Friday, February 3, 2012

Militants blow up a girls' school in NW Pakistan

Location of Dera Ismail Khan District (highlig...
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ISLAMABAD, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- Some unidentified militants have blown up a girls' school with a remote-controlled explosive device in Pakistan's northwest city of Dera Ismail Khan on Friday, local media reported.

According to the report of local TV channel Dunya, the incident took place at about 2 a.m. local time when an unknown number of militants tied up the watchman of a middle school and blasted the empty building with explosive material in Syadan area of Dera Ismail Khan, a town in Pakistan's northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The watchman got injured while the four-room school was completely destroyed in the blast, and about 10 kilograms of explosives were reportedly used in the attack.

This is the second time when militants targeted a school in the area. Earlier last year, over 40 kilograms of explosive material was fixed to the wall of a school but police successfully disposed it off.

Orthodox religious scholars in particular in rural areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are against the western style education for women, and there are only 978 middle schools for a population of over eight million women.

The literacy rate of northwest Pakistan (excluding Peshawar) is 22 percent, which is well below the nationwide rate of 56 percent. Among which 35.8 percent of men and 7.5 percent of women receive education in the area, compared to a nationwide 44 percent of women.

Critics believe that after the attempts of sabotaging education system by the militants, the responsible authorities are not making any notable efforts to rebuild the education structure in the effected places.

However, the authorities are of the view that they don't have enough amount of budget allocation for the uplift of education system in the effected areas as their immediate task is to maintain law and order situation and protect the lives of people in the troubled areas.
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Militants ambush kills 7 troops in NW Pakistan

English: Pakistan Administrative Units - Tier ...
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Seven Pakistani army soldiers have been killed and three others wounded following an ambush by pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region near the border with Afghanistan, Press TV reports.

Clashes broke out in the early hours of Friday when a group of 50 militants attacked a security checkpoint in Shidano Dand post in the remote mountainous Kurram region, killing seven government soldiers and wounding three others.

The militants later took six troops hostage at gunpoint, and fled the scene along with them.

Security forces launched a counter attack in the aftermath of the assault, engaging in an hours-long fierce gun battle after which government soldier took full control of the area.

During the shootout, 18 militants lost their lives and 14 others sustained injuries.

The injured government soldiers were transferred to a local hospital to receive medical treatment.

Kurram is considered a main base for the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Scores of high-profile militants are believed to be taking refuge there in recent years after fleeing military offensives in the nearby tribal regions.

Despite the Pakistani government's operations against TTP militants and associated groups, they have still been able to spread their influence in various regions of the country and have killed thousands of people.

Over 35,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks since 2001 when Pakistan entered an alliance with the US on the so-called war against terrorism, according to local media.

Thousands more have been displaced by the wave of violence and militancy sweeping across the country.

from PressTV
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17 militants detained in southern Kandahar province

According to local authorities in southern Kandahar province, at least 17 armed militants were detained by Afghan secrity forces in this province.

Provincial National Directorate for Security Chief Gen. Eisa Mohammad following weekly security briefing said, the militants were detained by Afghan intelligence security forces from Kandahar city and various other regions of Kandahar province during the past one week.

The weeky security briefing was also attended by provincial governor Torialai Wesa, Provincial Intelligence chief, Provincial security chief, Provincial Deputy for International Security Assistance Force, Deputy of 205 Attal Afghan Army commandment and representative of UNAMA.

Gen. Eisa Mohammad added, Afghan security forces seized at least 27 AK-47 assault rifles, 8 improvised explosive device and some other types of weapons and ammunitions from this province.

In the meantime Deputy of 205 Atal Afghan Army brigade said, at least 26 improvised explosive device were discovered and seized from various regions of southern Kandahar province.

Local security officials also said, at least 33,000 kgs of hashish was discovered and seized from this province during the past one week.
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ISAF captures senior IMU and Taliban military commander

afghanistan (Photo credit: The U.S. Army)
by Bill Roggio - February 3, 2012 - LWJ

Coalition and Afghan special operations forces captured a dual-hatted Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan commander who directed operations in the northwest during a raid in the southern Afghan province of Helmand.

The commander, who was not named, was captured today by a combined Afghan and Coalition special operations team in the Nahr-e-Saraj district in Helmand.

The International Security Assistance Force described him as a "a Taliban-appointed deputy and head of the insurgent group's military commission in Badghis province" in northwestern Afghanistan. He "arranged large-scale attacks, distributed weapons and collected taxes."

Additionally, he "represented both the Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan groups and was responsible for coordinating insurgent activities in Badghis and Faryab province."

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is an al Qaeda-linked terror group that operates primarily in northern and eastern Afghanistan, as well as in Pakistan's tribal areas. It is closely allied to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. In the north, IMU leaders have integrated into the Taliban's shadow government. [For more information on the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and its activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, see LWJ report, IMU cleric urges Pakistanis to continue sheltering jihadis in Waziristan.]

The unnamed Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan commander is the second senior IMU leader killed or captured in the six days. On Jan. 29, ISAF and Afghan forces killed Ilhom, an IMU commander who "facilitated the training of suicide bombers for attacks" in Takhar province and was responsible for the last year's Christmas Day suicide attack at a funeral in Taloqan that killed 20 Afghans, including Abdul Mutalib Baig, a member of parliament.

ISAF Joint Command (IJC) had stopped reporting on raids that targeted IMU and al Qaeda leaders and fighters for more than seven weeks before reporting Ilhom's death [See LWJ report, Afghan, ISAF troops kill IMU leader in north, for more details]. An al Qaeda facilitator was reported by IJC to have been captured one day after Ilhom was killed.

IJC would not explain the reason for the lack or press reports on the targeting of IMU leaders from Dec. 9, 2011 and Jan. 28, 2012, but told The Long War Journal that the gap in reporting should not be interpreted as "as lack of operational rigor against those entities."

However IJC would not answer The Long War Journal's inquiries that asked if ISAF forces conducted any unreported operations against al Qaeda or the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan from Dec. 9, 2011, to Jan. 28, 2012.

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Feb.03., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan (Feb. 03) — Afghan hostage rescued by combined Afghan Force

A combined Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation freeing a kidnapped Afghan citizen in Khoghjani district, Ghazni province, Wednesday.

During the operation, the security force rescued one hostage and detained several insurgents connected with the kidnapping. The insurgents revealed that a second hostage had escaped one day prior and admitted they planned to kill the remaining hostage that day.

The security force also seized multiple small arms, ammunition and tactical vests during the operation.

The insurgents were detained by Afghan security forces for further questioning. The rescued hostage received medical attention on site and was taken to a coalition hospital for further observation.

No civilians were harmed and no shots were fired during the operation.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:

An Afghan and coalition security force captured a Taliban leader during an operation in Nahr-E Saraj district, Helmand province, today. The leader was a Taliban-appointed deputy and head of the insurgent group’s military commission in Badghis province. The captured leader arranged large-scale attacks, distributed weapons and collected taxes. He represented both the Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan groups and was responsible for coordinating insurgent activities in Badghis and Faryab province. One additional suspected insurgent was detained during the operation.

In Bakwaw district, Farah province, a combined Afghan and coalition security force discovered a drug and weapons cache during an operation yesterday. The cache consisted of approximately 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms) of opium, 16 improvised explosive devices, several containers of explosive-making materials, $1.5 million in Pakistan currency and a motorcycle rigged with explosives to be used as a suicide vehicle borne IED. Security forces detained three suspected insurgents and confiscated the drugs and currency. The weapons were destroyed on site without incident.
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Philippine military kills wanted Jemaah Islamiyah, Abu Sayyaf operatives in airstrike

English: Philippine Air Force - OV-10 SLEP - 630
Philippine Air Force  OV-10 / Image via Wikipedia
by Bill Roggio - February 2, 2012 - LWJ

The Philippine Air Force force killed a senior Jemaah Islamiyah leader, a top Abu Sayyaf Group commander, and 13 others, including a wanted Singaporean terrorist, during an airstrike in Sulu province.

Zulkifli bin Hir, one of the most wanted leaders of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah; Umbra Jumdail, a senior Abu Sayyaf commander, and his son Teng; and Muhamad Ali, another wanted JI operative, were all killed in the early morning today in an airstrike, according to the country's top military commander.

Chief of Staff General Jessie Dellosa said the 3 a.m. airstrike targeted a camp in the village of Duyan Kabaw in Parang in the southern province of Sulu. Dellosa expressed certainty that the terrorist leaders had been killed even though the military was not in possession of the dead bodies.
"I am sure because I will not easily issue a statement here," he said, according to Inquirer News. "We have intelligence people and locals in the area."

A military spokesman said the strike, which was carried out by two OV-10 Broncos, light military attack aircraft used in counterinsurgency operations, was the result of months of intelligence gathering. Several 500-pound bombs were dropped on the terrorists' camp. No civilians were reported to have been killed in the strike.

The operation was "based on a thorough, well-executed plan and months of continuous monitoring and surveillance of JI and ASG personalities," Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., a military spokesman, said during a briefing, Inquirer News reported. In early January, a senior general disclosed that the military was engaged in operations in Sulu hunting for Hir; Muhamad Ali; Qayim and Sa'ad, two Indonesians; and Amin Baco, who is thought to be a Malaysian national.

Although no US involvement in the strike has been reported, US Special Forces are based in the Philippines to aid the government and military in their fight against the al Qaeda-linked groups and to assist in humanitarian efforts. The Philippine constitution prohibits US troops from engaging in combat operations in the country.

Zulkifli bin Hir, a Malaysian national known as "Marwan," is wanted by the US government, which has a $5 million reward out for information leading to his capture. Hir is "an engineer trained in the United States" and "is believed to be the head of the Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM) terrorist organization and a member of Jemaah Islamiyah's central command," according to the US State Department's Rewards for Justice website. He is believed to have been sheltering in the Philippines since 2003 and has served as a bomb maker for the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Umbra Jumdail, a senior Abu Sayyaf Group commander who is also known as Doc Abu, is wanted by both the US government, which has offered a $140,000 reward for information leading to his capture, and the Philippine government. He has been involved in numerous kidnappings and assassinations.

Muhamad Ali, a Singaporean national also known as Mauwiya Anjala, is a Jemaah Islamiyah leader who is also wanted by the US, which has offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to his capture.

Jemaah Islamiyah is an Islamist terrorist group that seeks to establish a pan-Islamic state across Southeast Asia. Jemaah Islamiyah is most active in Indonesia and the Philippines, but also conducts operations in Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia. The terror group is al Qaeda's regional affiliate in Southeast Asia and its operatives have been responsible for devastating attacks in the region, including the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings, the 2004 suicide car bombing outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, the August 2003 car bombing of the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta, and a series of bombings in Manila.

The terror group has suffered major setbacks inside Indonesia, with many of its top leaders killed or captured over the past several years. Among them are Dulmatin, a top leader and military commander (killed in 2010); and Noordin Mohammed Top, a senior leader, recruiter, strategist, and fundraiser (killed in 2009). Umar Patek, a top JI leader, was captured in March 2010 in Abbottabad, Pakistan, just months before al Qaeda emir Osama bin Laden was killed in the same city in a US special operations raid. Abu Bakir Bashir, the terror group's founder, is currently in prison for founding, financing, and supporting al Qaeda in Aceh.

The Abu Sayyaf Group is a Philippines-based terrorist and criminal gang formed by fighters who returned from the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union. The group was funded and financed by Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, one of Osama bin Laden's brother-in-laws, according to Khaddafy Janjalani, the leader of Abu Sayyaf before he was killed in 2006. Khalifa, an al Qaeda financier and facilitator, was killed by US special operations forces in Madagascar in 2006.
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Philippine military intensifying rescue of 2 kidnapped Europeans

English: Map of Tawi-Tawi showing the location...
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MANILA, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Philippine navy ships have put up a blockade off the southern province of Tawi-tawi as ground forces are mounting search and rescue operations for the kidnappers of two Europeans held captive by suspected Abu Sayyaf terrorists on Wednesday.

In a phone interview, Renato Yongke, commander of the Naval Task Force 62, said at least four ships with elite members of the Naval Special Operations Group are inspecting boats that are leaving the province.

"We have put up a blockade here..All motorboats are being inspected," said Yongke, adding that two of the ships used in the blockade are patrol gunboats. He said reports indicate that the kidnappers and their hostages are still in Tawi-tawi.

The two victims, Dutch Ewold Horn and Swiss Lorenzo Vinzigueere, were snatched by five suspects, armed with rifles, near Sitio Luuk village in Parangan village of Panglima Sugala town at around 1 p. m. Wednesday.

A local contact, Nestor Cabaluas, escaped immediately after. Ivan Sarenas from Davao, another local companion of the foreigners, fled by jumping off from the kidnappers' boat at around 9 p.m. Wednesday on their way to Sulu province.

Yonke confirmed that the suspects attempted to flee to Sulu but they returned to Tawi-tawi as they were running out of fuel. Police have yet to determine the group affiliation of the armed kidnappers. Though they have interviewed Sarenas but the latter could not say the affiliation of the suspects.

Yonke said Marines are coordinating with the provincial police in the search and rescue operations for the wildlife photographers who reportedly arrived at Tawi-tawi from Zamboanga City last Sunday.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos told a press briefing Thursday said they are looking into the possible involvement of the terrorist group. Also, he said they are considering other "lawless elements" as suspects.

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