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Blasts collapse roof at Afghan mosque, killed 62 at Friday prayers

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KABUL: An explosion rocked a mosque in eastern Afghanistan as dozens of people gathered for Friday prayers, causing the roof to collapse and killing 62 worshippers, provincial officials said. The attack underscored the record-high number of civilians dying in the country’s 18-year war.

The explosion, which witnesses said collapsed the mosque’s roof, took place in eastern Nangarhar province and wounded 33 people, said provincial governor spokesperson Attaullah Khogyani. He said the dead were “all worshippers” in the blast in Haska Mina district, roughly 50 km from the provincial capital Jalalabad.” Both men and children are among those killed and wounded in the attack,” he said.

Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, strongly condemned the attack on his official Twitter account. “The Afghan government strongly condemns today’s suicide attack in a mosque in Nangarhar province,” he tweeted.

“The Taliban and their partners heinous crimes continue to target civilians in time of worship,” he added.

The blasts came a day after the United Nations said violence in Afghanistan had reached “unacceptable” levels.

The figures – 1,174 deaths and 3,139 wounded from July 1 until September 30 this year – represent a 42 percent increase over the same period last year. More than 40 percent of the casualties were women and children.

The UN laid the blame mainly at the feet of “anti-government elements” such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group and the Taliban, which was removed from power during a US-led invasion in 2001, though it said it also documented an alarming rise in casualties caused by pro-government forces.

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Without a China trade deal, the U.S. will hike tariffs

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Washington: U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he would raise tariffs on imports of Chinese goods if no trade deal is reached with Beijing to end a tit-for-tat trade war that has roiled markets and damaged growth worldwide.

“China is going to have to make a deal that I like. If they don’t, that’s it,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday. “If we don’t make a deal with China, I’ll just raise the tariffs even higher.”

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was more measured in his comments, saying that the White House remains “optimistic” that an agreement can be reached.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that he still expects a deal to be reached, but he also anticipated an additional 15 per cent tariff to be placed on about US$156 billion of Chinese imports on December 15 if there is no agreement.

“I have every expectation if there’s not a deal, those tariffs would go in place. But I expect we’ll have a deal,” Mnuchin

Predictions of a resolution have come and gone repeatedly as Trump veers from hints of imminent deals to declaring his satisfaction with the current standoff, because the United States is pulling in billions of dollars in trade tariffs.

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