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IS bomber kills 46 inside Afghan mosque, challenges Taliban

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IS bomber kills 46 inside Afghan mosque, challenges Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan — An Islamic State suicide bomber struck at a mosque packed with Shiite Muslim worshippers in northern Afghanistan on Friday, killing at least 46 people and wounding dozens in the latest security challenge to the Taliban as they transition from insurgency to governance.

In its claim of responsibility, the region’s IS affiliate identified the bomber as a Uyghur Muslim, saying the attack targeted both Shiites and the Taliban for their purported willingness to expel Uyghurs to meet demands from China. The statement was carried by the IS-linked Aamaq news agency.

The death toll of 46 is the highest in an attack since foreign troops left Afghanistan.

The blast tore through a crowded mosque in the city of Kunduz during Friday noon prayers, the highlight of the Muslim religious week. It was the latest in a series of IS bombings and shootings that have targeted Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers, as well as religious institutions and minority Shiites since U.S. and NATO troops left in August.

The blast blew out windows, charred the ceiling and scattered debris and twisted metal across the floor. Rescuers carried one body out on a stretcher and another in a blanket. Blood stains covered the front steps.

A resident of the area, Hussaindad Rezayee, said he rushed to the mosque when he heard the explosion, just as prayers started. “I came to look for my relatives, the mosque was full,” he said.

The worshippers targeted in Friday’s were Hazaras, who have long suffered from double discrimination as an ethnic minority and as followers of Shiite Islam in a majority Sunni country.

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Security on Metro transit to increase following shooting of MetroBus driver

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Security on Metro transit to increase following shooting of MetroBus driver

ST. LOUIS – Officials from the region’s largest transit system, Bi-State Development, are beefing up security for bus drivers and riders after a MetroBus driver was shot Friday evening. The driver has remained in the hospital in critical condition since the incident.

MetroBus is adding private security patrols to select routes and working with law enforcement to boost police presence.

The Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis is investigating the shooting that caused the bus driver to crash into a utility pole. The incident happened just after 7 p.m. Friday at the 3400 block of Lucas and Hunt Road. 

The driver, whose name has not been released, was hit in the upper body. There were several passengers on the bus at the time. They were not injured from the gunshot, which they said was a single gunshot from outside the bus.

While the driver remains in hospital, a vigil was held Sunday. More than 20 people gathered to pray for their co-worker and friend.

President and CEO of Bi-State Development Taulby Roach said the Metro Transit System will continue to invest in operator shields, cameras, and radios to increase security.

Police ask anyone with information on the shooting who wishes to remain anonymous to call 866-731-TIPS. Anyone with information could be eligible for a CrimeStoppers reward of up to $5,000.

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Woman shot dead in Highlands Ranch identified

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Woman shot dead and her body found in Highlands Ranch on Saturday

Officials have identified the woman shot dead and found in a retail complex parking lot in Highlands Ranch on Saturday.

Jamie Sullivan, 49, was found near Park Central Drive and Lucent Boulevard, according to The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. They identified her as a “victim.”

Later on Saturday, the sheriff’s office announced that the suspect who shot Sullivan had also been found dead. He apparently took his own life, investigators say.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office believes Art Valentine, 55, is the suspect who shot Sullivan.

Sullivan and Valentine were known by each other, Capt. Darren Weekly said on Saturday. Police are still investigating.

Those with information related to Sullvain’s killing are asked to call the sheriff’s office at 303-660-7500.

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St. Louis County expects to see uptick in COVID cases due to omicron variant

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St. Louis County expects to see uptick in COVID cases due to omicron variant

ST. LOUIS – COVID case numbers keep rising in the St. Louis area, and now there’s increasing concern about the new omicron variant. St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page addressed it this morning at a COVID briefing.

Page said the county will continue its mask mandate as long as it is recommended by health officials. He said he believes it is currently the best path forward to keeping the community safe.

Page said omicron will no doubt result in an uptick in COVID cases for the region. That is raising concerns since COVID numbers were already increasing in the area before the first Missouri omicron case was announced on Friday in St. Louis City.

St. Louis County said it is working with the state and St. Louis City to closely monitor cases. Page said he knows there is a lot of anxiety around omicron variant.

Officials say St. Louis County is currently averaging 255 new COVID cases every day. He said that’s an increase of 9.5 % over the previous week. The COVID positivity rate in St. Louis County is currently 8.4%. Just over 56% of St. Louis County residents are fully vaccinated while nearly 65% have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force’s newest data is from Friday. They reported there were 64 new hospital admissions. That was an increase of 10 from Thursday and it was the newest admissions since September 22. The task force reported 421 confirmed COVID-positive patients were hospitalized. That’s an increase of 35 from Thursday. It is the first time the area has had more than 400 COVID-positive patients in hospitals since September 23. There were 7 more COVID deaths reported on Friday.

One number did decrease. The number of COVID patients in ICUs decreased by 8 to 83, and 62 more patients were discharged from hospitals.

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