Displaying items by tag: War

Massive blast in the heart of Kabul’s diplomatic quarter kills scores

  • Published in World
  

Video link: 592e7bd4e4b00249e68a5cac_t_1496218611542_master.m3u8

 A massive blast Wednesday tore through the diplomatic quarter of the Afghan capital of Kabul killing at least 80 people, according to officials, underlining the fragility of the country as it buckles under a wave of rebel attacks.

The Interior Ministry said the blast was triggered by huge quantity of explosives hidden in a water tank that went off during the peak of the morning rush hour on a busy road in Wazir Akbar Khan area of the city.

Wahid Majroh, spokesman of the Health Ministry, said at least 350 people were also wounded.

“I felt like it was an earthquake and after that I do not know what happened,” said Mohammed Hassan, 21, who had been attending a bank training program. “All the staff around me, everyone, was injured.” 

Afghanistan has been suffering from a surge of attacks from the Taliban movement since it declared a new spring offensive, including spectacular attacks on the once secure capital.

 

There have also been a string of attacks claimed by the rival Islamic State group.

Even by the standards of war-torn Kabul, however, this blast stood apart for its sheer magnitude, blowing out windows across the city and setting dozens of cars ablaze.

The target was unclear, but the bomb went off near the Germany Embassy and the nearby French and Chinese embassies were reportedly damaged, according to Reuters news agency.

Officials said, however, that most of the casualties were civilians.

“These heinous acts go against the values of humanity as well values of peaceful Afghans,” said a government statement. “These attacks also demonstrate the extreme level of atrocity by terrorists against innocent civilians.”

More than three hours after the blast, ambulances were still rushing to the site and its smoking, wrecked buildings to evacuate the casualties, a sign that the number of dead and wounded could still rise.

Authorities closed all key roads to traffic to deal with the aftermath of the blast and as a precautionary measure in case further explosions were planned.

 

At Wazir Akbar Khan hospital, not far from the blast, hundreds of anxious and angry people crammed outside the main entrance, trying to get inside to see their injured loved ones, while police guarded the facility. Ambulances rushed back and forth carrying the injured, the dead, and sometimes just body parts burnt black by the blast.

Police and medics carried gray body bags covered with blood.

Like past attacks, the anger soon moved to the government for failing to protect residents — even in one of the most guarded enclaves in the city.

“This is an inept government that cannot protect the people and must be dissolved. It is time for an interim government to be formed,” said lawmaker Mirwais Yasin. 

There are already 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan supporting the government, but earlier this year, their leader, Gen. John Nicholson, said he needed several thousand more to break the stalemate. 

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U.S. security adviser promises coordinated response in Afghanistan

  • Published in U.S.

U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser met Afghan officials in Kabul on Sunday and said the new administration was weighing diplomatic, military and economic responses to its Taliban and Islamic State enemies in Afghanistan.

The adviser, H.R. McMaster, was making the first high-level visit by a Trump official. He spoke to ABC News' This Week program in the United States.

On Thursday, the U.S. military dropped a GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, one of the largest conventional weapons ever used in combat, during an operation against ISIS militants in eastern Afghanistan.

While military officials said the strike was based solely on tactical needs, it led to speculation that Trump's defence advisers are planning to escalate the war against militants in Afghanistan.

The strike was estimated to have killed nearly 100 militants and no civilians, according to Afghan officials, although this has not been independently verified.

Enemies have 'redoubled their efforts'

Interviewed from Afghanistan, McMaster said the United States had a more reliable Afghan partner than before but at the same time had reduced the degree and scope of its effort in that country.

"Our enemy sensed that and they have redoubled their efforts and it's time for us, alongside our Afghan partners, to respond," he said.

Trump, who took office on Jan. 20, had asked U.S. officials — including some in the treasury and commerce departments — to work together to integrate the various political, diplomatic, military and economic responses available, McMaster said.

"We'll give him those options. And we'll be prepared to execute whatever decision he makes," he said.

McMaster met President Ashraf Ghani and other senior Afghan officials to discuss bilateral ties, security, counter- terrorism, reforms, and development, according to a palace statement.

Drugs, corruption, terrorism

He praised anti-corruption efforts and assured Ghani that the United States would continue to support and cooperate with Afghanistan on a number of issues, according to the palace.

Ghani told McMaster that "terrorism is a serious issue for the security of the world and the region" and if serious steps are not taken it would affect "generations" of people, according to the statement. Illicit drugs and corruption also top the list of threats to Afghanistan's security, Ghani told the visiting officials.

The Afghan government refers to both the Taliban and ISIS as terrorists. Afghan forces have struggled to contain Taliban insurgents since most international troops were withdrawn in 2014, leaving them to fight largely alone.

At the peak in 2011, the United States had more than 100,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. Nearly 9,000 U.S. troops remain there to train and advise Afghan forces, provide close air support to soldiers on the ground, and form a separate counter-terrorism unit that targets ISIS, al Qaeda and other militant networks.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has said he needs "several thousand" more troops to help the Afghans take on a resurgent Taliban and battle other insurgents, but no official plan has been announced.

Thomson Reuters

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Grandson claims grandma died of heart attack during Bohol clashes

An 80-year old grandma died of heart attack as security forces clashed with members of bandit Abu Sayyaf group in the province of Bohol on Tuesday evening.
Jimmylito Logrono, 23, claimed his lola died as soldiers and the police pounded the concrete house the bandits seized when they arrived in Bohol from Mindanao early this week, GMA News stringer Leo Udtohan reported Wednesday.
“Yung lola ko namatay dahil sagubat (giyera). Kung wala yung [bakbakan] hindi sana namatay ang lola ko...nangdahil sa Abu Sayyaf namatay ang lola ko,” Udtohan quoted Logrono as saying.
Over 3,000 residents from Barangays Napo, Canlenti, Banahao, Liloan Sur, and Liloan Norte in Inabanga town were evacuated as clashes between Abu Sayyaf group members and government forces raged on Tuesday, resulting in the deaths of three soldiers, one policeman, and six bandits.
Since Wednesday noon, some evacuees have returned to their homes even without clearance from the police and the military.
Udtohan said most of the families have opted to stay in school buildings that were converted into evacuation centers.
Authorities have not issued a clearance for the return of evacuees as five bandits are still believed atlarge in Bohol. — GMA News

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