Aggregated News about Afghanistan

TOLOnews 6 pm News 21 November 2014

TOLO News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 14:28

Top news in this bulletin

At least five suicide bombers were arrested by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) who wanted to attack the first Vice President, Gen. Abdul Rasheed Dostum, local officials said on Friday.

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President Ashraf Ghani's second Vice President Sarwar Danish spoke of fighting against political and economical mafias and corruption at the death anniversary of Sadiqi Nili, a former jihadi leader, on Friday.

New Voices Expected on Season 10 of Afghan Star

TOLO News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 14:14

The anticipated return of the tenth season of Afghan Star is expected to launch in a matter of weeks where Afghan youths from around the country come to compete in becoming Afghanistan's next singing sensation.

Afghan Star is a platform that allows the youth to interact and contribute in the development of the music industry inside and outside of Afghanistan.

"I have come a long way to introduce the music of the northern part of the country to my people," Afghan Star participant Ali said.

Prominent Afghan musicians have said that the show plays a significant role in revitalizing and further developing the music industry in the country, highlighting that the youth struggle to make their passion for music into a professional career as little music industries exist in the country.

"Music has developed very well in Afghanistan," Afghan musician Ustad Shad Kam said. "Many youth are interested in entering the field of music."

Every year since the start of Afghan Star in 2004, the interest in participating has flourished bringing youth from every part of Afghanistan and outside of the country to partake in the country's biggest musical show. To many, this is an opportunity to show their fellow Afghans their abilities in the field of music in hopes to become the next Afghan Star.

"If the youth are on the right track they can take advantage of the opportunity offered by taking part in Afghan Star," prominent Afghan singer Wahid Qasimi said. "A singer outside the stage of Afghan Star will not be able to attain reputation and fans in the society very easily."

The preliminary rounds of selection have begun for the tenth season of Afghan Star as the judges visit provinces in search for the next star.

Saudi Arabia Vows to Help Restore Peace, Build Mega Islamic Center in Kabul

TOLO News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 13:58

The Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mesfer bin Abdul Rahman Al-Ghaseb, used the announcement of plans to construct the largest Islamic center in the country as an opportunity to assure Saudi's commitment to working with both Afghanistan and Pakistan to build peace in the region.

"Our position is strong on restoring peace in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia enjoys close and frank ties with Afghanistan and Pakistan and we are trying to improve security in Afghanistan," Saudi Ambassador Mesfer bin Abdul Rahman Al-Ghaseb said on Friday.

On behalf of his government, the Ambassador has also signed a contract with a construction company to build the biggest Islamic center in Afghanistan to promote Islamic education. He has said lessons geared toward countering the extremist message will be emphasized at the center.

The announcement comes soon after President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani's visit to Saudi Arabia, during which officials from Kabul and Riyadh committed themselves to enhancing bilateral cooperation between their countries. Kabul hopes to harness Saudi's political and cultural clout as the center of the Muslim world and one of the most power Muslim countries to pressure Islamabad into being more honest in its dealings with the Afghan government over peace talks with the Taliban.

But while the Saudi Ambassador spoke at lengths about the need to establish long term peace in Afghanistan, he did not go into any detail about how they will get the Taliban to the negotiating table.

The Islamic center being funded by the Saudi government is expected to be built on Maranjan Hill in Kabul. Officials haven't revealed the overall financial plan for the project, but it has been said that the center will be constructed over 18,000 square meters and should be open in two years.

Given Saudi Arabia's close ties to Pakistan, and its alleged involvement in stoking fires of Islamic extremism in certain places around the world, some have expressed concerns about the center being co-opted by radical preachers and turned into a Jihadist factory like the Madrasas run by the Taliban in certain parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"We hope that establishment of the center by Saudi Arabia will not amplify all those Madrasas in Afghanistan, Pakistan and some other countries that are known for spreading extremism, terrorism and fundamentalism," Afghan religious scholar Hedayat told TOLOnews. "If it becomes like this, then it will further add to the pains of the Afghan nation, rather than heal it."

Government officials, however, have assured that the center's education programs will be overseen by the Ministry of Hajj and Islamic Affairs. "Education curricula for the center will be monitored by the The Ministry of Hajj and Islamic Affairs and this will help all those who want to get an Islamic education inside the country," Acting Minister of Hajj and Islamic Affairs Yousaf Niazi said.

NDS Arrest Suicide Bombers Who Planned to Target Dostum

TOLO News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:38

At least five suicide bombers were arrested by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) who wanted to attack the first Vice President, Gen. Abdul Rasheed Dostum, local officials said on Friday.

Spokesman for the NDS, Hasib Sediqi, said that the bombers were trained two months ago outside Afghanistan's border, adding that one of the bombers were waiting for Gen. Dostum in Mazar-e Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, while the four others were in Kabul waiting to attack.

"Five terrorists who wanted to target the first Vice President were captured in two separate operations: Mazar-e Sharif and Kabul," Sediqi said.

The NDS have said that the suicide bombers are linked with the Taliban.

In the recent days Gen. Dostum emphasized on the elimination of the Taliban and insurgents who were fighting in Afghanistan and targeting the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and civilians.

In the recent months, the Taliban insurgents have increased their attacks in the country, which has raised concerns among the people.

"The enemies never want Afghanistan to improve, which is why they have focused launching attacks on large cities," Sediqi said.

Recently, leader of Jamiat-e Ulema Islam Pakistan, Maulana Fazlurrahman, made a strong statement stating that the war in Afghanistan would continue until the complete withdrawal of foreign troops.

"Maulana Fazlurrahman is an irresponsible person who does not represent Pakistan. He is a Satan in the form of a human," Sediqi said when asked what his thoughts were about Fazlurrahman's statement.

The Taliban have targeted ANSF, government officials and foreign troop's facilities in the recent months killing and injuring the lives of innocent people.

Danish Emphasizes Fight Against Corruption

TOLO News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 11:56

President Ashraf Ghani's second Vice President Sarwar Danish spoke of fighting against political and economical mafias and corruption at the death anniversary of Sadiqi Nili, a former jihadi leader, on Friday.

Speaking at the event, Danish emphasized that the National Unity Government will fight corruption, adding that discrimination and injustice have no place in the unity government.

"I assure you that the National Unity Government will fight against any form of injustice, discrimination, monopoly, political and economical mafias and corruption," Danish said at the ceremony, adding that in the next five years the nation will see a positive change and equality in the country.

The Chief Executive and his second Vice President were also present at the ceremony and delivered a speech, but specifically on the achievements of the late jihadi leader Nili.

"Thousands of people, from all over the country, lost their lives in the jihad of Afghanistan," CEO Abdullah Abdullah said. "It was a movement to defend religion against assault, cruelty, and crime that wanted to rule and take over Afghanistan."

Danish said that corruption will be dealt with, but the question still lingers as to why the government will not unveil the identified corrupt officials to the people of the country and if corrupt individuals are holding senior government positions the question many ask is: will the fight against corruption get anywhere?

Tawde Khabare: Suicide Attacks Increase 68%: NDS

TOLO News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 10:17

In a press conference, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said that, looking back at the numbers from the third quarter of the current year, in the past 45 days, preventive operations of police, military and NDS has resulted in a 45 percent decrease in rocket attacks, mines and armed attacks, while, the number of suicide bombings have increased by 68 percent in major cities.

This is while, a number of capital residents have witnessed many suicide attacks, including an attempt on the life of MP Shukria Barakzai.

Host Shahpoor Bakhtyar discusses the issue with the following guests:

• Mawlana Farid, Political Analyst
• Naqibullah Fayeq, MP
• Muhammad Naeem Lalai, MP

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First 100 Days: Presidential Decree for Summoning of Electoral Commissioners

TOLO News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 08:40

President Ashraf Ghani met with the administrative committee of the House of Representatives and a number of residents of Uruzgan province.

President Ghani also issued a decree for the summoning of the Independent Election Commission Commissioners and Independent Electoral Complaints Commission in regards to the complaints from the provincial council candidates.

Host Omid Farooq, discusses the issue with the following guests:

Karim Amini, TOLOnews Reporter

Nader Mohseni, ECC Commissioner

Muhammad Asem, Political Analyst

To watch the program, click here:

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TOLOnews 6pm News 20 November 2014

TOLO News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 15:58

Complaints of the provincial council election candidates have reached the desk of the Attorney General's Office.

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Upon the request of President Ashraf Ghani, the Attorney General's Office has issued separate letters to both electoral commissions summoning them to the office.

Attorney General Under Pressure to Recuperate Stolen Kabul Bank Millions

TOLO News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 14:34

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani's top legal advisor, Abdul Ali Muhammadi, has said that the Attorney General's office is expected to fully implement the Kabul appeals court recent ruling on the Kabul Bank case, which included the order to freeze the assets belonging to every shareholder and official of the bank linked to the scandal.

"The properties will be not released until the stolen money of the Kabul bank has been returned to the government treasury," Mr. Muhammadi said of the assets on Thursday. "Based on the court order, the Attorney General's office is free to bring the Kabul Bank money that was transferred abroad back to Afghanistan," he added.

But reports suggest recovering the lost millions - roughly two thirds of the total 900 million USD stolen has yet to be recuperated - could be difficult.

Nevertheless, the Attorney General's office has maintained that the court's order will be implemented in full. "The Attorney General's office is obligated to implement the appeals court decision, in regard to the people and the freezing of their assets," Attorney General spokesman Baseer Azizi said.

General Abdul Rasheed Dostum, the First Vice-President of Afghanistan, has joined President Ghani in the national unity government's early publicity push against corruption. "We will prevent corruption, will bring reform, we will finalize the Kabul Bank issue no matter what," General Dostum said.

But some critics say the government's anti-corruption campaign is mostly rhetoric and symbolic action, rather than the comprehensive reform and accountability that must take place.

The national unity government's Chief Executive Officer, Abdullah Abdullah, who ran against Ghani and Dostum in the election, has demanded that the government first get rid of the corrupt individuals who remain in office before it makes promises of change.

Ministry in Talks With Company That Abandoned Qaisar-Laman Road Project

TOLO News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 14:29

According to officials from the Ministry of Public Works (MoPW), talks with the Turkish-American company ECCI, the company that abandoned the the Qaisar-Laman highway project after being paid to complete it, are currently underway in Dubai.

Reportedly the talks are being mediated by an international organization and are expected to conclude by the end of the first week in December. ECCI was contracted for 107 million USD to construct the Qaisar-Laman ring road, and did not finish the job despite being paid.

Officials said they hope the talks would result in the company returning to Afghanistan to complete the project. "The mediator in the talks will hear the views of the two sides and will issue its decision regarding the issue on the basis of the arguments offered by the two sides," MoPW spokesman Suhail Kakar said on Thursday. "When a final decision is reached, the stance of the ministry will also be cleared up over whether the company returns for work or the ministry takes another approach."

Meanwhile, members of Parliament's Financial and Budget Commission have emphasized the importance of the Qaisar-Laman road and called on the government to finalize the construction as soon as possible.

"I have seen tens of projects like this in Afghanistan, which have faced the same issue as this company has done on the Qaisar-Laman highway," said Amir Khan Yar, the head of the Finance and Budget Commission. "The concerned company received the deposit and escaped and the issue became controversial and work on the project terminated."

When he took office in September, President Ashraf Ghani asked the Ministry of Public Works to make sure the road project is completed within nine months. But Ministry officials say security threats, ECCI's abrupt pullout and donor delays have thrown the project off schedule.

Abdullah Looks to Help Get Children Off Street

TOLO News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 14:29

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has taken an interest in addressing the plight of street children in Afghanistan, and promised to shore up public health and education in order to keep Afghan youth off the streets.

"The conditions of these children require us to think carefully about them and we need to try to solve their problems," Abdullah said on Thursday.

Among the children that can be seen toiling and begging in the streets in Kabul, many wish they could be in school, but they are forced to work in order to provide for their impoverished families. "I want to go to school, but I need to bring food to my family and that's why I work in the streets," said a young boy named Aziz Rahman.

The children, often pre-pubescent, make money in the streets by selling gum and other cheap items, or by cleaning car windows and mirrors. Their work can be long, hard and dangerous. Forced marriage, rape and kidnapping are common threats to kids out on the street, but many of them have no other choice.

"My father is disabled and he can't work," a child street worker named Mohibullah said. "I need to work to bring food to my family."

Violence in Afghanistan has no doubt influenced the abundance of street kids in Kabul and elsewhere in the country. With many fathers, brothers and other male relatives around the country killed or left seriously injured over the past 13 years of war, some families have struggled to find the streams of income they need to survive.

Electoral Officials Summoned by Attorney General's Office

TOLO News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 14:21

Complaints of the provincial council election candidates have reached the desk of the Attorney General's Office.

Upon the request of President Ashraf Ghani, the Attorney General's Office has issued separate letters to both electoral commissions summoning them to the office.

Attorney General's spokesman, Abdul Basir Azizi, said that a committee has been assigned and will be chaired by the military deputy of the Attorney General‎'s Office to address the matter.

Officials of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) said that the summoning is not in accordance to the law, adding that in specific cases and with factual evidence will it be "legal" to summon the accused to the judicial organs.

"It depends on the case," Nader Mohseni, ECC spokesman said. "If there are specific cases of crimes committed by the employees of the ECC, then they will be accountable by law."

Since the presidential elections, the electoral commissions have not only been accused of fraud then, but during the provincial council elections.

Proof of fraud committed by the electoral commissions have been submitted to the judicial institutions by the provincial council candidates.

Analysts Say President, CEO Divided On Major Policy Issues

TOLO News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 14:21



President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah are in disagreement on how best to approach some of the most pressing policy issues facing Afghanistan, such as corruption and insurgency, according to a number of political analysts.

The newly established national unity government has early on focused public attention on its highly publicized re-prosecution of the infamous Kabul Bank corruption case. President Ghani has touted the initiative as evidence of his government's strong stance against the endemic corruption that has over the years undermined the legitimacy of the central government, stunted economic development and scared away foreign investors.

But his partner in the unity government, Abdullah, has separately begun to raise attention around the issue of holding corrupt individuals in the current government accountable. Abdullah has claimed no war on corruption can be successful unless those who have laid the foundation of administrative malfeasance and remained in power are brought to justice.

Last week in a meeting with elders of Samangan province, Abdullah suggested at his reservations about the government's recent anti-corruption push. "When it comes to Kabul Bank, when we all say that the investigation must be legal and right, we do not accept political treatment," Abdullah said. "Anyone who is responsible must act in accordance with the law, any reform in the administration must be based on the needs of the people of Afghanistan and their priorities."

He went on to say that there remain corrupt individuals in government, whose presence subverts any push against corruption. "If it is a war against corruption, the leaders of corruption must be fired from the job on the first day, particularly those who laid the foundation of corruption in the country," Abdullah said. "The war on corruption will not succeed if we put all the authority and power into the hands of infamous, corrupt elements and then say that we fight corruption..."

Abdullah has also spoke out vocally about conspiring among certain powerful figures in the country to overthrow the national unity government and usher in a new government that acquiesces to the Taliban militants.

"The Chief Executive has also noted efforts indicating conspiracy against the government," political analyst Ahmad Saeedi told TOLOnews.

"There are conspiracies, and those who resort to such attacks want to come into power," Abdullah said. "We, and the entire nation, will never allow the conspiracies being made to overthrow the government and bring criminals into power."

Some experts fear the divisions within the national unity government and within the country's broader leadership class could lead to civil war. "If disagreements increase among our political elites about important national issues, Afghanistan will face more problems and it could even lead to civil war," political analyst Jawed Kohistani said.

The national unity government was formed on shaky grown, but many were encouraged by the fact that the troubled election was brought to end without bloodshed. A couple months into their rule, however, questions are being raised around whether the tenuous coalition can last.

Dostum Asks the Nation to Donate Blood

TOLO News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 14:15

The First Vice President of Afghanistan, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, along with 300 Presidential Palace staff donated blood for the people and Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) of the nation.

On Wednesday, more than 150,000/cc of blood was donated for ANSF and civilians and while donating blood, Gen. Dostum expressed his concern over the lives of ANSF claimed and injuries brought to them and non-military persons in terrorism acts.

"Every day a soldier and/or a civilian are killed or injured," he said. "Some days up to 50 to 60 people are killed and injured and are in need of blood. We are committed to defend our country and our people...we must donate blood to help."

While donating he said that the reason behind the increase of insecurity in the country is because of the delay in introducing the new cabinet.

Gen. Dostum called on to the people of Afghanistan to unite and never fear the attacks of the insurgents.

"Afghan, Pashtun, Tajik and Hazara should come together and promise to work toward rescuing the country from insurgency and problems. I ask the people to be fearless and bring security to the nation together."

His words of enthusiasm comes as insurgency has increased in the capital, Kabul, targeting ANSF, officials and foreign troops and their facilities where dozens of innocent lives were taken and injured.

'Open Road Music Show' Activists March for Education, Reform

TOLO News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 14:07

A large group of Afghan youth on Thursday marched through the streets of the capital in demonstration, including a performance of the "Open Road Music Show" and book handouts, in order to call for educational reform, as well as broader social and economic progress.

The demonstrators sang a theme song as they marched from the Chahar Rahi Deh Bori area of Kabul toward the Ministry of Higher Education, a song seeking an end to civil violence, social injustice and corruption. Organizers of the event said they also intended to bolster awareness about literacy issues and violence against women in Afghanistan.

Many of the participants were university student that, despite having degrees, are unable to find jobs. The activists emphasized the need for introducing updated curricula to universities and other higher education institutions around the country.

"Our educational curricula is very old and there is no book reading culture, this could have negative impacts on our youth and these challenges are serious issues that youth confront today," one participant named Fatima Sadat Alavi told TOLOnews.

"Despite graduating, the youth are unable to find a job and the issue has led to addiction among some of the youth," another demonstrator named Hussain said.

Meanwhile, officials from the Ministry of Higher Education, the endpoint of the march on Thursday, said that the issues highlighted and recommendations made by the students would be taken fully under consideration.

"If there was any kind of negligence from our side in the past, we are determined to address the challenges faced by the youth and to offer them a better educational environment in the universities," Deputy Minister of Higher Education Mohammad Osman Baburi said.

Seven Taliban Insurgents Killed in Badakhshan Operation

TOLO News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 06:31

At least seven Taliban insurgents were killed and three others arrested in an Afghan security forces operation in northeastern Badakhshan province on Wednesday night, local officials said.

The operation was launched in Warduj district of the province to clear the area of Taliban and to release the policemen they took hostage recently, a spokesman for Badakhshan Police Chief, Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai said.

The Afghan police have seized some weapons during the raid, he added.

He said there were no Afghan police and civilian casualties during the operation.

About a month ago, the Taliban insurgents attacked a number of police outposts in Warduj and took 11 policemen hostage. Since then there has been no news on the men captive by the Taliban.

But Ahmadzai said that the "police are working to release them sooner."

However, the Taliban has not yet commented about Wednesday's operation.

Four Taliban Insurgents Killed in Foreign Housing Compound in Kabul

TOLO News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 04:25

At least four Taliban insurgents were killed in an attack on a foreign compound housing in eastern Kabul City on Wednesday night, local officials said.

One security guard was injured in the attack.

The incident took place about at 8:30 p.m. when a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle packed explosive device at the gate of the Green Village compound in Pul-e-Charkhil area of Kabul and three other suicide bombers stared clashing with security guards, spokesman for Ministry of Interior, Sediq Sediqqi said.

"Three suicide bombers killed after an hour clash and only a security guard was injured in the attack," he said.

The eyewitness added said that six heavy explosion sounds have been heard in the area.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

This comes while, two Afghan security guards killed and three others injured in suicide attack in a foreign troop's compound in Kabul on Tuesday.

The attack on the camp of foreign troops came two days after a female lawmaker and women's rights advocate Shukria Barakzai survived a suicide bombing, in which three people were killed and 22 others injured.

The Taliban insurgents recently have increased attacks in Kabul and frequently targeting the Afghan security forces, Afghan officials and foreign troop's facilities.

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TAWDE KHABARE: Corruption Worsening in Afghanistan

TOLO News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 03:47

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shapoor Bakhtyar discusses about the corruption in Afghanistan with the following guests:

• Ghulam Hussian Naseri, MP
• Abdul Jabar Qahraman, MP
• Daoud Kalakani, MP

To watch the whole program, click here:

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First 100 Days: The London Summit

TOLO News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 03:39

In this episode of the program, host Omid Farooq discusses the London Summit with the following guests:

• Jawid Naderi, head of the Coordinating Department of the British institutions in Afghanistan
• Bari Salaam, a spokesman for the civil society in London Summit
• Qadir Bahman, Deputy Head of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI)

To watch the program, click here:

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Parliament Enraged Over Pakistani Cleric's Remarks

TOLO News - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 16:58

A number of Afghan legislators on Wednesday condemned the recent remarks made by controversial Pakistani cleric Maulana Fazlurrahman in which he called for war to continue in Afghanistan until all foreign troops withdraw from the country.

The firebrand cleric has long been associated with the Taliban, but his remarks last week have received significant attention because they were made just as President Ashraf Ghani arrived in Pakistan to meet with military and intelligence officials about reconciliation talks with the Taliban. Fazlurrahman was a member if the Pakistani delegation in the meetings with the Afghan president.

"We believe that the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan is not permissible and defensive efforts will continue against it, we demand the internal security of Afghanistan," Fazlurrahman told reporters just a couple hours after sitting down with Ghani.

The MPs on Wednesday called for the Afghan Council of Religious Scholars to rebuke the Pakistani cleric's stance, and criticized the national unity government for remaining silent in the wake of the remarks.

Others took aim at Pakistan, which many in Parliament and in the Afghan intelligence services have claimed offers covert support for the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other militant groups in the region. Many of the MPs remember the 1990s when the Pakistani military did not try to hide it's support for the Taliban in Afghanistan.
"There are brothels in Pakistan that pay taxes to the Pakistani government, the British laws still dominate that country, and foreign bases also exist in Pakistan; all infidelities exist there so how does this cleric dare justify war in Afghanistan," Laghman MP Naqibullah said.

The government in Kabul and its NATO allies, many of which provide significant financial aid to Pakistan, have asked Islamabad repeatedly to crack down on militants and help get them to the negotiating table. But the rhetoric used by Pakistani officials, often supportive and peace-minded, has rarely been backed up by action.

"This indicates clear interference in Afghanistan and in contradiction to international charters," Afghan Parliament Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said in response to the cleric's comments. "The people of Afghanistan are doubtful about Pakistan's independence and how he dares to come and teach us about Jihad."

This wasn't the first time that a Pakistani cleric tried to justify war in Afghanistan. Previously the head of the Pakistani Ulema Council had also tried to legitimize war in Afghanistan and declared it Jihad against foreign invaders.

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