A powerful suicide truck bomb devastated a hospital in southern Afghanistan early yesterday morning, killing 20 people and wounding 97, while a deadly drone strike in the country’s east was blamed on US forces.
The Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, has carried out nearly daily attacks since peace talks with the US collapsed earlier this month.
The massive explosion destroyed part of the hospital in Qalat, the capital of southern Zabul Province, and left a fleet of ambulances broken and battered.
Local residents, many of whom had come to see sick family members, used shawls and blankets to carry the wounded inside the destroyed building, while authorities scrambled to take the worst of the wounded to hospitals in nearby Kandahar.
Hours earlier, a drone attack in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province blamed on US forces killed at least 16 and wounded tens of others, most of them civilians, said Jawaid Zaman, presidential adviser on tribal affairs.
The US forces in Afghanistan said that they carried out a strike in eastern Nangarhar targeting Islamic State positions in the area.
“We are aware of allegations of the death of noncombatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts,” US forces spokesman Colonel Sonny Legget said.
Angry residents of the area where the strike occurred carried 12 bodies to the provincial capital, Jalalabad, to protest the attack, provincial council head Ahmad Ali Hazrat said.
Many more people are believed to be missing.
Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, also said that the target was Islamic State group militants who were in the area.
However, Zaman said that the local residents had provided prior notice to local authorities that they would be collecting dried fruit.
As many as 50 people were in the fields when the attack occurred, he said.
Meanwhile in Zabul, Governor Rahmatullah Yarmal said that the death toll from the suicide attack was 20, with many of the 97 injured in a critical condition.
There were contradictory figures of the dead and wounded in the hours after the suicide truck bombing.
Morning prayers had just finished when worshipers were stunned by the ear-splitting blast that destroyed parts of a mosque adjacent to the hospital and the hospital building, Qalat resident Mahboob Hakimi said.
Windows in his home nearly 2km away were shattered by the blast, he said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said on Twitter that the target was a nearby intelligence office, which he claimed was destroyed and “tens of intelligence operatives killed/wounded.”
Provincial council chief Atta Jan Haqbayan said that the wall of a Afghan National Directorate of Security building was damaged.
He could not say whether any personnel were among the casualties.
Yarmal said that many of the dead and wounded were women and children.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting