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Over 400 private schools close under Taliban rule

According to the Unicef, an estimated 3.7 million children are currently out-of-school in Afghanistan, 60 per cent of which are girls…reports Asian Lite News

More than 400 private schools across Afghanistan have closed their doors due to various reasons, including economic problems, a local news outlet said in a report on Thursday.

The TOLO News report citing Zabihullah Furqani, a member of the Union of Private Schools, said that many students gave up school due to poverty, while girls from grade six to 12 cannot attend classes under the current restriction, reports Xinhua news agency.

Zabihullah Mujahid, chief spokesman of the Taliban-run administration, has reportedly said that the restriction on girls attending schools is based on religious reasons.

Earlier, the administration’s education ministry said that the closure of girls schools above grade 6th is temporality and would resume within the framework of Sharia, or Islamic laws, in the future.

TOLO News quoted Mohammad Daud, the former head of the Union of Private Schools, as saying that thousands of people would lose their job with the closure of the schools.

Afghanistan has been facing extreme economic problems since the US government froze nearly $10 billion assets of the country’s central bank following the August 2021 Taliban takeover.

According to the Unicef, an estimated 3.7 million children are currently out-of-school in Afghanistan, 60 per cent of which are girls.

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Over 120 killed, injured in recent days in Afghanistan: UN

The extremist militia organisation Islamic State claimed responsibility for back-to-back bombings in Kabul city that targeted Shia Muslims in the western part of Kabul city on Friday and Saturday…reports Asian Lite News

More than 120 people have been killed and wounded in Afghanistan in recent days, the United Nations has said.

In a statement, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) urged the de-facto Taliban government to provide greater security for minorities so that they can hold their religious ceremonies without further attacks, dpa news agency reported.

The extremist militia organisation Islamic State claimed responsibility for back-to-back bombings in Kabul city that targeted Shia Muslims in the western part of Kabul city on Friday and Saturday.

On Sunday, there were unconfirmed reports of an attack for the third consecutive day in Kabul city.

Local broadcaster Kabul News reported that the latest explosion targeted a civilian bus in Chandawol, another Shia region in the west of Kabul.

The latest attacks came as Shia Muslims, a religious minority in the country, are preparing for Ashura, which commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

Following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, Islamic State has carried out a number of deadly attacks, mainly targeting religious minority groups.

Residents voice concerns

Voicing their concerns about the rise in explosive attacks in the city’s western areas, residents of Kabul’s Police District 6 are calling out for security for the Ashura Ritual.

As per residents of the area, most of the victims in an explosion that took off on Saturday’s explosion were vendors selling their wares. Many citizens have asked for security from the Islamic Emirate for the Ashura ritual, reported Tolo News.

 Mohammad Ali, a resident of the Barchi area of Kabul said, “Explosions happen every day, and the level of insecurity has increased. We ask the Islamic Emirate to provide safety to the mourners of Ashura.”

“There was a mine planted inside the barrel that exploded, killing seven people and injuring nine to ten people,” said Sakhi, another resident of Kabul’s PD6.

The residents of the Pol-e-Sukhta area of Kabul said that some of the victims of the incident could not be identified.

Mohammad Jafar, a resident of the Pol-e-Sukhta area of Kabul said, “All of them were men and youth, and they were at the mourning ceremony, and it was very crowded.”

“There were pieces of flesh, limbs, legs, and organs. There was just one pocket remaining, and the municipality did not take responsibility for burying them. We gathered four or five individuals, took them, and buried them there,” said Fawad, another resident of Pol-e-Sukhta area of Kabul.

Giving out the details of the grave situation on the ground, a journalist of the media outlet said that those who visited the explosion scene in Kabul’s Pol-e-Sukhta area said that the explosives were put in a pot on the side of the road.

“So far, we have arrested two Daesh affiliates in connection with the blast and we are trying to arrest the rest of them,” said Mawlawi Waqad, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Intelligence department of Kabul’s PD6.

In the past week, three explosions occurred in Kabul. Based on the figures of the security officials, fourteen people died and more than 40 others were injured in the blasts.

Notably, the tenth day of Muharram is the Day of Ashura, which to Shia Muslims is part of the mourning of Muharram. Sunni Muslims fast during this day.

In the past week, three explosions occurred in Kabul. Based on the figures of the security officials, fourteen people died and more than 40 others were injured in the blasts.

Muharram commemorates the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain, the son of Hazrat Ali and the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. It signifies an expression of sorrow over the martyrdom of Imam Hussain at the Battle of Karbala that took place over 14 centuries ago.

Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, reaches a crescendo on 10th day of Muharram, the day when Imam Hussain Ibn Ali, and his followers were martyred in 61 Hijri or 680 CE at Karbala, in present-day Iraq. (IANS/ANI)

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Cholera death toll rises to 12 in Afghanistan

Local authorities with the financial support from the Unicef have established five response teams in dealing with the health emergency…reports Asian Lite News

A cholera outbreak in Afghanistan’s Jawzjan province since June has killed so far killed at least 12 people, with 18,000 cases being reported, a health official said.

“A total of 18,000 people have been affected by cholera due to using polluted water and poor access to health services,” Xinhua news agency quoted the official as saying to reporters.

Local authorities with the financial support from the Unicef have established five response teams in dealing with the health emergency in the province, the official added.

ALSO READ: Afghanistan receives more cash aid

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Sikh returnees recall tales of Taliban horror

Since the the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, religious minorities, including the Sikh community, have been reportedly targeted in large numbers…reports Sanketh Pathak

Sikhs continue to move into India as attacks on minority communities reportedly increased in Afghanistan since the Taliban came to power in 2021.

On August 3, a group of 30 Sikhs from Afghanistan arrived India.

Several Sikh families who arrived from Afghanistan since 2021 have been accommodated in Guru Arjun Dev Gurdwara in Delhi’s Tilak Nagar, and are being assisted by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). Many of them were brought from Kabul to Delhi in private planes of Afghanistan’s Kam Airlines.

At present, arrangements have been made for everyone to stay by the Gurdwara committee. Most of them are Sikhs, who have been living in Afghanistan for many generations and have arrived to India leaving everything behind for the first time.

IANS visited the Gurdwara here and met some Sikh refugees to know how they left their homes, businesses and arrived to India to save their lives.

Dodged the Taliban by pretending to treat the child

Taran Singh, who is 32-year-old, lived with his family in Jalalabad area of Afghanistan since childhood. Taran used to run a medicine shop. When the Gurudwara in Kabul was attacked and many Sikhs were killed, he also started worrying about his family. Talking to IANS, Taran Singh said that the Taliban were not allowing him to go to India.

Somehow, he hired a car and left for Kabul with his family and children. On the way, when Talibani authorities asked him the reason for leaving, he told them that his child was ill and had to go to India for treatment. In this way, Taran Singh reached India from Kabul. He is happy to reach Delhi, but he is also sad to have lost his home and shop. Although he says that now he will never go back to Afghanistan.

Harjit Kaur’s brother and sister still stuck in Afghanistan

Harjeet Kaur (30) reached Delhi on August 3 with her husband and three children. Harjeet says that since the time the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, gunmen frequently visited them and use to scare them off. Her concern for her children forced Harjeet to leave Afghanistan. She arrived here safely with eight members of her family, but her one brother, sister-in-law and sister are still in Afghanistan. Due to non-availability of visa and some other difficulties, they could not come to India. Harjeet hopes that soon the rest of his family members will also be able to reach India.

Gurjit Kaur came to India with only two pairs of clothes

Gurjit Kaur (35) is one of the lucky ones who moved to Delhi a few months back. Gurjeet told IANS that she lived near the gurdwara in Kabul, which was targeted recently. After a bomb exploded near her house, she started worrying about her life and decided to go to India. Gurjit, the mother of five children, came to Delhi in a hurry with only two pairs of clothes. She says that she used to run a medicine shop and was born in Afghanistan. Coming to India for the first time, she now lives with her husband in New Mahavir Nagar area of Delhi, leaving behind her house, shop equipment, everything. The scenes of violence against Sikhs in Afghanistan are still fresh in Gurjit’s eyes. She also says that now she will never go back to Afghanistan.

SGPC is taking care

Surinder Pal Singh, member of SGPC and head of Sikh Mission Delhi, told IANS, “We have welcomed the Sikh brothers who have arrived from Afghanistan. The work of rehabilitation and other cooperation of these people is also being done by the committee. There are still about 110 Hindus and Sikhs left in Afghanistan, out of which 61 people’s e-visas have been suspended.”

Since the the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, religious minorities, including the Sikh community, have been reportedly targeted in large numbers. This is the reason, with the support of SGPC and Centre, Afghan minorities, Sikh community and Hindus are being brought to India.

On July 14 also, a batch of 21 Sikhs was brought to India by private ‘Kam’ airlines of Afghanistan.

According to the information, there were about 700 Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan by 2020, but many people left Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power in August 2021.

ALSO READ: Afghanistan receives more cash aid

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Saleh blames Pakistan for assassination plots

Afghanistan’s former Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Saturday blamed Pakistani agencies for being involved in at least two assassination plots against him.

Taking to Twitter he said that 60 plus people were killed in those complex attacks.

 “Well, Pakistani agencies were involved in at least two assassination plots against me. Tragically some 60-plus people were killed in those complex attacks,” tweeted Saleh.

He also targeted the Pakistan Army which has started to intensify cyber-terrorism by requesting Twitter to ban him from social media platforms.

“Now the GHQ hz started to intensify cyber terrorism too. The puppet Talib junta in Kabul hasn’t satisfied their ego yet,” tweeted Saleh.

The Afghan resistant leader shared a letter from Twitter that divulged a request from Pakistani law enforcement.

“Hello @AmrullahSaleh2, In the interest of transparency, we are writing to inform you that Twitter has received a request from Pakistani Law Enforcement regarding your Twitter account, @Amrullah5aleh2, that claims the following content violates the law(s) of Pakistan,” read the letter.

However, Twitter declined to take any action against Saleh on the reported content.

“As Twitter strongly believes in defending and respecting the voice of the users, it is our policy to notify our users if we receive a legal request from an authorized entity (such as law enforcement or a government agency) to remove content from their account. We provide notice whether or not the user lives in the country where the request originated,” added the letter.

The social media site suggested Saleh take legal counsel and challenge the request in court, by contacting relevant civil society organizations, voluntarily deleting the content (if applicable), or finding some other resolution.

“We understand that receiving this type of notice can be an unsettling experience. While Twitter is not able to provide legal advice, we want you to have an opportunity to evaluate the request and, if you wish, take appropriate action to protect your interests,” read the letter.

Back in June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report said Taliban security forces in northern Afghanistan’s Panjshir province have unlawfully detained and tortured residents accused of association with an opposition armed group.

Since mid-May 2022, fighting has escalated in the province as National Resistance Front (NRF) forces have attacked Taliban units and checkpoints. The Taliban have responded by deploying to the province thousands of fighters, who have carried out search operations targeting communities they allege are supporting the NRF.

During search operations in other provinces, Taliban forces have committed summary executions and enforced disappearances of captured fighters and other detainees, which are war crimes.

“Taliban forces in Panjshir province have quickly resorted to beating civilians in their response to fighting against the opposition National Resistance Front,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Taliban’s longstanding failure to punish those responsible for serious abuses in their ranks put more civilians at risk.”

Former detainees in early June reported that Taliban security forces detained about 80 residents in Panjshir’s Khenj district and beat them to compel them to provide information about the NRF, according to HRW. After several days, the

Taliban released 70, but have continued to hold 10 people whose relatives they accuse of being members of the group, a form of collective punishment.

Former detainees said the district jail held nearly 100 others who have alleged links to the NRF. None had access to their families or lawyers. Others have been held in informal detention facilities. (ANI)

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Taliban probing US claim of killing Zawahiri

The Taliban also warned the US not to repeat the incident which the group termed a violation of international principles…reports Asian Lite News

The Taliban on Thursday said that they had no information about slain Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri’s arrival and stay in Kabul.

On August 1, the US announced the killing of the Al-Qaeda chief in a safe house in the heart of the country’s capital. Though the Islamic outfit confirmed the US drone strike in Kabul but denied the presence of the Al-Qaeda chief.

 The Taliban said that they have instructed their investigative and intelligence agencies to probe into the various aspects of the incident.

“…an air strike was carried out on a residential house in Kabul city, two days later, US President Joe Biden claimed that US troops had targeted Al-Qaeda leader Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri in this attack, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has no information about Ayman al-Zawahiri’s arrival and stay in Kabul,” the statement said.

“The leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban) has instructed the investigative and intelligence agencies to conduct a comprehensive and serious investigation into the various aspects of the incident,” it added.

The Taliban also warned the US not to repeat the incident which the group termed a violation of international principles.

Earlier this week, the Biden administration said that by hosting the leader of Al-Qaeda in Kabul, the Taliban violated the Doha Agreement and repeated assurances that they would not allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists to threaten the security of other countries.

“They also betrayed the Afghan people and their own stated desire for recognition from and normalization with the international community,” US State Department said in a statement.

On July 31, the United States conducted a precision counterterrorism strike in Afghanistan that killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy and successor as leader of al-Qa’ida.

Al- Zawahiri was one of the masterminds of the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, and had continued to urge his followers to attack the United States.

Following al-Zawahiri’s death, supporters of al- Qa’ida, or its affiliated terrorist organizations, may seek to attack U.S. facilities, personnel, or citizens.

After the killing of Zawahri, the US warned Americans overseas to be on high alert. “As terrorist attacks often occur without warning, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and practice good situational awareness when traveling abroad,” State Department said in a alert.

It added that there is a “higher potential for anti-American violence after death, and that current information suggests terrorist groups are plotting attacks against US interests in multiple regions across the globe.” (ANI)

ALSO READ: Over 200 media outlets closed since Taliban takeover

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Over 200 media outlets closed since Taliban takeover

 According to officials of media in Takhar province, nine out of the region’s 13 media outlets have closed as a result of economic challenges….reports Asian Lite News

Over 200 media outlets have ceased operations in Afghanistan and 7,000 media workers have lost their jobs since the Taliban seized power in August last year while the country’s economy continues to shrink.

Expressing concerns over the deteriorating situation of Afghan media, the Afghanistan Federation of Journalists and Media noted that they had made suggestions to the international community and the Islamic Emirate about the protection of media workers, but the problem has not been solved till date, Tolo News reported.

 According to officials of media in Takhar province, nine out of the region’s 13 media outlets have closed as a result of economic challenges.

“In the last year, out of 544 media outlets, 218 of them were closed, and out of 1200 media workers, 7000 of them lost their jobs,” said Hujatullah Mujaddidi, the Head of the Free Association of Afghan Journalists said.

Moreover, several officials from the media said that they are unable to pay their employees’ salaries due to the poor economy.

“Takhar’s local media is facing economic challenges, it has lost its staff and its activities stopped,” said Abdul Sami Khawari, stated the director of a media outlet in Takhar.

“We had seven employees here, due to economic challenges we have laid them off,” said another media outlet owner, Sadrudin Qunarai to Tolo News.

The Afghan media community continues to face overwhelming challenges under the brutal regime of the Taliban. Numerous organizations were forced to shut down due to economic collapse, threats and draconian reporting restrictions since the Islamist outfit came to power. Thousands of journalists and media professionals, especially women, have lost their jobs.

“Most of the journalists who have lost their jobs cannot provide food for their families,” said Parween Iqbally, a journalist.

According to the Afghanistan Federation of Journalists and Media, more than 2,800 women were employed in the Afghan media before the Islamic Emirate came to power, but more than 2,100 of them have lost their jobs as a result of several factors in the last year.

In a recent survey conducted by IFJ-affiliate Afghanistan National Journalists Union (ANJU) across 33 provinces, shows 318 media have closed since 15 August 2021. The crisis has hit newspapers the hardest with just 20 out of 114 continuing to publish. 51 TV stations, 132 radio stations and 49 online media have ceased operations according to the report compiled for the IFJ.

72 per cent of those who have lost their jobs are women, IFJ said in a release.

As per the report, released by United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), human rights violations affected 173 journalists and media workers, 163 of which were attributed to the de facto authorities.

Among these were 122 instances of arbitrary arrest and detention, 58 instances were of ill-treatment, 33 instances of threats and intimidation and 12 instances of incommunicado detention. Six journalists were also killed during the period (five by self-identified ISIS Khorasan, one by unknown perpetrators).

According to some media-supporting organizations, over 70 per cent of media outlets halted their operations since the Taliban came to power. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Afghanistan receives more cash aid

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Taliban claims it had no idea Zawahiri was in Kabul

The Taliban once again denounced the US attack on Kabul as a violation of Afghan airspace and against international norms…reports Asian Lite News

The caretaker Taliban administration in Afghanistan has said that the group was uninformed of Ayman al-Zawahiris “arrival and stay” in Kabul, although it is uncertain whether the Taliban have explicitly acknowledged or denied the American assertion that the al-Qaeda chief has been killed, media reports said.

In a statement released on Thursday, senior Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group has instructed its intelligence agencies to conduct thorough and comprehensive probe into the various aspects of this case, Khaama Press reported.

According to the Taliban spokesman, no country, including the United States, is under threat from Afghanistan.

He said the Taliban intend to put the Doha Agreement into effect and that its violations has to stop.

The Taliban once again denounced the US attack on Kabul as a violation of Afghan airspace and against international norms and warned that the US will be held responsible for the consequences of such attacks, if repeated.

On the other hand, several top American officials, including Zalmay Khalilzad, claimed that some Taliban leaders were aware of Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul.

The death of Ayman al-Zawahiri, in the eyes of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, has strengthened global security.

By “hosting and sheltering” the al-Qaeda chief in Kabul, the Taliban administration in Afghanistan violated its commitments to the international community, according to Blinken.

According to Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to US President Joe Biden, they are in contact with the Taliban to find out whether the Taliban sheltered al-Zawahiri, Khaama Press reported.

The Taliban have officially pledged to renounce ties with terrorist organisations and prohibit the use of Afghan soil against other countries in the pact it signed with the United States in Doha in February 2020.

ALSO READ: Strike that killed Zawahiri violates Doha pact, say Taliban

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30 more Afghan Sikhs set to land in India

Sikhs’ single largest representative body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has borne their airfare…reports Asian Lite News

At least 30 Afghan Sikhs, including men, women, and children, are scheduled to arrive in Delhi from Kabul on Wednesday as evacuation of Afghan minorities to India continues in the wake of rising religious persecution in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

These Afghan nationals left from Kabul on board Kam Air Flight number 4401.

Indian World Forum president Puneet Singh Chandok informed that still there were 110 Sikhs left in Afghanistan while 61 e-visa applications were pending with the Indian government.

Earlier, 32 Afghan Sikhs were evacuated from Kabul.

Sikhs’ single largest representative body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has borne their airfare.

He informed that after landing at Delhi, the evacuees would proceed towards Gurdwara Sri Guru Arjan Dev, Tilak Nagar, New Delhi.

“They are likely to be rehabilitated by the World Punjabi Organisation, Sobti Foundation, and other social organisations,” said Chandok.

Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan are being continuously attacked by different terrorist organisations and in the past year, the number of attacks has increased leaving the community petrified.

Kabul’s Gurdwara Kart-e-Parwan has repeatedly been vandalised and bombed making their (Sikhs) stay unsafe in Afghanstian.

ALSO READ: Afghanistan receives more cash aid

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Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri killed in US drone strike

Al-Zawahiri was killed by two Hellfire missiles fired at him from a CIA-run drone while he was on the balcony of a house in Kabul where he had been staying with his family…reports YASHWANT RAJ

The US killed top Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in Afghanistan over the weekend dealing the terrorist group a major blow, confirms President Joe Biden.

Al-Zawahiri had overseen the September 11 attacks on the US in 2001, that killed 2,977 people, along with Osama bin-Laden, who was killed by the US in 2011 in Pakistan.

Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian by birth who had trained to be a medical doctor, had a US reward of $25 million for information leading to his capture. The US holds him responsible also for the bombing of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and on its naval ship USS Cole in 2000.

He also had a long history of baiting and threatening India. Last April, he praised an Indian student who stood up against efforts to prevent Muslim women from wearing hijab. The next month, in May, he called the abrogation of Article 370 a “slam” for Muslims.

Al-Zawahiri was killed by two Hellfire missiles fired at him from a CIA-run drone while he was on the balcony of a house in Kabul where he had been staying with his family. No members of his family or other civilians were wounded or killed in the strike, according to US officials who briefed reporters.

President Biden said in an address to the nation, and perhaps the world, that US intelligence had tracked the Al Qaeda leader to Afghanistan early in the year and he gave the go ahead to the operation to kill al-Zawahiri a week ago on July 25. Officials said Biden reviewed a model of the house early in July to make sure there were no collateral casualties.

“Our intelligence community located Zawahiri earlier this year,” Biden, who is dealing with “rebound positivity” of Covid-19, said in his address.

“He had moved to downtown Kabul to reunite with members of his immediate family. After carefully considering clear and convincing evidence of his location, I authorised a precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield once and for all.”

Biden added: “This mission was carefully planned, rigorously minimising the risk of harm to other civilians. And one week ago, after being advised the conditions were optimal, I gave the final approval to go get him and the mission was a success.”

The US studied Zawahiri’s behaviour and that of his family members for weeks — the women in the family took circuitous routes from and to home to avoid trackers, for instance — to reduce the possibility of hitting others.

The strike came around a year after the US left Afghanistan, which raised questions about its ability to carry out counter-terrorism operation there. The Biden administration had sought to allay such concerns and fears saying it will retain “over-the-horizon” capability from neighbouring countries.

Al-Zawahiri’s most spectacular operations were against the US, but he had India in his crosshairs as well. In April, he came out in support of Muskan Khan, an Indian muslim student who stood up to those trying to prevent Muslim women from wearing hijab to educational institutions.

“May Allah reward her for showing a moral lesson to sisters plagued by an inferiority complex via-a-vis the decadent Western world,” al-Zawahiri said in a video released in April.

A month later in May, he opposed the Modi government’s decision to abrogate Article 370, which ascribed special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

“When the Hindu government of India took the infamous decision to annex Kashmir, it was the slap on the faces of the governments ruling over Muslim lands,” he said in a video.

He added: “The decision was taken with full confidence in the support that India enjoys from international criminals and the ineptitude of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, the de facto rulers of Pakistan.”

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