Philippine boy eaten by crocodile in latest attack

Government spokesman said they have had crocodile attacks every year since 2015. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 August 2019

Philippine boy eaten by crocodile in latest attack

  • A fisherman found the remnants of the boy’s body in a mangrove swamp
  • The saltwater crocodile can grow up to six meters and long and weight up to a ton

MANILA: A boy was killed after being snatched from a boat by a saltwater crocodile in the southern Philippines, as the reptiles’ shrinking habitat leads to repeated attacks, authorities said Wednesday.
The 10-year-old was on board with his two older siblings near the town of Balabac, which is notorious for confrontations with the massive creatures, when he was yanked into the water.
His father failed to find the boy after an overnight search, but a fisherman discovered the child’s half-eaten remains late Monday in a mangrove swamp, a police report said.
The Philippines’ booming development and population have steadily invaded the creatures’ habitat, forcing them into ever-smaller stretches of swamp.
Humans and crocodiles sharing the same space has resulted in multiple run-ins, in which people have been killed or mangled by the animals.
“Since 2015, we’ve never had a year with zero (crocodile) attacks” in Balabac, said Jovic Pabello, spokesman for a government council that works to conserve the environment of the Palawan island group that includes Balabac.
“It’s a conflict on water use,” he added.
Also called the estuarine crocodile, the saltwater is one of the world’s largest reptiles, growing to up to six meters long and weighing up to a ton.
In February a crocodile grabbed a 12-year-old boy as he swam at a Balabac river, but he escaped when his siblings hit the reptile’s head with oars until it let him go, Pabello said.
A Balabac crab fisherman was killed and half-eaten by a saltwater crocodile in February last year, police said, three months after his 12-year-old niece was dragged away by a crocodile in late 2017.
The girl was never seen again.
The Palawan island group, often called the Philippines’ “last frontier” is home to a remarkable diversity of flora and fauna, but is threatened by unchecked development.


Families grieve after Kabul wedding blast

An Afghan man mourns during the funeral of his brother after a bomb exploded at a wedding hall killing 63 people and injuring 200 others. (Reuters)
Updated 19 August 2019

Families grieve after Kabul wedding blast

  • Bride’s relatives, members of music band among victims of Daesh attack

KABUL: Mirwais Elmi’s special night soon became a bloodbath after a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the hotel hall where his wedding ceremony was taking place, killing more than 63 people and injuring 200 others in Kabul on Sunday. Elmi and his bride, who were in separate areas of the venue, survived the blast. The explosion took place just before dinner was to be served to the nearly 1,000 guests who had gathered in the southwest of the city.
The local Daesh affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack Speaking to a private TV channel on Sunday, a shaken Elmi was unable to describe the carnage that took place.
“I am not a groom today, my family, my friends are all in grief,” Elmi, who is in his early 20s and works as a tailor, said.
He added that he never thought “such an incident would happen during my wedding party.”
As survivors buried victims of the attack, an infant’s milk bottle and an invitation card could be seen near one of the hotel’s walls, badly damaged by the blast.
The attack comes as the US and Taliban close in on a peace deal which would lead to the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, nearly 18 years after the Taliban were ousted. The group immediately distanced themselves from the attack and strongly condemned it.
Elmi’s father-in-law lost 14 members of his family, while another man lost three of his sons, four nephews and five of his aunt’s grandchildren, according to survivor accounts.
“My family and my bride are in shock, they cannot speak. My bride keeps fainting. I lost my brother, I lost my friends, I lost my relatives. I will never see happiness in my life again,” he said. All five members of the wedding’s music band were killed. The groom and bride’s families, like many of those attending the ceremony, belonged to poor families.  
None of the guests were government officials sought by Daesh or other militant groups.

Government leaders live behind heavily protected compounds, drive in armored vehicles and have their families living abroad, but we ordinary Afghans are suffering routinely.

Ghulam Hussien Nasiri, Lawmaker

Many of the victims were children and young men. The hotel had no guards and guests were not body searched, according to survivors.
Shi’ite cultural centers and an anti-government protest have all recently come under attack, but Sunday’s wedding blast was the first of its kind, evoking a reaction from President Ashraf Ghani. He blamed Daesh for the incident. “I strongly condemn the inhumane attack on the wedding hall in Kabul. My top priority for now is to reach out to the families of victims of this barbaric attack. On behalf of the nation, I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were martyred. “The Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide a platform for terrorists,” he tweeted.
Ghulam Hussien Nasiri, a lawmaker, said the attack exposed the government’s weakness.
“Government leaders live behind heavily protected compounds, drive in armored vehicles and have their families living abroad, but we ordinary Afghans are suffering routinely,” he told Arab News.