NATO airstrike kills 6; 3 Western troops die in bombing

Posted May 07, 2012, at 8:22 p.m.

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Western military said Monday it was investigating reports by Afghan officials that an errant airstrike in southern Afghanistan killed a mother and five children. Meanwhile, three NATO troops died in a roadside bombing in eastern Afghanistan, military officials said.

Word of the civilian fatalities in Helmand province comes two weeks before a landmark NATO summit in Chicago. At the gathering, the allies are expected to affirm plans to pull most combat troops out of Afghanistan, while pledging to continue training Afghan forces and provide long-term development aid.

Officials in Helmand said the fatal incident took place Friday in the Sangin district, amid heavy fighting between insurgents and coalition forces. They said the Taliban had launched repeated attacks on checkpoints in Sangin’s Payan village. That drew return fire from coalition troops, during which a civilian home was hit, apparently accidentally, they said.

U.S. forces, whose numbers peaked last year at about 100,000 following a troop surge ordered by President Obama, are now in the midst of drawing down. Although many parts of the south remain volatile, commanders have said they expect clashes during the current “fighting season” to be fiercest in eastern Afghanistan, which borders Pakistan’s tribal areas

Militants storm Yemeni military base; US strike said to kill al-Qaida figure

SANAA, Yemen — Armed militants linked to al-Qaida stormed a Yemeni military base in a restive southern province before dawn Monday, killing at least 20 soldiers and capturing more than two dozen, according to Yemeni military officials. The assault came hours after a U.S. drone strike reportedly killed a top al-Qaida figure involved in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.

The attack was the latest indication of an intensifying conflict between U.S.-backed Yemeni security forces and al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate for control of southern Yemen. Over the past year, the militants have seized large swaths of territory in the south, taking advantage of political turmoil during Yemen’s populist revolution to oust longtime authoritarian ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Since President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi took office in February, the militants have escalated their assaults, staging raids and suicide bombings. The government has responded with airstrikes, while the Obama administration has increased its use of drones to assassinate militants in the area.

It was unclear whether Monday’s assault was retaliation for the death of Fahd al-Quso, a senior leader in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, the group’s arm in Yemen. Yemeni government officials said Quso and another man were killed in an attack Sunday in the southern province of Shabwa while he was stepping out of his car. Quso, 37, was on the FBI’s most-wanted list. He was indicted for his alleged role in the suicide bombing of the destroyer USS Cole, in which 17 American sailors were killed and 39 injured in the southern port of Aden.

Health care increasingly out of reach for millions of Americans

WASHINGTON — Tens of millions of adults under age 65 — both those with insurance and those without — saw their access to health care worsen dramatically over the past decade, according to a study abstract released Monday.

The findings suggest that more privately insured Americans are delaying treatment because of rising out-of-pocket costs, while safety-net programs for the poor and uninsured are failing to keep up with demand for care, say Urban Institute researchers who wrote the report.

Overall, the study published in the journal Health Affairs found that one in five American adults under 65 had an “unmet medical need” because of costs in 2010, compared with one in eight in 2000. They also had a harder time accessing dental care, according to the analysis based on data from annual federal surveys of adults.

The 2010 health care law, which will expand health coverage to 30 million people starting in 2014, won’t necessarily solve all those access problems, the study said. That’s because the law, which is under review by the Supreme Court, may not alter the trend toward private insurance policies with larger deductibles and higher co-payments or address some of the barriers within public coverage. While the law does increase payments temporarily to primary care doctors who see people covered by Medicaid, it will not force more doctors into the program, or require states to provide dental coverage to adults.

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