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.


North Korea puts reunion of war separated families in doubt

A woman and a young child walk down a street together in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 7, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 52 min 47 sec ago
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North Korea puts reunion of war separated families in doubt

  • South Korea's current liberal President Moon Jae-in wants to expand ties with North Korea, but repatriating any of the women would be a delicate matter
  • There has been mounting speculation that some of the 12 North Korean women might have been truly duped into coming to South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea: North Korea said that an August reunion of Korean families separated by war may not happen if South Korea doesn’t immediately return some of its citizens who arrived in the South in recent years.
The 2016 arrival of a group of 12 female employees from a North Korean-run restaurant in China has been a source of contention between the rival Koreas. North Korea has accused South Korea of kidnapping them, while South Korea says they decided to resettle on their own will.
North Korea has often used the women as a reason to rebuff South Korea’s repeated request to allow elderly citizens split during the 1950-53 Korean War to reunite with each other briefly. But Friday’s statement is the North’s first attempt to link the fate of the women to the August reunion and comes amid worries that a global diplomacy to push the North to give up its nuclear weapons is making little headway after a detente of the past several months.
The North’s state-run Uriminzokkiri website said that the reunion and overall inter-Korean ties will face “obstacles” if Seoul doesn’t send back the women.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said it has no comment on the Uriminzokkiri dispatch.
There has been mounting speculation that some of the 12 North Korean women might have been truly duped into coming to South Korea.
After meeting some of the women earlier this month, Tomas Ojea Quintana, the United Nations’ independent investigator on human rights in North Korea, told reporters in Seoul that they told him they did not know they were heading to South Korea when they departed China.
“Some of them, they were taken to the Republic of Korea without knowing that they were coming here,” Quintana said, referring to South Korea by its formal name. “If they were taken against their will, that may (be) considered a crime. It is the duty and responsibility of the government of the Republic of Korea to investigate.”
South Korean media had earlier carried a similar report, citing interviews with some of the women and their North Korean male manager who came to South Korea with them.
The women’s arrival happened when South Korea was governed by a conservative government, which took a tough stance on the North’s nuclear program. South Korea’s current liberal President Moon Jae-in wants to expand ties with North Korea, but repatriating any of the women would be a delicate matter, with many experts saying relatives of those who decide to stay in the South will certainly face reprisals by the North Korean government.