Thursday, March 14, 2013

Coordinated Bombings Kill at Least 9 in Iraq

A series of coordinated blasts rocked the heart of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killing at least 9 people and wounding dozens.
The explosions Thursday took place in the Allawi district, which houses several government ministries. It's near the heavily fortified Green Zone, where several Western embassies are located. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The bombings come a week before the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and a month before Iraq holds its first elections in three years.

Iraq has been plagued by infighting among sectarian factions. Many Sunnis accuse Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of discriminating against their community. Sunni militants have for months been carrying out a series of strikes on Shi'ite targets.

from VOA News
March 14, 2013

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Pakistani soldier stoned to death for love affair

English: Map of Federally Administered Tribal ...
English: Map of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
(Reuters) - A Pakistani soldier was publicly stoned to death on the order of a tribal court in the country's northwestern Kurram region for having an affair with a local woman, government officials and tribesmen said on Wednesday.
Such tribal justice is a stark reminder of the difficulty in establishing a credible civilian administration in Pakistan's semi-autonomous region bordering Afghanistan, despite a series of military operations in the area and Western nations pouring in millions of dollars to help build infrastructure.

Punjab native Anwar Din, 27, was posted last year to the Parachinar area of Kurram agency where he met Intizar Bibi, 19, while manning a checkpost near her home.

The two embarked on a romantic relationship, tribal sources said, and he tried to elope with her when he was later posted to the disputed Kashmir region. It was not immediately clear what evidence there was, if any, of a romance.

"The girl left her home on Monday and met Anwar Din when villagers saw them," said Munir Hussain, the head of the local jirga, or tribal court, that sentenced Din to death. "We took the girl into custody and took the boy to the local graveyard where he was stoned to death and buried."

Din was killed on Monday, he added. A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the jirga had ruled the woman must be shot to death. It was not immediately clear if this had already taken place.

The army was not immediately available for comment.

Kurram, the only part of Pakistan's largely lawless border region that has a significant Shi'ite population, is racked by sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi'ite tribes. Anti-Shi'ite ideology from the Taliban and al Qaeda has meant years of bloody fighting.

Bibi is Shi'ite while Din was Sunni, Hussain added.

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas have never been fully integrated into Pakistan's administrative, economic or judicial system.

Instead, families and tribes often take justice into their own hands, presiding over "jirgas" or "panchayats", gatherings of elders that hand down punishments including rape, killing and the bartering of women to settle scores and restore honor.

In such tribal justice, women often fair far worse than men.

Hussain said that the jirga had also requested that another Pakistani soldier, Saif Ullah, be handed over for helping the couple meet and coordinate the planned elopement.

"The army is here for our security but if they engage in such activities we will not let them stay here," Hussain said. "This is an insult to tribal customs. We will revolt against this."

By Saud Mehsud
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan | Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:57am EDT
(Writing By Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Amie Ferris-Rotman and Nick Macfie)

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Female Czech tourists kidnapped in Baluchistan province

Unidentified gunmen on Wednesday kidnapped two women tourists from the Czech Republic in Baluchistan, officials said.
Abdul Qadus, a top government official in the area said, the women were on the road from Iran to Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s southwest Baluchistan province, when they were seized on Wednesday.

Qadus further added the two had been given a police guard to escort them on a passenger bus, said Qadus. But the policeman was no match for the eight to 10 gunmen who stopped them in Chaghi district near the Iran and Afghanistan borders.

He said gunmen took the captives to Afghanistan, where they disarmed the policeman and released him.

Akbar Hussain Durrani, the provincial home secretary also confirmed the report and said, “Both the women were from Czech Republic and entered in Pakistan as tourists. Gunmen stopped their bus in the Nok Kundi area of Chaghi district and abducted both of them.”

Islamist militants and criminals with links to both have been accused of previous kidnappings in Baluchistan. Baluchistan is also home to separatists who have been waging a violent insurgency against the government and also many Islamist militants.

By Sayed Jawad - 14 Mar 2013, 11:27 am

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Coordinated terrorist attacks foiled in Kabul city

(file photo)
Afghan intelligence department — national directorate of security (NDS) officails announced at least five Haqqani network militants were during a gun battle in capital Kabul on Wednesday.
According to a statement released by national directorate of security (NDS) Afghan security forces prevented a coordinated attack by Haqqani network militants in kabul city.

The source further added at least two suspected Haqqani network militants were also arrested during the operation.

The militants were reportedly looking to carry out coordinated attacks on military institutions, NDS department said following the statement adding that Afghan security forces successfully managed to identify their location and carry out the operation in 16th district of kabul city.

NDS officials also added that Afghan security forces seized some weapons, ammunitions and explosives during the operation.

Anti-government armed militant groups yet to comment regarding the report.

By Sadaf Shinwari - 14 Mar 2013, 9:58 am

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Tunisian 'martyrs' celebrated by Ansar al Sharia

A poster honoring eight Tunisians who died fighting in Syria.

In early February, a video of an interview with Ansar al Sharia Tunisia's leader Seifallah ben Hassine (a.k.a. Abu Iyad al Tunisi) was released online after it had been banned by government officials. Hassine, who is wanted for instigating the Sept. 14, 2012 assault on the US Embassy in Tunis, was asked about the migration of young Tunisians to the jihadist battlefields in Syria and Mali. He responded by discouraging the practice, saying Tunisia's Salafi jihadists were needed at home and that the wars abroad have "emptied Tunisia of its young."

A review of Ansar al Sharia Tunisia's official Facebook page and other online sources tells a different story. Hassine's organization frequently celebrates the "martyrdom" of Tunisians, especially those who fought in Syria.

In Facebook entries posted this week, the group showcased Tunisians killed in Syria. And Ansar al Sharia's logos accompanied the young Tunisians' images, thereby indicating the organization's official seal of approval.

One post announces the death of a Tunisian who fought in Deir al Zour, a city located on the Euphrates River that the Al Nusrah Front is currently seeking to capture. The Facebook posting says that he fought for the Hamza Bin Abdul Muttalib Brigade.

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Mar. 14., 2013. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces found and safely cleared eight improvised explosive devices and discovered one weapons cache during operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, March 13.

Ghazni province
Afghan and coalition forces found and safely cleared an IED during operations in the Dehyak district.

Khowst province
Afghan and coalition forces found and safely cleared two IEDs during operations in the Shamal district.

Afghan and coalition forces discovered a weapons cache during operations in the Khowst district. The cache consisted of multiple IED making materials, one rocket-propelled grenade and a recoilless rifle.

Paktika province
Afghan National Security Forces found and safely cleared two IEDs during operations in the Bermal district.

Afghan and coalition forces found and safely cleared an IED during operations in the Dzadran district.

Nangarhar province
Afghan National Security Forces found and safely cleared two IEDs during operations in Kot district.

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10 buzkashi game spectators killed in Afghanistan suicide attack

Districts of Kunduz.
Districts of Kunduz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
KABUL - A suicide bomber blew himself up, killing 10 people Wednesday as a crowd of Afghans was watching the traditional sport of goat grabbing locally known as buzkashi, officials said.
Among the 10 killed in the bombing in the remote village of Basos were several family members of the Afghan speaker of parliament, according to police spokesman Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai.

Ahmadzai said the dead include his father, a nephew and two brothers, one among them was the district police chief.

At least eight people were wounded after the attacker strapped with explosives struck during the game being played in front of 3,000 spectators, the spokesman said.

Buzkashi, or "goat grabbing", is the national sport of Afghanistan, and involves two teams who try to accumulate points by propelling a headless goat carcass to the scoring area.

Buzkashi is often compared to polo as it is played on horseback.

However, while polo is played with a ball, and buzkashi is played with a headless goat.

The attack occurred around 6 p.m. local time, as fans were gathering around the players after they came off the field at the end of the match, Kunduz province police spokesman Syed Sarwar said.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai condemned the bombers for attacking Afghan civilians.

"There was no foreign soldier or individual there, yet this was carried out by those terrorists who claim they are the enemies of foreign forces," Karzai said in a statement.

Meanwhile, US military officials Wednesday said they were probing the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan Monday night that killed five American service members.

The death of five US troops brought the total number of US troops killed that day to seven, making it the deadliest day for US forces so far this year.

Two US special operations forces were gunned down hours earlier in an insider attack by an Afghan policeman in eastern Afghanistan.

The NATO military coalition said in a statement that initial reports showed no enemy activity in the area at the time of the helicopter crash. The cause of the crash is under investigation, the statement said.

A US official said all five of the dead were American. The official said the helicopter went down outside Kandahar city.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

from ANI
Wednesday 13th March, 2013

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Mali Islamists, Separatists Join Forces

An armed Islamist group occupying parts of northern Mali says it has joined forces with one of the country's main separatist movements.
Alghabasse Ag Intalla, head of the Islamic Movement for Azawad, told VOA correspondent Idriss Fall that the Islamist group has signed an agreement with the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, or MNLA.

Intalla says the two groups will hold a congress in May to officially unify the movements.

The Islamic Movement of Azawad was formed recently by self-described "moderates" within the Ansar Dine rebel group.

Officials from the movement have said they are seeking autonomy for northern Mali, not independence.

Intalla, who was the former negotiator of Ansar Dine, says that although his group is currently fighting Islamists in the region, they will not help Malian forces in Kidal unless a political solution is found on the Tuareg situation.

Ansar Dine rebels joined with ethnic Tuaregs to seize control of northern Mali following the March 2012 coup.  Ansar Dine and other Islamist groups then took full control of the region, where they have moved to impose strict Islamic law.

In other developments, a Chadian soldier was killed Tuesday in fighting in the Ifoghas mountains in the country's north.  Nearly 30 Chadian soldiers have been killed in the operation so far.

from VOA News
March 13, 2013

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Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs strongly rejects Itar-Tas story on counter-narcotics operation

Publish Date: Mar 13, 2013

Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs strongly rejects Itar-Tas story on counter-narcotics operation

The Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs therefore strongly rejects the March 12 story run by Itar-Tas. 
That story is entirely baseless.

The fact is that Afghan Counter Narcotics Special Operation Police conducted a successful intelligence-driven operation in Shirzad district of Nangarhar province on 11th March 2013 in which some 21 tons of drugs were seized. This operation was conducted independently by Afghan forces without the involvement of any foreigners.

No Russian anti-drug agency police are present in Afghanistan nor are they working jointly with Afghan Counter Narcotics Police. Afghan national security forces are fully capable of conducting counter-narcotics operations on their own as necessary and they have had numerous achievements in the past years.
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7 killed in Afghan police checkpoint attack in S. province

Kabul, March 13 (Xinhua-ANI): One Afghan policeman and six militants were killed in an attack launched overnight by Taliban at a checkpoint in southern Afghanistan province of Helmand, an official said Wednesday.

"Unknown number of Taliban militants raided a police checkpoint in Zhranda area of Sangin district late Tuesday night as a result one policeman and six militants were killed," the administrative chief of the Sangin, Mohammad Sharif, told Xinhua.

He said one cop was also wounded in the attack in the province 555 km south of Afghan capital of Kabul.

The attack also partially damaged the checkpoint and the police also seized six rounds of guns following the attack, he added.

In neighboring Marjeh district, a joint unit of Afghan forces and the NATO-led coalition troops in an operation in search of a Taliban commander captured three insurgents earlier Wednesday.

"The Taliban commander is suspected of holding senior administrative responsibilities for the insurgent network in Marjeh, and to have been deeply involved in planning, coordinating and conducting attacks against Afghan and coalition forces," the NATO-led coalition forces said in a press release.

"He is also thought to have significant knowledge regarding the composition of the insurgency in the local area. The security force also seized two machine guns and 400 rounds of ammunition as a result of the operation," the release added.

The Taliban insurgent group, which has been waging an insurgency of more than one decade, has yet to make comments. (Xinhua-ANI)
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Local police commander dies in Panjwai blast

KANDAHAR CITY (PAN): A local police commander was killed and two of his bodyguards suffered shrapnel injuries when a roadside bomb ripped through their vehicle in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province, an official said on Wednesday.  

Once served as a Taliban commander, Mullah Zainullah, who joined the government-initiated peace process a year ago, was travelling in the Salehan area on Tuesday along with some of his bodyguards when came under attack, district chief Haji Fazal Mohammad told Pajhwok Afghan News. He travelled to attend the wedding of his nephew, the official said. 

Known as Mullah Zaino, the deceased spearheaded a group of the NATO-backed Local Police Force in the Sparwan area.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the bomb attack, with the group spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi saying Zainullah was among four others killed and as many of his bodyguards were wounded in the blast.

from Pajhwok
By Bashir Ahmad Naadem Mar 13, 2013 - 15:04   

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