White House Condemns ‘Heinous’ Killing Of Journalists In Afghanistan

White House Condemns 'Heinous' Killing Of Journalists In Afghanistan
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders arrives at the press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2018. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP

 

The White House condemned Tuesday the “heinous” twin suicide attacks that killed at least nine journalists and 16 others the day before in Kabul, the deadliest assault on Afghan media since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

“We strongly condemn yesterday’s suicide bombing in Kabul,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.

“Afghanistan’s press corps is a powerful illustration of how that country has transformed. There is absolutely no justification for such a senseless and heinous act.”

Sanders was echoing comments by Pentagon chief Jim Mattis, who insisted the US would stand by the Afghan people and the Kabul government.

“The murder of journalists and other innocent people is a great testimony to what it is we stand for, and more importantly what we stand against,” he said.

“We’ll stand by the Afghan people, we’ll stand by the Afghan government and the NATO mission will continue as we drive them to a political settlement.”

A separate shooting in eastern Khost province killed a BBC reporter.

AFP

Suicide Bomber Kills At Least Nine In Afghanistan’s Capital

FILE PHOTO: Afghan volunteers and policemen carry injured men on an ambulance at the scene of a car bomb exploded in front of the old Ministry of Interior building in Kabul on January 27, 2018. WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP

 

A suicide bomber blew himself up in a Shiite area of Kabul on Friday, killing at least nine people, officials said, as militants dial up pressure on the war-weary Afghanistan capital.

The third suicide attack in the city in a fortnight comes as the Taliban face growing pressure to take up the Afghan government’s recent offer of peace talks to end a more than 16-year insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which happened near a high-profile gathering to mark the 23rd anniversary of the death of Abdul Ali Mazari — a prominent former leader of the mainly Shiite Hazara ethnic community who was killed by the Taliban.

The event was attended by some of the country’s top politicians, including Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and his deputy Mohammad Mohaqiq, a senior Hazara figure.

The Sunni Islamic State group typically targets Shiites who it regards as apostates.

“The death toll has gone up to nine,” deputy interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP, adding 18 others were wounded.

Among the dead were two policemen, he said. The rest were civilians. Officials said the attacker was on foot.

Afghan officials gave a wide range of figures for the number of casualties: a security source told AFP 13 people were killed and more than 30 wounded.

But Kabul police chief Mohammad Daud Amin told Tolo News that five people were killed and 22 others wounded.

Amin said the bomber detonated his explosive device at a checkpoint “after being identified by police”.

“The bomber failed to get inside to target the gathering,” he said.

Kazim Ali, who was at the gathering, told AFP the force of the explosion shattered the windows of the mosque.

“We were inside the mosque when a loud explosion took place. Security forces didn’t allow us to move afterwards,” he said.

– Pressure for peace –

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at an international conference in Kabul last week unveiled a plan to open talks with the Taliban, including eventually recognising them as a political party.

In return, Ghani said the militants should officially recognise the Afghan government and constitution, a perennial sticking point in past attempts at dialogue.

“The offer of negotiation is on the table,” UN envoy to Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto told a Security Council meeting on Thursday to mark the annual renewal of the UN mission to the war-torn country.

The United States has also called on the insurgents to consider the offer of peace talks.

While Western officials have hailed Ghani’s offer as a positive step, they have told AFP that it is far too early to tell if it will lead anywhere.

Before Ghani’s speech, the militants had called for direct talks with the US.

Friday’s attack comes a week after a car bomb detonated near a passing Australian embassy convoy in the city’s east that killed at least one child and wounded several other people.

Kabul is one of the deadliest places in Afghanistan for civilians as both the Taliban and the expanding IS group step up their assaults on the city.

Despite the cautious optimism for a peace deal, Kabul remains on high alert, fearing further violence.

American officials are also braced for more fighting in the spring after an unusually violent winter when the conflict traditionally eases.

Since mid-January, militants have stormed a luxury hotel, bombed a crowded street, raided a military compound and launched a suicide attack during morning rush hour in the capital, killing more than 130 people.

In a separate incident overnight, Taliban militants raided a number of checkpoints manned by Afghan security forces in the northern province of Takhar, Khwaja Ghar district governor Mohammad Omar told AFP.

Omar said 10 local police and seven soldiers were killed and more than a dozen wounded in the attacks claimed by the Taliban. The casualty figures could not be immediately verified.

AFP

Suicide Bomber Kills At least 23 In Afghanistan Biggest Attack

Afghan security personnel inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province on February 24, 2018. PHOTO: NOOR MOHAMMAD / AFP

 

At least 23 people, mostly soldiers, were killed and more than a dozen wounded in a series of attacks and suicide bombings in Afghanistan on Saturday, officials said, the latest assaults on the war-torn country’s beleaguered security forces.

In the biggest attack, Taliban militants stormed an army base in the western province of Farah overnight, killing at least 18 soldiers.

“Last night a big group of militants attacked an army base in Bala Buluk district of Farah. Unfortunately, we lost 18 soldiers, two soldiers were wounded. We have sent more reinforcements to the area,” defence ministry spokesman Daulat Wazir said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Deputy provincial governor Younus Rasooli said the authorities had sent a fact-finding delegation to Bala Buluk to investigate the assault.

In another attack, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the diplomatic area of Kabul during the morning rush hour, killing at least three people and wounding five others, deputy interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP.

“At around 8:30 am, a suicide bomber on foot, well-dressed with a necktie on, was identified at a checkpoint. He blew up his explosives, killing three and wounding five others,” he said, updating an earlier toll.

A security source who requested not to be named said the explosion happened near a compound belonging to the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan intelligence agency. The NDS compound is located near the NATO headquarters and the US embassy.

“I was driving nearby when I heard a big explosion, the windows of my car were smashed. I saw several wounded people on the street near me,” a witness told Tolonews TV adding that security forces had since swarmed the area, closing off the main road leading to the attack site.

The Islamic State group, which is trying to make inroads in Afghanistan, claimed the responsibility for the Kabul attack.

In December, a suicide attacker on foot blew himself up near the same compound, killing at least six civilians.

Kabul has recently seen an increase in attacks by both Taliban and the IS group.

Since mid-January, militants have stormed a luxury hotel, bombed a crowded street and raided a military compound in the capital, killing more than 130 people as the city remains on high alert fearing further violence.

– Car bombings –

In two other attacks on Saturday in volatile southern Helmand province, suicide car bombs killed at least two soldiers and wounded more than a dozen others, officials said.

In the first incident, militants used a Humvee to attack an army base in Nad Ali district but the vehicle was destroyed when soldiers identified it and hit it with a rocket-propelled grenade, provincial spokesman Omar Zawak told AFP.

“Unfortunately, two soldiers were killed in the attack and seven wounded,” he said.

The Nad Ali attack was followed by a second suicide car bombing in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah that wounded seven people.

The attack was against an NDS compound and near a police headquarters in the city, Helmand police spokesman Salaam Afghan told AFP.

The Taliban claimed both attacks in Helmand.

Militants including the Taliban and the Islamic State group have stepped up their attacks on Afghan troops and police in recent months, sapping morale already hit by desertions and corruption.

Afghan soldiers have taken what the UN describes as “shocking” casualties since international forces ended their combat role at the end of 2014, though troop casualty figures are no longer released.

AFP

Gunmen Attack ‘Save The Children’ Office In East Afghanistan

Afghan civilians gather on a street next to a plume of smoke coming from the area around an office of the British charity Save the Children during an ongoing attack in Jalalabad on January 24, 2018. PHOTO: Noorullah SHIRZADA / AFP

Gunmen blasted their way into Save the Children’s office in Afghanistan’s restive east on Wednesday, witnesses and officials said, in an ongoing attack that has wounded at least 11 people.

After blowing up a car outside the British charity’s compound in Jalalabad city, the attackers used a rocket-propelled grenade to storm the complex, in the latest attack on a foreign aid group in the war-torn country.

Nangarhar governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP the raid started at 9:10 am (0440 GMT) — shortly after staff would have arrived at the office.

“A group of armed men then entered the compound. So far 11 wounded people have been brought to hospitals,” Khogyani said.

Mohammad Amin, who was inside the compound when the attackers launched the raid, told AFP from his hospital bed that he heard “a big blast”.

“We ran for cover and I saw a gunman hitting the main gate with an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) to enter the compound. I jumped out of the window,” Amin said.

Afghan TV news channels showed a thick plume of black smoke rising above the compound and what appears to be at least one vehicle on fire outside the office.

Another witness told AFP: “It might be a complex attack. I am hearing gunfire from inside Save the Children compound.”

– Charities targeted –

Wednesday’s assault comes days after Taliban gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in the Afghan capital, killing at least 22 people, mostly foreigners.

Insurgents armed with Kalashnikovs and suicide vests attacked the landmark Intercontinental Hotel, going from room to room searching for foreigners during the more than 12-hour ordeal.

But Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a tweet Wednesday that the militant group was not responsible for the Jalalabad attack.

“We are devastated at the news that our Save the Children office in Jalalabad city, Afghanistan came under attack this morning,” a Save the Children spokesperson said in a statement, withholding further details while the attack was ongoing.

The UN’s mission in Afghanistan tweeted that it was looking into reports of the attack.

“Attacks directed at civilians or aid organisations are clear violations of international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes,” it said.

The assault on Save the Children, which has operated in Afghanistan since 1976, is the latest violence to strike a foreign aid group in the country.

The International Committee of the Red Cross announced in October it would “drastically” reduce its presence in the country after seven employees were killed in attacks last year.

The decision by the charity, which has been working in Afghanistan for over three decades, underlined the growing dangers for aid workers, who have increasingly become casualties of a surge in militant violence in recent years.

Nangarhar, a restive province bordering Pakistan, is a stronghold for the Islamic State group and also has a significant Taliban presence.

US and Afghan forces have been carrying out ground and air operations against IS fighters in Nangarhar.

While Afghan security forces are conducting most of the fighting against IS and Taliban militants, US troops operate alongside them in a training capacity and are frequently on the front lines.

The last major attack in Jalalabad was on December 31 when an explosion at a funeral killed 18 mourners and wounded another 13. There was no claim of responsibility.

AFP

At Least Six Dead In 12-hour Taliban Attack On Luxury Kabul Hotel

Afghan security personnel keep watch at the entrance of the Intercontinental Hotel during a fight between gunmen and Afghan security forces in Kabul on January 21, 2018. PHOTO: SHAH MARAI / AFP

Gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Kabul on Sunday and killed at least six people including a foreigner, sparking a 12-hour battle that left terrified guests scrambling to escape and parts of the building ablaze.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on the six-storey Intercontinental Hotel on a hilltop overlooking the Afghan capital. People trapped at the top of the building tied bedsheets together and climbed over balconies to escape the overnight assault.

One lost his grip and fell in dramatic television footage by Afghanistan’s Tolo News station, which also showed black smoke and flames billowing from the top of the hotel.

Special forces were lowered by helicopters during the night onto the roof of the landmark 1960s building, with Afghan security forces killing four attackers in the hours-long assault, the interior ministry said.

“Five Afghans and one foreigner have been killed,” interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP Sunday, adding around 150 people were rescued including more than 40 foreigners.

“The body of the foreigner, a woman, was recovered from the sixth floor as the last attacker was being killed,” he added.

An official with Afghanistan’s spy agency put the number of wounded at eight, while the interior ministry said six.

Officials said four gunmen burst into the hotel, which is not part of the global InterContinental chain, on Saturday night, opening fire on guests and staff and taking dozens of people hostage.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the latest assault in the war-torn capital via an email from spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid. The interior ministry had earlier blamed the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network.

It followed security warnings in recent days to avoid hotels and other locations frequented by foreigners. Kabul has become one of the deadliest places in Afghanistan for civilians, with the Taliban and the Islamic State group both stepping up attacks.

It was not clear how many people had been inside the hotel.

During the siege, a guest hiding in a room said he could hear gunfire inside the building, where dozens of people attending an information technology conference on Sunday were staying.

“I don’t know if the attackers are inside the hotel but I can hear gunfire from somewhere near the first floor,” the man, who did not want to be named, told AFP by telephone.

“We are hiding in our rooms. I beg the security forces to rescue us as soon as possible before they reach and kill us.”

His phone has been switched off since then.

– ‘Fleeing like crazy’ –

Afghan Telecom regional director Aziz Tayeb, who was attending the IT conference, said he saw the attackers enter the hotel.

“Everything became chaotic in a moment. I hid behind a pillar and I saw people who were enjoying themselves a second ago screaming and fleeing like crazy, and some of them falling down, hit by bullets,” Tayeb told AFP.

Local resident Abdul Sattar said he had spoken by phone to friends who are hotel staff and had been trapped inside.

“Suddenly (militants) attacked the dinner gathering… (then) they broke into the rooms, took some people hostage and they opened fire on some of them,” he told AFP.

Rahimi said the attackers were armed with light weapons and rocket-propelled grenades when they stormed the hotel, a popular venue for weddings, conferences and political gatherings.

Security in Kabul has been ramped up since May 31 when a massive truck bomb killed some 150 people and wounded around 400 — mostly civilians.

– Devastating attacks –

But the resurgent Taliban and Islamic State are both scaling up their assaults on the city, with multiple devastating attacks in recent weeks.

The attack on the Intercontinental was just one of several bloody assaults Sunday.

In a village in the northern province of Balkh, Taliban militants went from house to house in the middle of the night, pulling police from their homes and shooting them dead.

At least 18 officers were killed, deputy police chief Abdul Raziq Qaderi told AFP.

In Herat in the west at least eight civilians were killed when a car hit a Taliban-planted roadside mine, officials there said.

The last major attack on a high-end hotel in Kabul was in March 2014 when four teenage gunmen raided the Serena, killing nine people including AFP journalist Sardar Ahmad.

The overnight siege is not the first time the Intercontinental has been targeted: in 2011 a suicide attack claimed by the Taliban killed 21 people there, including 10 civilians.

Even before the attack was over Sunday, authorities were questioning how the attackers got past the hotel’s security, which was taken over by a private company three weeks ago, said Najib Danish, another interior ministry spokesman.

“We will investigate it,” he said.

A hotel employee told AFP that as he fled the staff living quarters in a building next to the hotel he saw the new security guards running for their lives.

“They didn’t do anything, they didn’t attack. They had no experience,” the man said on condition of anonymity.

AFP

Afghan University Sees First Graduates In Women’s Studies

FILE PHOTO

Afghanistan’s first graduates in women’s studies donned caps and gowns on Sunday to collect their unusual qualifications in the patriarchal country. 

Kabul University is the country’s first higher education institute to offer a degree focused on gender and women’s issues, according to the United Nations Development Programme and university officials.

Feminist theories, media, civil society and conflict resolution were among the largely women-focused topics covered in the two-year Master’s course, funded by South Korea and run by the UNDP.

Offering such a degree would have been unthinkable during the Taliban’s repressive 1996-2001 Islamist regime, when female issues were taboo and women were largely confined to their homes and banned from education.

While protection of women’s rights has improved since a US-led invasion toppled the Taliban, they remain second-class citizens in the male-dominated country.

Among the 22 graduates were seven men, including Mujtaba Arefi.

“This is the beginning of a change,” Arefi told AFP as he waited to receive his certificate.

“With these programmes we can understand the women’s place and status in our society. There is the possibility that we will reach a level of gender equality like the West.”

Another graduate, Sajia Sediqqi, said she hoped her classmates would use their degrees to improve the situation of women in Afghanistan.

“In a short period of time we cannot bring about any dramatic change, but with our higher education we can help change our society and serve our people, particularly our women.”

AFP

Four Killed,14 Wounded In Afghanistan Market Explosion

An injured Afghan man receives treatment at a hospital following an explosion at a mobile phone market in Khost province on September 17, 2017. AFP. / AFP PHOTO / FARID ZAHIR

Four people were killed and 14 others wounded in an explosion at a mobile phone market in southeastern Afghanistan on Sunday, officials said, in the latest attack to hit the war-weary country.

The deadly blast comes as the Afghan government considers a plan to arm 20,000 civilians to fight the Taliban and other insurgent groups which have gained ground since US-led NATO combat troops left in 2014.

“The blast happened at around noon in a market where people go to download music and videos to their mobile phones,” Khost provincial police chief Faizullah Khairat told AFP.

He said the explosion was caused by a “remote controlled bomb”.

Khost health department director Habib Shah Ansari confirmed four people had been killed and said “over a dozen wounded” had been taken to hospitals in the provincial capital of the same name.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but the volatile province bordering Pakistan is contested by the Taliban.

Music was one of the many forms of entertainment banned during the Taliban’s 1996-2001 rule and the militants have previously attacked such markets.

The province has come under attack by the Taliban in recent months.

As Ramadan began on May 27, a Taliban car bomber targeted a CIA-funded Afghan militia group, leaving 13 people dead and six injured in Khost.

It was the deadliest Ramadan since the US-led invasion in 2001 with over 200 killed and hundreds wounded, according to an AFP count based on official figures, underscoring the deteriorating security situation.

Afghan security forces have been struggling to beat back a resurgent Taliban, which last month vowed to make Afghanistan a “graveyard” for foreign forces after US President Donald Trump made an open-ended commitment to keep American boots on the ground.

As it searches for a security quick fix, the Afghan government is considering a proposal to train and arm civilians to defend territories where Islamic militants have been driven out.

The plan has sparked concern the local forces could become another thuggish militia and end up terrorising and abusing the people they are supposed to defend.

In Afghanistan, militias private armies and government-backed armed groups — have a long and chequered history and many Afghans are wary of them.

“The Afghan government’s expansion of irregular forces could have enormously dangerous consequences for civilians,” said Patricia Gossman, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Trump’s Tough Talk Unlikely To Move Pakistan

US President Donald Trump speaks during his address to the nation from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, on August 21, 2017. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP

In military terms, Donald Trump’s long-awaited new Afghanistan strategy looks very much like the old one. But, on the diplomatic front, he took a risk in confronting unruly, nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Washington has long been frustrated by Pakistan’s provision of cross-border safe havens to some of the Taliban factions and armed Islamist groups fighting against US troops and their Afghan allies.

Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama risked triggering a breakdown in the long US alliance with Islamabad when, without forewarning, he sent commandos into Pakistan in 2011 to kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

But, rhetorically at least, Trump’s much anticipated national address on Monday, in which he laid out a new strategy to win the United States’ longest war, marked a dramatic increase in pressure on Pakistan.

“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting,” Trump said.
“That will have to change and that will change immediately.”

While Washington may hope that this motivates Islamabad to crack down on the groups that launch attacks into Afghanistan and Indian-administered Kashmir, it does not come without risk.

Pakistan holds the Muslim world’s only known nuclear arsenal and its government is a sometimes shaky balancing act between elected civilians and a powerful military that maintains ties with the militants.

Harsh US measures could provoke Pakistan and, if the government feels its Cold War-vintage pact with America is under threat, it could turn towards China — the great rival of both India and America.

And, much more than the implied threat to cut military aid to Pakistan, Trump’s request that India play a greater role in stabilizing Afghanistan will rattle New Delhi’s most bitter and long-standing foe.

– India’s orbit –

But, US experts agree, Pakistan is unlikely to step up its support for the Haqqani extremist group and the Afghan Taliban if that would mean the collapse of the Kabul government and driving out US troops.

Instead, despite some of his more vainglorious rhetoric, Trump’s revamped strategy could lay the basis for dealing with Afghanistan as a long-term chronic problem rather than an imminent threat.

James Jeffrey, a fellow of the Washington Institute and former senior national security adviser to the George W. Bush White House, said: “There’s really no way to pressure Pakistan.”

Pakistan has made the decision that keeping Kabul out of India’s orbit is more important that clamping down on cross-border militancy, and cutting aid would only be counterproductive, he argues.

Beyond Afghanistan, the United States has an interest in preventing Pakistan from going to war with India or collapsing and allowing its government or nuclear weapons to fall into the hands of extremists.

And, while the US footprint is smaller now that it was at the height of the occupation, its forces still need access to Pakistani supply lines and airspace.

“There’s really very little we can do,” Jeffrey said. “To cut all aid or, even more dramatically, to start striking the Haqqani network and all that … doesn’t guarantee that they’ll do what we say.”

But Pakistan also has no interest in driving the United States out, and Jeffrey sees Monday’s speech as confirmation that Trump has come around to the idea of a strategy of “long-term containment.”

“Other than the unfortunate reference to ‘winning’ there — that’s something that nobody can promise because no one can achieve it — I think that this is basically sensible strategy,” he said.

– Stepping on toes –

Sadanand Dhume, an Indian commentator and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, argued that Washington has many tools at its disposal to turn up the pressure on the Pakistanis — from cutting military aid, to stripping them of allied status or declaring them a state sponsor of terror.
But the biggest stick may be the outreach to India.

“The US have always encouraged Indian involvement in Afghanistan, but it was careful not to step on Pakistani toes,” he said.

“What we’re seeing now, is the US feeling it no longer needs to be that careful about Pakistani sensitivity,” he said, admitting that, after 16 years of war, it is hard not to be skeptical about Trump’s chances of success.

Seth Jones, a former senior Pentagon official and now director of RAND Corporation’s International Security and Defense Policy Center, sees room for a more stable future with a better balance of power.

“Pakistan certainly doesn’t want Afghanistan to collapse and nor do they want an Afghan government that is strongly and closely tied to New Delhi,” he said.

“I think what they’d like is a relatively stable Afghanistan, and one whose government — and some of the tribal and sub-tribal actors near the border — have at least decent relations with Islamabad.”

And key to all of this, all experts agree, is that the US military remain in Afghanistan for the long haul.

AFP

U.S. Lauds Nigeria’s Efforts In Tackling Boko Haram Insurgency

U.S. Secretary of States, Mr Rex Tillerson,
U.S. Secretary of States, Mr Rex Tillerson

The United States has advised countries facing challenges of terrorism to take a cue from Nigeria in winning the war against global terrorism.

The U.S. Secretary of States, Mr Rex Tillerson, gave the recommendation on Thursday at the ‘Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS’ in Washington.

The meeting was convened at a time when the activities of terrorist groups across the globe were on the increase.

Experts identified sharing of ideas at different fora as an important step in winning the war against terror.

Mr Tillerson also noted that information sharing was one way countries could defeat terrorism, adding that Nigeria and West African countries have done well in sharing information which he said resulted in foiling a great number of attacks.

He asked countries that have challenges of domestic terror groups to build up their information sharing systems, just as Nigeria did to win the war against Boko Haram insurgency.

The U.S. Secretary of States, however, recounted with sadness the attacks on some countries by terrorists groups and proffered solution on how to tackle them.u-s

Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin, on his part pledged Nigeria’s resolve to mobilise resources in order to confront violent extremists.

The Charge d’ Affaires of Nigeria to the United States, Mr Hakeem Balogun, also highlighted the effects of the commendation on Nigeria.

The meeting was attended by representatives from 68 countries including Nigeria, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco and Somalia.

 

 

Accidental Bombing: Don’t Cast Blames Without Inquiry – Security Expert

Max Gbanite, Accidential Bombing, Borno, Military, Air ForceThe accidental air strike on a civilian settlement in Borno State has continued to generate more reactions from within and outside Nigeria.

This time, a national security expert urged Nigerians not to blame the military for the attack, saying such mistakes had occurred even in more diplomatic countries.

Mr Max Gbanite believes that the incident could be as a result of lack of coordination in some cases, stressing that such error was unavoidable.

Making An Excuse For Air Force

“Remember that visibility is an issues in the Sambisa forest area. (It is) for the first time since the war started (that) such error was made (and) it’s not unlikely that such error could happen in any war that is being prosecuted in anywhere in the world.

“I’m not trying to make an excuse for the Nigerian Air Force, (but) we’ve had that happen in Afghanistan when U.S. drones bombed a hospital by mistake. We’ve (also) seen it in Syria where Russian and U.S aircraft bomb hospitals by mistake.

“It is lack of coordination sometimes and again these are technologies that are using more precise bombing than what we are using today,” he explained.

We Can’t Blame Our Air Force

The security expert, however, stated that the military would account for the mistake, saying he was quite sure that the Nigerian Air Force authorities would address the issue fairly.

He urged Nigerians not to hazard the motive behind the mistake yet, but to wait until the military had concluded its investigation.

“We have been fighting this war for the past five years and this (error) just happened now. I think we can’t blame our Air Force but we should wait and hear from the military to know precisely what really happened.

“We need to be patient; they are going to account for this and if there was a mistake on the part of the Air Force, I’m quite sure the Chief of Air Staff will make sure something is done about this,” Mr Gbanite said on Sunrise Daily.

Conflict Refugees At Highest Level – UN Refugee Agency

UN Refugee Agency, UN Migrant, Migrants CrisisThe UN Refugee Agency says the number of people displaced by conflict is at the highest level.

It estimated that at least 65.3m people were either refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced at the end of 2015.The Agency explained that the number represented one in every 113 people on the planet.

The agency says, this number represents one in every 113 people on the planet.

The UN Refugee Chief, Mr Flippo Gandi also said a worrying “climate of xenophobia” had taken hold in Europe as it struggles to cope with the migrant crisis.

The influx of people, the biggest since world war two, has led to greater support for far-right groups and controversial anti-immigration policies.

In its annual report marking World Refugee Day, the UN said it was the first time the number of refugees worldwide had passed the 60m mark.

The Agency explained that over half of the total comes from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Grandi also stated that it was unfortunate that decisions taken last year by the European Union to better handle the influx “were not implemented”.

London Anti-Corruption Summit Opens

Muhammadu-Buhari-Uk-Anti-corruption-summitThe United Kingdom (UK) is hosting world leaders, business executives and civil society in an Anti-Corruption Summit to agree a package of practical steps to expose corruption and also ensure adequate punishment for perpetrators.

Most leaders at the Summit will come from nations that are battling corruption.

In his speech announcing the summit, Prime Minister David Cameron described corruption as ‘one of the greatest enemies of progress in our time’.

Ahead of the Summit, Mr Cameron was caught on camera telling Queen Elizabeth that the UK would be greeting some leaders of ‘fantastically corrupt’ countries in the world, citing Nigerian and Afghanistan as part of that category.

Cameron’s statement had drawn reactions from Nigeria and other nations ahead of the Summit, where world leaders would seek to galvanise a global response to tackle corruption and also deal with issues including corporate secrecy, government transparency, the enforcement of international anti-corruption laws and the strengthening of international institutions.

Drive Out Corruption

It is the first Summit of its kind, bringing together world leaders, business executives and civil society to agree a package of practical steps to expose corruption so there is nowhere to hide, punish the perpetrators, support those affected by corruption and drive out the culture of corruption wherever it exists.

At a pre-Summit conference on Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria said he would not demand an apology from Mr Cameron for the statement but would want a fast repatriation of stolen funds in the UK.

President Buhari and other leaders are expected to push for faster repatriation of stolen funds in the UK and other nations.

Nigeria also expects that the Summit would come up with a declaration that will make it faster to repatriate all stolen funds back to their countries of origin.

The Acting High Commissioner of Nigeria to the United Kingdom, Mr Simon Orga, said on Tuesday that the declaration would remove all obstacles and bottlenecks that had impeded the repatriation of such funds.

Agreement will also be reached on the repatriation or extradition of persons that had looted their nation’s funds to ensure they faced trial.

Mr Orga expressed optimism that the summit would remove all impediments to the efforts of the Nigerian President to get all stolen money in the UK repatriated.

“At the end of the conference there will be a declaration and it will focus on all stolen wealth that are in the UK to have them repatriated.

“It will be faster to facilitate the repatriation of the assets that are abroad and even the people behind it, leaving abroad could be extradited to Nigeria.

“It has gone beyond the shores of Nigeria and many world leaders already know the implication of fighting corruption and that is why they have conveyed the summit,” he told Channels Television’s correspondent, Chukwuma Onuekwusi.

The Nigerian government had on Wednesday responded to Mr Cameron’s statement, saying he must be referring the Nigeria’s past and that the statement did not represent the efforts of the Buhari-led administration in the fight against corruption.