Friday 23 June 2017

In brief: Suicide bomber blows up hospital killing 40 in eastern Afghanistan

A suicide bomber in a car packed with explosives blew up a hospital in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, killing at least 40 people and wounding scores of others, including patients and medical staff.

The attack at 10.30am local time tore apart the 10-bed clinic. "Most of the dead bodies are women and children who had come to get treatment and the others are men," said a hospital spokesman in Logar province. "All the dead and wounded bodies are civilians, personnel of the clinic and ill people."

It was the first time a massive blast occurred in a mountainous area. The clinic's entrance gate was not guarded. "The clinic has never had guards because it's a hospital, not a military base," said the spokesman.

Meanwhile, a Taliban spokesman denied the group was responsible for the attack.

Militants kill 10 Pakistani policemen

Militants attacked a police station in north-west Pakistan yesterday, killing 10 officers and sparking an hours-long standoff that included a suicide bombing and two other explosions, authorities said.

The assault is one of a slew in recent weeks involving teams of armed insurgents targeting security forces as violence has surged in Pakistan since the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden elsewhere in the country's north-west.

Such attacks -- one of which led to an 18-hour standoff at a naval base in the southern city of Karachi in May -- underscore the vulnerability of Pakistan's security establishment, which is reeling from the humiliation of being unable to detect the unilateral US takeout of the al-Qaeda chief at the beginning of May.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Israeli couple in theft of artefacts

An Israeli couple have been given suspended jail sentences for the theft of historic artefacts from the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in Poland.

"They have voluntarily accepted a two-year suspended jail sentence and agreed to pay a mandatory contribution towards the preservation of monuments," said a local prosecutor. After all formalities are dealt with, the 60-year-old man and his 57-year-old wife will be free to leave Poland, he said.

The couple had been charged earlier yesterday with the theft of mementoes of particular cultural importance, an offence that carries a maximum 10-year jail sentence.

They spent Friday night in jail after border guards at Krakow airport caught them trying to take several Auschwitz artefacts out of the country

A Krakow police spokesman said the couple took nine items including spoons, knives, scissors and porcelain bottle stoppers they had found in a storage room of prisoner belongings during a visit to Auschwitz.

It was the third such incident this year.

Thousands gather in Medjugorje

Thousands of Christian pilgrims have gathered in the southern Bosnian village of Medjugorje to mark the 30th anniversary of the disputed apparition of the Virgin Mary.

At dawn yesterday, pilgrims from around the world climbed a hill above Medjugorje where six children claimed in 1981 they had the visions.

The Medjugorje apparition has been disputed for decades. Unlike Fatima in Portugal or Lourdes in France, the Catholic Church is cautious about calling the sightings authentic, and has not formally approved Medjugorje as a shrine site. The Vatican last year started formally investigating the apparitions that the six -- now adults -- claim are still regular.

Egyptian court sentences ex-minister

An Egyptian court has sentenced the country's former industry and commerce minister to five years in prison.

Rachid Mohammed Rachid, who was convicted in absentia of embezzling public funds, fled Cairo after the uprising that forced Egypt's president from power after nearly 30 years.

The court also fined Rachid about $2m (€1.4m).

Alleged hacker must wait for hearing

A British teenager accused of attacks on a series of websites is being kept in custody in London until a bail hearing tomorrow.

Ryan Cleary was granted bail by City of Westminster Magistrate's Court yesterday, but prosecutors have appealed the move, meaning he must remain behind bars.

The 19-year-old is accused of a series of cyber attacks last year linked to the amorphous hacking group known as Anonymous and a more recent attack on the website of the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Russian police detain 14 gay activists

Russian police yesterday detained 14 gay-rights activists trying to hold an unsanctioned demonstration in St Petersburg, as well as one person suspected of attacking the protesters.

Police detained two groups of activists protesting their lack of rights in two central districts of the city. Attempts to hold gay pride rallies almost always end in violence in Russia.

Sunday Independent

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