Afghanistan: Several Killed, Scores Wounded in Blast Outside Kabul University

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Several Killed, Scores Wounded in Blast Outside Kabul University

Friday, 19 July, 2019 – 11:30
Workers clean the site of an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, July 19, 2019. A powerful bomb exploded outside the gates of Kabul University in the Afghan capital on Friday, according to police and health officials. (AP Photo)
Asharq Al-Awsat
A deadly bomb exploded outside the Kabul University in the Afghan capital on Friday.

At least eight people were killed, while almost 33 were wounded, according to police and health officials, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

A number of the wounded are reported to be in critical condition.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest to target Kabul. However, both the Taliban and ISIS often stage large-scale bombings in the city.

The early blast also set two vehicles ablaze although it wasn’t clear if the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber or a remotely detonated bomb, stated Kabul police spokesman Ferdous Faramarz.

The casualty tolls were released by the Health Ministry spokesman, Dr. Wahidullah Mayar over Twitter.

“All the wounded patients were evacuated to our hospitals and have been receiving the required treatment,” he tweeted.

According to AP, after initial reports of six dead, Mayer said two people died of their wounds and that the number of wounded rose to 33, following reports from hospitals around the city.

The university compound houses several hostels where many students stay over the summer, attending classes and working on research projects.

In a 2016 attack, 13 people were killed, mostly students, and more than 40 people were wounded when militants attacked the American University in Kabul. In that attack, a car bomb exploded outside the university gates, followed by a blistering, hours-long attack in which gunmen roamed through the compound shooting at students and teachers.

Activists: Russian, Syrian Strikes Kill 11 in Idlib

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Activists: Russian, Syrian Strikes Kill 11 in Idlib

Saturday, 13 July, 2019 – 11:30
Members of the Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets) and civilians gather following a reported regime airstrike on the village of Kafriya, in Syria’s Idlib province, on July 13, 2019. Omar HAJ KADOUR / AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat
Syrian rescuers and activists said Saturday that 11 civilians, including two families of four, have been killed in regime and Russian airstrikes inside Syria’s last opposition stronghold in Idlib province.

First responders known as White Helmets said airstrikes in Kafriya village Saturday killed a mother, her baby and another man, leaving 11 injured, including one of their volunteers.

The rescuers and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said other airstrikes in the town of Khan Sheikhoun hit a farm, killing two families— four children and four parents.

The Observatory said Russian aircraft were suspected of launching the strike.

At least 13 civilians were killed Friday in Syrian regime air strikes in the country’s northwest, including three children, the war monitor said.

Another 45 civilians were wounded in the strikes across Idlib, the Observatory added.

Israel: IAEA finds traces of radioactive material at Iran site flagged by Netanyahu

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

TV: IAEA finds traces of radioactive material at Iran site flagged by Netanyahu

10 months after PM identified ‘secret atomic warehouse’ in Tehran, UN inspectors reportedly conclude that it was indeed used as a nuclear storage facility

Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2018 in New York City, and holds up a picture of what he said was a secret Iranian nuclear warehouse. (John Moore/Getty Images/AFP)

Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2018 in New York City, and holds up a picture of what he said was a secret Iranian nuclear warehouse. (John Moore/Getty Images/AFP)

Inspectors from the UN’s nuclear agency have found traces of radioactive material at a building in Tehran that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu identified last year as a “secret atomic warehouse,” an Israeli television report said on Thursday.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency visited the site several times after Netanyahu identified it in an address to the UN General Assembly last September, took soil samples, and have now definitively concluded that there were “traces of radioactive material” there, Channel 13 news reported.

It quoted what it said were four senior Israeli officials involved in the matter, and said the UN agency’s findings had become known to these officials recently.

Iran has denied that the site was a nuclear facility or served any secretive purpose. In an initial response to Netanyahu’s UN speech, Iranian state media claimed the warehouse was actually a recycling facility for scrap metal.

Iran’s alleged ‘atomic warehouse’ in Turquzabad, Tehran (YouTube screenshot)

But the IAEA inspectors, who last visited the site in March, have reached a “definitive conclusion” that “there were traces of radioactive material” there, Channel 13 said, and are currently preparing a report on the matter.

The TV report noted that “the storing of radioactive material in a secret facility without informing the IAEA is a breach of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons [NPT], to which Iran is a signatory.”

Indicating that Washington is also aware of the IAEA inspectors’ findings, the TV report said that Israel and the US expect the agency to issue a public report on the matter shortly.

Coincidentally or otherwise, Netanyahu spoke on Wednesday by phone with US President Donald Trump about Iran. “The two leaders discussed cooperation between the United States and Israel in advancing shared national security interests, including efforts to prevent Iran’s malign actions in the region,” the White House said.

An image from a placard displayed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly showing a suspected “secret atomic warehouse” in the Turquzabad district of Tehran containing up to 300 tons of nuclear material. (GPO)

Speaking at the United Nations last September, Netanyahu called on the IAEA to inspect what he said was the “secret atomic warehouse” in the Iranian capital.

He claimed some 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of radioactive material had been recently removed from the atomic warehouse and squirreled away around Tehran, endangering the capital’s residents. The site may have contained as much as 300 tons of nuclear-related equipment and material in 15 shipping containers, Netanyahu added. He did not specify what nuclear material was contained at the site.

Netanyahu specified that there was a rug-cleaning business nearby: “Like the atomic archive [revealed by the prime minister in April], it’s another innocent-looking compound. Now, for those of you at home using Google Earth, this no-longer-secret atomic warehouse is on Maher Alley, Maher Street. You have the coordinates, you can try to get there. And for those of you who try to get there, it’s 100 meters from the Kalishoi, the rug cleaning operation. By the way, I hear they do a fantastic job cleaning rugs there. But by now they may be radioactive rugs.”

He added: “Now, countries with satellite capabilities may notice some increased activity on Maher Alley in the days and weeks ahead. The people they’ll see scurrying back and forth are Iranian officials desperately trying to finish the job of cleaning up that site. Because, you see, since we raided the atomic archive, they’ve been busy cleaning out the atomic warehouse.

“Just last month, they removed 15 kilograms of radioactive material,” he went on. “You know what they did with it? They had 15 kilograms of radioactive material, they had to get it out of the site, so they took it out and they spread it around Tehran in an effort to hide the evidence. The endangered residents of Tehran may want to know that they can get a Geiger counter on Amazon for only $29.99… They took this radioactive material and spread it around Tehran.

“Now, the Iranian officials cleaning out that site still have a lot of work to do because they’ve had at least, at least 15 ship containers, they’re gigantic, 15 ship containers full of nuclear related equipment and material stored there. Now, since each of those containers can hold 20 tons of material, this means that this site contains as much as 300 tons, 300 tons of nuclear related equipment and material.”

That speech came months after Israel’s disclosure that it had spirited away what it said was a “half-ton” of Iranian nuclear documents from Tehran, with Netanyahu saying both the archive and the warehouse were proof that Iran continues to seek atomic weapons despite the 2015 international agreement to limit its nuclear program. “Iran has not abandoned its goal to develop nuclear weapons…. Rest assured that will not happen. What Iran hides, Israel will find,” Netanyahu told the UN.

A local businessman speaks to Tasnim news reporter near an alleged secret Iranian nuclear site in the Turquzabad district of Tehran on September 30, 2018. (screen capture: Tasnim)

Following Netanyahu’s UN appearance, IAEA head Yukiya Amano said nuclear inspectors had visited “all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit,” while pushing back against the prime minister’s assertion that the organization had failed to act on intelligence provided by Israel on the warehouse.

Diplomats quoted in April, however, said the IAEA visited the site in Tehran’s Turquzabad district multiple times the previous month. They said tests were underway on environmental samples taken from the facility in order to determine if nuclear materials were present there. It was said then that results could be ready by June.

“We have nothing to hide and any access given to the IAEA so far has been in the framework of laws and regulations and nothing beyond that,” an Iranian official said at the time.

Referring to Netanyahu’s statements as “ridiculous,” an Iranian state TV report said the country was committed to nonproliferation and noted Iran’s nuclear program was under surveillance of the IAEA. A state TV website briefly reported the Netanyahu accusation and called it an “illusion.”

A Tasnim News reporter who visited the warehouse last October was told by a worker from inside the facility that it was not a military site, and that the Israeli leader was “a stupid person” for believing it was a nuclear warehouse. The reporter did not enter the facility, only speaking to the worker via intercom from outside the locked gate.

The owner of the nearby carpet cleaning business told Tasnim “there was nothing out of the ordinary” about the warehouse, and asserted that Netanyahu was fed disinformation to “make him a fool.”

In this photo released by official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, right, and Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano shake hands for media at the start of their meeting at the Presidency office in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, December 18, 2016. (Iranian Presidency Office/AP)

Netanyahu was a vocal opponent of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran when it was signed under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, arguing that it would not stop but only delay Iran’s nuclear weapon program, while removing sanctions critical to curbing Tehran. He praised Trump for withdrawing from the accord in May.

Iran has denied it is seeking atomic weapons, while warning it would walk back its commitment to the nuclear accord if it does not receive economic inducements from its remaining signatories — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. In recent days, it has breached the accord’s cap on uranium enrichment levels.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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Afghanistan: 50 children injured in Kabul bomb blast

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

50 children injured in Kabul bomb blast

AFP
50 children injured in Kabul bomb blast

AFP

Wounded Afghan men receive treatment at the Wazir Akbar Khan hospital following a car bomb attack in Kabul on July 1, 2019.

At least 50 children were among more than 100 people wounded yesterday when the Taliban detonated a powerful car bomb in Kabul, officials said, the latest deadly attack in one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a child.

Save the Children led international condemnation of the blast targeting a defence ministry building, which sent a plume of smoke into the air during rush hour and shook buildings nearly 2 kilometers away.

It was followed by gunmen storming a nearby building and triggering a gun battle with special forces in the Puli Mahmood Khan neighbourhood of the Afghan capital.

Officials said all five attackers have been killed and a clearing operation is ongoing.

At least three people have been killed, including one child, and 116 wounded, according to the health ministry, though that figure is expected to change once the clearing operation has been completed.

Among the wounded were 50 children, the education ministry said in a statement, adding that most had been hurt by flying glass and were in stable condition. Some social media images purportedly taken at a hospital showed wounded, stunned children in school uniforms, still clutching books as they arrived for treatment.

In its statement, the education ministry said five schools had been partially damaged, and asked “all sides involved in fighting to guarantee the safety of students, teachers, education workers and schools.”

Such an attack was “utterly deplorable,” Save the Children said in a statement, warning that “children’s smaller bodies sustain more serious injuries than adults.”

Trusting The Government: U.S., Russia, China, North Korea, All The Same?

Trusting The Government: U.S., Russia, China, North Korea, All The Same?

 

I was born in the mid 1950’s and grew up watching Walter Cronkite deliver the evening news. Mr. Cronkite was by most considered to be the “most trusted man in America.” Whom is it that you totally trust the most in American news media or within the political realm today? With all the news outlets of today all trying to get you to watch or listen to them I find it difficult to put much trust in any of them. There are two main reasons for that, one is that each of these outlets are companies, they are ‘for profit’. Two is the consideration of where are they getting their information?

 

I am in my early 60’s now so during the past 50 years or so we here in the U.S. have been constantly told that we are the good guys and governments who are Communist are the bad guys. From all of the reading and studying that I have done over the years I really don’t doubt that these Communists governments are far less than friendly toward their own population nor to others. Communists seem to think military first and usually military only and it is a proven fact that very few people who are military oriented are very good public leaders. Military frame of mind and civilian frame of mind seldom seem to end up within the same person. Then again within the non-communists countries the people have to put up with politicians who seem to change their mind like farts in a breeze. Here in the U.S. we the people have learned a lot since the NSA murdered John and Bobby Kennedy back in the 60’s. When Nixon was President he illegally expanded the war in Vietnam into Laos and Cambodia. We had military personal who died there or were captured there that our government turned their back on as well as their families basically saying they must have deserted. When the U.S. officially left Vietnam Nixon got on TV and said there were no more POWs in southeast Asia, knowing very well that he was lying to the people. Reality comes down to the fact of truth or not the truth, trust or not being able to trust.

 

Now I am going to talk about current events here in the U.S. and this reality of trust or no trust. On a personal level can you trust a person on really serious matters when you absolutely know as a fact that they have lied to you many many occasions?  In the last 24-36 hours we have been hearing on the news that Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. spy drone. The early news strongly hinted that the drone was over Iranian land which by all forms of international law would have been a violation committed by the Americans and Iran would have had every right to shoot it down. By international law every country which borders a body of water has 12 miles sovereignty except for China’s Communists government who seems to want to claim at least a few thousand miles sovereignty but that is another story for other articles. Now the U.S. government is saying that the drone was 21 miles off of Iran’s coast and if this is true then basically Iran committed and act of war against the U.S. and the U.S. government would have the right to retaliate against Iran. The issue is, how can we trust our own government when they and especially our President is a habitual liar? President George W. Bush’s lies paved the way for us to start a war with Iraq. Personally I believe that he was just trying to show his Daddy that he could ‘one-up’ him and take out Saddam. Think of the cost of those lies in terms of thousands of people dead and about a trillion dollars of taxpayer money thrown into that bloodbath. Today’s news headline said that some of the Republicans in the Senate were upset that President Trump called off a bombing raid in Iran that would have started an all out war with them and their allies. Going to war with anyone should not be a partisan matter and going to war should not be in the hands of one person. If we are going to enter a war this war should be voted on and passed by at least 2/3 of the Congress and the Senate. This is not a computer game, many thousands of people will die. So, what is the truth on this matter, can you or I honestly trust anything that Mr. Trump says? Personally I don’t. Credibility is something that our leaders no longer have, their word is not good enough any more. If we go to war with Iran they have many allies including many sleeper cells within our own borders, many Americans on American land will die, life as we have always know it here in the States will be over. But, how the hell can we the people ever know if what we are being told is the truth, or just another lie.

 

Iran Says It Will Exceed Nuclear Deal’s Limit On Uranium ‘In 10 Days’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

 

Iran Says It Will Exceed Nuclear Deal’s Limit On Uranium ‘In 10 Days’

Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi, pictured at a July 2018 news conference in Tehran, said Monday: “We have quadrupled the rate of enrichment and even increased it more recently.”

Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 11:50 a.m. ET

Within days Iran will exceed the limit on its stockpile of uranium under a 2015 nuclear deal, according to a spokesman for the country’s atomic energy agency, who also said Tehran would increase uranium enrichment levels in violation of the agreement, “based on the country’s needs.”

The remarks come amid increased tension between the U.S. and Iran, particularly after last week’s attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman that Washington has blamed on Tehran. Iran has denied any involvement.

Under the multilateral Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that the U.S. withdrew from a year ago, Iran can keep no more than 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of uranium enriched no higher than 3.67% — far below the 90% level considered suitable for building nuclear weapons.

At a news conference at the Arak Nuclear Complex that was carried live Monday on Iranian television, Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said that stockpile limit could be exceeded within 10 days.

“We have quadrupled the rate of enrichment and even increased it more recently, so that in 10 days it will bypass the 300 kg limit,” Kamalvandi said.

He added that his country needs uranium enriched to 5% for its Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, built in the 1990s with Russian help, and uranium of 20% purity to be used as fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, which the U.S. supplied to Iran in 1967.

Although not weapons-grade, 20% purity is generally considered “highly enriched” uranium, and as The Associated Press notes, “going from 20% to 90% is a relatively quicker process, something that worries nuclear nonproliferation experts.”

Even so, Kamalvandi held out the possibility that “there is still time … if European countries act.”

“Iran’s reserves are every day increasing at a more rapid rate. And if it is important for them (Europe) to safeguard the accord, they should make their best efforts. … As soon as they carry out their commitments, things will naturally go back to their original state,” he said, according to AP.

That sentiment was echoed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday. “It’s a crucial moment, and France can still work with other signatories of the deal and play an historic role to save the deal in this very short time,” he was quoted by the Fars News Agency as saying during a meeting with France’s new ambassador in Iran.

Reuters reports that Rouhani said the collapse of the nuclear deal would not be in the interests of the region and the world.

In response to Iran’s announcement on uranium enrichment levels, National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said in a statement: “Iran’s enrichment plans are only possible because the horrible nuclear deal left the their capabilities intact. President Trump has made it clear that he will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The regime’s nuclear blackmail must be met with increased international pressure.”

Following last week’s reported attack on the tankers Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “there’s no doubt” that Iran was responsible for disabling the vessels.

“The intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence,” Pompeo said on Fox News Sunday. “The world will come to see much of it, but the American people should rest assured we have high confidence with respect to who conducted these attacks as well as half a dozen other attacks throughout the world.”

On CBS’ Face the Nation, Pompeo said the U.S. was “considering a full range of options.”

“We are confident that we can take a set of actions that can restore deterrence, which is our mission set,” he said.

On Monday, Iran’s armed forces chief of staff again denied the country’s involvement in the attacks.

“Regarding the new incidents in the Persian Gulf … if the Islamic Republic of Iran decides to block exports of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, it is militarily strong enough to do that fully and publicly,” Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri said, according to Fars News Agency.

Foreign fighters among 10 killed in IDF Syria strike after rocket fire

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Foreign fighters among 10 killed in IDF Syria strike after rocket fire — report

Monitor says Iranian, Hezbollah targets hit in airstrikes; IDF says Syrian military positions targeted, including anti-aircraft battery, after 2 rockets fired at Golan on Saturday

An IDF airstrike hits Syrian military targets, June 1, 2019. (IDF spokesperson's unit)

An IDF airstrike hits Syrian military targets, June 1, 2019. (IDF spokesperson’s unit)

Seven “foreign fighters” were among the 10 killed in Israel Defense Forces airstrikes on several military targets in Syria in the predawn hours of Sunday morning in response to two rockets that were fired from the country at the Golan Heights on Saturday night, a war monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights did not specify the nationalities of the foreigners, but in an earlier statement said that Iranian and Hezbollah targets were hit in the strikes.

Beginning at 4:10 a.m., Israel Defense Forces helicopters and planes attacked several targets connected to the Syrian army, including two artillery batteries, several observation and intelligence outposts, and an SA-2 type air defense unit, the IDF said in a statement.

Syrian media reported that Israel also struck several targets connected to Iran and is proxy militias in Syria, in the area of al-Kiswah, south of Damascus. These strikes reportedly targeted weapons caches and a military training facility.

The Israeli army refrained from specifying who it believes fired the two rockets at the Golan Heights — one of which landed inside Israeli territory, the other in Syria — but said it “sees the Syrian regime as responsible for all attacks against Israel from Syrian territory.”

The observation and intelligence targets bombed by Israel were located near the border with the Golan Heights, while the artillery and anti-aircraft batteries were south and south-west of Damascus, the IDF said.

During the exchange, Israeli air defense systems fired in response to Syrian anti-aircraft fire, but no projectiles were believed to have landed inside Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday morning that Israel will continue to respond to any attacks on its territory.

“We are not prepared to tolerate firing into our territory and we react with great force against any aggression against us,” the prime minister, who also serves as defense minister, said in a statement. “This is a consistent policy that I lead and so we will continue to do for the sake of Israel’s security.”

Syria’s official SANA news agency said that three Syrian soldiers had been killed and seven injured in the attack, and claimed that Syrian air defenses intercepted missiles coming from the Golan Heights. The attack also caused material damage, the report said.

Israel Defense Forces

@IDF

Last night, 2 rockets were launched from Syria to Israel, 1 landing within Israeli territory. In response, we struck a number of Syrian Armed Forces military targets.

Video insertado

Israel Defense Forces

@IDF

The Syrian Armed Forces targets we struck included:
🎯 2 artillery batteries
🎯 Observation & intel posts
🎯 An SA-2 aerial defense battery

We hold the Syrian regime accountable and will firmly operate against any attempt to harm Israeli civilians. pic.twitter.com/XtDTqz7Btc

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The two projectiles fired at Israel on Saturday caused no injuries or damage.

The incoming rockets did not trigger alert sirens. These alarms are typically only activated in cases where a projectile is heading toward a populated area, rather than an open field.

The launches came less than a week after a limited clash between Israel and Syria.

On Monday, a Syrian anti-aircraft battery fired at an Israeli fighter jet that was flying within Israeli airspace. Shortly afterward, in response, the IDF attacked the battery and destroyed it, reportedly killing a Syrian officer and soldier. A military vehicle was also said damaged in the attack.

Saturday night’s rockets appeared to be a relatively long-range variety, reportedly fired from the Damascus area, some 35 kilometers (22 miles) away, similar to an attack earlier this year aimed at Mount Hermon. Mount Hermon is located in the northern tip of Israel’s Golan Heights. In addition to a popular ski resort, the area is also home to a number of military installations.

In January, Iranian troops in Syria fired a medium-range, Iranian-made missile at Mount Hermon in what the IDF said at the time was a “premeditated” attack aimed at deterring Israel from conducting airstrikes against the Islamic republic’s troops and proxies in Syria.

The incoming projectile was shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.

Last Saturday, Syria said its air defenses shot down a number of missiles fired from Israel, a day after making a similar claim.

Toward the start of the Syrian civil war, the Israeli military established a number of “red lines” that if violated would result in a retaliatory strike, including any attacks — intentional or otherwise — against Israel.

They also included Iranian efforts to establish a permanent military presence in Syria and attempts to transfer advanced munitions to the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist group.

In recent years, Israel has acknowledged conducting hundreds of airstrikes in Syria in response to these “red line” violations.

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GOP Armed Services senator breaks with Trump: I find North Korean missile tests ‘very disturbing’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE HILL’ NEWSPAPER)

(OPED OLDPOET56)(WHY SHOULD ANYONE EVER CARE WHAT 2 HABITUAL LIARS (Trump and Kim Jong Un) HAVE TO SAY ABOUT ANYTHING?)

GOP Armed Services senator breaks with Trump: I find North Korean missile tests ‘very disturbing’

GOP Armed Services senator breaks with Trump: I find North Korean missile tests 'very disturbing'
© Getty Images

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Armed Services committee, broke with President Trump on Sunday over North Korean missile tests.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Ernst said she finds recent missile tests from the regime “very disturbing” and warned that she wouldn’t trust North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I find them very disturbing, and certainly wouldn’t trust Kim Jong Un,” Ernst said. “I think we need to keep our eyes on North Korea, I understand the president wants to maintain a relationship … so that we can work with them. However, those strikes are disturbing.”

The comments come in response to a Saturday tweet from Trump in which the president dismissed concerns about missile tests and said he has confidence in Kim.

“North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me,” he tweeted. “I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me.”

When asked whether she found Trump’s comments, made while in Japan for a diplomatic visit, disturbing, Ernst on Sunday replied: “Certainly.”

“I think Japan does have reason to be concerned, and I am concerned as well,” the senator said. “We need to see north Korea back off of those activities, and we need to take a very strong stance on that.

Ernst added that she understands Trump “has a job to do on negotiating,” but urged for a stronger “pushback” on North Korea to ensure that the regime is following United Nations guidelines prohibiting it from firing ballistic missiles.

“We can’t continue to let them further develop any type of weapons systems,” she said.

Trump has touted his friendly relationship with Kim as a step toward denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, but after two in-person summits, the two leaders have failed to reach a deal on nuclear negotiations and sanctions.

Afghanistan: Senior Cleric Among Casualties in Kabul Mosque Blast

( THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Senior Cleric Among Casualties in Kabul Mosque Blast

Friday, 24 May, 2019 – 11:30
Afghan security forces keep watch at the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan December 18 ,2017. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
Asharq Al-Awsat
A bomb exploded in a mosque in the Afghan capital, Kabul, during Friday prayers, officials said, killing three people including a religious scholar and wounding at least 20 men who had gathered for worship.

The preacher, Samiullah Raihan, was a supporter of the Western-backed Afghan government which Taliban militants are trying to bring down. He was also a member of the National Ulema Council, Afghanistan’s top Muslim clerical body.

Firdaws Faramarz, a police spokesman, said explosives were apparently placed near the altar of the Al-Taqwa mosque, a place used by the mosque leader to initiate the prayers.

Jan Agha, a district police official, said the bomb was apparently planted in the microphone used by the mosque leader.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but the Taliban and ISIS militants regularly stage attacks in the capital.

The explosion hit at a time when dozens of men had gathered for prayers. The death toll could rise, said a second official.

4 Policemen Killed, 11 Injured In Blast In Pakistan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KASHMIR OBSERVER)

 

4 Policemen Killed, 11 Injured In Blast In Pakistan

Pakistani volunteers shift an injured victim into the hospital after the bomb blast in Quetta | AFP
Resize

ISLAMABAD — A powerful remote-controlled bomb blast near a mosque in Pakistan’s Balochistan province has killed four policemen and injured 11 others, the second major attack to rock the restive region in the last three days.

The explosion occurred on Monday night when people were assembling for prayers near the mosque in the provincial capital Quetta’s Satellite Town area.

The attack took place shortly after a police van arrived at the site to provide security to the people offering prayers at the mosque.

“The police vehicle carrying personnel for mosque security was targeted in the blast in which our four personnel of Rapid Response Group (RRG) lost their lives, while the condition of another was stated to be serious,” said Quetta Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Razzaq Cheema.

Another 11 people were injured in the attack, Provincial Home Minister Ziaullah Langov said.

This was the second major terrorist attack in Balochistan within the last three days.

Three heavily-armed militants on Saturday stormed a luxury hotel in Pakistan’s port city of Gwadar in the restive Balochistan province, killing eight persons, including a Pakistan Navy soldier and three militants.

An improvised explosive device planted in a motorcycle went off close to the police van. Sources said unidentified people parked the explosive-laden motorbike near the mosque in Satellite Town area and detonated it by remote control when the police van arrived there, the Dawn reported.

“Three police officials among the injured died soon after being brought here at the hospital,” officials at a healthcare facility said.

Many vehicles parked in the area were damaged and window panes of nearby buildings were shattered due to the powerful blast, though the mosque remained safe in the attack.

Security forces have cordoned off the area and launched a search operation to trace those involved in the blast.

The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the motorcycle bomb blast targeting the police vehicle, the report said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has strongly condemned the targeted attack.

Khan has sought a report on the blast and said the country was fully committed to completely eliminating terrorism.

The prime minister said those who target innocent people in the holy month of Ramadan did not have a religion.

The nation’s spirit is strong and Pakistan is determined to do away with the menace of terrorism, he said.

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan has also condemned the attack.

“Efforts are being made to sabotage peace under a wicked conspiracy. Those creating instability would be fought back with full force,” he said.

Vowing to improve the security arrangements, the chief minister also directed the concerned authorities to provide the best medical facilities to the wounded persons.