In brief: U.S. military offers condolences after drone strike kills five Afghan soldiers
Kabul, Afghanistan – The U.S. military offered its condolences Thursday after an airstrike on an Afghan army outpost mistakenly killed five Afghan soldiers and injured at least seven.
The predawn strike in eastern Afghanistan’s Logar province, which U.S. military officials described as an “unfortunate incident,” comes as U.S. and Afghan officials continue to clash over an agreement that would keep American troops in the country beyond the end of the year.
President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the accord, which he helped write, and in the past year has used increasingly sharp language to accuse U.S. forces of being occupiers and indiscriminately killing Afghan civilians.
But Karzai was unusually mild in his reaction to Thursday’s incident, telling reporters during a state visit to Sri Lanka that it was being investigated. He did not immediately condemn the international troops.
“This attack, NATO has admitted to me they did it mistakenly,” Karzai said. “We will investigate the issue and then speak about it.”
Dalai Lama prays ‘to Buddha and all’ during visit to U.S. Senate
Washington – The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, delivered the opening invocation in the U.S. Senate on Thursday, praying “to Buddha and all” and suggesting that purity of thought will guide humanity’s actions. In his saffron robe, the Dalai Lama climbed the few steps to the Senate dais and delivered the three-line prayer, first in the Tibetan language, then in English.
The Buddhist monk is continuing a U.S. visit, after meeting last month with President Barack Obama at the White House despite objections from China, which accuses the Nobel Peace Prize winner of instigating a Tibetan independence campaign to separate from China.
Guest chaplains occasionally open the House and Senate chambers, but Thursday marked the first time the Dalai Lama gave the invocation, according to the Senate Historical Office.
He was invited by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and greeted on the Senate floor by Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, the only Buddhist in the Senate, as well as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a longtime ally of the world-renowned monk and champion of human rights in Tibet.
Series of bombings, clashes kills at least 42 people in Iraq
Baghdad – Bombings targeting shoppers across central Iraq and clashes near the militant-held city of Fallujah killed at least 42 people Thursday, authorities said.
No one claimed responsibility for the string of bombings that began Thursday afternoon, mostly from parked car bombs and one explosive planted in an outdoor market. However, they bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida and other Sunni insurgents, who frequently use car bombs and suicide attacks to target public areas and government buildings in their bid to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government.
Clashes outside of Fallujah between militants and Iraqi security forces, meanwhile, killed at least five people and wounded 13, a local hospital there said.
The attacks came a day after a series of explosions killed at least 24 people in different parts of Iraq. Such bombings have increased since last year, along with Sunni anger over perceived mistreatment and random arrests of Sunnis by the authorities.