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Thursday, October 07, 2021 10:05 PM

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Some Afghan security guards at U.S. bases in Afghanistan work for companies with ties to the Taliban or to warlords, a Senate report said Thursday.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said the United States has "helped play into the hands of the enemy" by allowing guards who have not been cleared or given proper training at important installations, The Washington Post reported.

During a yearlong investigation, committee staffers examined 125 Defense Department contracts. They found that 26,000 security guards employed by Afghan contractors have access to U.S. facilities.

While the committee adopted the report unanimously last week, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and other members of his party had some caveats. For one thing, they said, providing jobs for Afghans would make them less likely to become insurgents. They also suggested there were few other choices for security duties.

NATO attack kills 20 Afghan Taliban

TALIQAN, Afghanistan, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Afghan and NATO forces struck a Taliban unit, killing 20 rebel fighters in the northeast of the country, a provincial official in Afghanistan said Thursday.

Those killed in the overnight joint operation in Takhar Province included two commanders. More than a dozen others were captured, provincial spokesman Faiz Mohammad Tawhidi told China's state-run Xinhua news agency.

"The combined forces conducted overnight operation against Taliban hideouts in Darquad and Yangi Qala districts Wednesday night. As a result, some 20 militants, including two Taliban commanders, namely Mawlawi Jawadullah and Malawi Nazikmir, were killed," he said.

A NATO statement released Thursday said the attack was an airstrike followed by a ground operation.

The Taliban have not commented on the incident.

Takhar and other northern regions had been fairly peaceful until Taliban activity increased this year. Afghan and multinational forces killed three suspected insurgents and detained several more Wednesday in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said.

The allied force was conducting a route-clearing operation in Kandahar province when it spotted a group of military-aged men carrying weapons, the U.S. military said.

N.J. Gov. Christie scuttles train tunnel

TRENTON, N.J., Oct. 7 (UPI) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday a long-planned additional train tunnel into New York has become too expensive and he plans to veto it.

Christie, at a state house news conference, said his administration will examine other ways to improve commuter rail service to Penn Station, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported. But he said all projects must be scaled to New Jersey's financial situation.

"Considering the unprecedented fiscal and economic climate our state is facing, it is completely unthinkable to borrow more money and leave taxpayers responsible for billions in cost overruns," he said.

The cost of the tunnel had been put at $8.7 billion, with the federal government and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey contributing $3 billion each and New Jersey the remaining $2.7 billion. Christie, who imposed a 30-day moratorium on work on the project in September, said his staff believes New Jersey's share would run to at least $1 billion more.

Planning for the project began in 1995 with the tunnel scheduled to open in 2018. The existing tunnels carry both New Jersey Transit commuter trains and Amtrak trains.

Rescue said near for trapped miners

COPIAPO, Chile, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- A rescue hole for 33 trapped Chilean miners is expected to reach their refuge in less than two days, Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said Thursday.

Once that happens, engineers must decide whether the entire 2,300-foot hole, or only the first 350 feet near the surface, needs to be lined with a metal sleeve, the Los Angeles Times reported. The first option would take a week and the second one or two days, Golborne said.

The miners are to ascend to the surface one at a time in a metal capsule. Officials said they have started exercising to prepare themselves and a healthcare worker and engineer will be sent down to the refuge to help them with the ascent.

They will wear special glasses to protect their eyes after weeks of dim light.

Relatives of the men have been camping in the area for weeks. The men are believed to have spent longer underground than any other miners since they were trapped by a collapse Aug. 5.

Norma Sanchez said she wants her son, Jimmy, 19, to be brought out as quickly as possible.

"I'm anxious but I'm very excited to think I will soon be touching him and embracing him," she told the Times.

(Source: UPI )


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