A car bomb exploded near a heavily fortified foreign compound in Kabul on Monday, killing at least four people and wounding 44, officials said, in the latest attack to rock the Afghan capital.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the huge blast, which shook the city, but it comes as diplomatic efforts to end the 17-year war with the Taliban gather pace.
Militants targeted Green Village, located near a busy road in the east of the city and where some foreign workers are based, said interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish.
At least 10 children were among the wounded, he added.
Until recently some United Nations’ staff had lived and worked at the highly secure compound, but Danish said the area was now largely empty and “only a number of guards” were left.
“Residential houses nearby have sustained heavy damage,” Danish said.
“Special police forces’ units have been deployed to the site to check if there are more attackers.”
The explosion happened in the early evening when traffic is normally heavy.
The last assault on a foreign compound was in late November when a Taliban-claimed vehicle bomb exploded outside the compound of British security firm G4S, killing at least 10 people.
Five G4S employees were among the dead.
That was followed by a suicide and gun attack on a government compound in Kabul on December 24 that killed at least 43 people, making it one of the deadliest assaults on the city last year.
The latest bombing comes as US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad visits the region for meetings aimed at bringing an end to the 17-year war in Afghanistan, which by some estimates was the world’s deadliest conflict zone in 2018.
Khalilzad, who met Taliban representatives last month in Abu Dhabi, is travelling to Afghanistan as well as China, India and Pakistan on the trip lasting through January 21.
The leaking of US President Donald Trump’s plan to slash troop numbers in Afghanistan, however, has threatened to derail those efforts.
The recent flurry of activity to get the Taliban to the negotiating table has caused disquiet in Afghanistan, with the government feeling sidelined from the discussions.
The Taliban has repeatedly refused to talk to Kabul, which it sees as a US puppet and ineffective.
Four persons have been killed with dozens more missing after a gas explosion tore through a high-rise residential building in central Russia.
Rescuers hunted for survivors on Monday in the rubbles left by the explosion.
A large section of the building collapsed after the explosion around 6:00 am local time (1100 GMT) at the high-rise in the industrial city of Magnitogorsk, nearly 1,700 kilometres (1,050 miles) east of Moscow in the Ural mountains.
President Vladimir Putin rushed to the city, where the blast left hundreds of residents homeless in freezing temperatures on New Year’s Eve — the biggest holiday of the year in Russia.
Officials said four people were confirmed dead and five others, including two children, had been taken to hospital. But officials added that up to 40 people could still be trapped under the rubble.
National television showed rescue workers combing through mangled heaps of concrete and metal in temperatures of minus 18 Celsius (minus 0.4 Fahrenheit).
“I went out to have a cigarette at quarter-to-six,” a local man told Russian television. “There was a blast and a wave of fire… then people started running out.”
Other witnesses said the explosion was strong enough to shatter the windows of nearby buildings.
“I woke up and felt myself falling. The walls were gone. My mother was screaming and my son had been buried,” said another witness.
Russian television showed a grim-looking Putin in a black winter jacket meeting with local officials. He was also shown donning a white coat and visiting a victim in hospital.
“It is in the character of our people, despite New Year’s festivities, to remember to think of the dead and wounded at this moment,” Putin said.
Senior officials, including the emergencies and health ministers, flew to Magnitogorsk to oversee the rescue operation.
Emergencies minister Yevgeny Zinichev told Putin that between 36 and 40 people could be trapped under the rubble. Regional governor Boris Dubrovsky said seven children were among the missing.
– Plunging temperatures – Authorities said rescue teams were to work through the night, with local temperatures expected to plunge to minus 23 Celsius.
Officials warned that two more sections of the Soviet-era high-rise on Karl Marx Street were in danger of collapsing.
Located in the mineral-rich southern Urals region, Magnitogorsk, with a population of more than 400,000 people, is home to one of the country’s largest steel producers.
The high-rise was built in 1973 and was home to around 1,100 people. Residents were evacuated to a nearby school.
Volunteers offered money, clothing and essentials to the victims, and some said they were ready to provide temporary shelter to those in need.
Dubrovsky, the local governor, said authorities planned to buy apartments for people who had lost their homes.
Staff from the local Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (MMK), one of the country’s largest steelmakers, took part in the rescue operation.
Billionaire Viktor Rashnikov, who controls the plant, called on city residents to help the victims.
“This is our common tragedy and pain,” he said in a statement, adding that MMK would provide financial assistance to those in need.
Investigators opened a criminal probe into the accident, with the FSB security service confirming the blast had been the result of a gas explosion.
Such deadly gas explosions are relatively common in Russia where much of the infrastructure dates back to the Soviet era and safety requirements are often ignored.
–Putin arrives in Magnitogorsk after deadly high-rise blast-
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived Monday in the Urals city of Magnitogorsk after a gas explosion tore through a residential building killing at least four people and leaving several dozens missing.
Putin was expected to meet victims and regional authorities in the industrial city, Russian news agencies reported.
According to the latest report, 35 people remained unaccounted for, emergencies ministry spokesman Timur Khikmatov told AFP.
Israeli jets bombed several areas in southern Syria and near Damascus on Thursday drawing retaliatory fire from the ground, a monitoring group said.
The Israeli military made no comment on the reported strikes, during which Syrian air defences opened fire for the first time since the deadly downing of a Russian transport plane in September, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“Israeli forces bombarded for an hour position in the southern and southwestern suburbs of Damascus as well as in the south of Syria at the border of Quneitra province,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Syrian state media said air defences downed a number of “hostile targets” close to the capital.
“Our air defences fired on hostile targets over the Kisweh area and downed them,” the official SANA news agency reported, citing a military source.
The Israeli military denied that any of its aircraft were hit, while not commenting on the reported strikes.
“Reports regarding an IDF (Israeli military) aircraft or an airborne IDF target having been hit are false,” it said in an English-language statement.
It said a Syrian surface-to-air missile was fired in the direction of an open area of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights but it was unclear if it had hit Israeli-held territory.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in neighbouring Syria against what it says are Iranian targets, many of them in the area south of Damascus.
Abdel Rahman said there are “weapons depots belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah (group) as well as Iranian forces” in Kisweh.
Iran and Russia are the government’s key allies in the civil war that has raved Syria since 2011, and Moscow’s intervention in 2015 dramatically turned the tables against the rebels.
The accidental downing of the Russian transport aircraft by Syrian ground batteries during an Israel air strike on September 17 killed 15 service personnel and prompted Moscow to significantly upgrade Syrian air defences.
Moscow pinned responsibility for the downing on Israel, saying its fighter jet used the larger Russian one for the cover, an allegation Israel disputed.
The move raised fears in Israel that its ability to rein in its arch-foe Iran’s military presence in its northeastern neighbour would be sharply reduced.
Abdel Rahman said Thursday was the first time Syria’s air defences had been called into action since the September downing and the delivery of advanced new Russian missiles.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had told Moscow his government would continue to hit hostile targets in Syria to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence across the border.
He added that Israel would “continue security coordination” with Russia.
US President Donald Trump on Friday praised the “incredible job” of law enforcement after a suspect was detained in Florida in connection with 12 suspicious packages and pipe bombs sent to Democratic figures.
“These terrorizing acts are despicable and have no place in our country,” Trump said from the White House. “I’ve instructed authorities to spare no resource or expense in finding those responsible and bringing them to swift and certain justice.”
“We must never allow political violence to take root in America,” Trump added. “We must show the world that we are united together in peace, love and harmony as fellow American citizens.”
An eight-year-old child was killed and at least nine other people injured on Tuesday when a homemade bomb went off in a suburb of the Indian city of Kolkata, police said.
India’s eastern West Bengal state, of which Kolkata is the capital, has a long history of political violence and targeted killings of rival party activists.
“The crude bomb exploded below a four-story
building near the market and injured 10 persons, four of them seriously,” Barrackpore police commissioner Rajesh Kumar Singh told AFP.“An eight-year-old who sustained injuries in the blast died at the hospital. We are investigating it from all aspects,” he added, refusing to name any suspects.
Eyewitnesses described a “powerful explosion” to local media and said that it shattered the windows of nearby buildings.
Police said that forensic teams were trying to gather evidence.
The state’s dominant political players, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI-M, have traded allegations of crude bomb attacks and other violence in the past.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, which has started to make political inroads in the state in the last few years, has also accused rivals of violence.
A Press Trust of India report cited Panchu Roy, a local TMC politician whose office is inside the building where the blast happened, as saying that he was the actual target.
“It was a pre-planned blast… They had planned to kill me and other TMC workers, as it would create panic and help them gain (a) foothold in the area,” he said, without naming any suspects.
The bomb that killed 40 children and 11 others in a Saudi-led coalition air strike on a bus in rebel-held northern Yemen was sold by the United States under a State Department deal with Riyadh, CNN has reported.
The numbers on shrapnel, of which images were taken shortly after the attack this month, indicate that it was a laser-guided Mk 82 bomb manufactured by defense contractor Lockheed Martin, CNN said Friday, citing munitions experts.
Former President Barack Obama banned the sale of precision-guided weaponry to Saudi Arabia after it used a similar bomb in an October 2016 attack that killed 140 people at a funeral in the rebel-held capital Sanaa.
But President Donald Trump overturned that ban after taking office in 2017.
Fifty-six children were also among the 79 people wounded in the August 9 strike on Saada province, a rebel stronghold that borders Saudi Arabia, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The coalition has promised an internal inquiry but analysts and aid groups have voiced doubt that it is ready to provide the transparency and accountability demanded by the wider international community.
It is part of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, a conflict that has killed nearly 10,000 people since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 as Huthi rebel fighters closed in on the last bastion of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s government.
Coalition commanders have admitted a small number of mistakes, but there has been no public disciplinary action or changes to the rules of engagement.
The commanders have accused rebels of using civilians as human shields.
“Our deepest condolences go to the families of the victims in Damboa and to the Government and people of Nigeria. We wish the injured a speedy recovery,” she said.
“Civilians consistently bear the brunt of the conflict and over 200 women, children and men have now been killed in indiscriminate attacks in the North-east since the beginning of the year, including in the town of Mubi last month in Adamawa State. I urge the Government of Nigeria to further step up protection of people,” the UN Humanitarian Coordinator added.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) had earlier reported that 20 people were killed and 48 others were injured in the Saturday evening explosion.
Consequently, NEMA North-east Coordinator, Bashir Galga, confirmed to Channels Television on Monday that the death toll had risen to 21.
While conflicting figures trail the number of deaths as a result of the attacks, Galga explained that the victim died in the hospital and others are still recuperating.
Meanwhile, Kaulard revealed that the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) air-lifted by helicopter 11 of the critically wounded from Damboa to Maiduguri on Sunday, to facilitate emergency medical treatment in support of the state authorities.
Damboa town lies about 90 kilometers south-west of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Damboa Local Government Area (LGA) currently hosts over 90,000 internally displaced people, 18,000 of which live in Damboa town in five IDP camps.
The LGA is one of the areas in Borno that hosts the highest number of displaced people.
According to the UN statement, some 20 humanitarian organisations provide life-saving assistance to the vulnerable women, children, and men in Damboa, including food, shelter, medical services, clean water and sanitation on a daily basis.
The town last witnessed an attack by suspected Boko Haram terrorists in July 2016 after it was taken over by the insurgents in mid-2014 and subsequently recaptured by the Nigerian military a few months later.
Humanitarian access outside of Damboa town in the rest of the LGA remains limited due to hostilities and lack of safety assurances.
The humanitarian crisis in the North-east, which spilled over into the Lake Chad region, is one of the most severe in the world today.
About 7.7 million people reported to be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2018 in the worst-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, and 6.1 million targeted for humanitarian assistance.
Humanitarian aid includes the delivery of life-saving assistance as well as the support for people to kick-start their lives.
London City Airport was closed on Monday as military experts worked to remove a World War II bomb found in the neighbouring dock.
The unexploded ordnance was discovered in King George V Dock, during planned works near the runway of London’s most central airport.
The bomb was discovered at around 5:00am (0500 GMT) on Sunday and a 214-metre exclusion zone was imposed “to ensure that the ordnance can be safely dealt with whilst limiting any risk to the public,” police said.
Homes within the exclusion zone were evacuated overnight and the local authority was providing residents with temporary accommodation and support.
Police remained at the scene on Monday.
“The operation to remove the ordnance is ongoing in partnership with our colleagues in the Royal Navy,” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
City Airport operates short-haul flights and is located in east London, close to the Canary Wharf business district.
It is the capital’s fifth-biggest airport.
“The airport remains closed this morning,” said its chief executive Robert Sinclair.
“All flights in and out of London City on Monday are cancelled.
“I urge any passengers due to fly today not to come to the airport and to contact their airline for further information.”
London was heavily bombed during the “Blitz”, the Nazi German air attacks of September 1940 to May 1941.
London City Airport opened in 1987 in the disused docklands. It handled 4.5 million passengers in 2017 and is mainly used by business travellers.
Colonel Nwachukwu noted that the offensive and clearance operation has led to severe depletion of the terrorists and destruction of several of their enclaves in the fringes of Lake Chad and the Sambisa forest in Borno State.
In the course of the operation, the troops, closely supported by the Nigerian Air Force further exploited deep into the far ends of Camp Zairo and aggressively carried out an offensive against insurgents defending a major IED making factory.
The gallant soldiers successfully engaged the terrorists, demobilised their vehicle-borne IEDs and killed quite a number of them, as well as captured the IED making factory.
Similarly, they recovered 88 gas cylinders, one laptop computer, and one 100m ultra high-frequency hand-held radio (UHF HH Radio).
Other items recovered include one Motorola GP 180, theodolite and two Global Positioning Systems (GPS), while the troops destroyed 22 motorcycles, 18 bicycles and provisions store.
The Theatre Command spokesman noted that buoyed by the unprecedented success, the soldiers’ morale remains high as they are unrelenting in ensuring the imminent and total clearance of the remaining Boko Haram terrorists.
At least 22 people were injured after a bomb detonated on a packed London Underground train on Friday, setting off a “wall of fire” that burned commuters in Britain’s fifth terror attack in six months.
Witnesses saw passengers with facial burns and hair coming off at the Parsons Green station in west London after the explosion on the train during the morning rush hour.
“At 8:20 this morning at Parsons Green station there was an explosion on a Tube train. We now assess that this was a detonation of an improvised explosive device,” police counter-terror chief Mark Rowley said.
Rowley said most of the injuries were due to “flash burns”, while others were wounded by the stampede as passengers ran out of the station in panic.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said a “manhunt” was underway.
One local resident, Charlie Craven, who was on his way to the station, said he heard a “massive bang”.
“I saw an orange sort of fireball encompassing the whole Tube coming towards you,” he told AFP.
Witness Lauren Hubbard described it as “a wall of fire”. Twitter user @Rrigs, who posted pictures of a white bucket smouldering on the train, said: “Explosion on Parsons Green District Line train. Fireball flew down carriage and we just jumped out open door”.
The bucket, which was inside a frozen food bag from the budget supermarket chain Lidl, looked like the type used by builders and there appeared to be cables coming out of it.
Police sources cited by British media said the device had a timer but had failed to detonate fully.
US President Donald Trump said that “loser terrorists” were behind the attack, adding that they were already “in the sights” of British police.
London’s Metropolitan Police dismissed the tweet as “unhelpful speculation”, and Trump was also rebuked by Prime Minister Theresa May.
“I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation,” she said, speaking after an emergency cabinet meeting.
May also said the device was “clearly intended to cause significant harm,” condemning it as a “cowardly attack”.
– Armed police on patrol –
The National Health Service said 18 people were taken by ambulance to hospital, while four others made their own way to hospitals.
The London Ambulance Service said none of the victims “are thought to be in a serious or life-threatening condition”.
The MI5 intelligence service is assisting investigators, and police said Londoners should expect additional security measures over the weekend.
Armed police and sniffer dogs could be seen on the train and around the station, which is in a leafy area of west London popular with well-off commuters, and filled with chic cafes.
The area around the station was later evacuated as bomb disposal experts secured what was left.
Local residents and businesses rallied together with businesses offering tea and the use of their toilets to people unable to get home.
The local council of Hammersmith and Fulham opened a rest centre in the area for those affected.
The bombing is the fifth terror attack in Britain since March, when a man mowed down pedestrians and stabbed a police officer outside the British parliament.
– ‘Lots of screaming’ –
Passengers described chaotic scenes at the station in the normally quiet part of west London.
Louis Hather, 21, was travelling to work and was three carriages down from where the explosion took place.
“I could smell the burning. Like when you burn plastic,” he told AFP.
Hather saw a woman with burns being carried away on a stretcher.
He was trampled on as passengers stampeded out of the station and his leg was badly cut and bruised.
Sally Faulding, a 51-year-old teacher, said: “People were falling over each other.”
Richard Aylmer-Hall, 52, told the Press Association: “There was panic, lots of people shouting, screaming, lots of screaming”.
A total of 35 people have been killed in four previous attacks in London and Manchester this year.
Three of those involved a vehicle ploughing into pedestrians.
The other attack was a bombing in May at a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in Manchester which killed 22 people, including several children.
Otso Iho, a senior analyst at Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, said the latest attack showed a “continued high intent but low capability” of the terrorism threat in Britain.
Hans Michels, a professor of chemical engineering at Imperial College, said the flash flame “suggests that the explosion was only partly successful”.
“Much of the bucket still seems to be intact and there appear to be no victims with lethal impact wounds,” he said.
German explosives experts defused a massive World War Two bomb in the financial capital of Frankfurt on Sunday (September 3) after tens of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes.
The compulsory evacuation of 60,000 people was Germany’s biggest such manoeuvre since the war, with more than a thousand emergency service workers helping to clear the area around the bomb, which was discovered on a building site last week.
The evacuation area included two hospitals, care homes, the Opera House and Germany’s central bank, the Bundesbank, where $70 billion in gold reserves are stored underground. Police maintained security at the building.
The all-day effort took longer than planned but officials expressed relief that the process had been successful.
The work by bomb technicians started later than scheduled because some residents refused to leave the evacuation area despite fire chiefs warning that an uncontrolled explosion would be big enough to flatten a city block.
More than 2,000 tonnes of live bombs and munitions are discovered each year in Germany, more than 70 years after the end of the war. British and American warplanes pummelled the country with 1.5 million tonnes of bombs that killed 600,000 people.
Officials estimate that 15 percent of the bombs failed to explode, some burrowing six metres (20 feet) deep.
Three police explosives experts in Goettingen were killed in 2010 while preparing to defuse a 1,000 lb (450 kg) bomb.
A bomb exploded near a crowded market in the Pakistani city of Quetta on Saturday (August 12), killing at least 15 people, officials said, the latest attack to hit the restive southwestern province of Baluchistan.
The was no immediate claim of responsibility from any of the Islamist militants and separatist insurgent movements active in the resource-rich province, which is a key part of a $57 billion Chinese economic corridor through Pakistan.
The powerful blast hit as a paramilitary patrol passed by on the road, Baluchistan provincial home minister Sarfraz Bugti said, adding the patrol may have been the target.
“A vehicle belonging to our security forces was targeted. According to the information that we have received so far, there are around 15 casualties, people who have been martyred. Around 40 people are injured,” Bugti said.