Gunmen kill at least 15 in attack on Afghan government building in Jalalabad

Security forces swarmed the area as a plume of thick black smoke rose above the compound. (Reuters)
Updated 31 July 2018
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Gunmen kill at least 15 in attack on Afghan government building in Jalalabad

  • Several people taken hostage by the attackers
  • Taliban deny involvement in the attack

JALALABAD, Afghanistan: A suicide bomb and gun attack by militants on an Afghan government building in Jalalabad on Tuesday killed at least 15 people, the latest in a series of assaults on the eastern city.
On the other side of the country a roadside bomb apparently intended for security forces hit a passenger bus and killed 11 people, marking yet another bloody day for civilians who have borne the brunt of violence in Afghanistan.
The attack in Jalalabad targeted the compound of the refugees and repatriations department. It ended after more than five hours of intense fighting between militants and security forces, said Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province.
At least 15 people were killed and the same number were wounded, Khogyani said.
Provincial health director Najibullah Kamawal said some of the dead were “burned beyond recognition.”
As the raid began with a suicide attacker blowing up a bomb-laden car at the entrance, local representatives of foreign donors and agencies were meeting department employees inside the building.
“All the partner agency representatives attending the meeting were Afghans and those who were stuck inside, including the director of the refugees and repatriations department, were rescued,” Khogyani said.
Several people were taken hostage by the attackers, said Zabiullah Zmarary, a provincial council member.
“I saw a black Corolla car drop three armed men at the gate of the refugees and repatriations department,” a witness told AFP.
Khogyani said the two attackers who stormed the compound were killed.
Security forces swarmed into the area, and a plume of thick black smoke rose into the sky above the compound.
The Taliban denied involvement in the incident in a WhatsApp message sent to journalists.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which comes three days after militants raided a midwife training center in Jalalabad.
The Daesh group claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack, which left at least three people dead and several wounded.
Jalalabad has been the scene of multiple attacks in recent months that have killed dozens, as US and Afghan forces continue offensives against militants.In the western province of Farah on Tuesday the bomb which hit the bus killed at least 11 people and wounded 31.
“It was a bomb planted by the Taliban to hit security forces but... it got a passenger bus,” Farah provincial police spokesman Muhibullah Muhib told AFP.
There was no immediate confirmation from the Taliban that they were responsible.
In a separate incident, 22 passengers traveling on a Kabul-bound bus in the eastern province of Paktia were kidnapped by gunmen on Monday night.
Officials blamed the Taliban for both incidents.
Most of the attacks in Jalalabad have been claimed by Daesh, which has a relatively small but potent presence in Afghanistan, mainly in the east and north.
It is not clear why the militants targeted the refugees and repatriations department, but government buildings are frequently hit.
On July 11 gunmen raided an education department compound in Jalalabad, sparking an hours-long battle with security forces.
At least 11 people were killed in that attack. All were employees of the education department branch and included the director.
A suicide bombing claimed by IS on a crowd of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in Jalalabad on July 1 killed 19 people and wounded 21.
IS emerged in Afghanistan in 2014 and quickly established a stronghold in Nangarhar, which borders Pakistan.
Intensified aerial and ground operations against the militants have failed to dislodge them.


Bosnians welcome UN verdict against Karadzic

Updated 38 min 21 sec ago
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Bosnians welcome UN verdict against Karadzic

  • ‘He should never be allowed to go free,’ Bosnian diplomat tells Arab News
  • Families of victims who traveled to The Hague hailed the verdict

JEDDAH: Former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, widely known as the “Butcher of Bosnia,” has had his sentence for genocide and war crimes increased to life in prison.

He was appealing a 2016 verdict in which he was given a 40-year sentence for the Srebrenica massacre in the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

More than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the town of Srebrenica by Bosnian-Serb forces in July 1995. Karadzic, 73, was also found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

The UN court said the 40-year sentence did not reflect the trial chamber’s analysis on the “gravity and responsibility for the largest and greatest set of crimes ever attributed to a single person at the ICTY (the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia).”

The ruling by the judges on Wednesday cannot be appealed, and will end one of the highest-profile legal battles stemming from the Balkan wars.

Karadzic showed almost no reaction as presiding Judge Vagn Joensen of Denmark read out the damning judgment.

The former leader is one of the most senior figures tried by The Hague’s war crimes court. His case is considered as key in delivering justice for the victims of the Bosnian conflict, which left more than 100,000 people dead and millions homeless.

Joensen said the trial chamber was wrong to impose a sentence of just 40 years, given what he called the “sheer scale and systematic cruelty” of Karadzic’s crimes. Applause broke out in the public gallery as Joensen passed the new sentence.

Families of victims who traveled to The Hague hailed the verdict. Mothers, some elderly and walking with canes, wept with apparent relief after watching the ruling read on a screen in Srebrenica.

Halim Grabus, a Bosnian-Muslim diplomat based in Geneva, told Arab News that the verdict “will act as a deterrent against the criminals responsible for the genocide of Muslims during the 1992-1995 war. He (Karadzic) should never be allowed to go free. He deserves maximum punishment.”

Grabus was in Bosnia during the war, and witnessed the scorched-earth policy of Karadzic and his fellow generals.

Grabus said it was not possible in today’s world to expect total justice, “but the verdict is important for the victims and survivors of Karadzic’s genocidal politics and ideology of hate.” 

A large majority of Serbs “continue to justify what he did, and continue to carry forward his hateful campaign against Bosnian Muslims,” Grabus added.

“Many of the killers of Muslims during the Bosnian war are still roaming free. They need to be arrested and brought to justice.”

Ratko Mladic, a Bosnian-Serb wartime military commander, is awaiting an appeal judgment of his genocide and war crimes conviction, which earned him a life sentence. Both he and Karadzic were convicted of genocide for their roles in the Srebrenica massacre.