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Afghan Parliament Confirms New Defense Minister, Intelligence Chief

Ashraf Ghani
Ashraf Ghani

Afghanistan’s parliament has approved President Ashraf Ghani’s nominees for defense minister and intelligence director -- two crucial posts that have been vacant for months while the country tries to battle rising militancy.

Lawmakers voted for Abdullah Habibi, a former senior official in Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry, to be the new minister.

The new head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security is Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai.

Ghani initially in 2015 had nominated Stanekzai to head the Defense Ministry.

But parliament rejected him, leaving the post empty until the June 20 confirmation of Habibi.

The approval comes on after Afghanistan's Interior Ministry said 14 Nepalese security guards were killed by a Taliban suicide bomber who targeted their minibus in the Afghan capital Kabul.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said eight others were wounded in the early morning attack on June 20.

One wounded survivor of the attack told The Associated Press that his group provided security at the Canadian Embassy in Kabul.

The group was leaving their residential compound on the main highway leading from Kabul to Jalalabad when the suicide attacker approached their vehicle on foot and detonated his explosives.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP