Sunday, November 27, 2011

Afghan soldiers called in deadly NATO airstrike

By Rahim Faiez and Sebastian Abbot - The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Nov 27, 2011 10:26:46 EST
ISLAMABAD — Afghan troops and coalition forces came under fire from the direction of two Pakistan army border posts, prompting them to call in NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, Afghan officials said Sunday. The account challenges Islamabad’s claims that the attacks, which have plunged U.S.-Pakistan ties to new lows, was unprovoked.
It also pointed to a possible explanation for the incident Saturday on the Pakistan side of the border. NATO officials have complained that insurgents fire from across the poorly defined frontier, often from positions close to Pakistani soldiers, who have been accused of tolerating or supporting them.

Pakistan’s political leaders and military establishment, still facing domestic criticism following the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May, have reacted with unprecedented anger to the soldiers’ deaths. They closed the country’s Western border to trucks delivering supplies to coalition troops in Afghanistan, demanded the U.S. vacate a base used by American drones within 15 days and said they were reviewing all cooperation with the U.S. and NATO.
Despite those actions, a total rupture in what both sides acknowledge is an imperfect relationship is considered unlikely. Pakistan still relies on billions of dollars in American military and civilian aid, and the U.S. needs Islamabad’s help to push Afghan insurgents to engage in peace talks.
The Afghan officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said it’s unclear who attacked the forces taking part in the joint operation before dawn Saturday, but that the soldiers were fired upon from the direction of the Pakistani border posts that were hit in the strikes.
NATO officials have previously said a joint Afghan-NATO operation was taking place close to the border and that airstrikes were called in. All airstrikes are approved at a higher command level than the troops on the ground.
The alliance has said it is conducting an investigation to determine the details. It has not commented on Pakistani claims the attacks killed 24 soldiers, but it has not questioned them.
On Sunday, Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and regional political leaders attended the funerals of the victims, including an army major and another senior officer. Soldiers took the coffins, draped with the green and white Pakistani flag, from army helicopters before praying over them.
“The attack was unprovoked and indiscriminate,” said army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas. “There was no reason for it. Map references of all our border posts have been passed to NATO a number of times.”
The attack sparked popular anger in Pakistan. There were protests in several town and cities across the country, including Karachi, where around 500 Islamists rallied outside the U.S. Consulate.
NATO’s top official, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, offered his deepest condolences and said the coalition was committed to working with Pakistan to “avoid such tragedies in the future.”
“We have a joint interest in the fight against cross-border terrorism and in ensuring that Afghanistan does not once again become a safe-haven for terrorists,” Rasmussen said in Brussels.
The U.S.-Pakistan relationship took a major hit after the covert American raid that killed bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison town. Islamabad was outraged it wasn’t told about the operation beforehand. The U.S. has been consistently frustrated by Pakistan’s refusal to target militants using its territory to attack American and other NATO troops in Afghanistan.
A year ago, a U.S. helicopter attack killed two Pakistani soldiers posted on the border. A joint U.S.-Pakistan investigation found that Pakistani troops fired at the two U.S. helicopters prior to the attack, a move the probe said was likely meant to notify the aircraft of their presence after they passed into Pakistani airspace.
Islamabad closed one of the two border crossing for U.S. supplies for 10 days to protest that incident.
There was no indication of how long Islamabad could keep the border closed this time.
On Sunday, around 300 trucks carrying supplies to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan were backed up at the Torkham border crossing in the northwest Khyber tribal area, the same crossing that was closed last year, as well as Chaman in southwestern Baluchistan province
Militants inside Pakistan periodically attack the slow-moving convoys, and took advantage last year when the trucks were waiting for days to enter Afghanistan, torching 150.
“We are worried,” said driver Saeed Khan, speaking Sunday by telephone from the border terminal in Torkham. “This area is always vulnerable to attacks. Sometimes rockets are lobbed at us. Sometimes we are targeted by bombs.”
Some drivers said paramilitary troops had been deployed to protect their convoys since the closures, but others were left without any additional protection. Even those who did receive troops did not feel safe.
“If there is an attack, what can five or six troops do?” said Niamatullah Khan, a fuel truck driver who was parked with 35 other vehicles at a restaurant about 125 miles (200 kilometers) from Chaman.
NATO ships nearly 50 percent of its non-lethal supplies like fuel, food and clothes to its troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan. Critical supplies like ammunition, are airlifted directly to Afghan air bases.
A NATO official closely involved with the Afghan war said there will likely be no immediate negative effect from Pakistan’s decision to close its border crossings. NATO has built up a large stockpile of military and other supplies that could enable operations to continue at their current level for several months, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
NATO has reduced the amount of non-lethal supplies it ships through Pakistan from a high of around 80 percent by using routes through Central Asia. The northern logistics link could be expanded to make up for the Pakistani closure, but it would leave NATO heavily dependent on Russia at a time when ties with Moscow are increasingly strained.
In addition to closing its border crossings, Pakistan gave the U.S. 15 days to vacate Shamsi Air Base in Baluchistan. Washington uses the base to service drones targeting al-Qaida and Taliban militants in Pakistan’s tribal region when they cannot return to their bases inside Afghanistan because of weather conditions or mechanical difficulty, U.S. and Pakistani officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
The drone strikes are very unpopular in Pakistan, and Pakistani military and civilian leaders say publicly that the U.S. carries them out without their permission. But privately, they allow them to go, and even help in the targeting for some of them.
Faiez reported from Kabul. Associated Press writers Sebastian Abbot in Islamabad, Abdul Sattar in Quetta, Pakistan, Matiullah Achakzai in Chaman, Deb Riechmann in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Slobodan Lekic in Brussels contributed to this report.
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Soldier from 5 RIFLES killed in Afghanistan

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must announce that a soldier from the 5th Battalion The Rifles (5 RIFLES) was killed on 27 November 2011 in the Babaji area of the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province.
Ministry of Defence 
Serving as a part of Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (South), the soldier was a member of an International Security Assistance Force foot patrol to disrupt insurgent activity when he was caught in an explosion caused by an improvised explosive device.
Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Mackenzie, said:
"I have the sad duty to inform you that a soldier from the 5th Battalion The Rifles was killed earlier today after an explosion while on a foot patrol to disrupt insurgent activity in the Babaji area of Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand Province. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this very difficult time."
The soldier's family have been informed and have asked for the customary period of grace before more details are released.

More than 12 militants killed in Afghan operations

Sunday, November 27, 2011 – Officials in the ministry of defense of Afghanistan following a statement on Sunday said, at least twelve militant insurgents were killed following military operations by Afghan security forces during the past 24 hours.

The statement further added, the operations were conducted in various regions of the country during the past 24 hours including southern Kandahar province, Logar province, Nangarhar province, Helmand province, Khost province, Zabul province, Farah and Uruzgan province.
The officials in the ministry of defense of Afghanistan also said, at least 21 other insurgents were detained during the military operations.
Afghan security forces also seized some ammunitions and explosive devices during the operations, the statemet said.
According to reports, at least 5 Afghan national army service members were also injured during the operations across the country.
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At least 2 militants killed in Zabul province

Map of Afghanistan with Zabol highlightedImage via Wikipedia
Sunday, November 27, 2011 – According to local authorities in southern Afghanistan, at least two Taliban militants were killed and 9 others were injured following a joint military operation by Afghan national security forces and NATO-led International Security Force in southern Zabul province.

Deputy provincial governor for southern Zabul province Mohammad Jan Rasolyar confirming the report said, the operations were conducted based on the intelligence reports and lasted for around 2 hours.
The source further added, Afghan security forces and NATO troops did not suffer any casualty during the operations.
He also said, there were no reports of civilians casualties following the operation.
According to Mohammad Jan Rasolyar, deputy provincial governor for southern Zabul province, Afghan security forces and NATO troops seized some weapons and ammunitions following the operations.
Taliban militants group fighting the Afghan government and international coalition forces yet to comment regarding the operation.
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Marines to Wind Down Afghan Combat in 2012

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (AP) — U.S. Marines will march out of Afghanistan by the thousands next year, winding down combat in the Taliban heartland and testing the U.S. view that Afghan forces are capable of leading the fight against a battered but not yet beaten insurgency in the country's southwestern reaches, American military officers say.

At the same time, U.S. reinforcements will go to eastern Afghanistan in a bid to reverse recent gains by insurgents targeting Kabul, the capital.
Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in an Associated Press interview that the number of Marines in Helmand province will drop "markedly" in 2012, and the role of those who stay will shift from countering the insurgency to training and advising Afghan security forces.
The change suggests an early exit from Afghanistan for the Marine Corps even as the prospects for solidifying their recent successes are uncertain.
"Am I OK with that? The answer is 'yes,'" Amos said. "We can't stay in Afghanistan forever."
"Will it work? I don't know. But I know we'll do our part."
At stake is President Barack Obama's pledge to win in Afghanistan. He said during his 2008 campaign that the war was worth fighting and that he would get U.S. forces out of Iraq.
Facing a stalemate in Afghanistan in 2009, Obama ordered an extra 30,000 U.S. troops to the country, including about 10,000 Marines to Helmand province, in the belief that if the Taliban were to retake the government, al-Qaida soon would return to the land from which it plotted the Sept. 11 attacks.
Also at stake are the sacrifices of the nearly 300 Marines killed in Afghanistan over the past three years.
Weighing against prolonging the conflict is its unsustainable cost and what author and former Defense Department official Bing West has called its "grinding inconclusiveness."
In a series of pep talks to Marines in Helmand this past week, Amos said the Marine mission in Afghanistan would end in the next 12 months to 18 months. That is as much as two years before the December 2014 deadline, announced a year ago, for all U.S. and other foreign troops to leave the country.
"Savor being out here together," Amos told Marines on Thanksgiving at an outpost along the Helmand River called Fiddler's Green, "because it's going to be over" soon.
He was referring only to the Marines' role, which is limited mainly to Helmand, although there also are Marine special operations forces in western Afghanistan. The U.S. military efforts in Kandahar province and throughout the volatile eastern region are led by the Army, along with allied forces.
Amos stressed in his visits with groups of Marines that he is optimistic that Helmand's improved security will hold. On Saturday, he said "there is every reason to be optimistic" at this stage of the 10-year-old war.
For the past two years, Helmand and neighboring Kandahar have been the main focus of the U.S.-led effort to turn the tide against a resilient Taliban. In that period, the Taliban and other insurgent networks have grown bolder and more violent in the eastern provinces where they have the advantage of sanctuary across the border in Pakistan and where U.S. and NATO forces are spread more thinly than in the south.

Read More: at the NYTIMES.COM !!!

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Iran Threatens to Hit Turkey if US, Israel Attack

Ali Khamenei has been the supreme leader of Ir...Image via Wikipedia
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran will target NATO's missile defense installations in Turkey if the U.S. or Israel attacks the Islamic Republic, a senior commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard said Saturday.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guards' aerospace division, said the warning is part of a new defense strategy to counter what he described as an increase in threats from the U.S. and Israel.
Tensions have been rising between Iran and the West since the release of a report earlier this month by the International Atomic Energy Agency that said for the first time that Tehran was suspected of conducting secret experiments whose sole purpose was the development of nuclear arms.
The U.S. and its Western allies suspect Iran of trying to produce atomic weapons, and Israel, which views Tehran as an existential threat, has warned of a possible strike on Iran's nuclear program. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes.
"Should we be threatened, we will target NATO's missile defense shield in Turkey and then hit the next targets," the semiofficial Mehr news agency quoted Hajizadeh as saying.
Tehran says NATO's early warning radar station in Turkey is meant to protect Israel against Iranian missile attacks if a war breaks out with the Jewish state. Ankara agreed to host the radar in September as part of NATO's missile defense system aimed at countering ballistic missile threats from neighboring Iran.
A military installation in the Turkish town of Kurecik, some 435 miles (700 kilometers) west of the Iranian border, has been designated as the radar site, according to Turkish government officials.
Hajizadeh said the United States also plans to install similar stations in Arab states, which has spurred Iran to alter its military defense strategy.
"Based on orders from the exalted commander in chief, we will respond to threats with threats," he was quoted as saying.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, is also commander in chief of Iran's armed forces.
Another senior Guard commander, Yadollah Javani, threatened that Tehran will target Israel's nuclear facilities should the Jewish state attack Iran.
"If Israel fires a missile at our nuclear facilities or vital installations, it should know that Israel's nuclear centers will be the target of our missiles," the semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.
Also Saturday, the chief of Iran's elite Quds Force said he doesn't fear assassination and is ready for "martyrdom."
The comments by Quds Force commander Brig. Gen. Ghassem Soleimani were published in several Iranian newspapers. The Quds Force is the special foreign operations unit of the country's powerful Revolutionary Guard, and Soleimani is a key figure in Iran's military establishment but rarely speaks in public.
Tensions have increased in recent weeks between Iran and the U.S., with several American neoconservatives urging the Obama administration to use covert action against Iran and kill some of its top officials, including Soleimani.
The force has been accused by the Americans of involvement in an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington. Two men, including an alleged member of Iran's Quds Force, have been charged in New York federal court in the case.
Iran has dismissed the American claims as a "foolish plot", saying U.S. officials have offered no proof.
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Suspected Al Shabaab Rebels Raid Kenya Police Post

GARISSA, Kenya (Reuters) - Suspected Somali al Shabaab rebel fighters raided a police post near Mandera in northern Kenya Saturday, seizing weapons and burning a mobile phone transmission mast, security officials said.

The group of fighters attacked Arabiya, a trading centre 60 kilometres from Mandera, and engaged police in a firefight before overpowering them and taking all the guns and bullets from the local police post.
"Arabiya was attacked. We believe it's al Shabaab. They destroyed, burnt a communication booster and took ammunition at the police post," North Eastern Provincial police commander Leo Nyongesa told Reuters by phone.
There were no injuries or deaths reported.
Kenya ordered its soldiers across the border in October to crush the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab who it said had attacked its security forces and tourists inside Kenya.
The latest incident comes days after grenade attacks in the frontier town of Garissa killed six, and a roadside bomb killed a soldier in Mandera town.
Nyongesa said police had arrested five people suspected to be involved in the Garissa attack.
Although there appears to be little progress on the ground in Somalia as torrential rains bog down operations, more airstrikes have been launched on al Shabaab strongholds in recent days and there have been skirmishes and bomb attacks in northern Kenya.
"The week has been very intense with air operations that have been aimed at decimating and degrading al Shabaab capacity to be able to plan and launch operations in the country," Kenya Defence Force's Colonel Cyrus Oguna told a news conference in Nairobi.
During the operation, now in its sixth week, four soldiers have died in direct combat, in addition to five killed in a helicopter crash at the start of the incursion. One was missing at sea.
Oguna said nine people arrested Friday in separate incidents on Lamu island were suspected of being al Shabaab members.
Kenya is the latest foreign power to try to stabilise Somalia, which has been mired in violence for two decades since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 allowed first warlords, then Islamist militants, to step into a power vacuum.
Friday, officials from Ethiopia, whose soldiers have been in Somalia before, said the country will deploy troops to the anarchic Horn of Africa state for a "brief period" to help Somali and Kenyan forces battling al Shabaab.
In an emailed statement responding to Ethiopia's plan, al Shabaab said: "The people of Somalia shall never accept or live under the humiliation of occupation and the spirit of resistance shall not fade as long as a single invader remains alive on Somali soil."
(Additional reporting and writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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Mali: German Killed; Dutch, SAfrican, Swede Seized

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Gunmen killed a German man in Mali's most famous city of Timbuktu and seized three men from the Netherlands, South Africa and Sweden, officials and witnesses said, as officials on Saturday ordered a plane to evacuate foreigners from the tourist destination.

The Dutch and Swedish governments confirmed Saturday that their citizens had been taken. A fellow traveler said the other man seized was South African and said she met the German man.
Tour guide Ali Maiga was with the tourists during Friday's attack at a Timbuktu restaurant and gave the same list of nationalities. A witness and an official said gunmen burst into the restaurant, grabbed four tourists dining there and executed one when he refused to climb into their truck.
Officials on Saturday evacuated foreigners from Timbuktu to the capital, said a man who owns a hotel in Bamako where the tourists previously stayed. He asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ward Bezemer confirmed that one Dutch man was among those kidnapped.
"In the interests of the people involved, we never comment on these cases," Bezemer told The Associated Press.
The kidnapping comes ahead of an official visit by Mali's president to the Netherlands next week.
Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on Saturday confirmed on Twitter that one of those kidnapped was Swedish. He did not mention the nationalities of the others.
Germany's Foreign Ministry said in a Saturday statement that the killed foreigner is "with a high probability a German national" and updated its Mali travel advisory to mention the killing.
South African foreign affairs department spokesman Clayson Monyela said Saturday his government was trying to confirm whether one of those kidnapped was South African.
Canadian tourist Julie-Ann Leblond said she met a group consisting of a South African, a Swede and a Dutch couple in Mali. She said they invited her to join them as they headed to Timbuktu, but she took ill on Wednesday and had to stay behind.
"I was supposed to go there with them," Leblond, a 25-year-old resident of Quebec City, told the Associated Press by phone from Bamako. "I was never so happy to get a cold."
She did not provide the names of the travelers and said the German was traveling separately. She said the group of four met on the road as they were traveling from Europe to Africa.
"They're incredible people, so peaceful, so nice," she said. "That kind of thing cannot just happen to those kind of people. It's crazy."
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, also condemned the attack in a statement and said "these incidents show the need to continue and intensify the efforts against insecurity in the Sahel," the desert region stretching from Mauritania to Chad.
"Through its Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel, the EU is committed to help the Sahel countries in this endeavor," the statement said.
Also Saturday, France's Foreign Ministry expanded the zone that it "strongly advises" French travelers to avoid traveling in Mali, moving the line southward from the Sahel region.
Until a few years ago, Timbuktu was one of the most visited destinations in Africa, but it is now one of the many former tourist hotspots in Mali that have been deemed too dangerous to visit by foreign embassies because of kidnappings by the local chapter of al-Qaida.
Friday's incident comes after two French citizens were grabbed in the middle of the night from their hotel in the Malian town of Hombori on Thursday. French judicial officials have opened a preliminary investigation into their kidnappings.
Neither kidnapping has yet been claimed by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, whose members have kidnapped and ransomed more than 50 Europeans and Canadians since 2003.
If Friday's kidnapping is by AQIM, it will mark the first time they have taken a hostage inside of Timbuktu's city limits. Thursday's kidnapping would be another first — the first hostage taking south of the Niger River.
The group's footprint has grown dramatically since 2006, when the Algerian-led cell first joined al-Qaida. Security experts estimate the group has been able to raise around $130 million from ransom payments alone.
Associated Press writer Mike Corder contributed to this report from The Hague, writer Juergen Baetz contributed from Berlin, writer David Stringer contributed from London and writers Anita Powell and Donna Bryson contributed from Johannesburg.

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Colombian Rebels Kill 4 Hostages

ENGLISH: Flag of the Revolutionary Armed Force...Image via Wikipedia
BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombian FARC rebels executed four members of the security forces during a botched mission to free them from a decade as hostages, the most violent act by the group since troops killed its leader Alfonso Cano this month.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which has a policy of killing hostages if troops approach their camps, shot three of the captives in the head and the fourth in the back, President Juan Manuel Santos said.
The bodies were found in chains, he said.
"These heroes of Colombia sacrificed their lives trying to bring peace to Colombia," Santos said. "This is another demonstration of the FARC's cruelty ... It's an atrocious crime."
One police sergeant who was also being held hostage by the FARC managed to escape and was found alive by the military on Saturday, Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said.
Latin America's No. 4 oil producer has been wracked by bloodshed from guerrillas and cocaine barons for decades, although the FARC - once a powerful force controlling large parts of Colombia - has been severely weakened.
Santos said on Thursday the Andean nation was nearing the final phase of nearly 50 years of war and that his government would be willing to talk peace if the guerrillas were serious.
Troops launched the operation in southern Caqueta province 45 days ago after a tip that FARC captives were being held in the area, Pinzon told a news conference. The killings of the four hostages happened after a firefight between soldiers and the rebels.
"This is a reality shock," said security analyst Alfredo Rangel. "It shows that despite all the hits they have received in recent years that they are determined to fight the state, they are determined to continue their violent ways."
Bombings and kidnappings have eased sharply as Colombian troops use better intelligence, U.S. training and technology to take the fight to the rebels.
Foreign investment, especially in oil and mining, has surged as the insurgency weakens. But the FARC and other groups pose a threat in rural areas where the state's presence is weak and cocaine trafficking lets the rebels finance operations.
The FARC, considered a terrorist group by European nations and the United States, has lost key commanders in the past four years, including its founder Manuel Marulanda, military leader Mono Jojoy last year and Cano earlier this month.
The new leader Timoleon Jimenez - or "Timochenko" - has vowed to continue the fight against the government.
"What a great Christmas the FARC guerrillas have given the families of the police and military," said Marleny Orjuela, director of Asfamipaz, an association that represents families of kidnapped members of the armed forces.
"Santos has killed our hope, rescuing them when he knows they would be executed."
The FARC, which funds operations with extortion as well as drug trafficking, has held scores of politicians, police officers and soldiers as hostages, including French-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt seized in 2002 and three Americans taken a year later.
They were rescued by the military in 2008, when Santos was defence minister.
This was the third group of hostages killed by the FARC.
In 2003, Guillermo Gaviria, governor of Antioquia province, was shot along with an adviser and eight military captives when troops attempted to free them. In 2007, 11 lawmakers were shot when the rebels falsely believed troops entered their camp.
(Additional reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Nelson Bocanegra; Editing by Anthony Boadle, John O'Callaghan and Paul Simao)
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Arab League Prepares Syria Sanctions

Arab League Meeting RoomImage by AlMustashriqa via Flickr
Arab League members have prepared a list of economic restrictions to impose on Syria, the BBC reported.
The sanctions include ceasing business with the Syrian central bank, suspending commercial flights and banning the travel of top officials.
Arab ministers will vote on the proposals on Sunday. They are seeking to punish the Syrian authorities for their violence against those protesting against the regime.
The United Nations estimates that more than 3,500 people have died since the government began cracking down on protestors in March.

Syria said the League is interfering in its affairs.


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Japan provides $17 million in fresh aid package to Afghanistan

Thursday, November 26, 2011 – The state of Japan announced a fresh aid package of $17 million for Afghanistan, which will assist Afghanistan in providing drinking water and electricity.
This comes as the residents of capital Kabuland its suburbs are facing critical issues and lacks access to pure drinking water while residents in the central Bamyan province are facing the lackage of electricity.
Based on the agreement which was signed between the Japan Embassy and FAO in Afghanistan on Thursday, the fresh aid package of Japan will be handed over to the ministry of water and energy of Afghanistan through the Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations.
Mohammad Ismail Head of the ministry of the water and energy of Afghanistan said, around $10 million of the aid by Japan will spent in northern regions of capital Kabul for the preparation of pure drinking water, electricity and water flow networks for boosting agriculture.
Mohammad Ismail head of the water and energy ministry of Afghanistan further added, a hydro power dam will be constructed in Shakardara valley in northern city of capital Kabul in order to store the Shakardara river water to use the water for agricultural purposes.
He also said, the remaining $7 million will be spent in central Bamyan province for the construction of small dams for producing electricity and small water canals for boosting agriculture in this province.
The water dams and canals will be constructed in Sheebartu, Qarghanatu and shahidan regions of Bamyan province.
This comes as residents of Bamyan province earlier accused the government of Afghanistan for being reckless in implementing reconstruction projects in this province.
Meanwhile, Head of the ministry of water and energy of Afghanistan said, the government of Afghanistan is struggling to control the flow of water from the rivers of Afghanistan to prepare water dams for producing electricity and boost agriculture in the country.
Afghanistan is having plenty of rivers but the majority of water flowing from the rivers are wasted without properly being used in agriculture and production of electricity.
On the other hand, around 30% of the Afghans have access to electricity where 60% of the electricity is being imported from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and Iran.
In the meantime, economical experts believe that Afghanistan would be able to export electricity to other countries if government takes proper actions to control the flow of water from the rivers of Afghanistan, besides paving the way for providing proper electricity across the country.
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Taliban paid £100 a month to stop fighting

Members of the Taliban who give up their fight are being paid £100 a month and will be allowed to keep their guns in a new initiative to end the insurgency. 


The “reintegration” programme, which has the full support of Nato, is intended to keep them from attacking troops from the International Stabilisation and Assistance Force (ISAF).
Those who have attacked and killed British forces are also effectively given an amnesty, which means they will never be put on trial.
The amnesty extends to all Taliban fighters, including those who have taken part in atrocities, such as murdering children, beheadings and hanging women.
The agreement is part of a policy signed by the British Government in which insurgents are being allowed to “walk off the battlefield” and enter a “reintegration” scheme.
Taliban joining the programme are not interrogated but instead are asked to complete a questionnaire explaining their reasons for joining the insurgency.

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Chavez Takes His Gold Back

Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela.Image via Wikipedia

The government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has begun repatriating gold reserves that had been held in European banks.
The gold bars were unloaded at Venezuela's Maiquetia airport Friday and later transferred to armored vehicles for shipping to the Central Bank in Caracas. Officials did not say how much gold was brought back in the shipment. They also did not say when future shipments would arrive.
Back in August, President Chavez said that $11 billion of gold reserves held in U.S. and European banks would be returned to Venezuela. He has been quoted as saying the gold never should have left the country. Mr. Chavez has said the decision to retrieve the gold is aimed at helping protect Venezuela from economic troubles in the United States and Europe. Most of Venezuela's gold held abroad is in Britain.
Some observers, however, believe that by repatriating the bullion, the Chavez government is reducing the risk of having its assets seized in arbitration cases, including those linked to nationalizations of private industries.
The president also has announced plans to move more than $6 billion in cash reserves to “friendly” banks in Brazil, China and Russia. The money is now held in European and U.S. banks. VoA

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Somali Pirates Reportedly Trade Ransom for Italian Ship

An Italian shipping company and Italian media say Somali pirates have released an Italian merchant ship and its crew seized seven months ago.
The MV Rosalia D'Amato had been sailing from Brazil to Iran with a cargo of soybeans when pirates commandeered the boat April 21 in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of Oman.
The boat's operator, Naples-based Perseveranza Navigazione, says the crew appears to be well.
Italy's La Repubblica newspaper reports that a ransom was paid for the release of the ship and its 22 crew members.
In the past, pirates have hijacked ships and anchored them off the Somali coast until a ransom was paid.
Somali pirates are currently believed to be holding at least ten ships and and more than 240 crew members hostage. VoA

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Nov. 27., 2011. - ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update

For Immediate Release
KABUL, Afghanistan (Nov. 27, 2011)  A combined Afghan and coalition security force captured a Haqqani network facilitator during an operation in Nadir Shah Kot district, Khost province, Saturday.
The facilitator distributed roadside bombs, weapons and provided a safe haven for Haqqani leaders in Nadir Shah Kot  district.
The security force detained one additional suspected insurgent during the operation.
In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:
East A combined Afghan and coalition security force discovered a weapons cache and detained multiple suspected insurgents during an operation in Terayzai district, Khost province, yesterday. The weapons cache consisted of six hand grenades, one AK-47, six AK-47 magazines, and one anti-personnel mine. The combined security forces confiscated all weapons. Neither the security force nor Afghan civilians were injured.
In Kahmard district, Bamyan province a quantity of grenades was turned into coalition forces yesterday.  The collection consisted of 84 40mm grenades, which  were accepted at the scene by an ISAF explosive ordnance disposal team. The grenades will be destroyed at a later date.
WestA combined Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation in search of a Taliban facilitator in Khugyani district, Nangarhar province, yesterday. The facilitator constructs roadside bombs. The security force detained one suspected insurgent during the operation.

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