Kabul aid groups reel after nine killed in Taliban attack

Taliban militants exploded a car in the area, which caused windows of nearby buildings to collapse. (AFP/File)
Updated 09 May 2019
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Kabul aid groups reel after nine killed in Taliban attack

  • Three workers from an anti-poverty group died in the attack
  • Afghan forces and Taliban militia engaged in a fight that lasted hours

KABUL: Humanitarian groups were reeling Thursday from yet another attack targeting aid workers in Afghanistan, as officials confirmed nine people had been killed in a Taliban attack in Kabul a day earlier.
Wednesday’s attack outside Counterpart International, a non-profit group working with marginalized people in Afghanistan, began with an immense blast from a car bomb in a busy commercial area in central Kabul.
Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the death toll had risen to nine, including five members of the Afghan security forces, a guard at Counterpoint and three civilians.
Anti-poverty group CARE, which has offices close to Counterpart International, said three of its workers — a driver, a watchman and a technical adviser — were killed in the blast.
“This attack reflects the increasing dangers of humanitarian work in conflict-affected countries such as Afghanistan and the unfortunate daily reality of violence for many Afghan families,” CARE said in a statement.
In addition, 20 civilians were wounded in the attack, which saw several Taliban gunmen storm the Counterpoint compound after the blast. They were all killed after Afghan commandos led an hours-long clearance operation.
Wednesday’s massive explosion felled trees and toppled dense concrete blast walls on the street outside Counterpart.
The blast radius extended hundreds of meters (yards) in all directions, blowing out windows in nearby homes and businesses.
Dozens of workers could be seen sweeping debris and broken glass from streets in the popular Shahr-e-Naw neighborhood in central Kabul, which is home to shops, restaurants and hotels.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Counterpart International was targeted because it promoted the “inter-mixing” of men and women.
Insurgent spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter the aid group had mentored “Kabul admin workers in various aspects of brutality, oppression, terror, anti-Islamic ideology & promotion of western culture.”
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 30 aid workers were killed last year in Afghanistan — one of the most dangerous countries for humanitarians.
Afghanistan was once a hub of foreign aid but deteriorating security has seen international groups downgrade their presence, making it even more difficult to deliver crucial help to the war-torn country’s most vulnerable citizens.
Several aid groups, including Save the Children, have been the target of terror attacks and have suspended operations in the wake of the assaults.
Wednesday’s attack came even as US and Taliban officials were meeting in Qatar for peace talks.


Philippines’ Duterte loses patience, orders trash shipped back Canada

Updated 22 May 2019
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Philippines’ Duterte loses patience, orders trash shipped back Canada

  • Canada says the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction not backed by the Canadian government
  • Canada has since offered to take the rubbish back

MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered his government to hire a private shipping company to send 69 containers of garbage back to Canada and leave them within its territorial waters if it refuses to accept the trash, his spokesman said on Wednesday.
“The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by other foreign nation,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told a media briefing.
Canada says the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction not backed by the Canadian government.
Canada has since offered to take the rubbish back and the two countries are in the process of arranging the transfer.
But Canada missed a May 15 deadline set by Manila to take back the shipment, prompting the Philippines to withdraw top diplomats from Canada last week.
“Obviously, Canada is not taking this issue nor our country seriously. The Filipino people are gravely insulted about Canada treating this country as a dump site,” Panelo said.
The Canadian embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Philippines has made several diplomatic protests to Canada since a 2016 court ruling that the garbage be returned.
The consignments were labelled as containing plastics to be recycled in the Philippines but were filled with a variety of rubbish including diapers, newspapers and water bottles.
The issue is not the only one to strain ties between the two countries.
Last year, Duterte ordered the military to cancel a $233 million deal to buy 16 helicopters from Canada, after Ottawa expressed concern they could be used to fight rebels.