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Afghan ‘mother of all bombs’ toll rises to 94

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Kabul, April 15: The death toll of Islamic State (IS) militants killed when the US military dropped a massive GBU-43 bomb or the “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province has risen to 94, a Kabul official said on Saturday.

“The number of IS militants killed in the US bomb in Achin district jumped to 94, including four commanders,” Nangarhar provincial spokesman Attaullah Khogiani told CNN.

Our team is in the area and they are doing clearance, so the figure might change as they find more bodies,” said Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defence.

The GBU-43, a non-nuclear, 10-tonne missile powered by a wave of air pressure, was dropped on Thursday onto caves used by the terror group.

The initial toll given by Afghan officials for the strike was 36. However, a statement released on Friday through IS’ media wing, Amaq News Agency, said none of the terror group’s fighters were killed or injured.

No civilians were killed in the explosion, said an official.

The Chief Executive of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, said the attack had been carried out in co-ordination with his government and “great care had been taken to avoid civilian harm”.

The strike targeted a network of fortified underground tunnels that IS had been using to stage attacks on government forces in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistan border, said the report.

The blast destroyed three underground tunnels as well as weapons and ammunition, but no civilians were hurt, Afghan and US officials said.

The US military defended its decision when it was quizzed Friday on whether the behemoth bomb was necessary for that particular target.

“This was the right weapon against the right target. It was the right time to use it tactically against the right target on the battlefield,” General John Nicholson, commander for US forces in Afghanistan, said at a news conference.

“The enemy had created bunkers, tunnels and extensive mine fields, and this weapon was used to reduce those obstacles so that we could continue our offensive in southern Nangarhar.

The US military previously estimated IS had 600 to 800 active fighters in the area.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he approved of the strike, and it was designed to support Afghan and US forces conducting clearance operations in the region.

But former President Hamid Karzai accused the US of using Afghanistan as “a testing ground for new and dangerous weapons.”

IANS

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Germany wants to strengthen multilateralism with China: Merkel

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said her country wants to strengthen multilateralism with China and she is looking forward to her visit to China next week.

Merkel will visit China next Thursday and Friday at the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. It will be her first trip to China after re-election and the 11th as the German chancellor, Xinhua news agency reported.

Merkel said in a podcast published on Saturday that as Germany and China have agreed on regular political dialogue and intergovernmental consultations, she went to China to conduct these talks on average once a year.

Germany and China have carried out very close cooperation within G20, Merkel said, adding that during her upcoming visit the two sides will talk about bilateral relations, rule of law, China’s development, economy and other international affairs.

“We want to strengthen multilateralism. And that will play a role in our discussion,” said Merkel.

Merkel will also visit Shenzhen, an economic hub in China’s southern Guangdong Province.

“I am glad that I’m going to Shenzhen this time as well. I have regularly visited provinces in China, not just the capital. I am again and again aware of the dynamics and the extent to which China is developing,” Merkel said.

The German Chancellor said she was very interested in visiting Shenzhen where China’s economic opening-up began and where there are many German companies.

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Royal Wedding: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle marry at Windsor Castle

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New Delhi, May 19: It’s the most anticipated wedding of the year: Prince Harry married US actress Meghan Markle in a ceremony at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle here on Saturday (May 19).

prince harry Meghan Markle

Meghan became the first royal bride to walk herself up the aisle at a royal wedding. She was met halfway by Prince Charles, the Duke of Cornwall, who walked her down the aisle of the Quire of the chapel. Her father Thomas Markle was unable to attend due to health issues.

The marriage between Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne, and Meghan, an American actor who lived for years in Toronto, has drawn intense interest worldwide.

Among the 600 celebrity guests invited to the St. George Chapel were internationally acclaimed Indian actress Priyanka Chopra, Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, David and Victoria Beckham, Elton John, Tom Hardy, James Corden, James Blunt and Carey Mulligan among others.

Tennis star Serena Williams and rugby star Jonny Wilkinson were also present.

The ceremony took place in presence of Queen Elizabeth II, her husband Prince Philip, Prince William, his wife Catherine, Prince Harry’s uncle, Earl Spencer; the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson; and Catherine’s sister Pippa Middleton.

Watch all the Live Updates of Royal Wedding here: 

Here comes the beautiful royal bride:

Handsome groom:

Harry and Markle becomeDuke and Duchess of Sussex on their Wedding Day: Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the dukedom on her grandson in the morning, with his wife-to-be automatically becoming a duchess. Prince Harry’s titles will be Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.

“The Queen has today been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince Henry of Wales. His titles will be Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel,” according to the royal statement.

“Prince Harry thus becomes His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle on marriage will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex,” it said.

The couple will wed at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

People flocking the streets to welcome the bride and groom.

WeForNews

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Trump nominates Harris as US ambassador to South Korea

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Washington, May 19: US President Donald Trump picked Admiral Harry Harris as the next US ambassador to the South Korea, the White House said on Friday.

Harris, 61, currently serves as the commander of US Pacific Command. He was previously nominated as the US ambassador to Australia, Xinhua news agency reported.

The post of the US ambassador to South Korea has remained unfilled since Trump took office in 2017.

It has been reported that the White House withdrew its nomination of Victor Cha, a veteran Korea expert, in January for the post because of Cha’s opposition to military options against North Korea.

Harris still needs the Senate confirmation to assume the post.

IANS

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