Thursday, January 17, 2013

5 people killed, 27 wounded in car bombs south of Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- At least five people were killed and some 27 wounded in two car bomb attacks in two towns south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Thursday, the police said.
In one of the attacks, at least five people were killed and 10 wounded when a car bomb went off near al-Qasim Football Stadium in the southern part of Hilla city, the capital of Babil province, some 100 km south of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Another car bomb detonated at a parking lot near the Shiite holy mausoleum of Imam Uon, just north of the holy city of Karbala, some 110 km southwest of Baghdad, a local police source anonymously told Xinhua. The blast wounded 17 people, including four Pakistani Shiite pilgrims, the source said.

The attacks apparently are part of car bombings that struck the Iraqi cities on Thursday morning, as the police reportedly said earlier that twin car bombings hit the town of Dujail, killing at least seven people and wounding 25 others. Violence and sporadic high-profile bomb attacks are still common in the Iraqi cities despite the dramatic decrease in violence since its peak in 2006 and 2007, when the country was engulfed in sectarian killings.

2013-01-17 16:19:51
Editor: Lu Hui

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Jan. 17., 2013. - ISAF Joint Command Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban leader and detained several suspected insurgents in Panjwa’i district, Kandahar province, Jan. 17.

The leader oversaw insurgents conducting direct fire and improvised explosive device attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He facilitated the transfer and delivery of weapons and IEDs to insurgents operating within the province.

Prior to his detention, he was involved in the coordination of an assassination attempt.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:


During an operation in Daman district, Kandahar province, Jan. 16, an Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban leader. The leader planned and conducted attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and oversaw the acquisition of weapons and ammunition to insurgents in the province. At the time of his arrest, he was involved in the transfer of rockets from a weapons cache for use in an attack.

An Afghan and coalition security force detained three armed insurgents during an operation in Maiwand district, Kandahar province, Jan. 15. After positively identifying the armed insurgents conduct an attack on Afghan civilians, the security force followed and detained the armed insurgents.

In Maiwand district, Kandahar province, Jan. 16, an Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban leader. The leader was responsible for coordinating improvised explosive device operations and complex attacks. He oversaw the acquisition of multiple types of IEDs and weapons for use in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in the province.

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Jan. 17., 2013. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces detained six insurgents, located one weapons cache and cleared two improvised explosive devices during operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, Jan. 16.

Khowst province

Afghan National Security Forces discovered a weapons cache in Nadir Shah Kot district. The cache contained mortar rounds, ammunition and IED-making materials.

Afghan Border Police and coalition forces found and safely cleared an IED in Bak district.

Laghman province

Afghan National Army soldiers found and safely cleared an IED in Mehtar Lam district.

Afghan National Security Forces detained six insurgents during an engagement also in Mehtar Lam district.

Operations in RC-East are ongoing.

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Insider Attack: Afghan police kill commander in Kandahar

Districts of Kandahar. Panjwai is shown in dar...
Districts of Kandahar. Panjwai is shown in dark green (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to local authorities in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan, a local police officer opened fire on his commander and killed him.

The officials further added the incident took place late Tuesday night in Panjwai district.

Provincail governor spokesman Javid Faisal confirming the report said the assailant local police officer poisoned his comrades and then opened fire on his commander.

He said the assailant local police officer managed to flee the area and took some weapons with him.

No group including the Taliban militants has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

The threat of insider attacks has become so serious that international soldiers working alongside Afghan security forces are often looked over by so-called guardian angel troops on duty to provide protection.

Foreign troops are not the only targets of such attacks, and the number of Afghan deaths in such incidents is estimated to be at least double the number of ISAF soldiers and trainers killed.

A gunman believed to be an Afghan soldier killed a British service member earlier this month, when he opened fire on ISAF and Afghan soldiers, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.

The “insider” attack occurred on a patrol base in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province. The victim was part of an engineer’s regiment, MoD spokesman Tom Bennett said in a statement. Six other ISAF soldiers were wounded in the attack, another MoD spokesman said.

By Sadaf Shinwari - January 17 2013, 10:03 am

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Bomb explosion kills 2 suspected terrorists in Kenya

GARISSA, Kenya, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- At least two suspected terrorists died early Thursday when bombs they were carrying exploded in a refugee camp in northern Kenya.
Charlton Mureithi, a regional police commander, confirmed the incident at the Hagdera refugee camp in Dadaab by telephone, saying the suspects were believed to be suicide bombers.

"We have not established what their mission was at the camp. Their bodies were badly damaged and we suspect they were carrying IEDs (improvised explosive devices), which went off and exploded on them," Mureithi said.

He said he had ordered an investigation into the attack, which came as political parties held their primaries Thursday to nominate candidates for the March 4 general elections.

Residents told Xinhua on Thursday they thought the suspected suicide bombers might have been targeting passersby and security officers who normally patrol the areas.

The latest incident comes amid rising fears among communities along the porous border with Somalia. Islamist groups fleeing a military assault in the south of the Horn of Africa nation have been looking to carry out revenge attacks on civilians across the border in Kenya.

Kenya blames Al-Shabaab for the wave of recent bomb and grenade attacks particularly in northern Kenya.

The East African nation has been involved in efforts to bring stability and peace to Somalia, its northern neighbor, with Kenyan troops serving in the UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Along with government and allied forces, AMISOM has been liberating large parts of Somalia from the control of Al-Shabaab militants, as well as supporting progress on its political front.

2013-01-17 16:15:18

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Al Qaeda-linked group claims credit for kidnappings in Algeria

Al Qaeda commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar. Image from the SITE Intelligence Group

A notorious al Qaeda commander named Mokhtar Belmokhtar has claimed credit for kidnapping more than 40 foreign nationals at a BP oil field in eastern Algeria today, according to multiple press reports.

A Frenchman, a Briton, and an Algerian security guard are reported to have been killed in the initial attack. Seven Americans, five Japanese citizens, and several Europeans are said to be among those who are being held hostage. The precise number of hostages remains murky.

According to Reuters, BP said that armed men still occupy the "facilities at the gas field, which produces 9 billion cubic meters of gas a year (160,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day), more than a tenth of [Algeria's] overall gas output."

A spokesman for Belmokhtar's terrorist organization, the al-Mua'qi'oon Biddam (Those who Sign with Blood) Brigade, said the assault and kidnappings were retaliation for the French-led invasion of neighboring Mali.

"Algeria's participation in the war on the side of France betrays the blood of the Algerian martyrs who fell in the fight against the French occupation," the spokesman said, according to a translation provided by the SITE Intelligence Group.

In a subsequent statement, also translated by SITE, the group demanded that France end its fighting in Mali. The group said that its "blessed invasion" was retaliation for the French trying to "to break the Islamic ruling system in" Mali, "while the Muslims are moaning under the butcher Bashar al Asad in wounded Syria, in the sight and ear shot of the whole world."

"This invasion comes in the global campaign of fighting the Jews and the Crusaders," the statement reads, echoing al Qaeda's many calls for global jihad.

Belmokhtar, who is also known as Khalid Abu al Abbas, long served as an al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) commander, but had a falling out with the group's senior leadership. Late last year, he formed his own splinter group, but that group still answers to al Qaeda's senior leadership.

In an interview with the Associated Press in December, one of Belmokhtar's confidants confirmed the move and explained his motivation.

"It's true," said Oumar Ould Hamaha, who has held positions in AQIM, Ansar al Din, and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO). Hamaha continued: "It's so that we can better operate in the field that we have left this group which is tied to the 'Maghreb' appellation. We want to enlarge our zone of operation throughout the entire Sahara, going from Niger through to Chad and Burkina Faso."

The AP added: "Hamaha said, however, that while he and Belmokhtar have left the North African branch, they remain under the orders of al Qaeda central."

Belmokhtar was designated an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist by the United Nations in 2003. The UN described him as "a former Algerian soldier with experience in training camps in Afghanistan" and explained that he had belonged to the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC), as well as its successor, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Belmokhtar has compiled an extensive dossier of illegal activity, according to the UN, including kidnappings, gunrunning, robbery, "forming terrorist groups," and murder. He also reportedly runs an extensive cigarette smuggling operation.

In March 2008, an Algerian court sentenced Belmokhtar "in absentia to lifetime imprisonment for the murder of 13 custom officers." In December 2008, he was involved in the kidnapping "of two Canadian diplomats working for the United Nations." Dozens of other kidnappings also have been attributed to Belmokhtar.

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