Thursday, May 9, 2013

Finnish, Austrian hostages released by al-Qaida in Yemen

Map of the modern state of Yemen. Map of Yemen...
Map of Yemen.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
SANAA, May 9 (Xinhua) -- A Finnish couple and an Austrian man kidnapped by al-Qaida militants in Yemen last December were released through an Omani mediation, a Yemeni government official told Xinhua Thursday.

"The Finnish couple and their Austrian friend who were snatched by al-Qaida group from the Yemeni capital of Sanaa in December last year were released through mediation of the Omani government and the Yemeni tribe on Wednesday night," the senior official told Xinhua by phone, requesting anonymity.

"A big ransom of money, about millions of U.S. dollars, has been paid to the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in return of releasing the hostages," he said, adding that "the group was handed over on Wednesday night to the Omani officials."

"The Yemeni government did not participate in the mediation process," he added.

An editor at the Finnish Broadcasting Company in the Finnish capital of Helsinki told Xinhua that "the Finnish Foreign Ministry will hold a press conference in Helsinki on the release of the Finnish hostages in Yemen."

On Dec. 21, 2012, the three Europeans, who studied Arabic language in a school in the old city in Sanaa, were kidnapped from a busy street.

A specialist on al-Qaida issues said "successful negotiations" led to the release of the hostages.

"Negotiations had succeeded thanks to the Omani government ... and tribal mediators also hope that Saudi Arabia do the same thing and send honest negotiators, not agents and spies, to free a Saudi diplomat hostage who is still in the hands of al-Qaida militants since 2012," Abdelrazak al-Jamal told Xinhua by phone, citing a statement by the Yemeni tribal mediators.

The Yemen-based al-Qaida wing, the most active terrorist network in the Arab country, has been holding Abdullah al-Khaledi, the Saudi deputy consul in Yemen's southern port city of Aden, for almost one year and a half.

Al-Khaledi has made several appeals to the Saudi king to help free him since he was snatched by the AQAP on March 28, 2012.

On Feb. 27, a Swiss woman kidnapped by the AQAP in Yemen for one year was released through a Qatari mediation.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
2013-05-10 03:09:01

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Gunmen kidnap son of Pakistan's ex-PM Gilani

Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousaf Raza Gillani
Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousaf Raza Gillani (Photo credit: Cabinet Office)
ISLAMABAD, May 9 (Xinhua) -- Unidentified gunmen Thursday kidnapped son of former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani after an attack on an election meeting of his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the city of Multan, police and family said.

Ali Haider Gilani, the youngest son of the former prime minister, was taken away by the gunmen in a car after they killed his driver and injured several other people.

Witnesses said that at least four gunmen arrived in two cars and snatched Ali Haider Gilani while firing in the air to keep the people away who were attending the PPP gathering in Farrukh Town of Multan in Punajb province.

No group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping yet.

Ali Haider's elder brother Ali Musa Gilani told the media that the elections should be postponed in Multan if his brother was not recovered. He said the PPP will not allow the elections to be held unless his brother is recovered.

He said his party members were neither carrying weapons nor keeping private guards in line with the Election Commission's code of conduct.

"The gunmen came and easily took my brother," he said.

Police sealed all entry and exit points of the city after the incident and also started a search operation, officials said.

Local media has reported that Yusuf Raza Gilani had informed the authorities after receiving death and kidnapping threats from the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The Taliban had threatened to attack the PPP, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP), which they called the parties with "secular doctrine".

Several attacks on these parties claimed by the TTP have been reported ahead of the elections.

President Asif Ali Zardari expressed serious concerns at the kidnapping of Gilani's son and has directed the provincial authorities to step up efforts for his recovery, Presidential spokesman said.

The president also spoke to the former Prime Minister via phone and expressed his concerns.

Editor: Lu Hui
 2013-05-09 18:43:28

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Taliban blow up power pylons

KANDAHAR CITY (PAN): Taliban militants have blown up three power pylons in the Maiwand district of southern Kandahar province, disrupting electricity supply to several areas, an official said on Thursday.

The attacks took place late on Wednesday during an anti-Pakistani protest that turned violent after some insurgents opened fire at security personnel. The rebels and their supporters later bombed the pylons.

Javed Faisal, the governor’s spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News the militants also cut power cable between the Kajaki district of Helmand province and Kandahar.

He added the fighters had also snatched tools from engineers, causing power supply disruption in Kandahar City. As a result, residents were diesel power generators, the spokesman concluded.

from Pajhwok
By Bashir Ahmad Naadem May 9, 2013 - 14:55

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Over 20 policemen killed in fresh attack in central Nigeria

English: Map locator of Nigeria.
Nasarawa state. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
ABUJA, May 8 (Xinhua) -- More than 20 policemen have been killed by a militia group known as Ombatse at Atakio village in central north Nigeria's Nasarawa State, the state governor Umaru Al-Makura said on Wednesday.
Al-Makura told reporters in Abuja that the victims were murdered while on official duty on the fateful day.

He said the policemen were on lawful duty of dislodging the group when they were ambushed and killed.

According to him, the militia group, which had besieged the state, were bent on destabilizing the state government, noting that the group was causing the commotion and insecurity in order to upstage the government.

Al-Makura, who was in Abuja to brief Vice President Namadi Sambo on the menace of the group, told reporters that the State government had a year ago dislodged the group.

He regretted that the group re-surfaced about a fortnight ago unleashing mayhem, killing innocent people.

According to him, the militia has resumed hostility by attacking and forcibly initiating people from their tribal group into their group by making them to drink prepared concoctions to hallucinate them and make them do their bidding.

He expressed the readiness of his administration to uproot the group Ombatse, which in Eggon language means time has come, by whatever means available to it.

The state government announced that the government would hold an emergency security meeting to deliberate on the matter for appropriate action.

Al-Makura also pledged that the State government would assist the families of the victims of the attack.

2013-05-09 06:02:47
Editor: Mu Xuequan

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Indonesian Anti-Terror Campaign Kills 7 Suspected Militants

Members of the anti-terror police arrive at the village of Batu Rengat, where police exchanged fire with suspects in a house in Bandung, West Java province, May 8, 2013.
An elite Indonesian anti-terror squad has killed seven suspected militants and arrested 13 others during a series of raids on the island of Java.

Four of the terror suspects were killed during an all-night firefight Wednesday night at a house in the town of Kebumen. Earlier, an hours-long standoff in Bandung left three suspects dead.

Police spokesperson Boy Rafi Amar says no one from the Detachment 88 terror squad was killed during the operations.

"The terrorists are collecting funds for terror operations by conducting bank robberies. This is one indication they are preparing terror activities, after they have enough funds," said the spokesperson.

Police are investigating to determine if the suspects have ties to a plot to bomb the Burma Embassy in Jakarta in retaliation for recent attacks on Burmese Muslims. Last week, authorities detained two men armed with explosives who are reported to have confessed to planning to bomb the embassy.

Indonesia has the largest Muslim populations in the world. It has waged a campaign against militants since the 2001 Bali blasts killed more than 200 people, mostly foreign tourists. Since then, analysts say most of the country's key militant groups have been weakened.

from VOA News
May 09, 2013

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Pakistan Taliban threatens suicide bombings during Saturday’s election

Map of Pakistan
Map of Pakistan (Photo credit: Omer Wazir)
The threat of violence hangs over this Saturday’s landmark general election in Pakistan, which marks the first time that a civilian government will complete a full term and hand over to another.
Pakistan’s Taliban is reportedly vowing to disrupt the poll with suicide bombings – in words attributed to its leader Hakimullah Mehsud, because it does not accept “the system of infidels called democracy”.

This week has seen several attacks on political parties in the northwest tribal region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A bomb on Wednesday in the southern city of Karachi injured 20, including women and children. No group claimed responsibility for the attack which had no obvious target.

A leading newspaper, the Daily Times, says the election is being called the bloodiest in Pakistan’s history.

The favourite to become prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has held the post twice in the 1990s, before he was deposed, jailed and exiled. He has played on his experience and promised to turn the country into an Asian tiger.

Worryingly for the West, he has hinted strongly that he will end support for the US war on Islamist militancy.

Imran Khan is expected to make a full recovery despite falling off a campaign rostrum and fracturing his spine.

The former cricket star advocates shooting down American drones and pulling the Pakistani army out of border areas with Afghanistan where the insurgency is strongest.

Neither his nor Sharif’s party has been targeted by the Taliban.

09/05 10:56 CET

Read the full stroy at EURONEWS

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Suicide blast rocks Khost City

KHOST CITY (PAN): A suicide bombing rocked the capital of southeastern Khost province, bordering the Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region of Kurram, on Thursday.

The bomber blew himself up in the Faiz Mohammad Khan Square of Khost City at about 10am, a security official told Pajhwok Afghan News. Rescuers rushed were at the site of the blast.

Col. Mohammad Yaqub, the deputy police chief, told Pajhwok Afghan News only the bomber was killed in the incident.Having been tipped off about the assailant's entry into the city, police had taken tight security measures.

He said the bomber's apparent target as a convoy of security forces and local official that was to depart Khost City for Gurbaz district. Yaqub said the bomber detonated hisexplosives after being surrounded by police.

Following the explosion, security personnel cordoned off the scene. The blast was so powerful that nearby areas were rocked, leaving residents in panic, one witness said.

from Pajhwok
By Pajhwok Report May 9, 2013 - 10:42

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May 09., 2013. - ISAF Joint Command Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Haqqani attack facilitator and one other insurgent during an operation in Pul-e ‘Alam district, Logar province, today.

The facilitator is responsible for procuring and distributing weapons, improvised explosive device components and other military equipment to insurgents in Pul-e Alam district. He also coordinates logistics for insurgent training in the area. At the time of his arrest, he was actively planning a high-profile attack involving vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers.

The security force also seized a pistol, two magazines, ammunition and IED-making material as a result of the operation.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:


An Afghan and coalition security force wounded one insurgent during an operation in search of a Taliban leader in Garm Ser district, Helmand province, yesterday. The leader is a noted improvised explosive device expert responsible for multiple attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also trains subordinate Taliban fighters on the construction, emplacement and employment of IEDs, and serves as an intelligence operative, relaying local operational information to senior Taliban leadership.


An Afghan and coalition security force arrested an insurgent during an operation in search of a Haqqani leader in Pul-e ‘Alam district, Logar province, today. The leader is responsible for a number of attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also serves as a key facilitator for the Haqqani network, overseeing the acquisition and distribution of money, weapons and military equipment in Pul-e ‘Alam district.

Commandos assigned to the 1st Afghan National Army Special Operations Kandak, advised by coalition forces, killed three insurgents and detained four others during an operation in Pira Kheyl village, Khogyani district, Nangarhar province, today. The purpose of this operation was to degrade insurgent activity in the area.

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May 09., 2013. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Afghan National Security and coalition forces killed one insurgent, detained three suspected insurgents and found and safely cleared eight improvised explosive devices during operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, May 8.

Ghazni province
Afghan National Security Forces killed one insurgent during operations and found and safely cleared two IEDs in the Ghazni district.

Khowst province
Afghan National Security Forces detained one suspected insurgent during operations in the Garbaz district. The suspect was transferred to a base for questioning.

Afghan National Security and coalition forces detained two suspected insurgents during operations in the Saberi district. The suspects were transferred to a base for questioning.

Logar province
Afghan National Security Forces found and safely cleared one IED during operations in the Pul-e Alam district.

Parwan province
Afghan National Security and Coalition Forces found and safely cleared five IEDs during operations in the Koh-e Safi district.

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Al-Shabaab fighters loyal to Godane reportedly kill al-Amriki

Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki
Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
American-born jihadist Omar Hammami, also known as Abu Mansour al-Amriki, was reportedly killed by al-Shabaab soldiers loyal to top al-Shabaab commander Ahmed Abdi Godane Tuesday afternoon (May 7th) near the village of Rama Addey in southern Somalia, UN-funded Radio Bar-Kulan reported.

According to the unconfirmed report, senior al-Shabaab leader Fuad Mohamed Qalaf, known as Fuad Shangole, made the announcement Tuesday evening in a sermon he delivered after evening prayers at a mosque in Hiran region's Bulo Burde. He said al-Amriki was ambushed and a fire-fight ensued that left several al-Shabaab militants dead.

In his sermon, Shangole called the men who gunned down al-Amriki as having acted contrary to the principles of Islam, a point previously stated by a number other top al-Shabaab leaders -- including co-founder Ibrahim al-Afghani, leader of foreign fighters al-Zubayr al-Muhajir and Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Ali (or Abu Mansur) -- in a fatwa April 30th that forbade the killing of al-Amriki.

Al-Amriki was placed on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) list of most wanted terrorists last November and in March the United States announced a $5 million bounty on his head.

Al-Amriki was believed to be in hiding in Somalia and he regularly communicated with his followers and international terrorism analysts via Twitter in recent months. His last update on Twitter was on May 3rd, nearly a week after he posted a number of pictures and updates alleging that al-Shabaab fighters loyal to Godane had tried to assassinate him.

In the week since the failed assassination attempt, al-Amriki appears to have been in a precarious situation, posting updates that gave little doubt of the danger he believed he faced.

"May not find another chance to tweet but just remember what we said and what we stood for. God kept me alive to deliver the mssg 2 the umah," he wrote on April 29th.

For more than a year, al-Amriki has posted videos, documents and updates on Twitter and YouTube detailing how al-Shabaab's leadership -- specifically Godane, who is also known as Abu Zubayr -- has been the reason for the organisation's downfall, and how Godane's leadership is contrary to the true principles of jihad.

Even in his last tweets, al-Amriki continued his attacks against Godane. "Abu zubayr has gone mad. he's starting a civil war," al-Amriki wrote April 26th.

Al-Amriki's death could not be independently verified, and this is not the first time such news has circulated. In April 2012, Somali media reports said al-Shabaab executed al-Amriki, which was later found to be erroneous.

from sabahionline
May 08, 2013

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Tunisia: Al-Qaeda tied to Jebel Chaambi militants

[AFP/Abderrazek Khlifi] Tunisian Special Forces stand guard in Kasserine as soldiers continue their hunt for a jihadist group hiding out in the border region with Algeria.
Tunisian security forces arrested 37 suspects connected to jihadist violence in Jebel Chaambi, the interior ministry revealed on Tuesday (May 7th).

Interior ministry spokesperson Mohamed Ali Aroui also said the remaining militants belonged to the Okba Ibn Nafaa brigade, which is linked to al-Qaeda. He made the announcement at a joint press conference with defence ministry spokesperson Mokhtar Ben Nasr.

The arrests included armed militants as well as elements that supplied logistic support, according to Aroui. Ten suspects were captured in Kef, while the rest were rounded up in Kasserine.

He stressed that the security forces and the army have full knowledge of the names and nationalities of the militants holed up in Kasserine and Kef.

He pointed out that the number of militants at large was between 10 and 15 terrorists in Kef and 20 in the Jebel Chaambi area of Kasserine, including 11 Algerians.

Aroui confirmed that the army and security forces were working very hard to eliminate these terrorist groups in co-ordination with Algeria and Libya.

"The armed elements holed up in Jebel Chaambi on the border with Algeria received logistic assistance of water, food and clothing from Tunisians sympathetic to them, which serves as evidence of the presence of an incubator for those insurgents who are believed to belong to al-Qaeda," defence ministry spokesperson Ben Nasr said.

Meanwhile a fourth land mine exploded on Monday morning in Jebel Chaambi, seriously wounding three army corporals. One of them, from the elite brigade of the fort of Bizerte in northern Tunisia, lost a leg. The second from the same brigade lost his eyes and sustained injuries to his face while the injuries of the third soldier were not determined.

"There is co-ordination with the Algerian authorities at both the field and intelligence levels to capture the terrorists who sought refuge in Jebel Chaambi," the defence ministry spokesman said.

He explained that "the mines that exploded were made of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and flammable materials that can easily explode when exposed to heat."

Journalist Nabil Zaghdoud commented that "nothing has changed" since the clashes with terrorists in Soliman several years ago.

"However, they were unable to this day to eliminate these terrorists and the reason is the absence of a political and sovereign decision to eliminate them and eradicate their roots with iron and fire," he added. Sadok Chourou, an Ennahda leader known as a hardliner, called for a dialogue between the government and the armed Islamists, a proposal that raised eyebrows.

Political analyst Anis Mansouri answered Chourou by saying that he was calling for "recognising the terrorists as a political party that the government sits with for dialogue".

"Their demands are the application of Sharia law, crucifixion of highwaymen, and to excommunicate as many as possible... In short, they would convert Tunisia into Afghanistan or Sudan," Mansouri added, stressing, "No dialogue and no democracy with the enemies of democracy and with those who call for violence, exercise it, justify it or defend it."

However, Ennahda chief Rachid Ghannouchi took a more moderate tone in remarks posted on the party's official Facebook page.

"We salute the heroes of the national army, the police and civil society in confronting terrorist acts and all young Islamists must know that fighting a Muslim is a heresy, debauchery and one of the greatest crimes."

Ghannouchi added, "Our police force is Muslim and so is our army and society; this so-called jihad has no place here."

By Yasmin Najjar in Tunis for Magharebia – 08/05/2013
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14 killed, 68 injured in attacks in Iraq

KIRKUK, Iraq, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Fourteen people were killed and 68 others wounded in shootings and bombings, including suicide bombings against Kurdish security forces, in Iraq on Wednesday, the police and medics said.

The deadliest attacks occurred in the morning in and near the city of Kirkuk, some 250 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, when two suicide bombers and a car bomb detonated and left a total of four killed and 53 wounded.

In one of the attacks, a suicide bomber blew up his explosive- laden car at the entrance of the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a Kurdish party headed by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, in central Kirkuk, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The blast killed one of the Kurdish security guards and wounded 40 people -- most of whom were Kurdish security members, known as Peshmerga, the source said, adding that the blast destroyed part of the office building.

Rescuers and residents gather near a bombing site at the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Kirkuk, Iraq, on May 8, 2013.(Xinhua/Dena Assad)
Meanwhile, a car bomb detonated near a Kurdish security patrol in southwestern Kirkuk, leaving one security member killed and six others wounded, he said.

Another suicide car bomber struck a checkpoint at the entrance of a Kurdish security base near the town of Daquq, some 50 km south of Kirkuk, killing two Peshmerga members and wounding seven others and a civilian, the source added.

The ethnically mixed province of Kirkuk and its capital Kirkuk City are part of the disputed areas between the Kurds and both Arabs and Turkomans.

In a separate incident, a suicide bomber blew up his explosive vest near a crowd of policemen and civilians in the city of Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, killing a policeman and a civilian and wounding three, a police source told Xinhua.

Elsewhere, unidentified gunmen clashed with policemen at a checkpoint in the city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, leaving three policemen killed and two wounded, while a gunman was killed by the clash and another captured, a local police source anonymously told Xinhua.

In Baghdad, gunmen using silenced weapons shot a taxi driver in Jamia district in western the capital before they fled the scene, an Interior Ministry source said.

Also in the capital, two people were killed and eight wounded in two separate bomb blasts in northern Baghdad, the source said.

In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, an Iraqi army soldier was killed and two wounded in a roadside bomb explosion which hit their vehicle near the town of Qara-Tappa, some 170 km northeast of Baghdad, a provincial police source told Xinhua.

Violence and high-profile bomb attacks are still common in Iraqi cities despite the dramatic decrease in violence since its peak in 2006 and 2007 when the country was engulfed in sectarian killings.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
2013-05-08 17:10:58

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2 killed, 17 injured as bomb hits market in NW Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, May 8 (Xinhua) -- At least two people were killed and 17 others injured when a bomb went off at a market place in Pakistan's northwest city of Hangu on Wednesday afternoon, local media reported.
Capital TV said that the bomb was detonated by a remote controlled device when residents were shopping in Jani Chowk market area of Hangu, a city that lies some 200 kilometers southwest of the country's capital Islamabad.

Police said that the bomb carrying an estimated 10 kg of explosive materials was affixed at a vegetable cart parked inside the market.

The injured people were rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors are providing medical treatment to them.

The blast left two shops and several vehicles destroyed.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

In separate incident of Wednesday evening, two people were killed when a bomb hit house of a local political party worker in the country's northwest Bajaur tribal area.

2013-05-08 21:52:54

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