Afghan commandos killed four at medical clinic: human rights group

Afghan National Army commandos take part in a military exercise at a training center in Herat in this November 11, 2017 file photo. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2019

Afghan commandos killed four at medical clinic: human rights group

  • Doctors and hospitals have been frequently targeted during the Afghanistan’s decades-long conflict
  • Afghan special operations forces entered the clinic, the only one operating in Wardak province west of Kabul, on the night of July 8-9

KABUL: Afghan commandos must be prosecuted after they “executed” four civilians during a night raid on a medical clinic in central Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch said Friday.
Doctors and hospitals have been frequently targeted during the country’s decades-long conflict, with 2019 already proving far deadlier than last year for aid workers.
Several witnesses told the US-based non-governmental organization that Afghan special operations forces entered the clinic, the only one operating in Wardak province west of Kabul, on the night of July 8-9.
“They killed a family caregiver and then detained and bound staff and family members accompanying patients,” HRW said in a statement.
Three other people — a lab worker, a guard and another person caring for a patient — were later found dead from gunshots. HRW said they had been “executed.”
“Attacks on medical facilities challenge the very foundations of the laws of war, and will persist if those responsible go unpunished,” HRW’s associate Asia director Patricia Gossman said.
“It’s imperative for the Afghan government to prosecute the commanders who ordered the killings as well as the soldiers who pulled the trigger.”
Neither the Afghan defense ministry nor US forces in Afghanistan immediately commented. It was not clear whether the US military had supported Afghan troops in the raid.
HRW said deliberate attacks on medical facilities and the summary killing of civilians or incapacitated combatants are war crimes.
The clinic — run by the non-governmental Swedish Committee for Afghanistan — was attacked in 2016, allegedly by both international and Afghan army troops. Three people were killed in that incident.
On Wednesday, Toby Lanzer, deputy head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said 2019 has been a deadly year for health and aid workers. So far this year, 77 aid workers have been killed, injured or abducted compared with 76 in all of 2018, he said.
The raid came only hours after a team of Afghan representatives had met with Taliban officials at a historic summit in Doha where parties pledged to reduce civilian casualties to “zero.”


Irish PM says outstanding Brexit issues, may need more time

Updated 15 min 53 sec ago

Irish PM says outstanding Brexit issues, may need more time

  • Britain’s Brexit minister Steve Barclay said he would not consider accepting a delay to Britain’s EU exit beyond Oct. 31
  • Reports that the last-ditch talks to seal a Brexit deal — to be approved by a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday and Friday

BRUSSELS/DUBLIN: There are still issues to be resolved in Brexit negotiations, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Wednesday, as European Union sources said the eleventh-hour talks with London were at a standstill.

“There is a pathway to a possible deal but there are many issues that still need to be fully resolved,” Varadkar said in a speech.
He said he had spoken to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier in the day.

“I do think we are making progress but there are issues yet to be resolved and hopefully that can be done today.”

“But if it’s not, there is still more time. October 31 is still a few weeks away and there is the possibility of an additional summit before that if we need one ... Although time is running short, I am confident that (Ireland’s) objectives can be met.”

Shortly before Varadkar spoke, EU sources said the talks had reached a “standstill” over a future trade deal between Britain and the bloc, as well as the rejection by Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party of customs solutions tentatively agreed by negotiators.

Britain’s Brexit minister Steve Barclay said he would not consider accepting a delay to Britain’s EU exit beyond Oct. 31, even if it was only used to tie up the necessary legal requirements of an agreement.

“No, I think it is important that we leave on the 31st of October,” Barclay told a British parliamentary committee.

Reports that the last-ditch talks to seal a Brexit deal — to be approved by a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday and Friday before Britain is due out on Oct.31 — hit sterling and stocks in London.