Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mali rebels say drop separatist goal

BAMAKO, July 15 (Reuters) - Tuareg-led Mali rebels who seized the north of the West African country in April declared on Sunday they had dropped claims for a separate state after the rebellion was hijacked by al Qaeda-linked Islamists now holding sway in the north.

"We are seeking cultural, political and economic independence but not secession," Ibrahim Ag Assaleh, a senior member of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), told Reuters by telephone.

Azawad is the name which the MNLA gives to the northern territory of Mali in which it declared an independence that has been ignored by a world more concerned with the threat of Mali become a launchpad for jihadi activities.

A second MNLA official, Hama Ag Mahmoud, told Reuters in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott: "Independence has been our line since the start of the conflict but we are taking on board the view of the international community to resolve this crisis."

Islamist groups including the local Ansar Dine have imposed strict sharia, Islamic law, across the north and destroyed UNESCO-listed shrines to local saints in the ancient town of Timbuktu, arguing that such worship is un-Islamic.

Contacted by telephone in Timbuktu, Ansar Dine spokesman Sanda Ould Boumana said he was not aware of any change in the MNLA position but added: "What I can tell you is that it is us who control the three regions of the north."

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo in Bamako; Mark John in Dakar; Writing by Mark John; Editing by Alison Williams)

Sun Jul 15, 2012 1:05pm GMT

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15 insurgents killed in Afghan operations

KABUL, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Up to 15 Taliban insurgents have been killed and six others detained in operations carried out by Afghan police, army and NATO-led coalition forces within the past 24 hours, the country's Interior Ministry said Sunday morning.

"A total of seven armed Taliban insurgents were also wounded during the 10 raids launched by the joint forces in Nangarhar, Laghman, Kunduz, Uruzgan, Wardak, Ghazni, Herat and Helmand provinces throughout the past 24 hours," the ministry said in a statement.

However, the Taliban insurgent group, which announced the launching of an annual spring offensive from May 3 against Afghan and NATO forces, has not to make comments yet.

Afghan forces and some 130,000 NATO-led coalition troops have intensified cleanup operations against Taliban and other militants recently but the insurgents in retaliation responded by carrying out suicide attacks and roadside bombings.

Two policemen were injured in a roadside bomb attack against the convoy of Higher Education Minister Obidullah Obid in northern Baghlan province earlier Sunday morning.

"The blast took place at around 08:50 a.m. local time in the Dar-e-Khoshk area of Baghlan-e-Markazi district but Minister Obid was unharmed and kept on his trip to neighboring Kunduz province shortly after the blast," police chief of the district, Colonel Mohammad Kamin, told Xinhua.

2012-07-15 13:34:23

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18 wounded in twin blasts in E. Afghanistan

Districts of Logar. This image does not includ...
Districts of Logar. This image does not include Azra district, located to the east of Khoshi and Mohammad Agha. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
PUL-E-ALAM, Afghanistan, July 15 (Xinhua) -- At least 18 people were wounded Sunday morning in twin bomb attacks in eastern Afghan province of Logar, the police said.

"Our report said that a total of 18 people with majority of them civilians were injured in two back-to-back bomb blasts in provincial capital Pul-e-Alam this morning," deputy provincial police chief Rahis Khan Saddiq told Xinhua.

He said the first blast occurred at round 8:40 a.m. local time near the Red Crescent office in the province 60 km south of capital Kabul.

A second explosion ripped through the scene of the first blast after people and security forces gathered to evacuate the victims, the source said.

Some injured were in critical conditions, he added.

The attackers seems to have followed old tactics which depends on creating initial blast to attract security forces and people, then they set off another blast to get higher casualties.

A total of 14 civilians were killed and nine injured in similar bomb attacks in southern Kandahar province on July 8.

Violence has been on the rise since Taliban launched an annual spring offensive on May 3.

In a separate incident, five militants were killed when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonated prematurely in Koh-e- Safi district of Parwan province, 55 km north of Kabul Saturday night, a provincial official said Sunday.

The Taliban insurgent group, who launch massive IED attack against security forces, has yet to make comments.

2012-07-15 15:20:07

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Afghan minister survives assassination attempt

Districts of Kunduz.
Districts of Kunduz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
An Afghan government minister has survived a bomb attack on his motorcade in northern Afghanistan, the second assault on a high-profile politician in two days.

However, two of his bodyguards were wounded, provincial officials said.

Higher Education Minister Obaidullah Obaid was travelling from Baghlan to Kunduz province when one of the cars in his convoy hit a roadside bomb, Munshi Majid, the provincial governor of Baghlan who was in the same motorcade, told Reuters.

"The minister is safe," Munshi said.

"Two policemen were wounded in the bomb attack," he said, adding that the bomb exploded on a highway outside Baghlan city.

The attack came a day after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a wedding reception in Samangan province, also in the north, killing a top Afghan official and 22 others .

On Friday, a car bomb killed a regional head of women's affairs in the east of the country.

Insurgents have spread their reach from their traditional strongholds in southern and eastern areas of Afghanistan to northern parts of the country once considered relatively safe.

Homemade bombs are by far the most lethal weapons deployed by insurgents and remain the single biggest killer of civilians, as well as foreign and Afghan troops.

Violence in Afghanistan is at its fiercest since US-led Afghan troops overthrew the Taliban government in 2001.

from RTE News
Updated: 10:12, Sunday, 15 July 2012

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R.I.P. - Sgt. Michael E. Ristau

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

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

            Sgt. Michael E. Ristau, 25, of Rockford, Ill., died July 13 in Qalat, Zabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his vehicle was attacked with an enemy improvised explosive device. 

            He was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

            For more information please contact the I Corps public affairs office at 253-477-3048 or 253-370-9861.

tons of pictures there, remembering Ristau

Rest In Peace
Sgt. Michael Eugene Risteau
1985 – 2012

Posted on July 15, 2012

One of our Battle Company soldiers has been killed during combat in Afghanistan.

Please remember in your prayers this one brave, quiet young soldier:

Sgt. Michael Eugene Risteau

We ask you also to pray for his family and friends, plus all the soldiers fighting with him in Afghanistan including the two soldiers who were injured in the same combat incident.

One of the soldiers in his unit remembered him this way: “Another 5-20 brother lost. May he rest in peace for he has done his time in hell.”

Michael was born on December 20, 1985, at Cascade, Iowa. He died July 13, 2012 in while fighting with the United States Army in Afghanistan.

A native of Cascade, Iowa, Michael, 27, graduated from Lincoln’s Challenge Academy in Waveland, Mississippi, in 2004 and enlisted in the Army about a month later. He was married to Elizabeth Risteau on June 18, 2011 and they have one son, Hyle Lee Risteau, who was born at Tacoma on Nov. 28., 2011, just days before he deployed to Afghanistan.

The soldiers injured during the same combat incident that killed Sgt. Risteau are Pvt. Dakota C. Vojta and Pvt. Teddy Wilson
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July 15., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation to detain a Haqqani weapons dealer in Khost district, Khost province, today.

The Haqqani weapons dealer supplies weapons, explosives and improvised explosive device components to insurgents throughout the region.

The operation resulted in the detention of several suspected insurgents.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:


An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation to arrest a senior Taliban leader in Charkh district, Logar province, today. The senior leader plans and coordinates insurgent attacks against Afghan and coalition forces throughout the region and provides insurgents with weapons and explosives. During the operation the forces detained several suspected insurgents.

In Khugyani district, Nangarhar province, an Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation to arrest a Taliban leader yesterday. The leader coordinates the delivery of firearms and explosives to insurgents throughout the region and is responsible for directing improvised explosive device attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation to apprehend a Taliban explosives expert responsible for building improvised explosive devices in Andar district, Ghazni province, today. The bomb maker plans and coordinates IED attacks against Afghan and coalition forces throughout the district. During the operation, the Afghan and coalition security force seized multiple firearms and grenades.

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July 14., 2012. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan – Afghan and coalition forces detained four insurgents, located three weapons caches and cleared eight improvised explosive devices during operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, July 14.

Ghazni province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces found and safely cleared two IEDs in Ghazni sistrict.

Khowst province
Afghan Border Police and coalition forces discovered two weapons caches, one in Terezayi district and one in Khowst. The caches contained military personnel items, grenades and items used for improvised explosive devices.

Afghan Border Police and coalition forces detained four insurgents during an engagement in Musa Khel district. The detained suspects were transferred to a base for questioning.

Logar province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces found and safely cleared two IEDs, one in Muhammad Aghah district and one in Kharwar district.

Nangarhar province
Afghan Uniformed Police and coalition forces found and safely cleared an IED in Shinwar district.

Paktika province
Afghan Uniformed Police and coalition forces found and safely cleared an IED in Sharan district.

Paktiya province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces found and safely cleared two IEDs, one in Zurmat district and one in Shwak district.

Wardak province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces discovered a weapons cache in Sayyidabad district. The cache contained small arms and ammunition, grenades, multiple IEDs, over 3000 pounds of home-made explosives, and items being used to construct improvised explosive devices.

Operations in RC-East are still ongoing.

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