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Pakistan is building a fence along border with Afghanistan

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ANGUR ADDA, Pakistan — Pakistan is spending around $483 million to build chain-link fences along its porous 1,500-mile border with Afghanistan.

The project aims curtail the flow of terrorists between the two countries. It follows a years-long Pakistani military push aimed at dismantling militant networks in its restive tribal North and South Waziristan regions.

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“For the better security of our country and nation, we had to do this work,” Pakistani army official Brig. Nisar, who only uses one name, told journalists during a government-organized visit to the border earlier this month.

The barrier has angered the Afghan government, which disputes the location of the boundary and says the fence will tear communities apart.

Construction began last year on two fences which snake parallel to each other through the remote, mountainous landscape. Standing 13 feet high on the Afghan side and 11 feet on the Pakistani side, sharp spirals of silver barbed wire are cradled at the top of each.

Image: A Pakistani army soldier stands guard along with border fence with Afghanistan
A portion of the fence near Quetta in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.Banaras Khan / AFP – Getty Images

Additional coils of barbed wire have been placed on the ground in the gap between the fences, which are dotted with Pakistani military towers.

The military says it will have 92 percent of the national border fenced before the end of 2019.

However, only three miles of the 789-mile stretch of the border along the remote southwestern province of Balochistan has been fenced so far, according to a military official who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity.

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Beyond Balochistan, Pakistani authorities said the other part of the fence, including the portion visited by NBC News, would eventually total 516 miles in length. Around 146 miles of that stretch has been completed, according to officials.

Some parts of the border will not be fenced as they are too mountainous.

Pakistan alleges that Islamic State terrorists are using Afghan territory to plan attacks and accuses Kabul of doing too little to secure the border.

Pakistani security officials told NBC News that while Pakistan has 64 security fortifications and posts in one 112-mile stretch of the border, Afghanistan has built only eight.

Image: A Pakistani army soldier stands guard along with border fence at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border near the Punjpai area of Quetta in Balochistan on May 8, 2018.
A Pakistani army soldier stands guard along with border fence.Banaras Khan / AFP – Getty Images

Afghanistan has long disputed the location the border, which was established by British colonizers in 1893.

“The current border is not accepted throughout history, this is a critical issue,” said Mohammad Yaqub Ahmad Zai, Afghanistan’s deputy minister of border and tribal affairs.

One of the main concerns for Afghanistan, however, is that the project will separate families and rip apart communities who have been able to cross freely for centuries.

“Tribes living on both sides are brothers,” Zai said. “They are one family, you can’t separate them by fencing.”

Mushtaq Yusufzai and Wajahat S. Khan reported from Angur Adda, Ahmed Mengli from Kabul, and Francis Whittaker reported from London.

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Typhoon Molave: Landslides leave at least 15 people dead in Vietnam | World News

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Soldiers and heavy machinery are being used to search for survivors in Vietnam after landslides triggered by Typhoon Molave killed at least 15 people.

Vietnamese officials said the typhoon, which brought winds of up to 150km (93 miles) per hour, is the worst to hit the country in decades.

The landslides hit remote areas in the central province of Quang Nam late on Wednesday.

Workers clear debris from a landslide that blocked a road
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Workers clear debris from a landslide that blocked a road and (below) a couple outside their house
A couple clears debris outside their house

State television said the bodies of 12 fishermen have also been found after their boats sank while trying to return to shore two days ago.

Two navy vessels were mobilised to find them and 14 people are still missing.

Details of possible casualties and damage in other typhoon-hit regions have not yet been reported amid the stormy weather and could cause the toll to rise.

Rescuers dug up eight bodies in Tra Van village in south central Quang Nam province where a hillside collapsed on houses.

In Tra Leng village, about 45km (28 miles) from Tra Van, another landslide buried a community with several houses occupied by about 45 people, including four who managed to escape.

“We can forecast the storm path or the amount of rain, but can’t predict when landslides happen,” deputy prime minister Trinh Dinh Dung said in a statement.

“The road is covered under deep mud and heavy rains are still lashing the area, but rescue work has to be carried out
quickly.”

A family rides on a scooter past uprooted trees in central Vietnam's Quang Ngai province
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A family rides on a scooter past uprooted trees in central Vietnam’s Quang Ngai province

Many villages in the remote region remain inaccessible due to damaged roads and further landslides.

Mr Dung said helicopters would be used to reach the most difficult areas if necessary.

Tra Leng and Tran Van lie in the mountains of Quang Nam, in a coastal region still recovering from floods that killed 136 people and destroyed hundreds of houses earlier this month.

The typhoon blew off roofs of about 56,000 houses and caused a massive blackout in Quang Ngai province, where 1.7 million people endured the typhoon onslaught overnight in darkness, according to local media.

At least 40,000 people were evacuated to emergency shelters and authorities shut down offices, factories and schools.

A worker in a bulldozer clears debris from a landslide that blocked a road
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Roads have been blocked by the landslides

Forecasters have said heavy rain of up to 700mm (27.5in) will continue in parts of central Vietnam until Saturday.

The typhoon left at least 16 people dead in the Philippines before blowing across the South China Sea to Vietnam.

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Clash of cultures in France between freedom of expression and Islamic blasphemy beliefs | World News

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A clash of cultures is gripping France and impacting French interests in the Muslim world.

It has pitched the right to freedom of expression – including viewing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad – against what that means for Muslims who regard such actions as blasphemous.

The motivation for the triple murders in Nice by a knifeman shouting “Allah Akbar” and why someone else threatened people with a handgun close to the city of Avignon is not yet known.

Same too for a separate knife attack against the French consulate in the Saudi city of Jeddah.

Three people killed in France – live updates as separate incidents unfold in Nice and Avignon

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Shots fired as police storm church

Yet these incidents – which all happened on Thursday – come almost two weeks after a teenager beheaded a school teacher on the outskirts of Paris after Samuel Paty, 47, showed his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a lesson.

President Emmanuel Macron, a strong supporter of secularism and free speech in his country, praised Mr Paty as a “quiet hero”.

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The teacher’s violent death gave added impetus to a plan unveiled by the French leader at the start of October aimed at reforming the practice of Islam in France and creating – as Mr Macon described it – “an Islam of Enlightenment”.

This kind of language triggered anger among Muslim countries, in particular from Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan went as far as calling his French counterpart mentally damaged.

The Turkish President said Mr Macron 'needs treatment on a mental level'
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Mr Macron ‘needs treatment on a mental level’

Mr Erdogan has also called for a boycott of French products.

Lord Ricketts, a former UK ambassador to Paris and former national security adviser, described what is happening in France as a “big cultural clash”.

In the wake of the attacks, he said the French authorities should be reaching out to Muslim leaders in the country to condemn the violence and help bring people together.

France needs a “calming voice from the Muslim community”, he said.

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Coronavirus: India hits eight million COVID cases amid fears festival season could cause further spike | World News

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India has become the second country to record more than eight million coronavirus cases amid fears of a further spike due to a series of upcoming Hindu festivals – including Diwali.

The health ministry’s most recent figures reported 49,881 infections and 517 deaths in the past 24 hours – bringing the overall case count above 8.04 million and the death toll to 120,527.

While nationally the daily infection rate is dropping, India‘s capital of New Delhi saw its worst day on record on Wednesday, with 4,853 new coronavirus cases – having managed to get below 1,000 per day last month.

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A health worker collects a swab sample from a woman to test for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a market place in Ahmedabad on October 29, 2020. - India on October 29 passed eight million coronavirus cases, with the world's second-worst-hit country bracing for a possible second wave ahead of winter and a series of religious festivals. (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY / AFP) (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images)
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More than eight million people have tested positive for coronavirus in India and New Delhi (below) has seen its worst day yet
People wait at a street outside a temple to get free food in New Delhi on October 29, 2020. - India on October 29 passed eight million coronavirus cases, with the world's second-worst-hit country bracing for a possible second wave ahead of winter and a series of religious festivals. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)

Dr T Jacob John, a retired virologist who was head of the virology department at CMC Hospital, Vellore, southern India, warned that in most parts of the country the infection curve was never flattened.

He added that the festival season was likely to cause an uptick in the rate of infections as people gathered without masks and social distancing.

Arvind Kumar, a doctor in the capital city, said: “I am shocked, but not surprised. There seems to be a sense of complacency in adhering to mask and distancing norms.”

Shops, businesses, trains and cinemas have all been reopening, and the country’s third-largest state of Bihar – with its population of 122 million – has been holding elections.

And as well as it currently being the month of Kartika – the holiest month in the Hindu calendar, with festivals including the five days of Diwali upcoming – winter will bring cooler and drier weather.

There are concerns that the conditions – and the associated increase in pollution levels – will lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases and other respiratory illnesses in the world’s most populous democracy.

TOPSHOT - Hindu devotees light earthen lamps on the banks of the River Sarayu on the eve of "Diwali" festival during an event organised by the Uttar Pradesh government, in Ayodhya on October 26, 2019. - "Diwali", the Festival of Lights, marks victory over evil and commemorates the time when Hindu god Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana and returned to his kingdom Ayodhya. (Photo by SANJAY KANOJIA / AFP) (Photo by SANJAY KANOJIA/AFP via Getty Images)
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It is currently the month of Kartika, and there are many festivals – including Diwali – upcoming

India reported few cases of the coronavirus at the start of the pandemic, but saw a steep rise once summer started.

In August alone, the country added more than two million new cases, and in September another three million people caught the virus.

On the worst day, there were 97,894 new infections – and the most deaths recorded in 24 hours was 1,275.

TOPSHOT - Indian pedestrians walk near the India Gate monument amid heavy smog in New Delhi on October 28, 2016. - India's capital, with 18 million residents, has the world's most polluted air, worsening in winter as temperatures drop and farmers burn off fields after the summer harvest. (Photo by Dominique Faget / AFP) (Photo by DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP via Getty Images)
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There are fears that the cold weather and increased pollution could worsen the situation in India

Only the US has more confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 8.8 million, while India sits third worldwide to America and Brazil‘s death counts of 227,700 and 158,456 respectively.

The Indian government has promised to provide a coronavirus vaccine to 250 million people by July of next year.

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