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A rescuer extinguishes a fire in a burning shop after Russian shelling to Ukrainian city of Kherson on December 24, 2022, where five were killed and 20 injured. (Photo by AFP)

Russia Ukraine war

Air raids are sounding in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and elsewhere across the country as the war with Russia grinds on into its 11th month. The Kiev city administration urged people to go to shelters. Unconfirmed Ukrainian social media reports said the alert may have been declared after Russian jets took to the skies in Belarus. The sirens come after a strike on the southern city of Kherson killed at least 10 people and injured almost 60 others. Ukraine blamed Russia for the attack while Moscow said it was a false flag operation by Kiev. Russia captured Kherson weeks after its invasion in February but its forces recently withdrew from the city. It still controls much of Kherson region and fierce battles continue around the city. Kherson was one of the four Ukrainian regions that were annexed by Russia following referendums in September.

Morocco anti-Israel rallies 

Normalization deals between some Arab states and Israel continue to draw public anger. In Morocco, people hold protest rallies in over two dozen cities to condemn ties with the regime. The centerpiece of the protests was staged in the capital Rabat. There, demonstrators marched on the parliament. They chanted slogans and held signs, calling the deal treacherous and demanding its cancellation. They also set fire to the Israeli flag and reiterated their unwavering support for the Palestinian cause. Israel and Morocco agreed to a US-sponsored deal to normalize relations in December 2020. Three other Arab countries had earlier signed similar agreements with the regime. The agreements have been widely denounced by Palestinian groups and Muslim nations.

Taliban ban on NGO's female staff

The Taliban's ban on women working for NGOs in Afghanistan draws strong condemnations from countries and international bodies. United Nations said the move would hit humanitarian operations just as winter grips a country already in economic crisis. The UN envoy for Afghanistan said his office would consult with NGOs and seek to meet with Taliban authorities for an explanation. Meanwhile, EU foreign policy Chief Josep Borrell said the European Union strongly condemns the decision. The Taliban ordered NGOs to stop their women employees from working because of 'serious complaints' of the non-observance of the Islamic hijab by female workers. The decision comes less than a week after it banned women from attending universities.

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