NATO airstrike kills 10 children in Afghanistan

Updated 08 April 2013
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NATO airstrike kills 10 children in Afghanistan

KABUL: A NATO airstrike killed 11 Afghan civilians, including 10 children, during a fierce weekend gun battle with Taleban militants that also left one US civilian adviser dead in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said yesterday.
The US-led coalition confirmed that airstrikes were called in by international forces during the Afghan-led operation in a remote area of Kunar province near the Pakistan border. The coalition said it was aware of reports that civilians were killed, but had no immediate information about their deaths.
The death of Afghan civilians caught in the crossfire of battle has been a major point of contention between international forces and the Afghan government, prompting President Hamid Karzai to ban his troops from requesting airstrikes earlier this year.
Wasifullah Wasify, a government official in Kunar province, said the airstrike on Saturday targeted a house and killed 10 children and one woman inside. He said seven Taleban suspects also were killed and five other women were wounded inside the house.
The airstrike occurred after a joint US-Afghan force faced hours of heavy gunfire from militants after launching an operation targeting a senior Taleban leader late Friday in the Shultan area of Kunar’s Shigal district, according to tribal elder Gul Pasha, who also is the chief of the local council in Shultan.
“In the morning after sunrise, planes appeared in the sky and airstrikes started and continued until evening,” he said in a telephone interview.
He said the main suspect was in the house that was hit and the woman and children, ages 1 to 12, who were killed were members of his family.
“I don’t think that they knew that all these children and women were in the house because they were under attack from the house and they were shooting at the house,” he said.
The US-led coalition said it provided fire support from the air, killing several insurgents.
“The air support was called in by coalition forces, not Afghan security forces, and was used to engage insurgent forces in areas away from structures, according to our reporting,” coalition spokesman Maj. Adam Wojack said in a statement.
He said the International Security Assistance Force takes all reports of civilian casualties seriously, and was currently assessing the incident.
Afghan forces have been increasingly taking the lead in combat operations as international forces move to complete their withdrawal by the end of 2014. But US and other foreign troops still face dangers even as Afghans take charge of their own security.
The American adviser who died during the operation was one of three US civilians killed Saturday. The two others — a female foreign service officer with the US State Department and an employee with the US Defense Department — were killed in a suicide bombing in southern Zabul province during a trip to donate books to Afghan students. Three US soldiers also were killed in that attack.

Col. Thomas Collins, a spokesman for US-led forces in Afghanistan, provided new details about the adviser’s death Sunday, saying he was killed during the fighting in Kunar province.
The two-day operation was launched Friday after a tip that dozens of Taleban were concentrated in an area in the Shigal district, Wasify said.
Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said six Taleban militants were killed in the operation in Sano Dara Sheltan village, including two senior commanders identified as Ali Khan and Gul Raof, the main planner and organizer of attacks in the area.
Wasify initially put the casualty toll at 11 Taleban militants killed, and four Afghan security forces, six civilians and 10 Taleban militants wounded. But he later lowered the toll to seven Taleban militants killed.
The different figures could not be immediately reconciled, but the governor has sent a fact-finding delegation to the area to get more details.
US Secretary of State John Kerry mourned the death of the foreign service officer killed in the bombing — the first death of an American diplomat on the job since last year’s Sept. 11 attack on the US diplomatic installation in Benghazi, Libya.
Kerry called the death of Anne Smedinghoff, a 25-year-old native of Illinois, a “grim reminder” of the danger facing American foreign service workers serving overseas.


Merkel suffers new trembling spell on eve of G20

Updated 27 June 2019
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Merkel suffers new trembling spell on eve of G20

  • The shaking went on for two minutes, according to a DPA photographer who was present at the event
  • Her previous bout of shaking last Tuesday had been blamed on dehydration on a hot summer’s day

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday suffered another episode of uncontrolled trembling, a week after a similar incident that sparked questions about her health.
The latest lapse came hours before Merkel was due to board a plane for the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
The German leader began to tremble as she stood next to President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was giving a speech at a ceremony to formally appoint a new justice minister.
The shaking went on for two minutes, according to a DPA photographer who was present at the event.
Merkel folded her arms visibly in a bid to stop the trembling.
She only finally brought it under control once she was able to take a few steps.
She was offered a glass of water but turned it down.
Her previous bout of shaking last Tuesday had been blamed on dehydration on a hot summer’s day.
Despite the latest incident, a German government spokesman said Merkel would not be canceling any appointments on Thursday and Friday.
“The chancellor is well,” he said, adding that she will be flying as planned to Osaka for the G20 summit.
Merkel, frequently called the European Union’s most influential leader and the most powerful woman in the world, turns 65 next month.
She has said she will leave politics at the end of her term, in 2021.
There were brief concerns about her health in 2014 when she was taken ill during a television interview. The broadcast was briefly interrupted when she experienced a drop in blood pressure.
Her spokesman Steffen Seibert explained at the time the leader did not feel well for a moment, then ate and drank something and continued the interview.