Scores of Afghans hurt in Taliban attack on Kabul base

Afghan security forces arrive at the site of an explosion in Kabul on Monday. (AP)
Updated 02 July 2019
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Scores of Afghans hurt in Taliban attack on Kabul base

  • Assault comes as talks between group and US diplomats enters third day

KABUL: Scores of Afghans were wounded in an attack by Taliban insurgents on a security facility in Kabul on Monday. 

The powerful bomb in downtown Kabul killed at least six people and wounded more than a hundred, sending a cloud of smoke billowing over the Afghan capital. 

At least 26 children were among the wounded, many of whom were cut by shards of glass when the bomb shattered nearby windows, government spokesman Feroz Bashari said as quoted by The Associated Press. He said a total of 105 people were hurt.

The attack comes as talks between Taliban delegates and US diplomats enter a third day in Qatar, and follows weeks of air and ground offensives against the militants in various parts of the country.

The explosion carried out by a suicide bomber occurred outside a compound belonging to the Afghan Defense Ministry, less than a mile from the presidential palace.

A group of militants, consisting of suicide bombers and others armed with rocket propelled grenades, then entered the facility, sparking a gunbattle with police and security forces. Explosions could be heard as helicopters hovered above the area.

Wahidullah Mayar, spokesman for the Public Health Ministry, said 100 people, nine of them children, were hurt in the blast and subsequent clash. One person was confirmed dead.

“It (the explosion) was very powerful and was heard throughout the city,” Ahmad Shah, a resident living nearby, told Arab News.

“This clearly shows an intelligence failure,” said Mohammad Gul Mujahid, a security analyst.

The country’s chief executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said the attack showcased the Taliban’s “inherent criminal nature.” He added the government would not be deterred “to pursue and punish the miscreants.” The incident coincides with the seventh round of talks between Taliban representatives and US officials in Doha.

Both the Taliban and Afghan forces, backed by US troops, have intensified fighting in recent months as part of an effort to gain an advantage in the negotiations.

The Taliban staged four suicide attacks on government buildings in southern Kandahar on Sunday, killing dozens of security forces and eight civilians.

In a statement, the US Embassy in Kabul condemned the Taliban’s latest “brutal attacks against fellow Afghans.”


Duterte ‘seriously considering’ cutting ties with Iceland over UN rights probe

Updated 16 July 2019
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Duterte ‘seriously considering’ cutting ties with Iceland over UN rights probe

  • Iceland spearheaded a resolution that asked the UN’s top human rights body to look into the Philippines' deadly anti-drug crackdown
  • Philippine police have killed more than 6,600 suspected drug dealers in sting operations since Duterte took office in 2016.

MANILA: The Philippine president is “seriously considering” cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, which spearheaded a resolution that asked the UN’s top human rights body to look into the thousands of deaths of suspects under his anti-drug crackdown.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters late Monday that the Iceland-initiated resolution which was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in a vote last week in Geneva showed “how the Western powers are scornful of our sovereign exercise of protecting our people from the scourge of prohibited drugs.”
Panelo says President Rodrigo Duterte “is seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations with Iceland” for initiating the “grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan” resolution.
Human rights groups, however, have lauded the resolution as crucial to helping end the drug killings and bringing perpetrators to justice.
The Philippines’ highest-ranking lawmaker said on Monday a UN resolution to probe the country’s bloody war on drugs should be ignored, and its chief backer Iceland be investigated instead for human rights abuses in allowing abortion.
“They have more unborn babies that they have aborted or killed. There are more killings in abortion than the drug pushers who are fighting the police,” Senate President Vicente Sotto told ANC news channel.
The Nordic nation lacks moral grounds to lecture the Philippines on human rights, Sotto said. “So we should disregard that resolution.”
His remarks are the latest in a series of comments from lawmakers urging the government to not cooperate after the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday adopted Iceland’s resolution to investigate thousands of deaths under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign.
Police have killed more than 6,600 suspected drug dealers in sting operations since Duterte took office in 2016. Critics and rights group said authorities summarily execute suspects, which the police deny.
“The criminals can fight back, the babies cannot. What human rights are they talking about?” Sotto said, adding that drug dealers that fight back and destroy families lose their human rights.
His comments about abortion echoed those made by incoming Senator Imee Marcos, the daughter of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Rights groups, which hailed the UN vote as a step toward accountability, point out that the bloody anti-narcotics campaign is marked by systematic cover-ups, planted evidence and impunity.
The president’s spokesman on Monday warned countries not to meddle with the state’s affairs.
“All incidents in the war on drugs are tallied, recorded. All they have to do is ask us, not to pre-judge us,” presidential spokesman Spokesman Panelo told a regular news conference. “It behoves them to render respect to a sovereign state.”
Duterte on Friday mocked Iceland as an ice-eating nation without understanding of his country’s problems.