Thursday, January 3, 2013

Drone kills three al Qaeda suspects in Yemen: sources

(Reuters) - At least three suspected al Qaeda militants including a local commander were killed on Thursday in Yemen by a strike from an unmanned aircraft, residents and a local official said.

The attack in Redaa, in the southern al-Bayda province was the fifth by a pilotless plane in the space of 10 days in the impoverished country, where the United States has stepped up drone strikes against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The strikes have all been in the south, where the group exploited anti-government protests in 2011 to seize territory before being driven out by a military offensive last June.

"We have noticed a drone flying over for the past few days," a resident told Reuters. He said the car in which the three militants were killed on Thursday was completely destroyed and their bodies were unrecognizable.

A local official said the commander's name was Muqbel al-Zubah.

Yemeni officials who report the drone strikes will not be drawn on which nation is responsible. But Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi spoke openly in favor of the drone strikes during a trip to the United States in September 2012.

Praised by the U.S. ambassador in Sanaa as being more effective against al Qaeda than his predecessor, Hadi was quoted as saying that he personally approved every attack. Hadi has not commented on the most recent strikes.

Washington stepped up attacks by unmanned aircraft last year. AQAP is believed by Western governments to be the most active and dangerous wing of the global network, and has attempted a number of attacks against U.S. targets.

Redaa was scene in September of the killing of at least 10 civilians including a 10-year-old girl in an air strike that apparently missed its intended target, a car carrying militants nearby, said tribal officials and residents.

A government official shortly afterwards said the attack was by a Yemeni aircraft, but some local people have said it was by a missile-firing drone.

In 2011 its offshoot, Ansar al-Sharia (Partisan of Islamic Law), seized a number of towns in the south that were retaken by the government in a U.S.-backed offensive in June.

SANAA | Thu Jan 3, 2013 10:23am EST
(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Mahmoud Habboush and William Maclean; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

from XINHUA:
2013-01-03 21:45:56
Editor: Wang Yuanyuan

SANAA, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. drone strike killed at least three suspected al-Qaida operatives in Yemen's central province of al-Bayda Thursday, local officials said.

"Local al-Qaida leader Mukbil Obad and two of his bodyguards were killed in the air raid in a mountainous area of Radda city," a provincial security official told Xinhua by phone.
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Jan. 03., 2013. - ISAF Joint Command Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan – During a security operation, Mubariz Jaan, a Taliban leader, was killed by an Afghan and coalition security force in Andar district, Ghazni province, Wednesday.

Mubariz Jaan was responsible for gathering intelligence and directing attacks against local Afghan civilians and government officials. Prior to his death, Mubariz Jaan was coordinating attacks against Afghan Local Police in the province.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:


An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban leader during a security operation in Pul-e Khumri district, Baghlan province, Wednesday. The leader was responsible for financing improvised explosive devices, weapons and ammunition for insurgent attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. Prior to his detention, he was facilitating the movement of IEDs and suicide bombers for attacks in the province. During the operation, the security force also positively identified an individual engaged in threatening activity and killed him.


A Taliban leader in Shah Wali Kot district, Kandahar province was arrested by an Afghan and coalition security force today. The leader was responsible for the planning and execution of vehicle-borne IED and in-ground IED attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He oversaw the transfer and delivery of IEDs to insurgents operating throughout the district.


An Afghan and coalition force killed Taliban leader, Abdullah, along with four additional insurgents, during a security operation in Hisarak district, Nangarhar province, Wednesday. Abdullah was responsible for directing and participating in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. Prior to his death, Abdullah was reporting the movement of Afghan and coalition forces to leaders in the province.

During a security operation in search of a Haqqani facilitator in Khost district, Khost province, three insurgents were arrested by an Afghan and coalition force today. The facilitator coordinates the movement and transfer of weapons, explosives and IED components to insurgents within the district.

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Jan. 03., 2013. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces detained 10 insurgents and located one weapons cache during operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, Jan. 2.

Ghazni Province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces detained 10 insurgents while investigating a weapons cache in Qarah Bagh District.
The cache contained small arms and ammunition and grenades. The detained suspects were transferred to a base for questioning.

Operations in RC-East are ongoing.

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2 Jordanian Peacekeepers Freed After Kidnapping in Darfur

Jordanian peacekeepers Hasan Al-Mazawdeh (front) and Qasim Al-Sarhan are welcomed by officials as they arrive at Khartoum Airport, January 2, 2013, after 136 days of captivity in Sudan's Darfur region according to local media.
Two Jordanian peacekeepers abducted in Darfur four months ago were freed on Wednesday, the international force overseeing the conflict-torn region said.

A plane carrying the pair landed at Khartoum airport, the force led by the African Union and United Nations said in a statement that did not identify the kidnappers or say where the soldiers were released and whether a ransom was paid.

Conflict has raged in Darfur since insurgents took up arms against Sudanese government forces in 2003, complaining that Khartoum had neglected the vast, arid region.

The U.N. says as many as 300,000 people may have died in the fighting. Sudan's government has put the death toll at about 10,000.

The two Jordanians were kidnapped in Kabkabiya in northern Darfur in August. Both men were in good health after their release, the international force said.

from VOA News
January 02, 2013

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Gen Allen to leave Afghanistan in February: Pentagon

English: General John R. Allen, USMC Commander...
English: General John R. Allen, USMC Commander, International Security Assistance Force and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Washington (PAN): General John Allen, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan will be replaced by General Joseph Dunford in next month, a Pentagon spokesman said on Wednesday.
“I do not have a precise date. I think it is going to be sometime in February,” the Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little, told reporters during an off camera news conference.

Allen is to be replaced in February by General Joseph F Dunford Jr, who has already been confirmed by the United States Senate.

However, the Pentagon official denied reports that the change in command in Afghanistan has anything to do with the investigations against Gen Allen over a series of e-mails he exchanged with a socialite Jill Kelley.

“It was always the plan to have change in command in Afghanistan in early 2013 and the Pentagon will stick to that plan,” Little said.

Last year Obama had nominated Gen Allen as the NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. However, his nomination has been delayed until the Pentagon investigation concludes.

General Allen assumed the responsibilities of the On July 18, 2011, assumed command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on July 18, 2011. He succeeded David Petraeus, who was appointed as the CIA Director. Petraeus later resigned as CIA Director citing extra marital affairs.

from Pajhwok
By Lalit J Kha Jan 3, 2013 - 10:54

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Ansar al-Din pursues peace talks, MUJAO name new chief

Ansar al-Din envoys on Tuesday (January 1st) submitted the Islamist group's "political platform" to Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré in Ouagadougou, AFP reported.

The group has been involved for several months in Mali peace talks with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) lead mediator.

In related Mali news, a Benin national known as "Abdoulah" was named head of al-Qaeda splinter group Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). The former Boko Haram envoy to al-Qaeda camps in northern Mali is said to be of Yoruba ethnicity and in his thirties, security sources said.

He replaces Hicham Bilal, who surrendered to authorities in his native Niger after quitting the MUJAO over its criminal activities, including drug trafficking.


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Drone Strike Kills Top Pakistani Militant

Pakistani security officials say U.S. drone strikes in tribal regions bordering Afghanistan have killed at least eight people, including Maulvi Nazir, a top militant commander in South Warziristan.

Officials said Thursday that Nazir, who was also known as Mullah Nazir, was one of several suspected militants killed during a strike in the village of Angoor Adda, late Wednesday.

They say at least one one drone attack occurred in North Waziristan. Dawn News says three people were killed.

Nazir was the main militant commander in South Waziristan. His fighters reportedly have been more interested in attacking U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan than Pakistan's security forces. His faction is said to be allied with other al-Qaida-linked militant groups.

Nazir had signed a peace accord with the Pakistani government in 2007. He was reported to have had a contentious relationship with the Pakistani Taliban, which has carried out attacks on Pakistani forces.

In November, Nazir was wounded in a suicide bombing that killed at least six people.

In November 2011, suspected U.S. drone strikes killed Nazir's deputy leader, Khan Mohammed, as well as a younger brother.

The U.S. drone strikes are unpopular in Pakistan.

Last year, President Barack Obama publicly acknowledged for the first time that the U.S. has conducted the strikes against militants in the country.

Mr. Obama defended the operations, saying they are used for "very precise, precision strikes" against al-Qaida.

from VOA News
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