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CNN, ABP NEWS TV (India)

KABUL - A standoff between Afghan and NATO forces and Taliban militants who had attacked a hotel near Kabul and taken civilian hostages ended Friday morning with at least 26 people dead, CNN reports.

According to the Kabul police chief, the Taliban militants killed 15 civilians as well as three security guards and one police officer. All seven militants were killed in the 11-hour standoff. Fifty civilians were saved during the whole operation.

The militants attacked the Spozhmai hotel at midnight local time on Thursday as it hosted a large outdoor dinner, killing guards and taking guests hostage. The Afghan Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, aimed against foreign presence and perceived anti-Islamic behavior.

This is the latest in a string of attacks in Afghanistan that showcase the insurgency's ability to stage dangerous, high-profile attacks. Watch ABP News TV footage of the hotel site below.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Russia's Next New Strategy: Try To Stall Until 2023

Russia's progress on the frontline has stalled. But without weapons promised by the West, Ukraine has not been able to carry out decisive counteroffensives. The West's indecisiveness risks the war being dragged out until next year — which is exactly what Putin wants.

Ukrainian soldiers patrolling the separatist region of Donetsk (Donbas) on May 17, 2022.

Volodymyr Horbulin and Valentin Badrak

-Analysis-

KYIV — For about a month, the front line has remained almost unchanged. Russian troops have gone as far as they can.

Obviously, this situation annoys the Kremlin, forcing it to look for new, rather unconventional ways to replenish human reserves and worn-out weapons. But Moscow is also playing for time, believing that the onset of cold weather will play into its hands, as an impending energy crisis spreads through Europe.

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Moreover, Putin needs time to restore the Russian army’s ability to fight. For this very reason, a day after Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced a deliberate slowdown in the military campaign in Ukraine, purportedly to reduce civilian casualties, Putin issued a decree to increase the size of the Russian army.

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Writing contest - My pandemic story
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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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