Saturday, June 9, 2012

3 Taliban bomb-making experts detained in S. Afghanistan: official

English: Cropped version of a larger map to sh...
English: Cropped version of a larger map to show detail around Lashkar Gah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Three Taliban bomb- making experts have been detained by Afghan forces in southern Helmand province, an official said on Saturday.

"The personnel of National Directorate of Security (NDS) carried out a special operation in Khushabi area of provincial capital Lashkar Gah city Friday night and captured three Taliban bomb-making experts," a spokesman for NDS or intelligence agency, Shams-ul-Rahman Noori, told reporters here.

Their capturing would significantly disrupt Taliban insurgents efforts to conduct attacks on Afghan and coalition troops by using the roadside bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Noor said.

A handful of weapons and IED making material were also found and sized by NDS forces, he said.

Afghan security forces took full control of security of Lashkar Gah and three districts from NATO and U.S. forces over the past couple of months.

Transition of security responsibilities from NATO forces to Afghan army and police began in July last year and lasts till 2014 when Afghanistan is due to take over the its full security duties from U.S. and NATO forces.

The Taliban insurgent group, which stepped up their attacks on Afghan and NATO-led troops since a spring offensive was launched in May in the war-ravaged country, has yet to make comments.

Taliban militants have used IEDs and suicide bombers in their attacks which also inflicted casualties on civilians.

A woman was killed and three other women seriously injured when an IED went off along a road in Musa Qala district of Helamnd province on Friday.
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Four policemen gunned down in Quetta

QUETTA - At least four policemen were killed when undefined gun men opened fire at them here on Saturday morning.

According to details, two armed motorcyclists shot at policemen while they were patrolling the railway track in the Sariyab Road area.

The firing killed all four policemen on the spot. The attackers managed to flee from the scene after committing quadrupled murder.

The bodies were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta for a postmortem.
Security forces cornered off the area after the firing incident and launched a search operation but no arrest could be made.

It should be mentioned that the Sariyab Road area is considered to be a sensitive and dangerous locality and dozens of people including security personnel and common people have been gunned down in that area in recent months. Locals said they fail to understand why the police and other law enforcement agencies have not taken appropriate security measures to prevent such attacks or at least arrest the outlaws when they flee after committing murders.

The citizens of Quetta have demanded that the district administration, provincial and federal governments find a permanent solution to the daily killings and give security to them.

from thefrontierpost
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R.I.P. - Capt. Scott P. Pace, 1st Lt. Mathew G. Fazzari

DOD Identifies Army Casualties
            The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            They died June 6, in Qarah Bagh, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when their helicopter crashed.  They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

            Killed were:

            Capt. Scott P. Pace, 33, of Brawley, Calif., and

            1st Lt. Mathew G. Fazzari, 25, of Walla Walla, Wash.

             For more information media may contact the 82nd Airborne Division public affairs office at 910-432-0661/0662 or 910-813-3891.

            CORRECTION:  June 8, 2012 -- Capt. Pace’s age, 33, is corrected from 39.


Capt. Scott P. Pace
A helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan killed two Fort Bragg paratroopers on Wednesday, the Pentagon said Friday.

Capt. Scott P. Pace, 33, of Brawley, Calif., and 1st Lt. Mathew G. Fazzari, 25, of Walla Walla, Wash., died from injuries in the crash in Qarah Bagh, according to the Department of Defense.

They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.

The OH-58D Kiowa helicopter was shot down by enemy forces, according to a news release.

Pace was a 2005 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where he earned a Bachelor of Science in nuclear engineering, the release said.

He was commissioned in the Army as a 2nd lieutenant in May 2005.

Pace attended flight training at Fort Rucker, Ala., where he earned his qualification as a Kiowa Warrior pilot in 2006.

Pace held several positions with the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Drum, N.Y., before being assigned to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Bragg in October 2010, the release said.

Pace had deployed to Iraq twice before being sent to Afghanistan.

His awards and decorations include two Purple Hearts, an Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, two Iraq Campaign Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, three Overseas Service Ribbons, the Army Aviation Badge and the Combat Aviation Badge.

1st Lt. Mathew G. Fazzari
Fazzari was a 2010 graduate of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., the release said. He was commissioned into the Army as a 2nd lieutenant in October 2010 and earned his qualification as a Kiowah pilot at Fort Rucker in April 2012, the release said.

He was assigned to Fort Bragg last month and immediately deployed, for the first time, to Afghanistan.

Fazzari's awards and decorations include a Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, the Air Assault Badge, the Army Aviator Badge and a Combat Aviation Badge.

Fazzari is survived by his wife, Tovah, and children, Dominic and Samuel.

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NDS arrests senior Taliban leader and 14 others linked to school poisonings

By LWJ Staff - June 8, 2012 - LongWarJournal

In the wake of the seventh suspected poison attack against a girls' school in Afghanistan's northern Takhar province since mid-April, the Afghan National Security Directorate (NDS) yesterday announced the arrest of 15 suspects linked to the attacks. NDS spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said that officials have arrested Qair Khalilullah, the Taliban's deputy shadow governor for Takhar province; northern Taliban commander Noor Agha; and a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) named Mullah Yaqub, for their roles in the poison attacks, according to Pajhwok News.

Also among those arrested are least three women; two of them are school students in Takhar, and the other is the wife of a librarian who worked at the Qurloq High School in Kunduz province and who was also arrested in connection to the poison attacks. Mashal indicated that one of the two school students arrested had been paid 50,000 afghanis ($1,035) from the Taliban to poison the drinking water in her school.

In addition to making the arrests, investigators confiscated unidentified poisonous materials, a pistol, 12 kilograms of unknown explosives, and communications equipment that were in possession of the suspects. The NDS operation that resulted in the arrests took place between June 3 and June 5.

Mashal directly accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) of supporting the Taliban groups that have launched the series of poison attacks and caused apprehension among the residents of Takhar since the first suspected poisoning occurred there on April 17. The latest suspected poisoning occurred on June 6 at a girls' school in the Rustaq district of Takhar province.

Mashal identified two local Taliban groups, the Jandullah and Mahazullah fronts, as part of the larger Qari Khalil network that had carried out the poison attacks on behalf of the Haqqani Network and the ISI.

"Because Taliban will have less credibility in the face of society, they don't claim responsibility, but we have proven documents showing this is the job of the insurgents, Mashal said, according to TOLOnews. "Jandullah and Mahazullah fronts and Taliban group are behind these poisonings," he stated.

The arrests follow at least seven suspected poison attacks at girls' schools in Takhar province since April that have left hundreds of students sick. Prior to the arrests, Takhar Member of Parliament Mariam Kofi said she believed the poison attacks were being planned outside of Afghanistan, specifically in Pakistan.

"These cases have been planned in neighboring countries particularly Pakistan, as you better know, Taliban and al Qaeda have been trained well," Kofi told TOLOnews on May 29.
Some Afghan officials involved in the investigation were not convinced the attacks in Takhar actually involved poisonous or toxic substances.

"So far no evidence or any traces of any kind of poison or gas have been found," Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sayed Edayat Hafiz told reporters in late May.

Additionally, members of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) who had clinically tested samples taken from the schools reported they could not find any traces of poisons or other toxic material. Poison attacks are usually attributed to unknown "toxic powders," poisonous gas, or poisoned/contaminated drinking water.

But during the June 6 press conference in Kabul, Afghan Public Health Minister Dr. Suraya Dalil claimed that investigations had indeed discovered that an unknown powder had been used to poison the female students; and symptoms included breathing problems, headaches, and vomiting.
Below is a timeline of the suspected poison attacks against girls' schools in northern Takhar province this year:
  • June 5, 2012: As many as 60 schoolgirls were believed to have been poisoned at a school in the Rustaq district of Takhar province. Takhar government officials claimed that at least 11 suspects including a "group leader" had been arrested by local security forces for their role in the series of poison attacks in northeastern Afghanistan.
  • June 3, 2012: At least 65 schoolgirls were poisoned at the Nahid Shahid high school in Takhar province, Farkhar district. Local officials said at least four suspects, including a Pakistani woman, have been detained in connection to the poisoning of schoolgirls in Takhar. This is the sixth time that the schools have been poisoned in northeastern Takhar recently.
  • June 2, 2012: Two dozen schoolgirls -- between seven and 18 years old -- were believed to have been poisoned at the Bashir Abad School in Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province, and sent to local hospitals for treatment.
  • May 29, 2012 : Local authorities in Takhar province believed that between 74 and 120 schoolgirls had been poisoned early Tuesday morning at the Aahan Draaw girls' school.
  • May 27, 2012: Hospital officials treated at least 40 schoolgirls from Bibi Hajera High School in Takhar's capital city of Taloqan after they had fallen ill, apparently from being poisoned. The all-female school had suffered a poisoning attack a few days prior.
  • May 23, 2012: Eighty girls were evacuated from the Bibi Hajera High School in the 5th police district of Taloqan in Takhar province and treated at a local hospital along with three school teachers and a staff member after falling ill from an apparent poison attack.
  • April 17, 2012: Afghan officials in Takhar province announced that dozens of schoolgirls had fallen ill after consuming poisoned drinking water at the Dabiristan girls high school in the Rustaq district of Takhar province. Subsequent test results of the suspected poison drinking water have proved inconclusive.

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11 militants killed in operations in Afghanistan: gov't

KABUL, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Up to 11 Taliban militants were killed in cleanup operations in different Afghan provinces within the past 24 hours, the country's Interior Ministry said on Saturday.

"Afghan police, army, intelligence agency and NATO-led Coalition Forces launched eight joint cleanup operations in Helmand, Zabul, Ghazni, Paktika, Herat and Farah provinces, killing 11 armed Taliban insurgents and detaining two others over the past 24 hours," the ministry said in a statement.

They also found and seized weapons, the statement said, without saying if there were any casualties on the side of security forces.

The Taliban insurgent group, which announced the launching of a spring offensive from May 3 against security forces, has not to make comments yet.

The Afghan forces and some 130,000 NATO-led coalition troops have intensified cleanup operations against Taliban and other militants throughout the country recently.

Records kept by Xinhua, based on figures released by Interior Ministry, reveal that around 400 insurgents have been killed, 120 wounded and nearly 450 others detained since May 1 across the insurgency-hit country.

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Nigeria: Suicide Bomber Kills 6 At Borno Police Headquarters

It was another sad day in Maiduguri, Borno State yesterday as bomb explosions rocked part of the town resulting in the death of seven persons.

One of the explosions was at the Borno State Police headquarters where a suicide bomber made a dash on it and got six persons killed including two policemen and four civilians.

A police source said the suicide car bomber believed to be a member of the dreaded Boko Haram sect attempted to force his way into the headquarters through the main gate with a car laden with explosives.

The source said the bomb went off while policemen on guard at the gate prevented the bomber from entering.

He however said he could not give further details as "efforts are going on to clear the debris and rescue the affected persons."

Yesterday's attack is the second time a suicide bomber would aim at the police headquarters. The first attempt was made last year August.

During yesterday's attack, though the bomber was gun down by the policemen at the gate, the bomb still went off.

In the second explosion, which happened earlier between 7:00 am and 8:15 am, an unknown bomber got detonated around 'Gidan Dambe' area of the metropolis.

According to witnesses, he was trying to plant an Improvised Explosive Device, which exploded and left him dead.

It was gathered that movement of some suspicious persons had started at Gidan Dambe on Thursday night but that the people of the area kept mute for fear of being killed.

According to the source, they saw men carrying weapons around Gidan Dambe but they concluded that they might be security operative in plain clothes.

The town had been experiencing clashes between sect members and security operatives. The sources however said they noticed some awkward behaviour in the people and suspected them to be members of dreaded Boko Haram sect.

JTF, who later spoke to newsmen said that the IED was concealed in a bag and kept under a public shed and exploded while the victim was trying to plant it.

As at the time of filing this story yesterday evening at about 4pm the entire town was deserted with most part of the major roads cordoned off.

from allAfrica

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Four French soldiers killed in Afghan east on Saturday

Hesa Duwum Kohistan District (in Orange)
Kapisa districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
(Reuters) - Insurgents in Afghanistan killed four French soldiers and wounded another five on Saturday, one of the deadliest attacks on the French contingent in months, as violence escalates across the country.
The raid occurred in mountainous Kapisa province in the east which is mainly patrolled by a French force under NATO command.

Details of the attack were not immediately available but French President Francois Hollande's office confirmed in Paris that the soldiers involved in the attack were French.

A statement from his office said that among the five wounded, three were in a serious condition, and Hollande had dispatched defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to Afghanistan after the attack.

Abdul Rahman, Kapisa's provincial police chief, said the insurgents had carried out a suicide attack on the French troops in the Nijrab district of the mountainous province.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in an email message that a suicide attacker had struck the foreign soldiers.

Violence has surged across Afghanistan in recent weeks, with the Taliban vowing to target the Afghan government and security forces, as well as the 130,000 foreign troops in the country, most of whom are due to leave by the end of 2014.

France plans to withdraw most of its roughly 3,400 troops by the end of this year, two years ahead of the timetable agreed by NATO. French troops have suffered a series of attacks including several by rogue Afghan soldiers, triggering demands in France for the troops to be brought home early.

Last month Hollande, during a visit to the volatile Kapisa province, defended the decision to pull out early, saying the job of fighting terrorism was nearly done, and France would focus on cooperating on the civilian front.

France's decision has raised concerns that other members of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition may follow its example and accelerate their withdrawal plans, handing security prematurely to fledgling Afghan forces.

(Reporting by Sanjeev Miglani and Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)
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