Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Abducted Israeli, Norwegian tourists freed in Egypt

CAIRO, March 26 (Xinhua) -- An Israeli man and a Norwegian woman who were kidnapped Friday in Egypt's governorate of South Sinai have been freed, a local security source told Xinhua Tuesday.

The release came after two days of negotiations between the security authorities and the kidnappers under the mediation of tribal elders, the source said.

The freed hostages, both in good conditions, are going back to their home countries on separate ways -- the Israeli man through the port of Taba adjacent to Israel and the Norwegian woman heading for Cairo for a flight home.

The security authorities confirmed that the kidnappers had been pressing for the release of their jailed family members in exchange for freeing the hostages, who were held by them in a cave area in central Sinai.

The two were abducted by armed tribesman when they were travelling on Taba-Dahb highway of South Sinai four days ago.

"Armed tribesmen intercepted the tourists' car and then forced the two tourists and their driver into their truck," but the driver was released shortly, sources told Xinhua after the Friday kidnapping.

Kidnapping of tourists in Sinai by Bedouins repeated lately, but almost all of them were released without casualties with the help of tribe leaders.

2013-03-26 15:11:51

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Afghanistan car bomb attack injures 10 British troops

English: Cropped version of a larger map to sh...
English: Cropped version of a larger map to show detail around Lashkar Gah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the injured soldiers is airlifted to Camp Bastion after blast and gun battle in which five insurgents are killed
At least 10 British troops have been injured in a suspected suicide car bomb attack on a patrol base in Afghanistan's Helmand province. The insurgents followed up the blast with small arms fire on the base in Nad Ali, one of the districts where UK troops have been based during their time in the country.

Five insurgents were killed in the attack on the base on Monday night, which is jointly operated by the Afghan army and troops from Nato's International Security and Assistance Force (Isaf).

Though no Isaf troops died in the attack, it is understood one British soldier was severely wounded and airlifted by helicopter to Camp Bastion, the main UK base in the province. Most of the others were "walking wounded". Members of the Afghan national security force were also among the injured.

The attack is the boldest the insurgents have undertaken during the winter months – no UK soldiers have been killed here since January, making it one of the quietest tours the British have experienced since troops were deployed here in 2006.

Isaf said: "We can confirm that last night in Nad Ali district, Helmand province, insurgents attacked a combined Afghan and Isaf patrol base with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and small arms fire. A number of insurgents were killed. Several Isaf service members were wounded in the attack. There were no Isaf fatalities. The base is secured and fully operational."

Nad Ali was a Taliban hotbed when the UK first arrived, but has been regarded as one of the success stories in recent years, as British and Afghan forces have taken control of the populated areas, driving the insurgents into the desert hinterland.

It is of the districts in Helmand that has been "transitioned" to Afghan control as Isaf steps back from frontline duties, leaving security almost entirely in the hands of the Afghans.

from The Guardian
Nick Hopkins in Lashkar Gah
Tuesday 26 March 2013 10.54 GMT   

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8 suicide bombers, 5 police killed in Jalalabad attack

NATO and Afghan troops arrive at the site of a suicide attack in Jalalabad, March 26, 2013.
JALALABAD (PAN): More than a dozen people were killed on Tuesday when a group of suicide bombers stormed the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) headquarters in eastern Nangarhar province, officials said.

(more photos from REUTERS)

Eight suicide bombers and five police personnel were killed in the audacious predawn assault in Jalalabad, the provincial capital, a police spokesman said.

Col. Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal told Pajhwok Afghan News that several civilians were wounded in the bomb attack, followed by intense gunfire. Some of the bombers blew themselves up, while eight others were killed by police.

But the provincial police chief Lt. Gen. Mohammad Sharif Amin put the number of assailants at eight, saying that one of them detonated his explosives-laden Surf vehicle in front of the QRF headquarters.

Moments after the ensuing clash, another bomber detonated his car, the police chief told reporter. Five suicide attackers were shot dead in the gunbattle, he said, praising the policemen for showing exemplary courage.

Five policemen were killed and four others injured as a result of the incident, according to Gen. Amin, who said the QRF had been able to thwart a major terror plot.

A doctor, meanwhile, said on condition of anonymity that 13 injured, including six policemen, had been evacuated to the Jalalabad Civil Hospital. The wounded are in stable condition.

As usual, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that dozens of Afghan and foreign security personnel had been killed. He acknowledged the loss of only five fighters.

A guard at the provincial police headquarters, situated close to the scene, said he saw one vehicle exploding. “Two people standing in front of a four-storey building in the area asked me to open the door.

“When I took a close at them, they had weapons beneath their sheets. I gunned down both,” the policeman said, claiming that they wanted to attack the QRF compound from the market.

Area resident Hekmatullah said he heard a big explosion at 4.30am. A little while later, there was a burst of gunfire, he said. The resident had no idea about the casualties.

from Pajhwok
By Mahbob Shah Mahbob Mar 26, 2013 - 07:06

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In Several Joint Clearance Operations, 23 Armed Taliban Killed (Mar.26.2013.)

Publish Date: Mar 26, 2013
In Several Joint Clearance Operations, 23 Armed Taliban Killed


In past 24 hours, Afghan National Police conducted several joint clearance operations with the cooperation of Afghan National Army, NDS and Coalition Forces to clean some of the areas from terrorists and enemies of peace and stability of Afghanistan.

The operations were conducted in Nangarhar, Laghman, Badakhshan, Kandahar, Paktiya and Helmand provinces, as a result 23 armed Taliban were killed and nine other armed Taliban were arrested by Afghan National Security Forces.

Also, during these operations, Afghan National Police discovered and confiscated some amount of light and heavy round ammunitions and IEDs.

During the same 24 hour period, Afghan National Police discovered and defused six anti-vehicle mines placed by enemies of Afghanistan for destructive activities in Uruzgan province.

Counter Crimes:

The 101 Kabul Zone National Police detained four suspects accused of theft in the 5th and 13th Districts of Kabul-City.
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Mar. 26., 2013. - ISAF Joint Command Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban leader and detained one other insurgent during an operation in Shah Wali Kot district, Kandahar province, today.

The leader is accused of ordering assassinations against members of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, coordinating the movement of weapons and supplies used in insurgent operations, and leading attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:


During an operation in Kunduz district, Kunduz province yesterday, an Afghan and coalition security force arrested an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader. The leader is alleged to lead a cell of insurgent fighters responsible for improvised explosive device and direct fire attacks on Afghan and coalition forces. Prior to his arrest, he was believed actively planning to assassinate an Afghan National Security Forces official.


An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban facilitator and detained a number of other insurgents during an operation in Nad ‘Ali district, Helmand province, today. The facilitator is believed to be responsible for procuring and distributing weapons to his fellow fighters to include IEDs and IED-making materials

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Mar. 26., 2013. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces found and safely cleared three improvised explosive devices, killed one insurgent and detained two suspected insurgents during operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, March 25.

Ghazni province
Afghan and coalition forces detained two suspected insurgent during operations in the Ab Band district. The suspected insurgents were taken to a base for questioning.

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

Kunar province
Afghan and coalition forces killed one insurgent during operations in the Marawarah district.

Nangarhar province
Afghan National Security Forces found and safely cleared an IED during operations in the Chaparhar district.

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5 killed, 13 injured in Iraqi violence

BAGHDAD, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Four people were killed and 13 others wounded in separate attacks in Iraq Monday, while an al- Qaida militant leader was shot dead in a raid, the police said.

In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, two policemen were killed when a roadside bomb struck a joint police-army patrol in the western part of the provincial capital city of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Iraq's capital Baghdad, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Five policemen and three soldiers, including an officer, were wounded by the blast, the source said.

In a separate incident, a paramilitary member of local Awakening Council group was killed and three others wounded when gunmen, believed to be affiliated to al-Qaida network in Iraq, attacked their checkpoint at a village some 35 km northeast of Baquba, the source said.

The Awakening Council group, also known as Sons of Iraq, consists of armed groups, including some powerful anti-U.S. Sunni insurgent groups, who turned their rifles against al-Qaida after the latter exercised indiscriminate killings against both Shiite and Sunni communities.

Also in the province, an Iraqi army and police force shot dead Abu Jihad, a suspected al-Qaida leader, when they raided his safe house at the village of Makheisah, some 30 km northeast of Baquba, the source said.

Abu Jihad is believed to have been involved in many attacks against Iraqi military patrols in Diyala province, he added.

In addition, two soldiers were wounded when gunmen attacked their checkpoint in the same village, he said.

In Salahudin province, a policeman was killed when a sticky bomb attached to his car detonated while he was driving in north of the provincial capital city of Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, a provincial police source anonymously told Xinhua.

Violence is still common in the Iraqi cities despite the dramatic decrease since its peak in 2006 and 2007, when the country was engulfed in sectarian killings.

2013-03-26 00:17:33

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French forces kill two Indians in Bangui airport

In these photos taken on Friday March 22, 2013 and provided on Monday March 25, 2013 by the French Army Communications Audio visual office, French soldiers arrive at Bangui airport, Central Africa Republic. Rebels overthrew Central African Republic's president of a decade on Sunday, seizing the presidential palace and declaring that the desperately poor country has "opened a new page in its history." The country's president fled the capital, while extra French troops moved to secure the airport, officials said. (AP Photo/Elise Foucaud, ECPAD)
PARIS, March 25 (Xinhua) -- French defence ministry confirmed that French forces fired on vehicles trying to enter the Bangui airport in Central African Republic, killing two Indian nationals.

The accident occurred "in a particularly confusing situation", as French troops based in the Bangui airport had been fired upon "from an unknown source," the ministry said in a statement.

"These vehicles were transporting Chadian and Indian nationals. Despite warning shots fired by troops guarding the site, the vehicles kept going at high speed," the ministry said in a statement.

"Two Indian nationals died. French forces immediately took charge of the injured Indian and the Chadian, who were driven to an aid facility," the ministry said.

It is reported that five other Indians and four Chadians got wounded in this accident.

Expressing deeply regret for the accident, the French defence ministry has decided to conduct an investigation to determine the exact circumstances.

France has sent 350 soldiers to the Central African Republic over the weekend to reinforce its protection of French citizens in the conflict-ridden country where the capital Bangui was seized by rebels who ousted the president on Sunday.

2013-03-26 07:43:43

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Syrian Jihadist Fighters Getting Western Weapons

Syria's al-Nusra rebels posted this photo of its fighters using an M-60 anti-tank weapons March 24.

A Syrian rebel group the Obama administration considers a terrorist organization is managing to obtain modern anti-tank weapons meant for other groups fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, according to regional experts.

The Jihadist Jabhat al-Nusra militia is managing to secure weapons being supplied by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to rebel brigades affiliated to the Free Syrian Army, the experts say. The Obama administration considers al-Nusra a terrorist organization because of suspected links with al-Qaida.

The weapons include the Croatian-made M79 portable 90 mm anti-tank gun and M60 recoilless anti-tank weapons. Regional experts say Saudi Arabia and Qatar had been supplying such weapons to rebel units more acceptable to the West, mainly secular or nationalist-focused groups such as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) brigades fighting to oust the Assad government.

Croatian-made weapons

According to the experts, the weapons are now appearing in the hands of al-Nusra fighters in videos posted by group on Jihadist websites.

In February, the New York Times first reported that the Saudis were supplying Syrian rebels with arms bought from Croatia. The supply operation was prompted by the fear in the West, and among Gulf allies, that Jihadist groups were better equipped than other rebel units and were increasingly able to dominate the anti-Assad movement.

The newspaper reported Monday that U.S. Central Intelligence Agency consultants were helping Arab nations and Turkey in getting heavy weapons to the Syrian rebels despite Washington’s public stance against supplying such weapons itself.

Citing air traffic data and interviews with unnamed officials and rebel commanders, the Times said the weapons airlift to the rebels had grown to include more than 160 military flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

Reports of CIA assistance

Croatian weaponry believed to be part of those airlifts had been seen being used earlier this year by other Jihadist groups fighting in Syria, but al-Nusra videos posted on the internet this weekend showed for the first time their fighters using the M79 and M60 antitank weapons.

“Neither of these weapons are locally available, either from the black market or looted from the Syrian army because they don't have them,” said British-based weapons researcher, Eliot Higgins, who first spotted the videos. “That's what made them so easy to track; they stand out like sore thumbs in Syria.”

Since announcing its formation in Syria in early 2012, Jabhat al-Nusra has grown rapidly and is considered one of the most effective forces opposing the Assad government.

The rise of al-Nusra, which has homegrown fighters in its ranks as well foreign jihadists drawn from elsewhere in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, has complicated Western considerations about whether and how to supply arms to the Syrian rebels.

British and French want stepped-up shipments

The British and French governments have been pushing to increase the flow of weapons to the Syrian rebels, but other European nations have resisted, arguing that the equipment could fall into the hands of jihadist groups such as al-Nusra. Critics of the Anglo-French position said the intended recipients of the weapons, the FSA rebel units, worked too closely with al-Nusra to keep the weapons to themselves.

“We were concerned that the FSA is not really a cohesive force with a single command-and-control structure, but is far more a loose alliance of rebel brigades,” says a German diplomat based in Brussels. “We didn’t believe the FSA could or would even bother to police who received any European-supplied weaponry. FSA units fight alongside al-Nusra and other Jihadists.”

Al-Nusra, like other rebel units, also uses weapons it seizes from captured Syrian army facilities.

This past Saturday, al-Nusra fighters joined other rebel units in overrunning an air defense base in southern Syria’s Daraa Province near the border with Jordan. Videos posted by al-Nusra appeared to show rebel fighters carting off portable surface-to-air missiles, often called SAMS or MANPADS, for “Man-Portable-Air-Defense-System.”

Syrian rebels have been urging the West and Gulf countries for months to supply the rebellion with such anti-aircraft missiles, but the Obama administration has said “no.” It also has urged allied not to supply such missiles, fearing they would fall into the wrong hands.

But with each capture of Syrian army bases, though, there are opportunities for rebels, Jihadists included, to seize anti-aircraft missiles, Western security officials say.

from VOA News
by Jamie Dettmer, March 25, 2013

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