The Latest: Family says Taliban fighter killed folk singer

KABUL, Afghanistan — A Taliban fighter has shot dead an Afghan folk singer in a restive mountain province under unclear circumstances. That’s according to Fawad Andarabi’s family Sunday.

The killing reignited concerns among activists that the insurgents would return to their oppressive rule in the country after their military blitz toppled the government. The slaying Friday happened in the Andarabi Valley for which he was named. It’s an area of Baghlan province some 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Kabul. The valley had seen upheaval since the Taliban takeover, with some districts in the area coming under the control of militia fighters opposed to the Taliban rule.

The Taliban previously came out to Andarabi’s home and searched it, even drinking tea with the musician, his son Jawad Andarabi told The Associated Press. But something changed Friday.

His son says he wanted justice and that a local Taliban council promised to punish his father’s killer.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the AP that the insurgents would investigate the incident, but had no other details on the killing.

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MORE ON AFGHANISTAN:

— Family: Taliban kills Afghan folk singer in restive province

— Biden: Another attack likely, pledges more strikes on IS

— Slain Marine who cradled baby at Kabul airport loved her job

— Taliban success in Afghanistan seen as boost for extremists

— Explainer: How dangerous is Afghanistan’s Islamic State?

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— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/afghanistan

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

VATICAN CITY __ Pope Francis has expressed “great worry” about the situation in Afghanistan, in particular for the suffering of those who were killed in the suicide attack outside the Kabul airport.

Speaking from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square after the traditional Sunday blessing, Francis called on everyone to “help those who have been so tried, especially women and children,” saying “solidarity brings coexistence and peace.”

The pontiff says that in historic moments like these, “we cannot remain indifferent.” He asked the faithful “to intensify prayer and fasting,” seeking “mercy and forgiveness.”

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KABUL, Afghanistan — Former officials and lecturers at Afghanistan universities have called on the Taliban to maintain and upgrade the country’s education system instead of creating a new one.

Former minister of higher education Abas Basir said Sunday at a conference on higher education held by the Taliban that starting over is a mistake made by previous governments.

He says: “Lets not reject everything, starting a new system, we should work more on what we already have.”

Taliban caretaker higher education minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani criticized the current education system founded by the international community, saying that religious education was considered insignificant.

“World tried to take religion out of scientific education which harmed the people,” Haqqani said. He added that “every item against Islam in the educational system will be removed.”

The Taliban policy on women’s education was not clear but Tariq Kamal, chancellor of a private university, said women were very interested in some higher education fields and “we need the guidance of Taliban leadership on them.” Kamal spoke for private universities in Afghanistan.

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LONDON — Military planes carrying British troops and diplomats from Kabul are landing at a U.K. air base after the U.K.’s two-week evacuation operation ended.

The U.K. ambassador to Afghanistan, Laurie Bristow, was among those who arrived Sunday at RAF Brize Norton northwest of London, hours after the government announced that all British personnel had left Kabul.

Britain says it has evacuated more than 15,000 U.K. citizens and vulnerable Afghans in the past two weeks but that as many as 1,100 Afghans who were entitled to come to the U.K. have been left behind.

Vice Adm. Ben Key, who was in charge of the British operation, said: “We tried our best.”

In a video message, Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the “colossal” effort, saying it was “a mission unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes.”

But he is facing strong criticism over the failure to bring to safety all those Afghans who helped British forces during the 20-year deployment in Afghanistan that began in the wake of 9/11.

Johnson acknowledged that Britain “would not have wished to leave in this way,” but said “we have to recognize that we came in with the United States, in defense and support of the U.S. and the U.S. military did the overwhelming bulk of the fighting.”

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TIRANA, Albania — Two more planes have brought Afghans fearing the Taliban to Albania, bringing the total number of evacuees to 457.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday the two planes landed at dawn with 154 and 28 Afghans, respectively. Most of them will be temporarily housed at a student campus in the capital Tirana, while others were sent directly to hotels.

Albania aims to shelter all the evacuees in hotels instead of camps to give them a sense of normalcy.

Albania was among the first countries to offer housing to Afghans who have worked with U.S. and NATO forces and others fearing revenge following the Taliban takeover.

The Afghans in Albania come from different backgrounds, including activists and university staff, and include children.

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MADRID — The U.S. Embassy in Spain says that a third flight sent by American forces to Spain has arrived at the Rota military base.

The flight arrived early Sunday with 220 evacuees from Afghanistan.

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KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S. State Department is urging all Americans in the vicinity of the Afghanistan’s Kabul airport to leave the area immediately because of a specific, credible threat.

The warning early Sunday morning says U.S. citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid all airport gates at this time. It specifically noted the South (Airport Circle) gate, the new Ministry of the Interior, and the gate near the Panjshir Petrol station on the northwest side of the airport.

A suicide bombing at the airport on Thursday killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members.

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