Romanian soldier killed in Taliban attack in Afghanistan: NATO

NATO soldiers keep watch near the wreckage of their vehicle at the site of a Taliban suicide attack in Kandahar. (AFP)
Updated 16 September 2017
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Romanian soldier killed in Taliban attack in Afghanistan: NATO

KABUL: A Romanian soldier was killed in a Taliban claimed suicide attack on a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan that also wounded two others, officials said Saturday.
The assailant drove a vehicle packed with explosives into the foreign patrol as they drove through Daman district in Kandahar province on Friday.
All three casualties were Romanian soldiers, NATO’s Resolute Support train and assist mission said in a statement.
General John Nicholson, who heads up US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, condemned the attack and said it was further evidence the Taliban “are not interested in peace.”
“This loss only continues to strengthen our resolve and support to the Afghan government and its citizens as we work toward a secure and stable Afghanistan,” Nicholson said.
In a WhatsApp message sent to journalists on Friday Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said “seven invading forces” were killed in the attack. The militants routinely exaggerate battlefield claims.
The Taliban’s latest assault follows the group’s pledge to turn Afghanistan into a “graveyard” for foreign forces after US President Donald Trump’s announcement last month to keep American boots on the ground indefinitely.
Earlier this month two Taliban suicide bombers launched separate attacks around Bagram Airfield, America’s largest base in the country, that wounded several US soldiers and civilians.


Unspeakable grief: A husband, wife and three children wiped out in Sri Lanka

Updated 23 April 2019
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Unspeakable grief: A husband, wife and three children wiped out in Sri Lanka

  • The Gomez family gather for funeral of a husband and wife and their three sons
  • They were brutally killed as they attended Easter Sunday Mass at Colombo’s St. Joseph’s Shrine

COLOMBO: The dark wooden coffins, sitting side by side, attested to one family’s unspeakable grief.
The Gomez family gathered Tuesday to say a final farewell to five loved ones — a son, a daughter-in-law and three young grandsons — brutally killed as they attended Easter Sunday Mass at Colombo’s St. Joseph’s Shrine.
“All family, all generation, is lost,” said Joseph Gomez, the family patriarch, as tears welled in his eyes. Dozens of family members and neighbors were gathered in his simple home, where the sound of hymns sung by mourners gently wafted in the background and candles flickered beside three coffins. The bodies of two grandsons have yet to be recovered.
Across Sri Lanka, Tuesday was a national day of mourning as families began to lay to rest the more than 320 victims of the bomb blasts that struck a half-dozen churches and hotels in the island nation.
For the Gomez family, the loss was unfathomable: A 33-year-old son, Berlington Joseph, the young man’s 31-year-old wife Chandrika Arumugam, and their three boys, 9-year-old Bevon, 6-year-old Clavon and baby Avon, who would have turned 1 next week. A funeral card with a photo of the family clutched in his hands, the elder Gomez wailed: “I can’t bear this on me, I can’t bear this.”
“My eldest son, my eldest son,” he sobbed as he laid bouquets of red roses and brightly colored daisies on the largest coffin. Next to it was a tiny coffin, a photo of little Avon tucked into a wooden frame nearby.
The coffins, draped with long white tassels, were then carried to a Colombo cemetery and lowered into side-by-side graves.
At St. Joseph’s Shrine, dozens of mourners gathered outside, lighting candles and praying in unison for the victims of Sunday’s blasts as heavily armed soldiers stood guard.
At St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, a funeral service was held Tuesday for victims killed there as they worshipped, led by Cardinal Malcom Ranjith. The church was heavily guarded by hundreds of army, air force and police troops, and soldiers were deployed every 15 feet along the streets of the city some 20 miles north of Colombo.
Throughout the country, people observed a three-minute silence for the victims of the near-simultaneous attacks at three churches and three luxury hotels, and three other related blasts, the deadliest violence to strike Sri Lanka in a decade.
The Sri Lankan government has blamed the attack on National Towheed Jamaar, a little-known local extremist group, and on Tuesday, the Daesh group also claimed responsibility, though it provided no proof it was involved and has made unsubstantiated claims in the past.