Dozens killed by Afghan air strikes in northern Kunduz

An Afghan resident is treated at a hospital following an airstrike in Kunduz on April 2, 2018. An Afghan airstrike on a religious school in a Taliban stronghold on April 2 caused multiple casualties, including civilians, an Afghan security source and witnesses said. / AFP / Bashir KHAN SAFI
Updated 03 April 2018
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Dozens killed by Afghan air strikes in northern Kunduz

  • Defense Ministry chief spokesman General Mohammad Radmanesh said the army’s helicopters targeted a “concentration Taliban site”.
  • The Taliban also said a madrassa was hit, and that all the victims were civilians.
KABUL: Dozens of people were killed on Monday in a series of air strikes by the Afghan air force in a district of northern Kunduz province.
Several politicians claimed a madrassa was hit during a graduation ceremony for Islamic students.
Defense Ministry chief spokesman General Mohammad Radmanesh said the army’s helicopters targeted a “concentration Taliban site” in Dasht-e-Archi because militants planned to unleash attacks on government institutions in the district, which has been largely controlled by insurgents for several years.
The attacks were carried out at midday local time, without any involvement by the US-led coalition, he said, adding that 21 Taliban members died in the assault, which left dozens wounded.
Radmanesh denied reports from several senators and two provincial officials that a madrassa was targeted.
The lawmakers said several dozen people were killed, while an unconfirmed report from the province put the total number of dead and wounded at more than 150. One senator, Abdullah Qarloq, said civilians were among the victims, along with Taliban militants.
The Taliban also said a madrassa was hit, and that all the victims were civilians.
“Those responsible for killing civilians and insulting religion will be brought to justice,” said spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in an email to Arab News.
A senior government official in Kabul denied that a religious school had been hit, and said all of the casualties were militants.
However, Patricia Gossman, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in Afghanistan, fears that many of those killed might have been civilians.
“Under laws of war, targeted killings must be carried out in compliance with principle of proportionality,” she wrote on Twitter. “This is latest incident in which airstrikes aimed at killing insurgent leaders may have disproportionately killed civilians.”
The attack comes a week after allegations that a group of civilian students in a seminary were killed in a similar air strike in western Farah province by an Afghan air force attack, and days after reports of civilian casualties in northeastern Badakhshan province.
Since assuming power over three years ago, President Ashraf Ghani’s government has mostly remained silent about civilian deaths in Afghanistan caused by Afghan government forces and the US-led coalition.
More than 40 patients and hospital staff were killed in sustained US air strikes on a French-run hospital in 2015 after the Taliban briefly captured Kunduz city.


Amnesty faults electric vehicle batteries as carbon intensive, linked to child labor

Updated 49 min 58 sec ago
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Amnesty faults electric vehicle batteries as carbon intensive, linked to child labor

  • Global automakers are investing billions of dollars to ramp up electric vehicle production
  • Many of the batteries are produced using polluting fossil fuels and unethically sourced minerals -— AI

LONDON: Amnesty International attacked the electric vehicle (EV) industry on Thursday for selling itself as environmentally friendly while producing many of its batteries using polluting fossil fuels and unethically sourced minerals.
Manufacturing batteries can be carbon intensive, while the extraction of minerals used in them has been linked to human rights violations such as child labor, a statement from the rights group said.
“Electric vehicles are key to shifting the motor industry away from fossil fuels, but they are currently not as ethical as some retailers would like us to believe,” it said, announcing the initiative at the Nordic Electric Vehicle Summit in Oslo.
Production of lithium-ion batteries for EVs is power intensive, and factories are concentrated in China, South Korea and Japan, where power generation is largely dependent on coal or other fossil fuels, Amnesty said.
Global automakers are investing billions of dollars to ramp up electric vehicle production. German giant Volkswagen for one plans to raise annual production of electric cars to 3 million by 2025, from 40,000 in 2018.
Amnesty demanded the EV industry come up with an ethical and clean battery within five years and in the meantime that carbon footprints be disclosed and supply chains of key minerals identified.
Last month, a letter seen by Reuters showed that 14 non-governmental organizations including Amnesty and Global Witness had opposed plans by the London Metal Exchange to ban cobalt tainted by human rights abuses.
Instead of banning the cobalt brands, the LME should work with firms that produce them to ensure responsible sourcing, they said.