A waitress robot, named Timea, delivers food to customers at a fast food restaurant in Kabul on Thursday. AFP
A restaurant in war-torn Afghanistan is offering the citizens something to cheer about. It has deployed first-ever robot waitress to serve the customers.
The robo waitress glides up to a table of curious diners in central Kabul and presents them with a plate of French fries.
And it is not only serving the diners but is also thanking them in Afghanistan's Dari language.
The humanoid robot, imported from Japan and designed to look vaguely like a women wearing a hijab, has already pulled in new customers since it started working last month.
"It is interesting for many people here to see a robot in real life," says restaurant manager Mohammad Rafi Shirzad.
"Sometimes kids jump in joy and surprise when they see the robot bring them food."
While robots are becoming increasingly commonplace in Japan and China, they are not unusual in conflict-wracked Afghanistan.
Nine-year-old Ahmad Zaki was desperate to see the machine.
"I saw the robot on TV, and asked my father to take me to this restaurant," he said.
Named "Timea" and measuring about 150 centimetres in height, the robot performs only rudimentary tasks.
It delivers plates to tables, which diners then take from a tray, and can say basic phrases including "Happy Birthday."
It also can stop when it comes across an obstacle, and customers can place orders via a touch panel.
But the story is not without controversy.
Some Afghans see Timea as a threat to the country's dire unemployment situation.
"This is ridiculously wrong," Facebook user Kashif Abobaker wrote.
"They employ a robot when there are tens of thousands of young people desperately looking for a job."
Five employees of the ministry of mines and petroleum were killed and 10 wounded in the bus attack, the officials said, adding that seven people were killed and more than 20 wounded in the second explosion.
The rush-hour explosion sent a plume of smoke into the air above the Puli Mahmood Khan neighbourhood of the Afghan capital and shook buildings up to two kilometres (1.2 miles) away, with the media reporter saying he could hear gunshots after the blast.
The violence came on the first day of campaigning for the upcoming presidential elections, serving as a grim reminder of Afghanistan's woeful security situation and the sort of mayhem and murder that have beset previous polls.
The first phase testing would take around three months, CSIRO's director of health Rob Grenfell told Reuters, adding that any resulting vaccine would not be available to the public before late next year.
Confirmed coronavirus infections around the world approached one million on Thursday as the pandemic spread at a "near-exponential" rate, with a six-week-old baby becoming one of the youngest known victims.
The Chinese city, Shenzhen has banned consumption of dogs and cats as part of a clampdown on the wildlife trade since the emergence of the novel coronavirus.