Washington admits hostages killed in raid

Updated 23 April 2015

Washington admits hostages killed in raid

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama on Thursday revealed that an American and an Italian hostage were killed in a covert US counter-terrorism operation on the Afghan-Pakistan border in January, saying he took “full responsibility” for the tragedy.
Making public the previously classified finding, Obama expressed his “deepest apologies” to the families of the two hostages, Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto.
Two other Americans linked to Al-Qaeda, including spokesman Adam Gadahn, were killed in operations at around the same time, the White House said.
“Based on information and intelligence we have obtained, we believe that a US counter-terrorism operation targeting an Al-Qaeda compound in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region accidentally killed Warren and Giovanni this past January,” Obama said in an unscheduled statement.
“As president and as commander-in-chief, I take full responsibility for all our counter-terrorism operations, including the one that inadvertently took the lives of Warren and Giovanni, he said.
“I profoundly regret what happened. On behalf of the United States government, I offer our deepest apologies to the families.”
Weinstein was snatched after gunmen tricked their way into his home in Lahore on August 13, 2011 shortly before he was due to return home after seven years working in Pakistan.
He later appeared in a video in which, under apparent coercion, he asked the United States to free Al-Qaeda prisoners.
Italian aid worker Lo Porto, 39, disappeared in January 2012 in Pakistan.
Weinstein’s widow said in a statement that “we are devastated by this news and the knowledge that my husband will never safely return home.”
The White House statement did not identify which US agency carried out the operation, which suggests it was carried out by an intelligence service rather than a military unit.
If confirmed, it would be the latest controversy to hit Obama’s counter-terrorism operations, which — while killing Osama Bin Laden — have relied heavily on secret drone strikes.
“We have concluded that Ahmed Faruq, an American who was an Al-Qaeda leader, was killed in the same operation that resulted in the deaths of Dr. Weinstein and Mr. Lo Porto,” the White House said.


Russia aims to produce ‘millions’ of virus doses by 2021

Updated 03 August 2020

Russia aims to produce ‘millions’ of virus doses by 2021

  • The Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and directors injected themselves with the prototype months ago
  • Scientists have told AFP that Russia will struggle to adapt the vaccine to mass production because the country lacks raw materials, adequate facilities and experience

MOSCOW: Russia said Monday it aims to launch mass production of a coronavirus vaccine next month and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year.
The country is pushing ahead with several vaccine prototypes and one prepared at the Gamaleya institute in Moscow has reached advanced stages of development.
“We are very much counting on starting mass production in September,” industry minister Denis Manturov said in an interview published by TASS news agency.
“We will be able to ensure production volumes of several hundred thousand a month, with an eventual increase to several million by the start of next year,” he said, adding that one developer is preparing production technology at three locations in central Russia.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko on Saturday said the Gamaleya vaccine had “completed clinical trials” and that documents were being prepared to register it with the state.
Another vaccine, developed by Siberia-based Vektor lab, is currently undergoing clinical trials and two more will begin human testing within the next two months, Murashko said.
Gamaleya’s vaccine is a so-called viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding of the needed immune response into cells.
Gamaleya’s vaccine employs the adenovirus, a similar technology to the coronavirus vaccine prototype developed by China’s CanSino, currently in the advanced stage of clinical trials.
The Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and directors injected themselves with the prototype months ago, with specialists criticizing the move as an unorthodox and rushed way of starting human trials.
Scientists have told AFP that Russia will struggle to adapt the vaccine to mass production because the country lacks raw materials, adequate facilities and experience, particularly with advanced technology like viral vector.
Some Russian officials have boasted that the country will be the first to come up with the vaccine, even comparing it to the space race to produce the first satellite in the Soviet era.
Moscow has dismissed allegations from the UK, the United States and Canada that a hacking group linked to Russian intelligence services tried to steal information about a coronavirus vaccine from labs in the West.
Russia’s coronavirus caseload is currently fourth in the world after the United States, Brazil and India.