Sunday, August 19, 2012

Three New Zealand soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan

Three New Zealand soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, when their vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device in Bamiyan province.
The New Zealand Defence Force has confirmed the three were part of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan province.

It says the three men were in the last vehicle of a convoy that was hit by an an improvised explosive device, northwest of Do Abe where the other two soldiers died two weeks ago.

The Taliban has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack..

Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones says he is deeply saddened by this loss.

"On behalf of the entire New Zealand Defence Force, I extend my deepest sympathies to the families, colleagues and friends of the personnel involved," he said.

Prime Minister John Key has paid tribute to the soldiers and says today's events underscore the gravity of the situation New Zealand's soldiers face daily in Afghanistan.

"The three brave soldiers paid the ultimate price for their selfless work and my thoughts are with their families and friends as they mourn their loved ones," he said.

Mr Key has previously ruled out bringing forward the scheduled withdrawal of New Zealand troops from Afghanistan next year.

Five New Zealand soldiers have died in Afghanistan in two weeks.

Earlier this month, two New Zealand soldiers were killed and six wounded in an insurgent attack blamed on a small band of hardcore militants said to have infiltrated the province to undermine security, targeting foreign and Afghan security forces.

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae says the latest incident is a 'great tragedy', coming so soon after those deaths.

"The soldiers were part of New Zealand's Provincial Reconstruction Team, which for many years has worked tirelessly to bring peace and security to the lives of the people of Bamyan province," he said.

"Their service has brought great credit to New Zealand and the New Zealand Defence Force."
New Zealand has now lost 10 soldiers in Afghanistan.

Updated August 20, 2012, 6:39 am

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Another ISAF soldier killed in green-on-blue attack in Afghanistan

A member of the International Security Assistance Force was shot and killed in southern Afghanistan today when a man in an Afghan police uniform turned his weapon on a group of ISAF soldiers, ISAF stated in a press release. The release did not identify the nationality of the dead ISAF soldier, and did not specify whether other troops were injured in the attack.

There has been an extraordinary spike in green-on-blue attacks recently; they now account for over 13% of ISAF casualties this year. Today's attack is the eighth such attack on ISAF personnel in the past two weeks; 11 soldiers have been killed in the eight attacks.

The US is becoming increasingly concerned about the rise in attacks by Afghan forces against their Coalition colleagues, and is pressing the Afghan government to adopt more stringent vetting measures for recruits to Afghan forces, according to Reuters. The US military also issued a directive this week to all Coalition troops instructing them to carry a loaded weapon at all times.

As the attacks have increased, the Taliban have seized on them in their propaganda. On Aug. 7, the Taliban released a video of two Afghan soldiers who attacked ISAF soldiers in Kunar and Uruzgan [see Threat Matrix report, Observations on Taliban video 'welcoming' rogue ANA soldiers].

In a statement released on jihadist forums this week, Mullah Omar, the leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, or the Taliban, addressed the issue of green-on-blue attacks. Omar claimed that the Taliban have "cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year." He urged government officials and security personnel to defect and join the Taliban as a matter of religious duty. He also noted that the Taliban have created the "Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration" department, "with branches ... now operational all over the country," to encourage defections. [See Threat Matrix report, Mullah Omar addresses green-on-blue attacks.]

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official ISAF Release:

ISAF Joint Command
Date Taken:08.19.2012
Date Posted:08.19.2012 13:26
Location:KABUL, AF
KABUL, Afghanistan – An International Security Assistance Force service member died when an individual wearing an Afghan Uniformed Police uniform turned his weapon against ISAF service members in southern Afghanistan today.

Afghan and ISAF officials are investigating the incident.

It is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities.
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Marines bid farewell to friend, brother - Cpl. Joshua R. Ashley Command Southwest
Story and photos by Cpl. Mark Garcia

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – On a quiet Friday afternoon, more than 100 coalition servicemembers gathered to honor Sgt. Joshua R. Ashley, a fallen comrade during a memorial ceremony in the Regional Command Southwest chapel, Aug. 17.

Before the ceremony, Marines constructed a traditional field memorial providing them the opportunity to pay their final respects. The memorial consisted of a kevlar with identification tags signifying never to forget Ashley, a rifle with a bayonet upside down signifying a time of prayer and a break in action to pay tribute and a pair of boots signifying this was Ashley’s last march.

Ashley, from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., was a dog handler with Military Working Dogs Platoon, Headquarters and Supply Company, 1st Law Enforcement Battalion (Forward), I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group (Forward). He was killed in action July 19 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province. During the ceremony fellow dog handlers and friends spoke of the man and Marine Ashley was and what they would remember most about him.

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Al-Qaida suicide bomber kills pro-gov't tribal leader in south Yemen

map by Evancetanni (
ADEN, Yemen, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- An al-Qaida suicide bomber killed a prominent pro-government tribal chief and wounded six others at a gathering of tribesmen in Yemen's southern province of Abyan early Sunday, a military official told Xinhua.

The suicide bomber detonated his explosives among dozens of pro- government tribesmen in the Mudiyah town of Abyan province, killing himself along with a prominent tribal leader and injuring six others at the scene, the local military official said on condition of anonymity.

The tribesmen joined the fighting alongside army troops in an offensive against al-Qaida militants earlier this year, according to the military official.

"A suicide car bomber first approached a gathering of pro-army tribal fighters and then blew himself up among them," a local resident told Xinhua anonymously.

"Part of a nearby residential building that belonged to the dead tribesman, who was leading a group of anti-Qaida militiamen, was damaged after the huge blast," he added.

A medic at a local hospital confirmed to Xinhua that the facility had received a dead body of a tribal leader and six wounded people.

Witnesses said army soldiers cordoned off the area, preventing people from approaching the bombing scene.

The Yemeni government forces declared victory over the al-Qaida branch after a month-long offensive that succeeded in driving hundreds of terrorists from the territory they had controlled for about a year.

On June 20, Yemeni military officials announced seizing al- Qaida's last bastion in the country's troubled south following the army offensive backed by the United States and Saudi Arabia.

However, local military and anti-terrorism experts said the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch is still a major threat to the impoverished Arab country despite its being driven out of its main southern bastions by the U.S.-backed military assault. A string of assassinations and suicide bombings have struck Yemen' s southern regions over the past two months, showing that al-Qaida militants retain the capacity to strike.

2012-08-19 15:27:33

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6 more 'militants' killed in drone strike in North Waziristan

The US launched the second drone strike today in the past 24 hour in an area known as a terrorist haven in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.

The remotely piloted Predators or the more advanced Reapers fired several missiles at a vehicle in the Mana area in the Shawal Valley in North Waziristan, according to AFP and Geo News. Five drones were seen circling over the attack site before and after the strike.

Pakistani officials said that between four and six "militants" were killed in the strike, but did not disclose their identities. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban leaders were reported killed.

The strike is the second in Shawal in the past 24 hours. On Saturday, the drones hit a compound in the village of Shuwedar in the Shawal Valley in North Waziristan, killing six more "militants," according to Pakistani officials. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry objected to the earlier strike in Shawal, and called the US incursions "a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity and also in contravention of international law," according to Dawn.

Al Qaeda, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and Taliban fighters under the command of Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the leader of the Taliban in North Waziristan, are all known to operate in the Shawal Valley, which is near the Afghan border. The area is used to launch attacks across the border in Afghanistan. Bahadar administers the Shawal Valley.

So far this year, seven of the 30 drone strikes in Pakistan have hit targets in the Shawal Valley. Targeting in the area seems to be increasing; three of the last four strikes have taken place in the Shawal Valley. The previous strike in Shawal, on July 23, killed 12 "militants," including a Taliban commander loyal to Hafiz Gil Bahadar. Another, on July 1, is said to have killed several members of the Turkistan Islamic Party, an al Qaeda-affiliated group that operates in Pakistan, China, and Central Asia.

Twelve of the 30 strikes in Pakistan this year have taken place since the beginning of June; 10 occurred in North Waziristan and two were in South Waziristan. Four senior al Qaeda and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leaders were killed in the strikes. [For data on the strikes, see LWJ reports, Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2012; and Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2012.]

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Aug. 19., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan and coalition officials confirmed today that a senior Taliban leader, Maulawi Nur Mohammad, and his deputy, Atiqullah were among the dozens of heavily armed insurgents killed in a precision airstrike, in a remote area of Chapah Darah district, Kunar province, yesterday.

Muhammad, also known as Turabi, was the senior Taliban leader for Chapah Darah district. He planned and directed all Taliban activity in the district including attacks against Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces.

Atiqullah, also known as Khalid, served as Muhammad’s deputy.

During the operation, the Afghan and coalition security force observed a large group of heavily armed insurgents engaging in insurgent activity. After ensuring there were no civilians in the area, the security force engaged the insurgents with a precision airstrike.

After the strike, the security force conducted an initial follow-on assessment and confirmed the strike had not injured any civilians or damaged any civilian property.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:


Afghan and coalition officials confirmed today that Afghan and coalition forces had arrested a Taliban weapons dealer during an operation in Kandahar district, Kandahar province, yesterday. The arrested weapons facilitator purchased weapons and other military equipment for Taliban fighters in the area. Prior to his arrest, he was attempting to deliver an improvised explosive device to insurgents. The security force also detained two suspected insurgents during the operation.

In Nad Ali district, Helmand province yesterday, an afghan and coalition security force discovered a drug cache. The cache included 100kg (220 pounds) of opium, $1000 in cash and communications equipment.


An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation to arrest a Taliban leader in Alisheng district, Laghman province, today. The Taliban leader acquires weapons and ammunition for insurgents and facilitates attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. During the operation, a group of insurgents attacked the security force. The force engaged the insurgents killing three of the attackers. No civilians were harmed in the exchange. After the engagement, the security force detained three suspected insurgents.

In Watahpur district, Kunar province, an Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation yesterday. During the operation, the security force identified several insurgents. After ensuring no civilians were in the area, the security force engaged the insurgents with a precision airstrike, killing many of them. A post-strike assessment determined the airstrike had not harmed any civilians or damaged any civilian property.

An Afghan and coalition force detained several suspected insurgents during an operation to arrest a Haqqani leader in Khost district, Khost province, today. The Haqqani leader plans and coordinates attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in Khost district.

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Aug. 19., 2012. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces killed two insurgents, detained 15, located a weapons cache and cleared an improvised explosive device during operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, Aug. 18.

Ghazni province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces detained seven insurgents during an engagement in Qarah Bagh district. The detained suspects were transferred to a base for questioning.

A coalition airstrike killed two insurgents in Giro district who were emplacing an IED.

Khowst province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces detained two insurgents while investigating a weapons cache in Terezayi district. The cache contained mines, grenades and explosives. The detained suspects were transferred to a base for questioning.

Paktiya province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces detained five insurgents during an engagement in Zurmat district. The detained suspects were transferred to a base for questioning.

Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces detained an insurgent who was wounded when the IED he was emplacing detonated prematurely in Jahi district. The detainee received medical care and was transferred to a base for questioning.

Operations in RC-East are still ongoing.

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At least 18 killed in Yemen attack on intelligence HQ

A man takes a photo of smoke rising from the site of an attack on the Political Security Agency building, the headquarters of the Yemeni intelligence services in the southern provinces, in the southern Yemeni city of Aden August 18, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/Stringer
(Reuters) - Suspected al Qaeda-linked militants killed at least 18 Yemeni soldiers and security guards on Saturday in a car bombing and grenade attack on the intelligence service headquarters in Aden, the Defence Ministry and witnesses said.
The ministry said more bodies were believed buried under the rubble of the building, part of which was levelled in the attack in the southern port city. At least seven others were wounded before the militants fled.

The United States has been pouring aid into Yemen to stem the threat of attacks from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and to try to prevent any spillover of violence into neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter.

Last year, a U.S.-backed offensive drove al Qaeda offshoot Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) from cities they had seized in an uprising against the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

But Islamist militants have carried out deadly suicide bombings on high-profile military and security targets since June, exposing the government's vulnerability.

In Saturday's attack, witnesses said militants had fired rocket-propelled grenades at the intelligence service's three-storey building, shattering windows and setting it on fire.

"The operation seemed to have been well planned," a local security source said. He said he believed the attackers belonged to al Qaeda.

He said the militants had stopped their vehicle in front of an adjacent five-storey television building, blown up a military vehicle guarding the compound, and then attacked the intelligence service building with automatic fire and rocket propelled grenades before fleeing.

The Defence Ministry said the militants had also detonated a car bomb next to the building, destroying part of it. Security sources put the death toll at 18.

The ministry earlier said all the casualties were members of the intelligence service and the Central Security forces, which guard the nearby television offices.

Ashraf Ali Ahmed, who lives in the area, said a loud explosion had shaken the area, followed by smaller blasts. "The blasts woke up the neighbourhood from their sleep," he said.

In July, militants attacked a police academy in Sanaa, assassinating the commander of the southern region, and trying to kill the commander of a tribal force allied with the army.

Washington has responded to the series of attacks by stepping up its drone strikes on AQAP, which was behind several failed attacks on the United States, including an attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.

(Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)

By Mohammed Mukhashaf
ADEN | Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:02pm BST

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