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Afghanistan fighting

The Taliban have reportedly taken control of the central Afghan city of Ghazni as the militant group pushes ahead with its offensive countrywide. Ghazni, the capital of a province with the same name, is located some 150 kilometers southwest of Kabul. This is the tenth out of 34 provincial capitals to fall into the Taliban's hands in a week. That’s apart from dozens of villages and towns as well as border crossings the militant group has taken recently. They have also encircled Mazar-i-Sharif, the biggest city in the north. US intelligence officials have warned that the government in Afghanistan could fall in 90 days if Afghan security forces fail to slow the momentum of militant offensive. The Afghan conflict has escalated dramatically since May. The Taliban are now estimated to control some two thirds of Afghanistan.

Australia's COVID curbs

Australia’s capital, Canberra, has entered a snap lockdown after the city confirmed its first covid-19 case in more than a year. About 400,000 people have been placed under a stay-at-home order for a week. Residents will only be allowed to leave home for essential reasons. The announcement prompted panic buying in the city, with residents many without masks rushing to supermarkets to stock up essentials ahead of the lockdown. This is the first lockdown on the nation's political hub in months. Authorities say the situation is a serious public health risk.

California wildfire

US officials say a massive wildfire raging through the northern part of the state of California for nearly a month has consumed another 550 homes. Firefighters are still battling the flames which broke out in mid-July in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and described as the second largest in state history. Officials say 30 percent of the blaze has been contained but warns that high-temperature expected to cross over 37 degrees Celsius in coming days could spread it further. Thunderstorms are also predicted, which can ignite more flames. The fire has scorched more than half a million acres of forest land, over 1,000 homes as well as hundreds of other structures. Two firefighters and a civilian have been injured. California typically experiences peak fire season this time around every year.

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