Suicide Car Bomber Attacks Afghan Capital




Suicide Car Bomber Attacks Afghan Capital

ISLAMABAD—
A Taliban suicide car bomber has attacked a convoy of foreign troops in Kabul during the morning rush hours.


An Afghan police officer said three civilians were wounded, but would not say whether any foreign troops were hurt in Sunday's attack.  Ambulances were seen leaving the site in a busy part of the Afghan capital.

Local television stations showed live pictures of a destroyed military vehicle.

A spokesman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission has confirmed its convoy was hit.

Taliban's statement

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has emailed a detailed statement about the attack to VOA.  He says the suicide car bombing was carried out in response to air raids by foreign troops in different parts of Afghanistan, including Kunduz, which killed Afghan civilians, including doctors.

He claimed that at least 12 people were killed in the bombing Sunday, though the militant group is known for exaggerating the death tolls in similar attacks. Afghan and NATO authorities have not reported any deaths from the attack.

Taliban insurgents overran Kunduz in a stunning assault in late September, prompting a massive counter-offensive by Afghan security forces backed by U.S. airstrikes that retook most of the city.

One of the air raids on October 3 mistakenly struck a hospital in Kunduz run by Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym, MSF, according to U.S. military and civilian officials.

The attack left at least 22 people dead, including 12 MSF staff and 10 patients.  Thirty-three are still missing, according to the charity group.  All the victims were Afghans.

Taliban fighters have mostly withdrawn from Kunduz, but some are still hiding in civilian homes and carrying out ambushes against security forces, according to Afghan officials.

US Embassy warning

On Saturday, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned its citizens that militants were planning to conduct a "complex" attack "on or about" October 12 using a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and suicide bombers against the U.N. headquarters or other facilities in the city.

"The security situation in Afghanistan is extremely unstable, and threat to all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan remains critical. U.S. citizens currently visiting or residing in Afghanistan may wish to consider departing," the embassy said in a statement.

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US to Pay Compensation Over Airstrike on Afghan Hospital

The United States will offer "condolence payments" for those killed or injured in the U.S. airstrike that mistakenly hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on October 3.

Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook said Saturday that the amount of the payments had not been determined. The payments will go to "civilian noncombatants injured and the families of civilian noncombatants killed as a result of U.S. military operations," he said.

The medical group, known by its French acronym MSF, said the airstrike killed 10 patients and 12 MSF staff members. The charity said Thursday that nine patients and 24 staff members were still missing.

MSF ended its Kunduz operations after the aerial bombardment and demanded an independent investigation into the attack under the Geneva Conventions. The group said probes under way by the U.S., Afghanistan and NATO were insufficient, and it suggested that the attack amounted to a war crime.  

The Geneva Conventions are a set of international treaties and protocols regulating the conduct of armed conflict and aim to protect people not taking part in hostilities and those who are no longer doing so.

Official apology

U.S. President Barack Obama apologized Wednesday to the medical group's president, Dr. Joanne Liu, for the attack.   However, the details of U.S. involvement in the attack are murky since the U.S. has changed its account of what happened that day.  The U.S. says it will not provide further details about the incident while its military conducts an investigation.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama called Liu to "apologize and express condolences."

"In this case, there was a mistake and it's one that the U.S. owns up to," Earnest said. He said Obama "is very eager to get to the bottom of what exactly occurred."

Obama also called Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to express his condolences for the loss of innocent lives in the incident, the spokesman said, and to commend Afghan forces for their bravery in the fight to control the northern Afghan city in clashes with Taliban insurgents.

US probe

Meanwhile, U.S. officials are probing whether the military exceeded its authority for use of force in Afghanistan in launching the airstrike.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Army General John Campbell, said the United States was taking the blame for carrying out the raid after Afghan forces requested it.  But the question remains whether the U.S. should have agreed to the attack.

When Obama ended American ground combat operations in Afghanistan last year, he said that the residual force of 9,800 U.S. troops remaining there should focus on training and advising Afghan troops. He limited the use of force to three circumstances: the defense of U.S. and allied troops, support for missions targeting remnants of al-Qaida insurgents in Afghanistan, and assistance to Afghan troops facing mass casualties in extreme situations.

It is not clear whether the U.S. bombing of the hospital met any of those criteria.

Campbell told a congressional committee the hospital was "mistakenly struck" and the United States "would never intentionally target a protected medical facility."

He said he had ordered American forces in Afghanistan to be retrained on their use of force.

Afghan forces have been trying for several days to regain full control of Kunduz after Taliban insurgents briefly seized it last week.

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Israeli Airstrike Kills 2 in Gaza

Israel carried out an airstrike early Sunday in the Gaza Strip that killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her young daughter.

The Israeli military said the strike was done in response to rocket attacks from Gaza and targeted two Hamas weapons manufacturing facilities.  It reported Saturday that a rocket was intercepted over Hof Ashkelon, just north of Gaza, by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.

Medics in Gaza said the woman and child died when the building they were in collapsed from the strike.  Several other people were injured.

Also Sunday, the military said a Palestinian woman detonated a bomb inside a car at a checkpoint in the West Bank, wounding one police officer.

The violence followed yet more stabbing attacks in the Old City area of East Jerusalem on Saturday.

In the first attack, a 16-year-old stabbed two Israelis before being shot dead by police.

Later, a 19-year-old stabbed two police officers before also being shot dead.

The wave of attacks in East Jerusalem has taken place around a holy site revered by Muslims as the al-Aqsa mosque and by Jews as the Temple Mount.

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Guinea Goes to Poll as Opposition Cries Foul

CONAKRY—
Polls opened in Guinea on Sunday, but the country’s opposition candidates claim there is little chance of the vote being free and fair.

Voters lined up across Guinea’s ocean-side capital early Sunday. President Alpha Conde is running for a second term against seven opposition candidates.

While looting and clashes between rival political supporters occurred earlier in the week in Guinea, there was no sign of trouble in Conakry as polls opened.

But Guinea’s opposition was already decrying the election. In an interview Saturday evening, leading opposition candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo told VOA he had no confidence in the electoral commission. He said he and the six other opposition challengers would reject the polls if they believed they were rigged.

Diallo says if the results announced by the electoral commission or the supreme court do not reflect the voters’ will, then he will not accept them.

In Conakry’s Hafia Minierre II neighborhood, voters waited calmly at roadside polling stations. Presiding officer Djenabou Sedec said everything was going smoothly.

Sedec says she was the first to vote this morning, to give an example to all the other voters. Now, everyone is voting.


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Blasts Claim 33 Victims Near Nigerian Border, Chadian Officials Say

Authorities in Chad say at least five female suicide bombers attacked two sites near the Nigerian border, killing at least 33 locals and Nigerian refugees.

Police immediately linked the attacks in the town of Baga Sola to Boko Haram Islamists.   

Police and hospital officials said at least 50 others were wounded in and near the town, located on the shores of Lake Chad.

General Banyaman Cossingar said one of the blasts targeted a local market, while two others ripped through a refugee camp on the outskirts of the town.

Last week, authorities said Boko Haram fighters clashed with Chadian soldiers near Lake Chad. A military source said 11 soldiers and 17 militants were killed.

Chad is a leading contributor to a regional task force set up to fight Boko Haram, whose attacks have spread in recent years from its birthplace in nearby northeastern Nigeria to Chad, Cameroon and Niger.  

The militant group has been fighting to establish a strict Islamic state in northern Nigeria since 2009.

The rights group Amnesty International, in a report last month, said Boko Haram had killed at least 1,600 civilians since June, bringing the death toll to 3,500 civilians so far this year.

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Benghazi Panel Targeted Clinton, Former Staffer Says

A former investigator with the Republican-led congressional committee examining the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 says he was fired after resisting pressure to focus his investigative work on Hillary Clinton and the State Department.

Air Force Reserve Major Bradley Podliska, who describes himself as a conservative Republican, told The New York Times and CNN that in March the panel abandoned its broader investigation of the events that led up to the deaths in Benghazi of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Podliska said the committee turned all of its attention to Clinton and the State Department after it was revealed that she used a private email server while she was secretary of state. The move de-emphasized other agencies involved with the attacks on the American consulate on September 11, 2012.

Podliska said he planned to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination soon that would also make the case that he was fired in part because he participated in required National Guard exercises.

Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, and her supporters have accused House Republicans of trying to use the Benghazi committee to hobble her campaign. She recently called it "nothing but a partisan exercise.''

The committee on Saturday forcefully denied the allegations. It said in a statement that Podliska never raised such concerns while with the panel, and that he himself had inappropriately used committee resources to create a PowerPoint “hit piece” on members of the Obama administration, including then-Secretary of State Clinton.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently linked the committee's work to Clinton's sliding poll numbers and drew a rebuke from Republicans and Democrats. The California Republican stepped back from those remarks, but they damaged his effort to become the next House speaker and he dropped out of the race to succeed outgoing Speaker John Boehner.

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'Justice or Else' Rally Marks 20th Anniversary of Million Man March

Thousands of people waving flags, carrying signs and listening to speeches and songs gathered Saturday on the National Mall in Washington for the 20th anniversary of the Reverend Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March.


People cheer during a rally to mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, Oct. 10, 2015.

Souvenir vendors offered T-shirts, signs, buttons and posters as people walked through security barricades surrounding the Capitol and other buildings to join the rally, the theme of which was “Justice or Else.”

Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, an Islamic religious movement, said that black men and women should forsake foul language and violence against each other. He also spoke against abortion, saying that “it is your body, you can do what you want with it,” but that it would be tragic if a future scientist or leader were aborted.

Farrakhan also praised the young protesters behind the Black Lives Matter movement. He called them the next leaders of the civil rights movement and urged older leaders to support them “to carry the torch of liberation to the next step.”

Andrew Bryant, 67, of Washington, who participated in the Million Man March in 1995, said he joined the rally Saturday “to see all the people in peace” and “listen to a well-spoken message.” He was eager “to hear solutions to all the problems going on in the black community, basically in the United States, period.”

Bryant said the Million Man March called upon black men to “do things for the betterment of their neighborhood.” Twenty years later, he said, it's time “to build our economic strength and build our political strength, and basically we got to get together and get that in the minds of young people.”

Ira Y.D. Walden of Miami, a rap artist and CEO of the record label 4 Life Entertainment, was too young to march in 1995, but he said he attended Saturday's anniversary rally because he liked the concept of "Justice or Else" in light of all the “racial things that have been going on in America. It’s excellent because we’re coming together all for one cause. It doesn’t matter what race you are — there are things that need to be done right in America.”

Pledge to improve

Farrakhan spearheaded the original march on October 16, 1995, which brought hundreds of thousands to Washington to pledge to improve their lives, their families and their communities.

Saturday's rally repeated that theme but incorporated calls for justice in response to a number of shootings of black American men.

Attention has been focused on the relationship between African-American men and law enforcement since the fatal shootings of two blacks — Trayvon Martin, 17, who was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012 in Florida, and Michael Brown, 18, who was shot during an altercation with a police officer in 2014 in Missouri.

Since then, the deaths of other unarmed black males at the hands of law enforcement have inspired protests under the "Black Lives Matter'' moniker around the country.

Women, whites and other minorities were not invited to the original march. To mark the anniversary Saturday, Farrakhan called for a mass gathering, this time including other marginalized groups, Native Americans and Hispanics among them.

The 1995 event was the fourth-largest demonstration in Washington history, and the largest predominantly black gathering.

President Barack Obama, who attended the first Million Man March, was in California on Saturday.

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Suicide Car Bomber Attacks Afghan Capital Suicide Car Bomber Attacks Afghan Capital Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 5:22 PM Rating: 5

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