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Several government employees including some Nepali guards dead as blast hits minibus in central Kabul: Reports

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Several persons were killed and wounded when a minibus carrying government officials was hit by a bomb blast in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, Reuters reported, citing police and witnesses.

Conflicting reports claimed there were foreign nationals inside the vehicle.

A witness described seeing multiple victims and two injured individuals. The victims were reportedly being rescued from the mangled vehicle.

There was some uncertainty about the identity of the victims. One police official at the scene said the yellow bus had been carrying government employees to their offices in the city.

Another said the passengers may have been Nepali security guards.

Meanwhile, Ariana News said that Nepali guards were inside the targeted minibus.

Twitter reports claimed that it was a suicide bombing and that the vehicle targeted was used by foreigners.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the blast, which occurred during Ramadan, Islam’s holy month.

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Govt fixes 18 ministries including Office of PM in Center

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KATHMANDU — The government has fixed 18 ministries, including the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) from the current 30, at the central level, under the new federal setup.

A cabinet meeting held at the Prime Minister’s official residence at Baluwatar on Friday fixed the number of ministries including the OPMCM at 18.

The Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli decided to limit the Cabinet to 18 ministries, including the Prime Minister’s Office, according to Environment Minister Lal Babu Pandit.

“Now the number of ministries will be 18, with the OPMCM included,” Minister Pandit told reporters following the cabinet meeting.

The cabinet decision comes two days after leaders of the left alliance–CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center)–agreed to bring down the number of ministries to 18 at the federal level.

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The new constitution has stated the central government can have a maximum of 25 ministers, including the prime minister.

Besides the OPMCM, the proposed 17 ministries are the federal affairs and general administration; ministries of finance and planning; foreign affairs; defense; physical infrastructure and transport; health and population; information and communications; law, justice and parliamentary affairs; culture, tourism and civil aviation; labor, employment, women and children; urban development, drinking water and sanitation; and agriculture, cooperatives and land management; education and sports; home affairs; forest and environment; water resources and energy; industry, commerce and supplies.

Likewise, the Cabinet meeting has also appointed CPN-UML politburo member Bishnu Rimal as Chief Political Advisor to PM. Earlier, Rimal had served as the chief political advisor during Oli’s previous premiership.

The decision will come into effect after the government endorses the proposal on the jurisdictions of the 17 ministries, according to OPMCM officials.

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