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Obama becomes 1st US President to visit Hiroshima

Gorkha Post

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HIROSHIMA — US President Barack Obama made history Friday by becoming the first incumbent US head of state to visit Hiroshima since American forces dropped an atomic bomb on the city in 1945, killing an estimated 80,000 people and hastening the end of World War II.

The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on Aug 6, 1945, killed thousands of people instantly and some 140,000 by the year’s end.

“We come to ponder the terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past,” Obama said after laying a wreath at a peace memorial. “We come to mourn the dead.”

Before laying the wreath at a peace memorial, Obama visited a museum where haunting displays include photographs of badly burned victims, the tattered and stained clothes they wore and statues depicting them with flesh melting from their limbs.

“We remember all the innocents killed in the arc of that terrible war,” a solemn Obama said.

“We have a shared responsibility to look directly in the eye of history. We must ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.”

The US president’s visit has stirred significant debate, with critics accusing both sides of having selective memories and pointing to paradoxes in policies relying on nuclear deterrence while calling for an end to atomic arms.

The two governments hope Obama’s tour of Hiroshima will highlight a new level of reconciliation and tighter ties between the former enemies.

Aides say Obama’s main goal in Hiroshima is to showcase his nuclear disarmament agenda, for which he won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

The city of Nagasaki was hit by a second nuclear bomb on Aug 9, 1945, and Japan surrendered six days later.

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A majority of Americans see the bombings as having been necessary to end the war and save lives, although some historians question that view.

Most Japanese believe they were unjustified.

Obama has said he will honour all who died in World War Two but will not apologise for the bombing.

“I’m coming, first and foremost, to remember and honour the tens of millions of lives lost during the Second World War. Hiroshima reminds us that war, no matter the cause or countries involved, results in tremendous suffering and loss, especially for innocent civilians,” Obama said in written responses to questions published in the Asahi newspaper on Friday.

The White House debated whether the time was right for Obama to break a decades-old taboo on presidential visits to Hiroshima, especially in an election year.

Reuters

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Israeli fighter jets strike Gaza after blast wounds four soldiers

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GAZA CITY — Israeli fighter jets struck the Gaza Strip on Saturday after four soldiers were wounded when an improvised explosive device blew up along the border with the Palestinian enclave.

The explosion earlier Saturday, which left two of the Israeli soldiers severely injured, was one of the most serious incidents on the border of the Hamas-ruled enclave since the Islamist movement and Israel fought a war in 2014.

In response Israel’s army said “fighter jets targeted six military targets in Gaza belonging to Hamas, including: a terror tunnel in the Zaytun area and military compounds near Deir el-Balah and Khan Yunis”.

The army then reported a “launch was identified from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a security conference in Munich called the Gaza border incident “very serious” and pledged to ‘respond appropriately’.

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A Palestinian security source said the Israeli air strikes hit three bases belonging to Hamas in the east of the blockaded Gaza enclave.

Two Palestinians were injured in the raids, Palestinian medical sources said.

Earlier in the day the army said “two soldiers were severely wounded, one moderately and one slightly” when an improvised explosive device blew up along the border fence with Gaza.

None of the soldiers’ lives were in danger, a spokesman clarified.

In response Israeli forces said a tank quickly opened fire at an “observation post” in southern Gaza, causing no injuries on the Palestinian side.

Palestinian security sources said the explosion took place east of the city of Khan Yunis.

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