U.S. confirms airstrike killed over 100 civilians

A U.S.-led coalition airstrike on a building in Mosul in March detonated a cache of Islamic State explosives, killing more than 100 Iraqi civilians, the Pentagon said Thursday.

An unclassified summary of the U.S. military investigation into the March 17 incident determined that the 500-pound bomb used in the strike set off additional explosives placed in the building by the Islamic State, causing the structure to collapse.

The blast killed two Islamic State snipers and 105 civilians, including four in an adjacent house, the summary said. Thirty-six additional civilians allegedly killed could not be accounted for because of “insufficient evidence.”

The strike is probably the single deadliest civilian casualty incident in the nearly three-year-old air campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The investigation also said that the mass of people killed in the strike had been invited by a neighbor to take shelter on the building’s lower floors. The Islamic State warned them to leave, according to locals interviewed in the investigation.

This account is at odds with what the U.S.-led coalition’s top officer suggested days after the strike. At the time, U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend said it appeared that the civilians were herded there by the Islamic State and were being used as shields.

In finding that the militants had placed the explosives, the investigation noted that traces of chemicals commonly used in Islamic State munitions were found in the debris.

— Thomas Gibbons-Neff

About 2,300 migrants rescued; 2 bodies found

Rescuers saved about 2,300 migrants from rubber and wooden boats in the central Mediterranean on Thursday but also recovered two bodies, the Italian coast guard said.

As summer approaches, growing numbers of migrants have been attempting the perilous crossing to Europe from Libya.

More than 9,000 have been plucked from rickety boats in the Mediterranean in eight days.

On Thursday, coast guard vessels, merchant ships and a boat run by Doctors Without Borders rescued people from 14 rubber dinghies and four wooden boats, the coast guard said.

The previous day, more than 30 migrants, mostly toddlers, drowned.

The total rescued and brought to Italy this year is well over 50,000. More than 1,300 have died attempting the crossing.

— Reuters

Ex-premier injured in letter bomb explosion

Former Greek prime minister Lucas Papademos was injured after a letter bomb exploded inside his car in Athens on Thursday. Two Bank of Greece employees also were wounded.

Authorities said all three were hospitalized in stable condition.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, but militant far-left and anarchist groups have targeted Greek politicians in the past.

The Health Ministry said Papademos, 69, was being treated for wounds in his right thigh and upper body. He served as prime minister for six months in 2011-2012 and is a former deputy governor of the European Central Bank.

The government described the blast as a terrorist attack. Earlier this year, a group called Conspiracy of Fire Cells asserted responsibility for sending parcel bombs to the German Finance Ministry and the Paris office of the International Monetary Fund.

— Associated Press

Hungary says it won’t amend law affecting Soros school: Hungary said it sees no reason to alter a controversial law targeting foreign-funded colleges that could force a university founded by billionaire George Soros to leave the country. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff said the conflict over the Central European University was “political hysteria.” The European Commission had given Hungary one month to address its concerns and head off a lawsuit. The deadline expires this week.

Hamas executes 3 convicted of killing member: Hamas said it put to death three men accused of killing a senior member of the militant Islamist group, which rules the Gaza Strip. Hamas’s Interior Ministry said two of the men were hanged and one killed by firing squad. A special military court found the three guilty of killing Mazen Faqha. Faqha, 38, was killed in the garage of his apartment building on March 24.

Iran builds 3rd underground ballistic missile facility: Iran has built a third underground ballistic missile production factory, the semiofficial Fars News Agency quoted a senior commander of the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as saying. The development is likely to fuel tensions with the United States.

— From news services