Thursday, May 3, 2012

At least 34 killed following gunmen attack in Nigeria

An attack on a cattle market in northeastern Nigeria by gunmen armed with explosives has left at least 34 dead and the toll is likely to climb, an emergency source said on Thursday.

The fighting late Wednesday happened in Potiskum, a town in Nigeria’s Yobe state.

A Nigerian official quoted by AFP said, “Thirty-four bodies were deposited at the hospital.” He said the toll was likely to be more than 50 dead because families were also burying relatives’ bodies without bringing them to the hospital.

Police confirmed the attack happened but said they had no details.

The attack does not appear to be the work of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram, which is waging an increasingly violent sectarian fight against Nigeria’s weak central government. Cattle raids remain common across the north, as herdsmen lead teams across the arid plains.

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Drone strike kills 13 suspected militants in Yemen

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- A U.S. drone hit an al Qaeda training site in southern Yemen, killing 13 suspected militants, three security officials said.

The airstrike Wednesday is one of a series of attacks on al Qaeda hideouts expected in Abyan province in the next two weeks, the officials said. They will target Jaar, Lowder and Zinjibar districts.

At least two U.S. drone strikes are conducted daily since mid-April in southern regions controlled by al Qaeda fighters, said a Yemeni presidential aide who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.

"This is part of the strategy to uproot al Qaeda from areas they control," the aide said. " The Yemeni government is giving the green light for the attacks and targets are chosen carefully."

The airstrike is the latest in a series of attacks this week.

Seven militants were killed in Zinjibar and Lowder districts Monday, two security officials said.
Hundreds of government-supported citizen fighters arrested three al Qaeda fighters in neighboring Lahj province on Sunday.

Three citizen fighters were killed when militants ambushed a checkpoint at an entrance to Lauder district, residents said.

Additional forces were deployed near embassies this week amid fears that al Qaeda is planning an attack in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, the interior ministry said . The ministry said new checkpoints were set up on major roads in Sanaa.

Despite the intensified attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, an al Qaeda-affiliated group, says it controls most strategic areas in the southern province. Earlier this week, Ansar al-Sharia released 73 soldiers it was holding captive.
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3 Injured in Grenade Blast at Kabul Boys School

At least three people were wounded when a hand-grenade exploded at a boys school in the west of Kabul on Thursday, officials said.

The chief of the Kabul Police Criminal Investigation Unit Mohammad Zahir said that initial reports suggested the hand-grenade was carried in by a student which he detonated at the school.

The incident took place around 08:00am in the Ghulaam Mohammad Ghobaar high school in Khoshal Khan area in east of Kabul.

At least three people were wounded, including a teacher, spokesman for the Ministry of Education Amanullah Eman said.

Zahir said that three students were wounded.

He did not provide more details about the incident, but said that police are investigating.

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Bombs kill 5 people in northwest Pakistan

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
KHAR, Pakistan –  A Pakistani official says two bomb blasts targeting anti-Taliban tribal elders and security forces have killed five people in the country's northwest.

Tariq Khan says the attacks occurred Thursday in Chamarkand town in the Bajur tribal region. Khan is a senior official in the area.

Khan said that in the first attack, a bomb planted alongside a road exploded as two anti-Taliban tribal elders were walking past, killing them both.

Khan said a second blast occurred when security forces rushed to the scene, killing two paramilitary soldiers and one police official.

Both bombs appeared to be detonated by remote control.

No group has claimed responsibility. But the Pakistani Taliban have carried out many similar attacks in the past.

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4 killed in clashes between pro-government tribesmen, al-Qaida in southern Yemen

ADEN, Yemen, May 2 (Xinhua) -- The al-Qaida militants attacked a checkpoint manned by pro-government tribesmen, sparking deadly clashes that left four people killed on Wednesday in the southern province of Abyan, a military official said.

The al-Qaida militants ambushed a checkpoint manned by pro- government tribesmen at the northern entrance of Lauder town, about 150 km northeast of Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, leaving at least four people killed, the local military official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

After two hours of fighting, the tribesmen managed to repulse the attack and pushed the al-Qaida militants back into their hideouts in the nearby mountains, the official said.

These al-Qaida militants were attempting to fight into the army brigade stationed just a few miles away from the targeted checkpoint, he added.

Meanwhile, a local resident in the insurgents-controlled town of Jaar, said that 10 al-Qaida militants were killed when two air strikes by Yemeni air forces pounded their training camp.

Al-Qaida spokesman was not immediately available for comment on the casualties in the air trikes.

In recent months, militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch have carried out assaults and deadly suicide bombings against government troops across lawless southern regions.

Hundreds of al-Qaida militants have built up main strongholds in the impenetrable mountains in Abyan and Shabwa provinces, seizing control over several cities in the south.

The United States branded the al-Qaida in Yemen a global threat, and has dramatically stepped up its alliance with the Yemeni government by launching air strikes against the terrorist group.

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6 militants killed in Afghan and NATO troops operations

At least 6 militants were killed following joint military operations by Afghan and coalition security forces in eastern regions of the country during the past 24 hours, ISAF announced.

According to a press release issued by International Security Assistance Force at least 3 insurgents were killed by Afghan national police forces in Pul-E Alam district after receiving small arms fire.

The source further added a coalition airstrike killed two insurgents in Ghaziabad district of eastern Kunar province after Afghan National Army soldiers and coalition ground forces received small arms fire.

In a separate operation Afghan National Army soldiers killed one insurgent in response to small arms fire in Chak district at Maidan Wardak province.

Anti-government armed militant groups yet to comment regarding the reports.

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4 ANA soldiers shot dead by militants

QALA-i-NAW (PAN): Four Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers were killed by Taliban insurgents during a poppy eradication campaign in the Moqur district of northwest Badghis province, officials said on Wednesday.

Col. Abdul Qadir, crime branch chief, told Pajhwok Afghan News the soldiers from the third battalion of the 207th Zafar Military Corps were attacked by the militants while they were destroying poppies.

Four troops soldiers were killed and two others wounded, he said. Two fighters were also killed and a third injured in retaliatory fire from the troops.

A resident of Ludin area of the district, Haji Mayeen said he had heard gunshots, but had no information about casualties. About 2,400 hectares of land have been sown with poppies in Badghis this year.

from Pajhwok

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Nigeria: SSS Arrests Suspected Boko Haram Bomb Manufacturer

Police Commissioner, Ibrahim Idris
Kano, Nigeria - May 03.,2012. - The State Security Service (SSS) has arrested a man who allegedly supplies explosives to Boko Haram, which has stepped up its attacks in the last one week.

Ayuba Usman was arrested on Tuesday at his shop in a market in Kano following information from suspected Boko Haram members arrested in raids, the SSS Director in the state, Mr. Nelson Eteng, told reporters Wednesday.

“Based on statements by high profile suspects... Ayuba Usman has been providing combustible chemicals used in the manufacture of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) for attacks on innocent people in the city,” Eteng said. “The suspect is found to be linked with extremist elements.”

The SSS displayed 35 drums of chemicals of 240 litres each and a dozen bags of combustible items said to have been recovered during the raid on the suspect's shop.
According to Eteng, the suspect was apprehended at one of the markets in Dala Local Government Area of the state.

“The chemicals are controlled. But when we find individuals selling such materials to individuals who turn to harm innocent people, the security will be concerned and that is why we are concerned,” he said.

He said the SSS operatives in the state would go deeper into the case in order to know their network with a view to tracking down their accomplices, adding that investigation would continue until the perpetrators were arrested and punished.

Eteng said: “We are closing on very many suspects who are on the run, and the intelligence networking is working closely to get them very soon.”

He said the people of Kano are so tired of what is happening and are helping with information.
Last Sunday, gunmen attacked two church services at Bayero University Kano (BUK), throwing bombs and opening fire on worshippers as they sought to flee, leaving dozens dead.

A high-calibre time bomb was also discovered at another of the university's campuses in Kano and defused by a bomb squad the following day.

Dozens of IEDs were recovered on Tuesday in a military raid on an alleged Boko Haram hideout in the city which left one suspected militant dead.

Meanwhile, police authorities yesterday reacted to the threat by Boko Haram to attack more media houses by beefing up security around them.

Acting Inspector General of Police (IG) Mohammed Abubakar said the force was aware of the threat and that he had directed commissioners of police across the country to tighten security.

He advised media houses to contact commissioners of police in their states if their outfit is vulnerable.

The IG however reiterated that the police and other security agencies were working hard to overcome the security challenges and blamed their underperformance on underfunding, lack of training and ill equipment.

But the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Wednesday in Abuja issued a “final warning” to the Federal Government that any failure on the part of government to halt the incessant attacks by the Boko Haram would leave the body with no choice than to defend its members.

Addressing a press conference at the Ecumenical Centre, Abuja, CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, said the body’s position was based on the inability of Boko Haram sponsors to be reasonable.

“You will recall in our last press conference, we told the nation that the bombings and killings of innocent Nigerians may be termed senseless but that is not without sense for those sponsoring the acts. Their plan is to instil fear with the subsequent aim of eradicating religious freedom, democratic liberties with the church and Christianity as is primary target,” he said.

Oritsejafor explained that "the Nigerian nation and the global community have been witnesses to the step-by-step escalation of violence against innocent citizens with the Christians and the church suffering the greatest loss."
The association stated that given the continuous launch of attacks by Boko Haram, it is immaterial to discuss the source.

“At this point in the unfolding insecurity challenges, it has become irrelevant whether the root cause is political, religious, ethnic or ideological. The fundamental issues are that the intimidation, killings, bombings and wanton destruction of lives and property must stop immediately,” CAN maintained.

Speaking on the next line of action, CAN president said though, "I am aware that the greater part of the overall design is to instil fear in the populace, I will now make a final call to the Nigerian government to use all resources available to it to clearly define and neutralise the problem as other nations have done.”

The Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWCAN) has called for an immediate overhaul of all security agencies.

YOWCAN said since the spate of bombings in the country is difficult for them to stop, there was need for immediate shake-up in the nations' security system.

By  Yemi Akinsuyi, Paul Obi and Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano
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Taliban announce start of Al Farooq spring offensive

Today the Taliban announced the beginning of their yearly spring offensive, in an official statement released on their propaganda website, Voice of Jihad.

The Taliban statement, which was released in English and other languages, said that the "Al Farooq Jihadi spring operation" offensive will begin on May 3, and will target foreign and Afghan security forces, Afghan political and government officials, the Afghan High Peace Council, and anti-Taliban militias. The statement is attributed to "The Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," which is better known as the Quetta Shura.

"It must be stated that the primary target of Al-Farooq operation will be the foreign invaders, their advisors, their contractors and members of all associated military, intelligence and auxiliary departments," the Taliban announcement said.

"And similarly, the high ranking officials of the stooge Kabul regime; members of Parliament; those associated with Ministries of Defense, Intelligence and Interior; members of the so called High Peace Council; Militia under the name of 'Arbaki' and all those people who work against the Mujahideen, toil to pave ground for the occupation of Afghanistan and become the cause for the strength of the invaders will also be targeted in Al-Farooq operation," the statement continued.

The Taliban claimed they will employ "new and tested war tactics," and that "top priority will be given to safeguarding the lives and wealth of civilians."

"It is hoped that civilians stay away from the bases of invaders and their hirelings, their military convoys and refrain from going close to explosion sites as the enemy intentionally targets civilians to avenge the caused death/injury and attributes it to the Taliban," the statement said.

Despite the Taliban's claim that they seek to protect civilians, the Taliban continue to cause the vast majority of civilian casualties. According to statistics compiled by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and released in February, the Taliban were responsible for nearly 77 percent of the civilian deaths in the country in 2011, while Coalition and Afghan forces were responsible for just 14 percent.

Each spring, the Taliban have issued similar statements about their planned offensives, and the targets of the operations have also been similar. In an April 30, 2011 announcement of the Al Badar spring offensive, the Taliban said they would would focus on "military centers, places of gatherings, airbases, ammunition and logistical military convoys of the foreign invaders in all parts of the country." The Taliban said that their tactics would include "group and martyrdom seeking attacks," or suicide attacks and assaults; "group offensives," or massed assaults; and "city attacks," ambushes, and IED attacks.

The Taliban announcement today coincided with a complex suicide assault in Kabul that targeted a civilian compound frequented by foreign and UN personnel. Five Taliban fighters and five civilians were killed in the attack [see LWJ report, Taliban launch suicide assault in Kabul following Obama's departure].

The Taliban launched today's attack in Kabul just hours after President Obama left Afghanistan, where he had given a speech on "ending the war in Afghanistan" and called for negotiations with the Taliban. The Taliban have publicly rejected peace overtures in the past, most recently in an official statement released at Voice of Jihad on Jan. 27, and have refused to sever ties with al Qaeda.

Today's Taliban announcement occurred three weeks after Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, the top spokesman of the International Security Assistance Force, stated that ISAF sees no evidence of "cohesive action" by the Taliban to carry out a spring offensive. The Taliban conducted several coordinated attacks and assassinations of Afghan officials both before and after Jacobson made his statement [see LWJ report, Taliban suicide bombers kill 17 in attacks in south, west].

Read more:
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May 02., 2012. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan – Afghan and coalition forces killed six insurgents in eastern Afghanistan during operations throughout the past 24 hours, May 2.

Logar province
Afghan National Police killed three insurgents in Pul-E Alam district after receiving small arms fire.

Kunar province
A coalition airstrike killed two insurgents in Ghaziabad district after Afghan National Army soldiers and coalition ground forces received small arms fire.

Wardak province
Afghan National Army soldiers killed one insurgent in response to small arms fire in Chak district.

Operations in RC-East are still ongoing.

RC-East, Afghanistan, Bagram, operational update

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

KABUL, Afghanistan (May 3) — An Afghan led security force supported by coalition troops detained an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader during an operation in Iman Sahib district, Kunduz province, today.
The IMU leader planned and conducted suicide attacks against Afghan and coalition troops throughout the province and is suspected in a plot to assassinate a senior Afghan government official.

The security force also detained two other insurgents and seized one AK-47 and ammunition.

In other ISAF news throughout Afghanistan:


In Nad ‘Ali district, Helmand province, an Afghan and coalition security force detained a Taliban leader during an operation today. The leader coordinated roadside bombings, suicide attacks and other operations against Afghan and coalition security forces. He also supplied weapons and ammunition to insurgents in the area. The security force detained one additional insurgent as a result of this operation.


An Afghan and coalition security force detained a Haqqani facilitator during an operation in Nerkh district, Wardak province, today. The facilitator provides weapons, explosive devices and funds to insurgents to support attacks against Afghan and coalition troops throughout the province. The security force detained several additional insurgents and destroyed multiple weapons and several kilograms of explosive material during the operation.
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R.I.P. - Capt. Bruce K. Clark

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

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

            Capt. Bruce K. Clark, 43, Spencerport, N.Y., died May 1, in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan.

            Clark was assigned to A Company, Troop Command, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, El Paso, Texas.

            For more information related to this release, the media may contact William Beaumont Army Medical Center public affairs by phone at 915-742-6006.

A William Beaumont Army Medical Center Soldier died May 1 in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan of unknown causes.

The circumstances surrounding Capt. Bruce K. Clark's death are under investigation. Clark was assigned to A Company, Troop Command, William Beaumont Army Medical Center.Clark, 43, of Spencerport, N.Y., was a nurse who came on active duty with the Army in September 2006.
He was previously stationed at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii.

His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service, Medal National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Army Service Medal.

Clark is survived by his wife and two children.
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