25 dead in attack at Iraq funeral of anti-Daesh fighters

In this file photo, Iraqi families pray over the graves of fighters killed in combat against Daesh in Iraq. (AFP)
Updated 13 April 2018
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25 dead in attack at Iraq funeral of anti-Daesh fighters

  • Two bombs exploded at a funeral for Iraqi fighters killed by Daesh extremists on Thursday.
  • The attack was the deadliest in Iraq since a January 16 double suicide bombing in Baghdad which claimed 31 lives.

Samarra, Iraq: At least 25 people were killed and 18 injured in Thursday’s bomb attack on funerals for Iraqi fighters killed by extremists, according to a new toll from police and medics.
“Two bombs exploded as the funeral procession was entering the cemetery” in Asdira, village mayor Salaheddin Shaalan told AFP.
The Sunni village is south of Sharqat, one of the last bastions of Daesh in the country’s north to be retaken by Iraqi forces.
“In total, 25 people were killed and 18 injured, four of whom are still in critical condition,” a police officer told AFP on Friday, on condition of anonymity, revising an earlier death toll.
Medical sources confirmed the new figures.
It was the deadliest attack in Iraq since a January 16 double suicide bombing in Baghdad claimed 31 lives.
Thursday’s attack took place during a funeral for five members of the Hashed Al-Shaabi paramilitary units killed Wednesday night in the same village, 250 kilometers (150 miles) north of Baghdad.
The mostly Shiite paramilitary units, which also include Sunni tribal forces, played a key role alongside the army in expelling militants from Iraqi towns last year.
The Iraqi government declared victory over Daesh in December after pushing Daesh extremists out of their final holdouts along the border with Syria.
But the group retains the capacity to strike despite losing control of vast swathes of Iraqi territory it seized in 2014.
It still clings to pockets of desert in war-torn Syria and appears to be able to cross the porous border between the two neighbors.
Militants sometimes manage to snatch control of roads at night, especially in the Salaheddin province where Thursday’s attack took place, and Anbar province along the border with Syria, security experts say.
Iraq is gearing up for legislative elections set for May 12.
Since the 2003 US-led invasion and the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, polls in Iraq have consistently been marred by violence.
But in the runup to next month’s elections, the country has enjoyed a respite from violence.


Kuwait arrests 2 Filipinos accused of helping runaway maids

Updated 23 April 2018
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Kuwait arrests 2 Filipinos accused of helping runaway maids

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases
  • The two countries have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwaiti police arrested two Filipinos for allegedly convincing housemaids to run away from their employers’ homes as the Philippines’ ambassador faced questions for comments about his embassy’s work in aiding abused workers, authorities said Sunday.
The arrests, reported by the state-run KUNA news agency, come as relations are tense between Kuwait and the Philippines, which sends many domestic laborers to the Gulf Arab emirate.
Already, the government of President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases, culminating in a February incident that saw a Filipino’s body discovered in a freezer at a Kuwait City apartment abandoned for more than a year.
KUNA said Sunday the two Filipinos acknowledged convincing the maids to leave. It wasn’t clear what law the two men were accused of breaking, though KUNA said the two “confessed to the crime in addition to other similar offenses that had been committed in various regions of the country.”
The arrests came after Kuwait summoned the Philippines ambassador over comments he made that were reported in local press about the embassy’s effort to rescue domestic workers who are abused by their employers. Ambassador Renato Villa was quoted as saying his embassy moves in to help the abused if Kuwaiti authorities fail to respond within 24 hours.
Villa’s office said he was unavailable for comment Sunday.
Duterte in January complained that cases of abuse reported by Filipino domestic workers “always” seem to be coming from Kuwait.
There have been prominent cases of abuse in the past, including an incident in December 2014 where a Kuwaiti’s pet lions fatally mauled a Filipino maid.
The Philippines banned workers entirely from Kuwait after the discovery of Joanna Demafelis’ body in a freeze in February. In late March, Lebanese officials said 40-year-old Lebanese national Nader Essam Assaf confessed to killing the woman along with his Syrian wife, who remains at large. Authorities say Assaf faces a possible death sentence.
More than 260,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, many of them as housemaids. Kuwait and the Philippines have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there.
Philippine officials have demanded that housemaids be allowed to hold their passports and cellphones, which is normal for skilled workers like teachers and office workers. But many Kuwaiti employers seize their phones and passports.