Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Algerian security forces identify 28 potential suicide bombers

English: Locator map of the Tizi Ouzou Provinc...
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ALGIERS, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Algerian counterterrorism services have set up a new list of 28 potential suicide bombers, including three Libyan militants, local Echorouk newspaper reported Tuesday.

The newspaper quoted a security source as saying that the list identifies 28 militants, bringing the number of potential suicide bombers in the North African nation from 40 to 68.

The source added that five names were added to the list early this month, including three Libyan militants identified as Abu Muhajir, Abu Sakhr and Abu Munhader.

The Libyans took advantage of the unstable security situation on borders to intrude into the Algerian territory, the source said, adding that they managed to join the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat in the desert of Algeria and became part of their suicide bomber projects.

The list has been distributed to security stations nationwide to prevent possible terror attacks, especially ahead of the parliament elections scheduled in May, the source added.

In July and August of 2011, three suicide attacks targeting military forces hit the localities of Azefoun in Tizi Ouzou province, Bordj Menaiel in Boumerdes province and Cherchel in Tipaza province, leaving dozens of people dead or injured.

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Military members honor American freedom while deployed

U.S. Army Capt. John Stehulak (left), Optometry Clinic optometrist, and Staff Sgt. Joseph Hagan, Optometry Clinic Detachment sergeant, stand in front of their creation of a snow version of the Statue of Liberty on Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 20, 2012. Stehulak and Hagan are attached to the 124th Medical Detachment based out of Fort Shafter, Hawaii.

Photo by Staff Sgt. Amanda Dick
Combined Joint Interagency Task Force (CJIATF) 435

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Angry Afghans protest Quran disposal at US base

Riot police head to the front gate of Bagram - photo: Ksieff
Hundreds of Afghans staged angry protests at two sites in and around the capital Kabul, incensed by reports that NATO troops had set fire to copies of the Quran.

Protesters shouting "Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar" (God is great) besieged the US-run airbase in Bagram on Tuesday, firing slingshots and petrol bombs.

Guards at the base, about 60Km north of capital, Kabul, responded by firing rubber bullets from a watchtower, an AFP photographer said.

"They are demonstrating over the burning of copies of the Quran inside the base," a local official told AFP news agency.

Sidiq Siddiqi, an Afghan interior ministry spokesman, confirmed the demonstration and said reinforcements were sent to the area to prevent possible violence.

Another protest by about 500 people broke out in the Pul-e-charkhi district of Kabul not far from major NATO bases on the Jalalabad road, police spokesman Ashamat Estanakzai told AFP.

General John Allen, the US commander in Afghanistan, offered his apology and ordered an investigation into reports that troops "improperly disposed of a large number of Islamic religious materials which included Qurans".

"I offer my sincere apologies for any offence this may have caused, to the President of Afghanistan, the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and most importantly, to the noble people of Afghanistan," he said.

Allen's remarkably candid statement, apparently aimed at damage limitation after similar incidents led to violence and attacks on foreigners, was played repeatedly on Afghan television.

"We are thoroughly investigating the incident and are taking steps to ensure this does not ever happen again,'' Allen said.

Allegations that NATO troops working inside the base had set fire to copies of the Muslim holy book were first reported by a senior government official.

Ahmad Zaki Zahed, chief of the provincial council, said U.S. military officials gave him about 30 Qurans and other religious books that were recovered before they were destroyed.
"Some are burned. Some are not burned," Zahed said, adding that the books were used by detainees once incarcerated at the base.

The materials were in trash that two soldiers with the U.S.-led coalition transported in a truck late Monday night to a pit where garbage is burned on the base, according to Zahed, who spoke with five Afghans working at the pit. He said that when the workers noticed the religious books in the trash, they stopped the disposal process.

Allen said he received a report overnight that "a large number of Islamic religious materials, which included Qurans," had been improperly disposed of at the base.

Commander ISAF statement:

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Militants kill 4 civilians on spying charges in S. Afghanistan

Lejay is located in the Baghran valley, in Hel...
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LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Taliban militants killed four civilians for allegedly spying for the government in southern Afghan province of Helmand, a spokesman for provincial government said on Tuesday.

"Four innocent civilians were beheaded by militants in Washer district on Sunday night," Daud Ahmadi told Xinhua.

He said the victims had no connection with the government or foreign forces in Helmand.

The only reason for killing the four innocent civilians by militants was holding satellite phones, Ahmadi said, adding " Since the Washer district is a far-flanged area in Helmand province people mostly use satellite phone for making national and international calls and that it could not be a motive to kill innocent people for spying charges,"

The number of civilian casualties has been soaring in the militancy-plagued Afghanistan as a total of 3,021 Afghan civilians have been killed in 2011 which indicates, an 8-percent rise in non- combatants' deaths compared with 2010, according to the United Nations annual report released in Kabul in February this year.

The UN report attributed 77 percent of the civilian deaths last year to the attacks of Taliban insurgents and other armed groups opposing the Afghan government.

Another 14 percent of the deaths were attributed to Afghan and NATO-led forces and 9 percent were unattributed.
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Feb.21., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan (Feb. 21) – An Afghan Provincial Response Company, partnered with coalition forces, detained two criminals during an operation in Baad Pukh district, Laghman province, Sunday.

One detainee was tried and convicted in an Afghan court of law for multiple crimes against Afghan people in Laghman province. The crimes included theft of grain and weapons, in addition to kidnapping and severely beating a relative.

The second detainee was apprehended for crimes against local Afghans in the province after a warrant was issued by the provincial chief prosecutor.

During the operation two firearms and two loaded magazines were confiscated.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:

An Afghan and coalition security force captured a Taliban commander responsible for last month’s Kajaki Sofla Bazaar bombing in Kajaki district, Helmand province, today. The leader recruited and moved suicide bombers throughout Helmand province. One additional suspected insurgent was detained during the operation.

An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation in search of a Haqqani leader in Khost district, Khost province, yesterday. The leader operates in Sabari district and coordinates attacks using explosives and heavy weaponry. Multiple suspected insurgents were detained during the operation.
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30 Insurgents Surrender to Afghan Authorities

Insurgents in Kandahar and Herat on Monday laid down their weapons and agreed to support the Afghan government.

Ten insurgents laid down their weapons and surrendered to authorities in southern Kandahar province, local officials said.

The men were active in the Panjwaye district of Kandahar and organised anti-government activities there, provincial spokesman Zulmai Ayoubi told TOLOnews.

Mr Ayoubi added that security will improve as more insurgents renounce violence in the province.

Separately, in western Herat province 20 insurgents including their commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani, surrendered to the government in the Gularan district of the province which lies about 640km from Kabul, provincial governor Daud Saba said.

The men fought against the government in the district, he said.

The commander and their men submitted their weapons to security troops, he added.

In the past eight months, 400 insurgent groups have joined the Afghan peace process in the province, officials said.

Dozens of insurgents have recently joined the peace process in the provinces after Afghan and Nato forces increased military operations to clear the country of insurgents.

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