Thursday, February 23, 2012

Six killed, four injured in Sudan Darfur attack

English: Map of Darfur within Sudan, July 2011.
Image via Wikipedia
KHARTOUM, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Six Sudanese civilians were killed and four others injured in an attack by a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) launched in Alawna, some 30 km from El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, official SUNA news agency reported Thursday.

"An armed group belonging to the rebel Sudan Liberation Army's (SLA) Minnawi faction attacked the innocent civilians in Alawna on Wednesday evening," the agency quoted local official Abdul-illah Banaga as saying. "The attack resulted in the killing of six civilians and the injuring of four others, who were sent to Dar- Elsalam hospital in El Fasher for treatment."

The official added that the members of the armed group, who were in four-wheel-drive vehicles, set fire to three houses and destroyed a water station in the area.

"The Minnawi movement intended to spread panic among the citizens and force them to relocate, particularly after the area has seen improved stability and security," he noted.

The SLA's Minnawi faction refused to join the Darfur peace negotiations, which were hosted by Qatar and resulted in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, a peace document between the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement.
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Pak combat jets kill 15 Taliban militants

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistani combat jets today pounded militant hideouts in the Orakzai tribal region of northwest Pakistan killing at least 15 Taliban fighters, officials said.

Four hideouts were destroyed in the air strikes carried out near the Afghan border by two combat jets.

The attack was launched after intelligence reports said militants of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan were hiding in the area, officials said.

The air strikes were carried out in Khadizai, Samar Bazar and Bermela areas.

The casualties could not be independently confirmed as journalists are barred from reporting from the region.

The Taliban has a strong presence in parts of Orakzai Agency, which has witnessed clashes between security forces and militants.

from INDIATimes
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Afghan Female Senator Allegedly Linked To Kidnapping

KABUL -- The office of Afghanistan's Attorney General alleges that female Senator Fawzia Sadaat has links with a criminal group involved in kidnapping.

Deputy Attorney General Rahmatullo Nazari said the office had sent a letter to the senate on February 23 asking it to strip Sadaat of her immunity to pave the way for launching a criminal probe against her.

According to Nazari, prosecutors have obtained documents indicating Sadaat's association with a criminal group allegedly led by her brother, who is currently under arrest.

Sadaat denies the allegation.

from RFERL
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Marine copters crash, killing 7 (updated)

Head-on view of a U.S. Marine Corps AH-1W carr...
Image via Wikipedia

Two Marine helicopters collided at the Yuma Training Range Complex on Wednesday, killing seven Marines in one of the worst training accidents in recent years.

The helicopters that collided — an AH-1W “Cobra” and a UH-1Y “Huey” — were conducting routine training operations around 8 p.m. Wednesday in a remote area of the Yuma complex, the Marine Corps said in a statement Thursday. Both helicopters belonged to the the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The complex covers airspace and lands in southwestern Arizona and southeastern California, including the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Bombing and Gunnery Range in California. The Associated Press reported that the two helicopters crashed in the Chocolate Mountains.

Such training accidents are relatively rare. In July a UH-1Y “Huey” crashed at Camp Pendleton, Calif., killing one Marine and wounding five others. At the time, Marine officials said the crash was believed to be the first one involving the UH-1Y since it joined the Marine Corps inventory in 2008.

Identities of the Marines in Wednesday’s crash will be withheld until next of kin have been notified.

The incident is currently under investigation, a Marine press statement said.

from ARMYTimes:

Six of the Marines were assigned to a unit at Camp Pendleton, Calif., part of 3rd Marine Air Wing based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. One Marine was based at Yuma. Their units have not been identified.
The Yuma-based Marine was a captain, instructor and pilot, according to Col. Robert Kuckuk, commander at MCAS Yuma.

The captain had “risen to the pinnacle of Marine aviation in his field,” Kuckuk said at news conference Thursday afternoon at MCAS Yuma.
Identities of the Marines will not be released until 24 hours after the next of kin has been notified.
The Cobra and Huey were both carrying explosives and were training together, along with at least two other aircraft. The Huey and Cobra collided 65 miles northwest of MCAS Yuma, Kuckuk said.
The crash site was in the Chocolate Mountain Gunnery Range, which is used for explosives training, Kuckuk said.
Aerial views of the crash Thursday afternoon showed several trucks amid the charred remains of the helicopters.
Capt. Staci Reidinger, director of public affairs at MCAS Yuma, said that the crash area is not a populated area.
Kuckuk said that the rugged desert mountain terrain “simulates Afghanistan very, very well.”
The Marines were likely using standard night-vision goggles during the mission. Kuckuk said that the goggles limit depth perception and don’t allow for a clear horizon.
“We train to those limitations ... we understand those risks. We take steps to mitigate those risks,” he said.
Typically the Cobra aircraft carries a pilot and a co-pilot and is used by the Marine Corps. The twin-engine aircraft has been used in combat in the Vietnam War by U.S. forces, as well as in Grenada.
The helicopter is known for its capability to operate during the day and night, in land- and sea- based operations, and in adverse weather conditions. Its ability to withstand desert conditions protected the aircraft during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Cpl. Steven Posy, a MCAS Miramar spokesman, said Thursday that the weather “was pretty mild last night.”

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Taliban Facilitator Captured in Khost Operation

A Taliban facilitator was captured on Thursday in an Afghan-led military operation in Khost province in eastern Afghanistan, Isaf said.

"The facilitator co-ordinated the procurement of weapons and explosives for attacks against Afghan security forces," Isaf said in a statement.

The security force seized weapons, ammunition and bomb-making materials. One additional suspected insurgent was detained during the operation.

The statement added that Afghan and coalition security forces conducted a search operation for a Taliban leader in the Nawa district of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan today. The leader conducts attacks against Afghan government officials.

Multiple suspected insurgents were detained during the operation.

from TOLO
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Afghan Soldier Kills Two Nato Troop in Afghanistan

Jalalabad District is located in the north-wes...
Image via Wikipedia

An Afghan soldier shot and killed two Nato soldiers in eastern Nangarhar province on Thursday, a source told TOLOnews.

"An Afghan soldier turned his weapon against foreign troops in the Khogyani district of Nangahar province today. He opened fire on Nato troops, killing two and wounding two others," the source told TOLOnews on the condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, an Isaf statement confirmed that a individual wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire on Nato troops, killing two soldiers.

Isaf did not provide more details about the incident.


ISAF did not identify the nationalities of the dead soldiers and gave no further details of the incident, which came on the third day of fierce protests against the burning of the Holy Quran at a US-run military base.

Asked whether the events were connected, an ISAF spokesman would only say: "There was a demonstration in the province."

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Car bomb kills 13 at Peshawar bus station (+video)

People visit the site of a bomb blast in Peshawar, Pakistan on Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 - Photo/Mohammad Sajjad
PESHAWAR: A car bomb ripped through a bus station on Thursday, killing 13 people, including two children, on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, officials said.

The attack happened on the road towards the garrison city of Kohat near the lawless tribal belt, a stronghold of militants blamed for violence plaguing both Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan.

“The death toll in the car bomb blast has now risen to 13 while more than 35 have been wounded,” city police chief Imtiaz Altaf told AFP.

A senior doctor in the local Lady Reading hospital, Rahim Jan confirmed the new toll, adding that seven injured people were in a critical condition.

Several of the bodies were charred beyond recognition, he said.

Around a dozen passenger coaches were heavily damaged, with pieces of human flesh scattered and blood smeared on the ground.

At the main hospital in Peshawar an AFP reporter said the wounded cried and relatives of the dead sobbed over the bodies of their loved ones.

Dilawar Khan, 60, who was wounded in his left shoulder, told AFP his 12-year-old son Abdullah was killed while helping him run a tea stall at the bus station while on a break from school.

“I was preparing tea for the drivers and my son was serving tea for some other drivers when the huge blast happened,” Khan said, through his tears.

“Something like shrapnel hit me in the shoulder but I was conscious. Then I was brought to hospital and saw my son’s dead body. I’ve lost everything.” There was no claim of responsibility and the precise target was unclear, but attacks blamed on Taliban and other homegrown extremists opposed to the government’s support for the US war in Afghanistan are common.

“At the moment I can’t say what the exact target of the bomb attack was but all those killed were innocent civilians,” Mohammad Siraj, the top government official in Peshawar, told reporters.

Tahir Ayub, a senior police official, told reporters that most of those killed were passengers waiting to board coaches.

“Two children were among the dead. According to a preliminary investigation, the bomb was planted in the car,” he said.

“The bomb was planted in a car at the station, and around 40 kilogrammes of explosives were used,” police official Shafqat Malik told reporters.

from DAWN

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Feb.23., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan (Feb. 23) – An Afghan-led and coalition-supported security force discovered an explosives cache during an operation in Achin district, Nangarhar province, yesterday.
The cache consisted of 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms) of explosive materials. The security force destroyed all of the materials on site without incident.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:

An Afghan and coalition security force conducted a search operation for a Taliban leader in Nawah-ye Barakzai district, Helmand province, today. The leader conducts attacks against Afghan government officials. Multiple suspected insurgents were detained during the operation.

An Afghan led security force captured a Taliban facilitator during an operation in Khost district, Khost province, today. The facilitator coordinated the procurement of weapons and explosives for attacks against Afghan security forces. The security force seized weapons, ammunition and bomb-making materials. One additional suspected insurgent was detained during the operation.

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Rapid attacks across Iraq kill 50 people

BAGHDAD (AP) — A rapid series of attacks spread over a wide swath of Iraqi territory killed at least 50 people on Thursday, targeting mostly security forces in what appeared to be another strike by al-Qaida militants bent on destabilizing the country.

The apparently coordinated bombings and shootings unfolded over four hours in the capital Baghdad — where most of the deaths were — and 11 other cities. They struck government offices, restaurants and one in the town of Musayyib hit close to a primary school. At least 225 people were wounded.

"What is happening today are not simple security violations — it is a huge security failure and disaster," said Ahmed al-Tamimi, who was working at an Education Ministry office a block away from a restaurant that was bombed in the Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah in northern Baghdad. He described a hellish scene of human flesh and pools of blood at the restaurant.

"We want to know: What were the thousands of policemen and soldiers in Baghdad doing today while the terrorists were roaming the city and spreading violence?" al-Tamimi said.

An Iraqi policeman inspects a destroyed vehicle at the site of a blast in the northern city of Kirkuk on February 23, 2012 photo MARWAN IBRAHIM

An Iraqi firefighter douses a car as security forces inspect the site of a blast in the northern city of Kirkuk on February 23, 2012 - photo MARWAN IBRAHIM

Iraqi firefighters try to extinguish a burning bus at the scene of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 - Photo/Hadi Mizban

Ahmed Ali inspects his destroyed car after a car bomb explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 - Photo/Hadi Mizban

An Iraqi firefighter douses a car as security forces inspect the site of a blast in the northern city of Kirkuk on February 23, 2012 - photo MARWAN IBRAHIM

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Ansar al-Sunna chief arrested on Syria-Iraq border

FALLUJAH, Iraq — Iraqi security forces on Wednesday arrested the head of Ansar al-Sunna, a Sunni insurgent group said to be linked to Al-Qaeda, the counter-terrorism chief for Anbar province said.

"Iraqi forces today arrested the leader of Ansar al-Sunna, Walid Khaled Ali, as he tried to illegally infiltrate into Iraqi territory from Syria," Brigadier General Khaled al-Dulaimi told AFP.

He "tried to cross on foot near Al-Walid border post" into Anbar province in western Iraq, Dulaimi said.

He "was one of the most prominent suspects for terrorism cases," Dulaimi said, adding that "he killed many of the sons of Anbar and fled to Syria after the announcement of the tribal fight against Al-Qaeda in 2007."

Sunni tribesmen joined forces with the US military against Al-Qaeda from late 2006, helping to turn the tide of the insurgency.

Ansar al-Sunna is an ultra-conservative Sunni Salafist group that has claimed several attacks against US and Iraqi security forces. It is an offshoot of the Kurdish group Ansar al-Islam.

Dulaimi said the group is part of the Islamic State of Iraq, Al-Qaeda's front organisation here.

Iraq's interior ministry meanwhile said on Monday its forces had fended off "smugglers and infiltrators" trying to cross the border from Syria.

"Border guards were able to fend off groups of smugglers and infiltrators who were trying to cross the border from Syria into Iraq," a statement on the ministry's website said, without specifying when this occurred.
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Somalia al-Shabab militant base of Baidoa captured

Ethiopian and Somali troops have taken a strategic stronghold of Islamist militants in south-western Somalia.

Eyewitnesses told the BBC that about 50 vehicles, including some 20 tanks, had entered Baidoa, which was not defended.

After the southern port of Kismayo, the town was the most important al-Shabab base.

The news comes as the UN Security Council voted to increase the African Union force in Somalia from 12,000 to 17,731.

These developments come ahead of a major conference to be hosted by the UK on Thursday aimed at ending two decades of conflict in the troubled country.

Al-Shabab, which has recently joined al-Qaeda, confirmed that it had withdrawn its forces from Baidoa as part of a "tactical retreat" and threatened to start a guerrilla war in response.

"The takeover does not mean that the enemy will enjoy the city, there will be more bloodshed," said Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim, an al-Shabab commander, according to the AFP news agency.

A Somali government military commander in the town said his forces were moving to the outer edges of the town to ensure they had full control of it.

"We have taken control of Baidoa without a single shot, it is a great day for the people who are now welcoming us warmly," Muhidin Ali said, according to AFP.

Read more at BBC News
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R.I.P. - Sgt. Allen R. McKenna Jr.

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Sgt. Allen R. McKenna Jr., 28, of Noble, Okla., died Feb. 21 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

 He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.
For more information the media may contact the 4th Infantry Division public affairs at 719-503-0921.

McKenna joined the Army in September 2004.
He was in his second deployment to Afghanistan, which began Sept. 6. His previous deployment was from March 2009 to March 2010.
His decorations included the Army Commendation Medal twice and the Army Achievement Medal.
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NATO air raid injure 8 Afghan kids in Kunar province

According to local authorities in eastern Afghanistan, at least 8 Afghan kids were injured following a NATO air raid at eastern Kunar province.

The officials further added, the incident took place on Wednesday morning after NATO targeted a school at Koz district of eastern Kunar province which injured at least 8 female kids.

Provincial governor spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai confirming the report said, the main motive behind the incident is still unclear.

In the meantime a spokesperson for International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said they have launched a probe to find out the facts behind the incident.

This comes as at least eight Afghan civilians were killed following an air raid by International coalition security forces at Nejrab district of eastern Kapisa province during the first week of this month.

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