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Taliban advances

The Afghan city of Mazar Sharif has fallen to the Taliban, marking the complete loss of Afghanistan’s north to the militant group. The fall of the city has been confirmed by local and provincial officials. Mazar Sharif is Afghanistan’s fourth largest city and the capital of Balkh province. Earlier on Saturday, the Taliban, seized control of Pulalam, the capital of Logar province lying 70 kilometers south of the capital Kabul. The group began its offensive in May but has managed to seize more than half of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals in just over a week. Kabul and Jalalabad in the east are now the only major cities not in Taliban hands.

Plight of Rohingya

At least 27 Rohingya refugees are missing after their boat sank during an attempt to escape a Bangladeshi island camp. Police said the small fishing boat sank with 41 Rohingya onboard after encountering rough weather in the Bay of Bengal. Fourteen were rescued, while a search operation is underway to find those still missing. Almost 20,000 Rohingya have been relocated to Bhashan Char Island. Right groups have severely criticized the living conditions on the island. Nearly one million Rohingya Muslims live in crowded camps in Bangladesh after fleeing a deadly military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017.

Haiti earthquake

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake has struck western Haiti, killing at least 304 people. It caused severe damage in at least two cities, cutting off communications and burying residents under rubble. Shocks were felt throughout Haiti and across the Caribbean, including in Cuba and Jamaica. Haiti's prime minister has declared a state of emergency for one month. The impoverished country is vulnerable to earthquakes and hurricanes. It was struck by a magnitude 7.1 quake in 2010 that damaged much of the capital and killed over 200,000 people. Haiti has been mired in a political crisis since President Jovenel Moise was assassinated last month. Swathes of the country are facing growing hunger and healthcare services are overwhelmed by COVID-19.

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