Editor’s Note: This is the Paw Print Rewind, a daily recap of the top news headlines.
U.N.: Civilian Afghanistan casualties hit record high
Civilian casualties of the war in Afghanistan rose to record levels for the seventh straight year in 2015, according to the United Nations, as violence spread across the country.
According to the organization, at least 3,545 non-combatants died and another 7,457 were injured by fighting last year in a four-percent increase over 2014.
“The harm done to civilians is totally unacceptable.”
-Nicholas Hayson, U.N. assistance mission in Afghanistan head
“In most parts of Afghanistan in 2015, civilian casualties decreased.”
-Danielle Bell, U.N. human rights program in Afghanistan head
Ground engagements were the leading cause of civilian casualties at 37 percent, followed by roadside bombs at 21 percent, and suicide attacks at 17 percent.
Casualties among women spiked 37 percent while deaths and injuries increased 14 percent among children.
Casualties attributed to pro-government forces jumped 28 percent compared to 2014 to account to 17 percent of the total.
A nine-percent rise in civilian casualties caused by international forces was largely attributed to a U.S. airstrike in October on a Doctors Without Borders hospital.
Overall, 103 civilians were killed and 67 were wounded by foreign forces last year, according to the report.
“The report references commitments made by all parties to the conflict to protect civilians, however, the figures documented in 2015 reflect a disconnect between commitments made and the harsh reality on the ground.”
Since the United Nations began recording civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2009, it has documented nearly 59,000 deaths and injuries.
Scientists bid Philae farewell after radio silence
European scientists have given up hope of restoring contact with the Philae space probe, which successfully landed on a comet in a pinpoint operation only to lose power because its solar-driven batteries were in the shade.
“Unfortunately, the probability of Philae reestablishing contact with our team at the [German Aerospace Center] Lander Control Center is almost zero, and we will no longer be sending any commands.
“It would be very surprising if we received a signal now.”
-Stephan Ulamec, German Aerospace Center Philae project manager
Scientists expect to get a final glimpse of the lander in the European summer, when the Rosetta spacecraft snaps some pictures during close fly-bys, before landing on the comet when its mission ends in September.
In around six years, Philae and Rosetta will near Earth again when the comet returns to circle the sun again.
SoftBank to repurchase up to $4.4 billion in shares
Japanese telecom conglomerate SoftBank announced its biggest buyback Monday, saying it will purchase up to $4.4 billion (14.2 percent) of its own shares.
“Softbank shares have become so cheap now. For the company to say it’s buying back at this time will have an ‘announcement effect’.”
-Naoki Yokota, SMBC Friend Research Center analyst
HSBC keeps London headquarters, rejects Hong Kong move
HSBC has decided to keep its headquarters in London, rejecting the option to move to Hong Kong after a 10-month review.
“We had no negotiation with the [British] government. The government was very well aware of our view … but there certainly was no pressure put on, or no negotiation.”
-Douglas Flint, HSBC chairman