15 Afghan army trainees killed in Kabul suicide attack: defense ministry

Afghan security police patrol near the cemetery, where victim of Friday's suicide attack at the Shiite mosque were buried, in Kabul, Afghanistan on October 21.(AP)
Updated 21 October 2017
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15 Afghan army trainees killed in Kabul suicide attack: defense ministry

KABUL: A suicide bomber killed 15 Afghan army trainees as they were leaving their base in Kabul on Saturday, the defense ministry said, in the latest deadly attack in the capital.
“This afternoon when a minibus carrying army cadets was coming out of the military academy, a suicide bomber on foot targeted them, martyring 15 and wounding four,” defense ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri told AFP.
Kabul Crime Branch chief General Mohammad Salim Almas said police have launched an investigation into the attack which happened in the west of the city.
“The minibus was carrying army trainees to their homes from Marshal Fahim military academy,” Almas told AFP.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
It was the second suicide bombing in the Afghan capital in 24 hours and the seventh major assault in Afghanistan since Tuesday, taking the total death toll to more than 200, with hundreds more wounded.
The spate of deadly attacks underscores deteriorating security across the war-torn country as the resurgent Taliban step up their attacks on police and military bases and Daesh continue to target Shiite mosques.
It was the fifth time since Tuesday that militants have launched a major attack against Afghanistan’s beleaguered security forces already badly demoralized by high casualties and desertions.
In the deadliest of the recent attacks, around 50 Afghan soldiers were killed in a Taliban-claimed assault on a military base in the southern province of Kandahar.
Insurgents blasted their way into the compound using two explosives-laden Humvees — a tactic used in three separate attacks this week — officials said.
The militants razed the base in the Chashmo area of Maiwand district to the ground, according to the defense ministry.
Afghan security forces have faced soaring casualties in their attempts to hold back the insurgents since NATO combat forces pulled out of the country at the end of 2014.
Casualties leapt by 35 percent in 2016, with 6,800 soldiers and police killed, according to US watchdog SIGAR.
The insurgents have carried out more complex attacks against security forces in 2017, with SIGAR describing troop casualties in the early part of the year as “shockingly high.”
The attacks included assaults on a military hospital in Kabul in March which may have killed up to 100 people, and on a base in Mazar-i-Sharif in April which left 144 people dead.


France immigration bill sows seeds of dissent in Macron party

Updated 19 April 2018
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France immigration bill sows seeds of dissent in Macron party

  • France's right-wing opposition say the bill is too soft but left-wing parties and NGOs have branded it repressive
  • France received a record 100,000 asylum applications last year, bucking the general trend in Europe, where the number of asylum seekers halved between 2016 and 2017

PARIS: The French parliament votes Friday on a tough immigration bill that has sparked rumblings of revolt within President Emmanuel Macron’s party, with several MPs openly challenging his plans to speed up deportations of failed asylum-seekers.
The government argues that tighter controls are needed to check the rise of anti-immigration populists, who are on the march across Europe from Berlin to Budapest after suffering a setback in last year’s French elections.
“I fear that if we do not resolve the problem facing us... others will do it without any humanity,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said earlier this month.
The bill aims to both cut waiting times for asylum applications — from around a year currently to six months — and make it easier to deport those turned down as “economic” migrants.
The right-wing opposition say the bill is too soft but left-wing parties and NGOs have branded it repressive.
“We cannot take on the misery of the world,” Macron, who campaigned as a champion of open borders but has adopted a tough line on migration since taking office, said in an interview with BFMTV on Sunday.
Macron pointed to the “ticking bomb” of population growth in Africa, wars and climate change among factors that would continue driving migration to Europe in the years to come.
Faced with an “unprecedented” wave of arrivals the government would focus on welcoming those whose lives were at risk in their country of origin, he said firmly.
France received a record 100,000 asylum applications last year, bucking the general trend in Europe, where the number of asylum seekers halved between 2016 and 2017.
A shortage of accommodation means many wind up on the streets of Paris, or the northern port of Calais, a gateway to Britain, where a squalid camp housing thousands of migrants was razed by the state in late 2016.
A February survey by pollsters BVA showed 63 percent of voters felt there were too many immigrants in France, home to around six million people who were born in another country.
On Monday, France’s human rights ombudsman Jacques Toubon slammed the “unacceptable conditions” facing around 1,000 migrants packed into a new tented camp along a canal in northeast Paris.
“We cannot remain on this path which is unworthy of France’s welcoming tradition and increasingly difficult for some of our fellow citizens,” Collomb, one of the more hawkish figures in Macron’s left-right administration, argued in parliament this week.
The bill doubles the time that failed asylum seekers can be detained to 90 days, making it easier to deport them.
It also reduces the time they have to lodge their application from 120 to 90 days and gives them just two weeks to appeal if unsuccessful, a period slammed by NGOs as far too short to gather more evidence in support of their claim.
Once accepted, however, refugees will be given more help to integrate, by, for instance, gaining the right to work and being given more French classes.
The government has defended the legislation as balanced but several members of Macron’s usually compliant Republic on the Move (LREM) party have vowed to reject the bill or abstain when it is put to a vote Friday.
“This bill stigmatizes foreigners,” Francois-Michel Lambert, a LREM lawmaker representing the southern Bouches-du-Rhone region, told BFMTV.
Delphine Bagarry, an MP representing Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, told France Inter radio that while she supports the need to shorten the agonizing wait for asylum, “it cannot be at the expense of their right to a defense.”
Fearing that any sign of weakness could embolden dissidents to break ranks on other issues, party leader Richard Ferrand has threatened LREM naysayers with expulsion.
But the bill is expected to pass, despite strong opposition from far-right leader Marine Le Pen — the runner-up to Macron in last year’s election — and the conservative opposition Republicans.
The Republicans’ hard-line leader Laurent Wauquiez charged that Macron’s presidency was on course to legalize “a million more immigrants” by 2022.
Right-wingers have also argued that provisions allowing underage refugees to bring siblings to live with them in France will have a “pull effect” on migration.