Afghan soldiers blamed for deadly wedding bombing

Updated 02 January 2015
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Afghan soldiers blamed for deadly wedding bombing

KANDAHAR: Afghan soldiers were responsible for firing mortars at a wedding party that killed 17 women and children, officials said Friday, in a mistaken strike that overshadowed the transfer of nationwide security from NATO forces.
The deaths on Wednesday evening in the southern province of Helmand came on the eve of a military ceremony in Kabul when President Ashraf Ghani congratulated the Afghan army and police for taking over from NATO forces who have ended their combat mission.
“The troops fired mortar rounds on a wedding ceremony after the militants in the same area attacked an army checkpoint,” Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar, deputy governor of Helmand, told AFP.
“Those Afghan Army troops accused of firing the mortar rounds have been referred to a military court.”
Four soldiers, including one commander, were arrested and taken to the provincial capital Lashkar Gah.
Officials said that a delegation sent to restive Sangin district in Helmand, where the incident took place, had been told that at least two rockets were fired at the wedding ceremony from different army outposts.
Some witnesses said the army attack was triggered when wedding guests shot celebratory gunfire into the air as the bride was brought to the groom’s house.
A room where female guests had gathered was hit, with 17 women and children killed and 49 other people wounded. Officials had earlier reported the mortars killed at least 20 guests, but Rasoulyar said the toll had been revised down.
“Eyewitnesses told the delegation that militants had earlier attacked a security checkpoint in the area,” Helmand police spokesman Farid Obaid told AFP.


Five Iranian migrants found drifting off French coast

Updated 6 min 35 sec ago
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Five Iranian migrants found drifting off French coast

  • They were treated by emergency services when brought back to land in Boulogne-sur-Mer

CALAIS: Five Iranian migrants attempting to reach Britain aboard a makeshift boat were rescued Saturday morning off the northern coast of France, officials said.
They were found around at 8:00 am (0600 GMT) in a state of hypothermia and were treated by emergency services when brought back to land in Boulogne-sur-Mer, according to the maritime authorities.
“These crossings are extremely risky and dangerous, despite the apparent proximity of the English coast from the French coast,” the prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea said in statement.
The five Iranians set off in a non-powered inflatable boat and lost their oars in calm seas but with poor visibility due to the haze.
They were found after five hours of searching by a Navy aircraft 8.5 nautical miles (16 km) north of Cape Gris-Nez, halfway to England, and then rescued by the National Society of Sea Rescue (SNSM).
On May 19, a Colombian national was found suffering from hypothermia by sea rescuers in the same area while trying to reach England illegally.