Tuesday, April 3, 2012

R.I.P. - Cpl. Michael J. Palacio

DOD Identifies Marine Casualty

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Cpl. Michael J. Palacio, 23, of Lake Elsinore, Calif., died March 29 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.

            For additional background information on this Marine, news media representatives may contact the Consolidated Public Affairs Office, Camp Butler, Okinawa at 011-81-611-745-0790.


A military policeman, joined the Marine Corps, Nov. 28, 2007. He arrived on Okinawa, Nov. 11, 2010, and deployed to Afghanistan, Nov. 12, 2011.
"Cpl. Michael 'Mikey' J. Palacio was a quiet professional, dedicated to the mission and the Marines he served beside. He was not afraid to take care of his fellow Marines, always giving a helping hand and expecting nothing in return. Mikey will always be remembered and carried with the members of MP Company as a great Marine, true family man, friend, and relentless warrior,” said 1st Sgt. Timothy J. Schultz, Military Police Company first sergeant.
“I know I'll remember that huge smile and good attitude he always displayed."
His service awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and the NATO-International Security Assistance Force Medal.
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Yemeni air raids kill 45 al-Qaida militants in restive south

Yemen division 2012-3-11 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
ADEN, Yemen, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Intensified Yemeni airstrikes bombed several al-Qaida hideouts in the southern province of Lahj, killing a total of 45 militants on Tuesday, a government official told Xinhua.

The air strikes which were carried out by Yemeni air forces hit several hideouts of the terrorists, killing as many as 45 al-Qaida militants in Lahj's suburbs close to the insurgents-controlled town of Jaar in neighboring Abyan province, the local government official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

"The air raids on Tuesday are against al-Qaida hideouts in the mountainous area of Rahah in the suburbs of Lahj, where fierce battles took place between the government troops and militants during the past three days, leaving dozens of people killed," the official said.

"Some of the al-Qaida militants were killed late Monday during overnight air strikes on fortifications around the army base which was overran by the terrorists on Saturday," the intelligence officer said.

"The army forces were trying to regain control over the region, but did not make any progress for fear of suicide bombings," he added.

On Sunday, militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch shot dead 15 army soldiers held captives during Saturday's fighting in the southern province of Lahj, according to military officials.

The Yemeni army and security forces have recently been attacked by the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the restive southern regions. Hundreds of government troops were either killed or injured during deadly suicide bombings and fierce battles with al-Qaida insurgents in the province of Abyan during the past two months.

Taking advantage of the one-year-long political conflicts, the resurgent AQAP, locally known as Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), has taken control of several cities and swathes across the country's restive southern provinces.
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3 policemen killed, 11 missing in NE Afghanistan

Districts of Badakhshan.
Districts of Badakhshan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
FAIZABAD, Afghanistan, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Three policemen were killed and 11 others were missing following an attack launched by Taliban militants in northeastern Afghan province of Badakhshan, a provincial government spokesman said on Tuesday. "An unspecified number of armed militants launched an attack on a police check point in Wardoj district Monday night leaving three policemen with Afghan Border Police dead,"spokesman Abdul Maruf Rasikh told Xinhua.

The missing policemen may have been kidnapped by militants in the mountainous province, 315 km northeast of capital Kabul, the spokesman said.

Taliban militants have claimed responsibility for the incident. Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told local media via cell phone that Taliban fighters had launched an attack on a police check point in Badakhshan, killing 10 policemen.

He claimed that the militant group made captive 11 policemen besides seizing their weapons and a vehicle.

Afghan and NATO military officials said recently that impressive Taliban-led attacks would occur in the coming weeks and months as spring and summer, known as "fighting season", draw near.
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Taliban Ambush NATO Supply Convoy

file photo (khaama)
The Taliban have ambushed a NATO supply column in Delaram, southwest Afghanistan, destroying a number of fuel trucks, the Pajhwok news agency reported on Tuesday.

The truck convoy was ambushed by Taliban militants on its way to a NATO base in Herat province. The Afghan Interior Ministry said six tanker trucks were destroyed, while Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed the convoy lost nine trucks.

Pajhwok reported that after the attack on the column NATO troops moved into the area and began a sweep of nearby villages, killing four militants. Taliban claimed that they killed five NATO guards and two Taliban fighters were wounded. The number of foreign troops killed has not been reported.

Attacks on military convoys carrying gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel from the Pakistan border have become more frequent with the coming of spring and a new fighting season.

Exactly one week ago on the Herat-Kandahar Highway, insurgents attacked another NATO tanker truck convoy, sparking a battle between the Taliban and Afghan security forces that killed 27 rebels, five policemen and one Afghan army soldier and injured many more.

from RiaNovosti
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Explosion injure 3 in eastern Nangarhar province

According to local authorities in eastern Nangarhar province, at least 3 people were injured following a roadside bomb explosion in this province.

The officials further added, the incident took place on Tuesday morning after a vehicle of Hesarak district chief bodyguards struck with a roadside bomb.

Hesarak district chief Abdul Khaliq Maroof confirming the report said, the incident took place while his bodyguards were on their way to district compound.

Mr. Maroof further added, at least one of his bodyguards was injured along with two Afghan civilians following the incident.

No group including the Taliban militants have so far claimed responsibility behind the incident. Local officials blame Taliban group for such incidents as Taliban militants frequently use improvised explosive device and roadside bombs to target Afghan and foreign troops which normally leads to civilians casualties.

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Colombia's FARC rebels release 10 hostages

Kidnapped hostages released by the Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in company with
medics arrive at Vanguardia of Villavicencio Airport,
in Villavicencio, Colombia, on April 2, 2012.
FARC rebels Monday handed over 10 hostages to a
humanitarian delegation organized by the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
BOGOTA, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Colombia's Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC)rebels Monday handed over 10 hostages to a humanitarian delegation organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
"In the last hours, in a rural zone of the border between the southern regions of Meta and Guaviare, the FARC released four military officers and six police officers," said a ICRC statement.
The freed hostages were taken to Villavicencio, capital of Meta region to meet their families. The group was the only remaining security forces members held by the guerrilla group to swap for jailed FARC members.
ICRC Spokeswoman Cristina Rivera told reporters that the released officers "are taken to Villavicencio in a helicopter provided by Brazil's government, which has been properly identified with the ICRC sign."
Villavicencio serves as the spot for the humanitarian operation which began Monday morning when the helicopter took off with the humanitarian delegation led by Senator and mediator Piedad Cordoba, ICRC delegates and the Brazilian crew to meet the rebel group in the Colombian jungle.
Rivera said a brief medical examination indicated the released officers are in good health conditions, though further examinations would be performed when they arrive in Bogota.
The Colombian government has deployed two airplanes from Colombian Air Force to take the released officers from Villavicencio to Bogota.
The released officers were kidnapped by the FARC during 1998-1999 in attacks against army and police stations, patrols and highway checkpoints.

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Somalia: 4 Dead After Al Shabaab Battle With Ahlu Sunnah Forces

Eilbur, Somalia — At least four people have died after Al Shabaab insurgents launched an offensive against Ahlu Sunnah and Ethiopian forces stationed in Eilbur, Radio Garowe reports.

The town of Eilbur is located in the region of Galgudud which most parts are governed by Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama. Ethiopian and Ahlu Sunna forces recently captured the town from Al Shabaab agents. The attack by the insurgent group sparked a four hour battle between Al Shabaab and Ahlu Sunnah troops backed by Ethiopian forces.

The sound of heavy artillery could be heard throughout the town and neighboring districts, local sources on the ground say four people were killed in the battle.

Ahlu Sunnah authorities said that they had killed 2 Al Shabaab agents in the battle but did not comment on their casualties.

Further south in Somalia residents of Elesha Biyaha located about 13 kms west of Mogadishu have started to flee their homes in fear of clashes between AMISOM alongside TFG forces and Al Shabaab who have lost much ground in southern Somalia in recent weeks.

AMISOM and TFG forces captured the Daynile district in southeastern Mogadishu was a stronghold for Al Shabaab insurgents in Mogadishu.

from allAfrica
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Apr.03., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan – In Kandahar district, Kandahar province, an Afghan-led security force supported by coalition troops captured a Taliban facilitator during an operation yesterday.

The facilitator supplied insurgents throughout Kandahar province with weapons, ammunition and equipment. The security force detained two additional suspected insurgents as a result of the operation.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:


A combined Afghan and coalition security force captured a Taliban leader during an operation in Archi district, Kunduz province, yesterday. The leader supervised the construction of roadside bombs and directed attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces throughout the district.

An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation to capture an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan bomb-making expert in Kunduz district, Kunduz province, today. He is believed to be the senior bomb maker for the IMU in Afghanistan and supervises the construction of explosive devices for attacks against senior Afghan officials. The security force killed one insurgent and detained another as a result of this operation.


An Afghan and coalition security force captured a Taliban facilitator during an operation in Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand province, today. The facilitator supplied insurgents throughout the province with weapons, ammunition and equipment for attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces. The security force also seized approximately five kilograms of illegal narcotics as a result of this operation.


An Afghan-led security force supported by coalition troops conducted an operation to capture a Haqqani facilitator in Terayzai district, Khost province, today. The facilitator provides weapons and ammunition to insurgents in Sabari district for attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces. The security force detained several suspected insurgents and seized multiple weapons as a result of the operation.

Finally, in Jaghatu district, Wardak province, an Afghan and coalition security force captured a Taliban leader during an operation today. The leader planned and supervised attacks against senior Afghan officials in Kabul City.
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Mali: Urgent Action Needed to Protect Civilians

The Tuareg and Islamist armed groups who have taken the northern cities of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu must protect the civilian population in areas under their control, Amnesty International said today.

In Gao, the organisation received reports of armed men firing into the air and looting public and private buildings, including the hospital.

One witness living there told Amnesty International today: "Armed people are entering the houses and looting. They are firing in the air and we are all terrified. We are left with no defence."

A woman was forced to give birth in the street in Gao as the hospital was being looted by armed men. One patient died as medical care was withdrawn.

"The armed groups who seized these towns in the last three days must ensure human rights abuses do not occur and where they do, they must take action and remove anyone implicated from their ranks," said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International's researcher on West Africa.

"The looting must be halted to ensure that the civilian population can safely go about their lives."

"In Gao especially, there is an atmosphere of terror and confusion. People must be reassured that if they stay they will not be harmed."

In Timbuktu a young man was reportedly killed on Sunday by a stray bullet while walking in the street.

As chaos spirals more and more people are fleeing their homes.

A resident of Kidal told Amnesty International this morning: "I'm trying to leave the city with my family but there is a waiting list at the bus station. I hope I can have a ticket for Wednesday."

The Azawad National Liberation Movement (Mouvement national de liberation de l'Azawad, (MNLA), a Tuareg armed opposition group, launched a military uprising in the north of the country late January 2012.

Meanwhile Islamic group, Ansar Dine, which says it aims to implement the Sharia law in Mali, has also been fighting against the national army.

Since the beginning of the uprising, more than 200,000 people have fled the north of Mali with an estimated 100,000 crossing to the neighbouring countries of Mauritania, Niger, Algeria and Burkina Faso.

"There is a real risk of a humanitarian crisis as aid agencies are encountering many problems gaining access to those in need," said Gaëtan Mootoo. "This situation is aggravated by the fact that the whole Sahel region is facing a widespread food and nutrition crisis."

The situation in Bamako continues to be volatile ten days on from the military coup that toppled Mali's President Amadou Toumani Touré.

The leader of Mali's new ruling junta promised on Sunday to reinstate the constitution, hours ahead of a deadline set by the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) either to start handing back power or face sanctions.

an Amnesty International Press Release
from allAFRICA
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Meet the soldier who spent 8 hours in a tiny tunnel to defuse bomb

Captain James Fidell RLC
SPENDING eight hours squashed in a narrow pitch-black tunnel in Afghanistan to defuse a deadly bomb has earned a Kineton soldier the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

Captain James Fidell, 28, who at the time was in the 11 Explosives Ordnance Disposal Regiment of the Royal Logistic Corps, had to take off his bomb disposal suit, helmet and body armour to be able to crawl into the 14m-long tunnel, which had been dug by the Taliban in Gereshk in the Helmand Province.

The 50kg improvised explosive device - which had been found by a remote robot after reports of suspicious digging - could have killed him instantly.

And the fragile passageway, which itself could have been laced with further bombing devices planted to target him, was in danger collapsing around him while he worked.

On top of all that, as the 6ft 5ins tall soldier - widely known as Jim - entered the tunnel, the cordon providing him with security came under fire. Yet he carried on with his task and began a meticulous fingertip search in the claustrophobic conditions.

Jim, who described this mission as his most difficult, said: “Had we detonated the device, not only would it have hurt the local economy and our mission, it would also have made it easier for the insurgents to plant more IEDs.

“Because of this, I took the decision to crawl into the tunnel and deactivate the device. I was quite surprised by how hot and humid it was and it was so tight I had to go in without my protective gear.”

On finally reaching the bomb, he had to make it safe before removing it and edging his way back down the tunnel for it to be disposed of.

Now a member of Defence Explosives Ordnance Disposal Munitions and Search School in Kineton, Jim said of his role as a bomb disposal expert: “It is very rewarding. Every bomb you disable is potentially saving lives.”

The Queen’s Gallantry Medal is awarded to civilians and military personnel for acts of exemplary bravery.

His nomination for the honour states: “Fidell’s disregard of his own personal safety in order to save this critically important route demonstrated exceptional gallantry.

“For his exemplary bravery, supreme professionalism and unwavering composure in the most dangerous of circumstances, he is recommended for national recognition.”

from leamingtoncourier.co.uk
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