June.
On a yearly basis, first-tier cities reported a 0.2-percent increase in new home prices. Existing prices rose 0.5 percent, 0.4 percentage points higher than a year earlier.
NBS senior statistician Liu Jianwei said local governments continued to step up property regulation in July and strike a balance between demand and supply to promote the healthy development of the sector.
New home prices declined year-on-year in two of the 15 “hotspot” cities where speculative home purchases are monitored, with the most significant price drop of 0.1 percent last month, with 11 cities posting growth and two staying flat.
During previous years, rocketing housing prices, especially in major cities, fueled concerns about asset bubbles. To curb speculation, the government rolled out various control measures, including restrictions on purchases and increasing minimum down payments for mortgages.
Major cities announced 260 control measures during the first seven months this year, 80 percent more than the same period last year, according to the research center of the Centaline Group.
Analysts expect more control measures to be announced as the central authority vowed to regulate the property market order and “firmly curb the rise in home prices” at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee last month.
The government will accelerate the establishment of a long-term mechanism to promote the stable and healthy development of the market, Cong Liang, spokesperson of the National Development and Reform Commission told a press conference on Wednesday.
The property market will continue adjusting amid the increasingly tightened regulation, said Liu Weimin, a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council.
Book of Xi’s discourses on poverty alleviation published
BEIJING: A book of extracts from the discourses on poverty alleviation by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, has been published by the Central Party Literature Press.
The book, which was compiled by the Party history and literature research institution of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, will be distributed across the country.
Tokyo’s Nikkei index jumps more than 2.2%
TOKYO: Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei index surged more than 2.2 percent Tuesday, swiftly recovering from the previous day’s losses, with investors encouraged by an apparent hiatus in the Turkey lira crisis.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which lost more than two percent on Monday, rose 2.28 percent or 498.65 points to close at 22,356.08, snapping a four-day losing streak. The broader Topix index was up 1.63 percent or 27.45 points at 1,710.95.