The White House disclosed on Thursday that American development expert Warren Weinstein and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto were killed in a US-led operation in January to destroy an al-Qaeda compound.
President Barack Obama said that intelligence had led the United States to believe that the compound only sheltered senior militants that would be impossible to capture and that it was free of civilians.
“I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations, including the one that inadvertently took the lives of Warren and Giovanni,” said President Obama. “I profoundly regret what happened. On behalf of the United States government, I offer our deepest apologies to the families.”
It is unclear as to who the strike was intended for, how the White House learned that Weinstein and Lo Porto were killed and how much time had passed before their families were notified of their deaths.
“We hope that my husband’s death and the others who have faced similar tragedies in recent months will finally prompt the U.S. Government to take its responsibilities seriously and establish a coordinated and consistent approach to supporting hostages and their families,” said Elaine, wife of Warren Weinstein.
A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 rocked Nepal on Saturday, killing thousands and destroying homes and centuries-old temples. A major aftershock hit the country on Sunday.
In what the US Geological Survey calls one of the most seismically hazardous regions on Earth, the quake struck in an area approximately 50 miles northwest of the capital Katmandu. There were multiple aftershocks, including one registering at a magnitude of 6.7.
More than 2,500 people have been confirmed dead, and the death toll is expected to rise as aid and excavation efforts continue to improve. At least 18 people were killed and many more were injured on Mount Everest, where an avalanche was caused by the earthquake.
Neighboring countries have also reported casualties and damage from the earthquake – at least 61 people have died in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Tibet.
It may take several weeks or months, or longer, to realize the full extent of the damage and the final death toll. The country’s resources, including hospitals, have been overwhelmed, but numerous countries and non-profit organizations have immediately pledged aid in the form of funds, personnel and supplies.
Belgium’s senior Roman Catholic cleric, Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, was ordered on Thursday to pay 10,000 euros in damages for failing to act on allegations of sexual abuse in the 1990s.
The original civil case was brought by Joel Devillet, who was abused by a Catholic priest while he was a choirboy when he was 14 years old in the late 1990s.
Devillet later became a priest himself and informed the Church of the abuse he suffered as an adolescent, but the Church did little to help him and did not take his complaints to the proper authorities for justice.
The court said that Leonard bore some blame for not investigating the situation further. “At no moment at the church court was Joel Devillet recognized as a victim…the way in which Bishop Leonard treated the case of Joel Devillet constituted misconduct,” said the court.
A report in 2010 found child abuse was widespread in the Belgian Church, and had driven at least 13 victims to suicide.
Leonard has been criticized before for expressing that prosecuting retired priests is just vengeance and that there is no need for the Church to compensate victims.