UK begins inquiry into alleged SAS extrajudicial killings in Afghanistan

Lord Justice Haddon-Cave issues call for evidence, saying it is critical law-breakers be referred to authorities

A judge investigating allegations of more than 50 summary killings by SAS soldiers in Afghanistan has issued a call for anyone with evidence to come forward, saying it was critical that law-breakers be referred to authorities.

Launching his independent inquiry, Lord Justice Haddon-Cave said he was “very hopeful” there would be “full cooperation” with his work, which he said was ultimately about restoring the reputation of the military and “moral authority”.

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People flee homes as earthquake hits Pakistan and Afghanistan – video

A 6.5-magnitude earthquake has shaken much of Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing at least 11 people, officials have said. The powerful tremors sent many people fleeing from their homes and offices in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. Footage shared on social media showed cracks had appeared in some of the city's residential blocks

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Earthquake hits Pakistan, Afghanistan and India with at least 11 dead

Nine die in Pakistan and two in Afghanistan from magnitude 6.5 event, with more than 200 people injured

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake has rattled much of Pakistan and Afghanistan, sending panicked residents fleeing from homes and offices, and frightening people even in remote villages. At least nine people died in Pakistan and two in Afghanistan, officials said on Wednesday

More than 200 people were brought to hospitals in the Swat valley region of Pakistan’s north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in a state of shock, said Bilal Faizi, a spokesperson for Pakistan’s emergency services.

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Former SAS soldier arrested and charged in NSW for alleged war crime over killing of Afghan civilian

Oliver Schulz, 41, was arrested in the southern highlands of New South Wales by Australian federal police and NSW police

A former SAS soldier accused of killing an Afghan civilian during a mission in southern Afghanistan more than a decade ago has been arrested and charged with the war crime of murder.

Oliver Schulz, 41, was arrested in the southern highlands of New South Wales by Australian federal police and NSW police. He is listed to face Queanbeyan local court on Tuesday morning.

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Covid has not affected people’s happiness around world, study reveals

World Happiness Report finds higher levels of benevolence in all global regions than before the pandemic

It claimed 6.7 million lives, locked down entire countries and triggered a global economic slump, but Covid-19 has not affected humankind’s happiness, an international study has found.

Interviews with more than 100,000 people across 137 countries found significantly higher levels of benevolence in all global regions than before the pandemic. And when asked to evaluate their lives on a scale of one to 10, people on average gave scores just as high in the 2020-22 Covid years as in 2017-19.

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MoD apologises for asking Afghans to get Taliban’s approval to come to UK

Citizens who worked with British government or helped army told to get necessary documents stamped by the authorities

The Ministry of Defence has apologised after an investigation found Afghan applicants to a resettlement scheme were told they could only come to the UK if their documents were approved by the Taliban.

The Independent revealed that the mistake affected applicants to the Afghan relocations and assistance policy scheme (Arap), which aims to relocate Afghan citizens who worked with the UK government or helped its armed forces in Afghanistan. The MoD decides which applicants – who may apply with their families – are eligible for relocation to Britain.

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After John Howard took Australia to war in Iraq, he was scarcely held to account. Instead, he was re-elected | Paul Daley

On the 20th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Paul Daley maps out the events leading up to Australia’s involvement and the consequent fallout

Two decades after the US-led “coalition of the willing” invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein, Australia seems to have drawn few lessons from the folly of its participation.

The preservation of the US-Australia alliance, the primary reason for the conservative Howard government’s participation, still largely impels Australia’s foreign and defence policies. If evidence of this was needed exactly 20 years after the invasion, witness this week’s $368bn commitment to the Aukus submarine deal which consequently provokes China into greater potential adversarialism against Australia alongside its joined-at-the-hip ally, the US.

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Afghan girls may be blocked from taking GCSEs as families moved from London

‘Barbaric’ to take away exam chance after all teenage refugees have overcome, headteacher says

Two 16-year-old Afghan refugee girls will not be able to sit their GCSEs because the Home Office is moving them out of London weeks before their exams without guaranteed school places, their “heartbroken” headteacher has told the Observer.

Fulham Cross Girls School, an academy in London, enrolled 15 Afghan girls who were evacuated to the UK when the Taliban took power in 2021. They have been living in bridging accommodation in a hotel for a year and a half, but all the families were notified last week that they would be moved out of London at the end of March.

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Taliban governor known for fighting Islamic State killed in suicide attack

Mohammad Dawood Muzammil one of the highest-ranking figures killed as Afghan security situation deteriorates

The Taliban governor of Afghanistan’s Balkh province, known for fighting Islamic State (IS) jihadists, was killed in a suicide attack at his office on Thursday, officials said.

The killing, a day after he met top government officials visiting from Kabul, makes Mohammad Dawood Muzammil one of the highest-ranking figures killed since the Taliban stormed back to power in 2021.

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Veterans give searing testimony on US withdrawal from Afghanistan at hearing

Witnesses described the chaos and panic of the 2021 US departure during the Republican inquiry, which had people in tears at times

Military members and veterans of the Afghanistan war offered harrowing eyewitness testimony of the chaotic and deadly withdrawal from the country’s longest conflict, during an hours-long congressional hearing on Wednesday. They also pleaded with Congress to help the Afghan allies left behind.

In searing, sometimes graphic detail, several witnesses recounted their experiences as active-duty service members sent to assist with the evacuation of US troops and civilians from Afghanistan as the Taliban swept to power in August 2021.

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Anger grows over Afghan journalists still stranded by Home Office inaction

Press members living under the Taliban, and living uncertain lives in Pakistan, must be given clarity say campaign groups

Hundreds of Afghan journalists remain stranded in increasingly “dire” circumstances as frustration mounts over the UK government’s refusal to share the latest entry criteria for its flagship resettlement programme.

This weekend, a coalition of press freedom and free expression organisations, including Index on Censorship, the National Union of Journalists, PEN International and English PEN, have written to home secretary Suella Braverman asking why details of the next phase of the Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme (ACRS) have yet to be revealed.

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Pakistan crackdown on Afghan refugees leaves ‘four dead’ and thousands in cells

Asylum seekers in Karachi tell of terror of being sent back to the Taliban and despair at being shackled and held in Pakistani jails

Refugees are reportedly dying in Pakistani prisons, and children are being arrested and tied together with ropes, as a wave of detentions and deportations spreads fearamong the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have crossed the border since the Taliban took power.

According to lawyers representing Afghans in detention, at least four people have died in custody, and thousands more, including children, are being held in prisons as Pakistan hardens its stance against Afghan citizens.

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Farzana survived rape, addiction and losing her children. Then the Taliban came – now she is missing

Exiled Afghan psychologist Mariam is desperately trying to trace 15 domestic abuse survivors she was helping before the Taliban seized control

For more than a year, Mariam*, an Afghan psychologist, has been trying to trace Farzana* and 14 other female survivors of domestic violence, whom she was counselling before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

After the takeover in August 2021, the organisation Mariam worked for was forced to close its offices, and many of her colleagues fled the country. But Mariam, who went into hiding and is now living in exile, continued to run a small operation discreetly, providing psychological support to vulnerable women, young people and mental health patients. “But there are 15 women who are untraceable. I have no idea where they are,” she says.

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Taliban bans contraception calling use a ‘western conspiracy’

Reports that fighters have threatened those issuing birth control medicines come as Afghan midwives and activists warn of impact on women’s health and rights

Taliban fighters have stopped the sale of contraceptives in two of Afghanistan’s main cities, claiming their use by women is a western conspiracy to control the Muslim population.

The Guardian has learned that the Taliban has been going door to door, threatening midwives and ordering pharmacies to clear their shelves of all birth control medicines and devices.

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The story of Malala’s schoolfriend shows why education must be a right for all children | Gordon Brown

As a child, Ramzan’s fight for an education almost cost her her life. Worldwide, there are 222 million children out of school who urgently need our help

  • Gordon Brown is chairman of the UN’s Education Cannot Wait fund and was UK prime minister between 2007 and 2010

Shazia Ramzan has spent most of her young life fighting for her right – and the right of all girls – to go to school. In 2012, at the age of 14, sitting alongside her friend Malala Yousafzai on a bus that was going from school to her home, in the Swat valley in the north of Pakistan, she was shot at by an extremist intent on stopping girls from getting an education. She suffered injuries from which she, Malala and their friend Kainat took months to recover.

Now completing a nursing degree at Edinburgh University, and preparing to start her own nurses’ training school in Pakistan, Shazia almost always has the needs of girls in her home area in her thoughts. In her time between classes, she is raising funds for Pakistani charities that are quietly but effectively helping Afghan girls who have been losing out on their education since the Taliban shut them out of the country’s secondary schools.

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