Taliban vows ‘serious revenge’ over Afghan airstrike

The Taliban has vowed to 'take serious revenge' after an Afghan airstrike in an area controlled by the militant group killed or wounded dozens of people, many of them children. (AP)
Updated 05 April 2018

Taliban vows ‘serious revenge’ over Afghan airstrike

  • The government and military have said the Afghan Air Force hit a Taliban base in the northeastern province of Kunduz
  • At least 59 people were killed, including Taliban commanders, according to security sources

KUNDUZ: The Taliban has vowed to “take serious revenge” after an Afghan airstrike in an area controlled by the militant group killed or wounded dozens of people, many of them children.
The government and military have said the Afghan Air Force (AAF) hit a Taliban base in the northeastern province of Kunduz on Monday where senior commanders were meeting to plan attacks.
But Afghan security sources and witnesses have told AFP that AAF helicopters struck a madrassa in Dashte Archi district where a graduation ceremony for religious students was under way.
At least 59 people were killed, including Taliban commanders, according to security sources. Health officials said at least 57 wounded were taken to hospital in the provincial capital Kunduz.
The Taliban issued a statement late Wednesday saying it “condemns in the strongest terms this major crime and vows to take serious revenge against the perpetrators.”
An AFP photographer was among the first journalists to visit the scene of the airstrike on Wednesday after receiving permission from the Taliban. It is deep inside Taliban-controlled territory and normally inaccessible to the media.
The madrassa and mosque appeared to be undamaged. But in a field adjacent to the religious compound, where the graduation ceremony was purportedly held, AFP saw a hole in the ground that locals said was made by a rocket, though that could not be verified.
AFP also saw large piles of hats, turbans and shoes that were said to belong to the victims of the airstrike. At least half a dozen freshly dug graves could be seen nearby.
Abdullah, 40, who lives near the compound housing the madrassa and mosque and was invited to attend as a member of the local community, told AFP that he saw the airstrike happen.
“We were about to finish the ceremony at 1:00 p.m. when (Afghan military) aircraft bombarded innocent children,” he said Wednesday.
“People were panicked. Children and elders were also wounded in the bombardment.”
Government officials in both Kabul and Kunduz have given conflicting figures for the number of casualties, with some denying any civilians had been killed or that a madrassa had been hit.
Afghan officials have been known to minimize civilian casualties.
The Afghan military initially denied civilians were among the dead and wounded, but later blamed the Taliban for shooting them. It said 18 Taliban commanders were killed and 12 were wounded in the airstrike.
But Naim Mangal, a doctor at the hospital where most of the wounded were taken, told AFP that “all the victims” had been “hit by pieces of bomb, shrapnel.”


World’s oldest man dies in Japan at 112

Updated 25 February 2020

World’s oldest man dies in Japan at 112

  • Chitetsu Watanabe, who was born on March 5, 1907 in Niigata, north of Tokyo, died on Sunday at his nursing home
  • The news came less than two weeks after Watanabe was officially recognized by Guinness World Records

TOKYO: A Japanese man recently named the world’s oldest living male has died aged 112, a local official said Tuesday.

Chitetsu Watanabe, who was born on March 5, 1907 in Niigata, north of Tokyo, died on Sunday at his nursing home in the same prefecture, the official said.

The news came less than two weeks after he was officially recognized by Guinness World Records.

Watanabe, who had five children, said the secret to longevity was to “not get angry and keep a smile on your face.”

He admitted a penchant for sweets such as custard pudding and ice cream.

The oldest man in Japan is now Issaku Tomoe, who is 110 years old, according to Jiji Press, although it was not clear if Tomoe holds the title globally.

The oldest living person is also Japanese, Kane Tanaka, a 117-year-old woman.

Japan has one of the world’s highest life expectancies and has been home to several people recognized as among the oldest humans to have ever lived.

They include Jiroemon Kimura, the longest-living man on record, who died soon after his 116th birthday in June 2013.

The oldest verified person — Jeanne Louise Calment of France — died in 1997 at the age of 122, according to Guinness.