US awards 29 Purple Hearts for brain injuries in Iran attack

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Iranian missiles struck al-Asad base on the 8th of January. (REUTERS)
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Purple Heart medals are awarded to any US service member killed or injured in the line of duty. (The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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Updated 04 May 2020

US awards 29 Purple Hearts for brain injuries in Iran attack

  • Over 100 US servicemen were injured when Iran launched ballistic missiles at a US base in Iraq

WASHINGTON: Six Army soldiers who were injured in a ballistic missile attack in Iraq in January have been awarded Purple Hearts, and 23 others have been approved for the award and will get them later this week, US Central Command said Monday.
Navy Capt. Bill Urban said the awards were approved by Lt. Gen. Pat White, the top US commander in Iraq, following a review.
About 110 US service members were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after the Iranian ballistic missile attack at Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq on Jan. 8.
Initially, commanders and President Donald Trump said there were no injuries during the attack. But after several days, troops began exhibiting concussion-like symptoms and the military started evacuating some from Iraq.
Trump triggered criticism when he dismissed the injuries as “not very serious” and described them as headaches and other things.
Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, became a bigger concern for the military in recent years as more and more troops in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars began suffering from head injuries from bombings and other explosions.
Medical science improved its understanding of its causes and effects on brain function. It can involve varying degrees of impairment of thinking, memory, vision, hearing and other functions. The severity and duration of the injury can vary widely.
According to Urban, the first six Purple Hearts were given to soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait. The other soldiers are in the United States and will get their awards in the coming days. He said 80 service members were considered for the awards, and each recommendation package submitted by unit leaders was evaluated by a review board based on Army and Air Force regulations.
Urban said that a TBI diagnosis doesn’t automatically qualify a service member for a Purple Heart.


Pakistan Hindus rally in Islamabad over India migrant deaths

Updated 25 September 2020

Pakistan Hindus rally in Islamabad over India migrant deaths

  • The dead migrants’ relatives have held small rallies in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province but this was the first time they had taken their demonstration to the country’s capital
  • The protesters accuse India’s secret service of poisoning the 11 Hindus

ISLAMABAD : Pakistan’s minority Hindus rallied late on Thursday in Islamabad, briefly clashing with the police, to protest the deaths of 11 members of a Hindu migrant family who died in India last month under mysterious circumstances.
Since then, the dead migrants’ relatives have held small rallies in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province but this was the first time they had taken their demonstration to the country’s capital, vowing to stage a sit-in near the Indian Embassy.
The protesters accuse India’s secret service of poisoning the 11 Hindus, who were found dead at a farmhouse in India’s Jodhpur district in Rajasthan state. The demonstrators arrived in Islamabad around midnight, chanting, “We want justice.” They briefly skirmished with officers who prevented them from reaching the embassy site.
After the Aug. 9 deaths, Indian media reports suggested the Hindu family members, originally from Pakistan, had taken their own lives. Official Islamabad says New Delhi had not shared any reports of the case.
Thursday’s rally was an unusual move for Pakistan’s Hindus, who have mostly lived without conflict with the country’s predominantly Muslim majority. Earlier this year under pressure from radical Muslims, Pakistani authorities halted construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad.
Ramesh Kumar, a top leader of the Hindu community who led Thursday’s protest, met on Wednesday with Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, seeking his help in pressuring India to release results of the initial police probe into the case.
Pakistan has also asked for access to a Hindu worker who was at the Jodhpur farm at the time of the deaths, according to government officials.
In his meeting with Qureshi, Kumar said Shrimati Mukhi, the daughter of the head of the family that died, had levelled the poisoning accusations. She earlier this month told local media that India allegedly pressured the family to issue a statement denouncing Pakistan’s government. There was no official comment from India on the allegations.
Last week, Pakistan summoned an Indian diplomat to convey concerns over the “Jodhpur incident.” A subsequent ministry statement said India had “failed to share any substantive details regarding the cause and circumstances of the deaths” of the Hindus and asked for a comprehensive investigation.
Nuclear armed rivals Pakistan and India have a history of bitter relations. Pakistan’s military said Wednesday that two of its soldiers were killed by Indian fire in a cease-fire violation in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. The region is split between the two countries but claimed by both in its entirety. India and Pakistan have fought two out of their three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence in 1947.

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