Four Lebanese children killed in drink driving accident in Australia

Leila Geagea (pictured in grey) was among a crowd of mourners on Sunday morning as she grieved the loss of three of her children after they were allegedly plowed into by a drunk driver in Oatlands in Sydney’s western suburbs. (AP)
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Updated 02 February 2020

Four Lebanese children killed in drink driving accident in Australia

  • They died immediately at the scene, while three other children were injured and taken to hospital
  • Diab: All of Lebanon feels sorry

BEIRUT: The Lebanese community in Australia lost 4 children: three siblings and their cousin, while 3 other children were injured, in a Sydney suburb.
The Australian police announced that: “A 29-year-old drunk driver  ended the life of  4 children, 3 of whom are the children of expatriate Daniel Abdallah and his wife, Leila Geagea.”
The defendant stood on trial on Sunday after facing 20 charges, including manslaughter and high-range drink driving following the incident late Saturday in the Oatlands suburb of western Sydney
The police explained that: “The children were on the sidewalk when a four-wheel drive vehicle struck them,” according to AFP.
The girls aged 8 to 12 and a 13-year-old boy died immediately at the scene, while three other children, two girls and a boy, were injured and taken to hospital where they are being treated and in stable condition.
“I lost three of my children and my cousin Brigitte also lost her daughter,” said Daniel Abdallah to reporters on Sunday morning. “I’m numb, that’s probably how I feel at the moment.”




The Lebanese family living in Australia has been hit by an unimaginable tragedy, after their children were among seven that were hit on a footpath by a four-wheel drive in Sydney. (Facebook)

Abdallah also sent a message to all drivers, saying: “Please be careful. These kids were just walking innocently, enjoying each other’s company and when I woke up this morning, I had lost three kids.”
He added: “My son Anthony loved basketball. He had told him this fateful morning that he will be playing for Kobe Bryant. My daughter Angelina was always there to support me, while Sienna, my second daughter was my little star who loves acting.”
Abdallah updated us on the state of the injured boy, Charbel, saying that he’s currently in a coma, while his third daughter, Mabelle is fine.
He also addressed the people, saying: “Love your children because you never know what can happen.”
In Beirut, Prime Minister Hassan Diab, expressed his grief in a tweet over the “tragedy that affected our people in Australia.” He described it as: “A catastrophe that afflicted Lebanon, not just the victims’ families. All of Lebanon feels sorry."
Foreign Minister, Nassif Hitti, instructed the Ambassador of Lebanon to Australia to follow up the issue and provide all possible assistance to the victims’ families.
Minister of Justice, Marie Claude Najem, pledged in a tweet that: “Investigations will be conducted by the competent judicial authorities in Australia, in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to clarify the truth.”
The Lebanese community in Australia is estimated at 230,000  people, making it the No.1 country harboring expatriates, according to the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. About 12,000 expatriates participated in the Lebanese parliamentary elections that took place in May 2018, according to the Lebanese embassy in Canberra. It was the first time in Lebanon’s history where Lebanese expatriates participate in an electoral process.


Afghan govt. vows to probe civilian deaths in Kunduz airstrike

Updated 20 September 2020

Afghan govt. vows to probe civilian deaths in Kunduz airstrike

  • There have been conflicting reports from lawmakers and residents about number of fatalities
  • Taliban says none of its fighters killed in attack

KABUL: Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry pledged on Sunday to probe “allegations” of at least 12 civilians being killed in an airstrike targeting Taliban fighters in the northern Kunduz province a day earlier.
The pledge followed inconsistencies about the number of casualties, with the insurgent group saying that none of its men had died in the attack.
“The Taliban were the target, and 30 of them were killed. Initial reports indicate no harm was inflicted upon civilians, but we are probing reports by locals about civilian casualties. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces take allegations of civilian harm seriously, and these claims will be investigated,” Fawad Aman, a spokesman for the defense ministry in Kabul, told Arab News.
He added that the ministry would “share any details” about civilian casualties “once the probe is over.”
If confirmed, Saturday’s airstrike in the Khan Abad district, which lies nearly 350 km from Kabul and is mostly controlled by the Taliban, will be the latest in a series of air raids killing civilians in several parts of the country.
It follows a week after crucial intra-Afghan talks between the government and Taliban officials began in Doha, Qatar on Saturday, to end the protracted war and plan a roadmap for peace in Afghanistan.
There were conflicting accounts from civilians and lawmakers in the area about the incident, with two provincial council members, Ghulam Rabbani Rabbani and Sayed Yusuf, saying that at least 12 civilians had died in Saturday’s air raid.
“Since the area is under Taliban’s control, we have not been able to find out exactly how the civilians were killed,” Rabbani told Arab News.
Meanwhile, Nilofar Jalali, a legislator from Kunduz, offered another version of the attack, which she said “hit a residential area before sunrise when people were still in their bed.”
“Children and women are among the dead, and 18 civilians have also been wounded. I informed the defense minister about it; he said he will check and get back to me, but has not,” she told Arab News. However, Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, denied the reports in a statement on Sunday, saying that “no fighter of the group was killed,” before placing the number of civilian deaths at 23.
Kunduz and other parts of the country have witnessed an escalation in attacks by both the government and the Taliban in recent weeks, despite their negotiators participating in the Qatar talks which are part of a US-facilitated process following 19 years of conflict in the country — Washington’s longest war in history.
The Qatar discussions are based on a historic accord signed between Washington and the Taliban in February this year which, among other things, paves the way for the complete withdrawal of US-led troops from the country by next spring, in return for a pledge from the Taliban not to allow use Afghanistan to harm any country’s, including US, interests.
Kabul’s negotiators in Qatar are pushing the Taliban to declare a cease-fire, while the Taliban say it can be included in the agenda and that both sides must first ascertain “the real cause” of the war.
Some analysts believe that while delegates of the parties are struggling to agree over the mechanism and agenda of the talks in Qatar, their fighters in Afghanistan are “focusing on military tactics to capture grounds” so that they can use it as a “bargaining chip” at the negotiation table.
“Both sides think that if they have more territory then they can argue their case from a position of strength during the talks and use it as leverage,” Shafiq Haqpal, an analyst and a former university teacher, told Arab News.
“The sides have not yet agreed on the mechanism of the talks despite the Qatar talks, which began on the 12th of September. So, this is an indication that things are not going the right way politically, and both sides are trying their luck on the battlefield here.”