Kabul: At least 10 people — including several women and a child — were killed and scores more wounded by a series of blasts that rocked the Afghan capital Thursday ahead of the election season. The three blasts came amid a wider surge in violence in Kabul and around Afghanistan, where nine family members were killed in an eastern province Thursday while driving to a wedding. The Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate claimed responsibility for the first two blasts, while the Taliban claimed the third. US and Afghan security officials, however, blamed the Taliban for all three explosions. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe attacks came just days before the official campaign season for the September 28 presidential election gets underway. Previous polls have been marred by violence and bloodshed from the Taliban and other insurgent groups who refuse to recognise Afghanistan’s fragile democracy. According to security officials and high-resolution surveillance footage seen by AFP, the first blast came around 8:10 am (0340 GMT) when a suicide bomber targeted a bus as it slowed to turn a corner in an area just east of central Kabul. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsCivilians could be seen scrambling to help stricken passengers off the bus and carrying the body of a small child from the vehicle as smoke poured out the rear window. Other bodies could be seen pooling blood onto the road. About 30 minutes later, a secondary explosion from a device that had been hidden at the scene hit civilians and Afghan security forces as they responded. A third blast, apparently targeting some sort of convoy, came later on in the morning also in eastern Kabul. Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said a total of 11 civilians were killed, including five women and a child, and 45 more wounded. Health ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar said the toll was at least 10 dead and 41 wounded. The attacks come as the US is negotiating for a deal that would see foreign forces pull out of Afghanistan in return for a ceasefire and various Taliban guarantees, including a pledge the country will not become a safe haven for terror groups. Some observers say the insurgents are increasing attacks to gain greater leverage in the talks.
FREDERICTON – The legal age limit for recreational marijuana use in New Brunswick should be set at 19, a provincial working group recommended Wednesday in a report that also calls for sales to be handled by something similar to a Crown corporation.Health Minister Victor Boudreau said the province’s Liberal government will consider the recommendation, but he said the actual age limit could be pushed higher.The New Brunswick Medical Society has already recommended the legal age should be at least 21.Before a final decision is made, a select committee of the legislature will spend the summer gathering public input before reporting this fall, Boudreau said.“It’s a tight time frame,” he said. “We want the select committee of the legislature to be doing their things over the next several months to be able to report back to government in the fall because we need to be ready by July 2018.”That’s when new federal rules kick in.Boudreau said he supports the idea that a Crown corporation, similar to NB Liquor, should handle all sales.“This is essentially a brand new industry starting in New Brunswick, and to make sure that there are tight controls and oversight and supervision, a Crown corporation model is the model that is being recommended,” he said.However, Boudreau said cannabis would not be offered for sale within liquor stores.“I think there have been very strong arguments made that they should certainly be different points of sale. It wouldn’t be within liquor stores, even if it was a Crown corporation and even if it was managed by NB Liquor. It would be a different store front,” he said Wednesday.Green party Leader David Coon said NB Liquor promotes the sale of alcohol, and he worries it might also do the same with cannabis.“We need a significant effort to discourage use of cannabis among youth and those with mental illness,” he said. “We need to see an education campaign that strongly takes on the issues of public health risks, especially targeted at youth.”New Brunswick’s medical society has said the government needs to approach any public education programs with caution.“While the public certainly needs education on cannabis, including driving while high and the co-use of cannabis and alcohol, it must take such education to the public in a way that does not unintentionally encourage its use,” the society said in a report released earlier this year.Boudreau said cannabis sales could be good for the provincial economy, but his main concern is dealing with health and public safety.He said the cost of health and safety measures may actually offset what’s gained through cannabis sales.“Yet on the economic development side, on the job creation side and on the private sector investment side, I think there is some potential there to see some benefits for the province of New Brunswick,” he said.