Seven children were killed in an air strike on an Afghan religious school and suspected al-Qaeda safe house, the US-led coalition said yesterday.
The coalition said it did not know the children were in the compound in Paktika Province, which it hit in an air raid late on Sunday after receiving information that al-Qaeda fighters were there.
"We had surveillance on the compound all day and saw no indications there were children inside the building," coalition spokesman Major Chris Belcher said.
The coalition "confirmed the presence of nefarious activity" before getting approval to attack the compound, which included a mosque and a religious school, it said.
"Early reporting has [it] that seven children at the madrassa died as a result of the strike," the coalition statement said, adding that "several militants" were also killed.
"This is another example of al-Qaeda using the protective status of a mosque, as well as innocent civilians, to shield themselves," Belcher said.
"We are truly sorry for the innocent lives lost in this attack," he said.
The UN said it sent a team to investigate the incident in Paktika's Zarghun Shah district, about 180km south of Kabul.
UNICEF child protection chief Noriko Izumi said the world body was concerned about children being caught up in the conflict.
"Children in Afghanistan are very vulnerable," she said.
The air raid followed a suicide bombing in the southern town of Tirin Kot on Friday that police said killed five young boys.
Two schoolgirls were killed in a June 9 drive-by shooting the government blamed on the "enemies of Afghanistan."
Foreign troops have been criticized for killing civilians in their operations, but the vast majority of such deaths have been caused by insurgent attacks.
Up to 380 civilians were killed in insurgency-linked violence in the first four months of this year, UN figures showed.
NATO countries participating in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which works alongside the coalition, expressed alarm last week at the number of civilian fatalities.
Senior ISAF officials said over the weekend they did all they could to avoid civilian casualties.
"In most cases I have made the decision not to attack lawful targets due to the risk of civilian casualties," one official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
In other incidents linked to the insurgency, the coalition said its soldiers and Afghan forces had "killed several dozen enemy combatants" in a battle on Sunday involving fighter aircraft in the southern province of Helmand.
Two coalition soldiers were wounded, but their nationalities were not disclosed.
The Afghan defense ministry said one of its troops was killed and another wounded in the same area.
SAFETY RISK: The government is working to categorize countries based on their COVID-19 cases and prevention efforts, which would determine quarantine periods The government plans to rank countries based on their COVID-19 risks to determine how to treat tourists and other travelers from those nations once Taiwan reopens its borders, but it is still working out the categories, a top health official told lawmakers yesterday. “We would divide countries around the world into several categories. One category would comprise those countries with very few confirmed COVID-19 cases, such as New Zealand and Palau. Travelers from the countries in this category would only need to practice self-health management,” Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) told a Legislative Yuan seminar hosted by
SECURITY CONCERNS: The Telecom Technology Center ran black-box tests for the Executive Yuan on devices and software from Chinese, US and South Korean firms Network devices from several Chinese manufacturers are insecure and allow personal information to be leaked, testing commissioned by the Executive Yuan has shown. A variety of devices and software, including apps, from Chinese, US and South Korean manufacturers that are used by government agencies at the central and local level were subjected to black-box testing — in which the functionality of an application is examined without knowing about its internal structure, an information-security official said yesterday on condition of anonymity. The Telecom Technology Center conducted the tests, which simulated cyberattacks, to determine their resilience to the attacks, the official said. The center
CASH BOOST: Foreign spouses with residency permits are also eligible for the coupons, which can be bought at post offices or linked to digital payment options Stimulus coupons for Taiwanese and foreign spouses with residency permits can be ordered starting on July 1 and can be used from July 15 to Dec. 31, the Executive Yuan said yesterday. Aimed at boosting domestic spending, the coupons worth NT$3,000 (US$100.04) are to cost NT$1,000. “For our consumers, this is a very good deal as they get three times as much value for their money,” Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told a news conference in Taipei. While the coupons are to have a wide range of uses, including at department stores, restaurants, book stores, night markets, beauty and hair salons, hotels, and to
People using Taipei’s MRT metropolitan railway network and public bus system would no longer be required to wear masks at all times when in stations, metro cars or buses from tomorrow, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) announced yesterday. The mask requirement on public transport in Taipei is being eased on the same day the central government plans to relax disease prevention measures on trains and domestic flights, as there have been no domestic COVID-19 infections in nearly two months, she said. “As long as social distancing can be maintained,” passengers riding the MRT and public buses in the city can remove