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Afghanistan


Forty-two people have been killed and more than 130 others wounded in a series of suicide attacks in the south-west and north of Afghanistan.

At least 11 bombers targeted the city of Zaranj, police said, but not all had been able to blow themselves up.

Shortly afterwards, police in the northern province of Kunduz said 12 people were killed by another bomb.

The bombers had reportedly attacked crowded markets.

Forty-two people have been killed and more than 130 others wounded in a series of suicide attacks in the south-west and north of Afghanistan

Forty-two people have been killed and more than 130 others wounded in a series of suicide attacks in the south-west and north of Afghanistan

The district governor of Dashte Arche district in Kunduz said the bomb had been placed on a motorbike and had gone off shortly before the end of the day’s fast for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Many of the victims were thought to be civilians, including food-sellers, he said.

In the south-western province of Nimroz, deputy police chief Mujibullah Latifi told AFP that some of the attackers had been killed by police.

“There have been heavy casualties; the majority of them are civilians,” he said.

Reports say two of the bombers’ explosives were detonated when police fired on them.

Afghan intelligence officials have said a number of potential suicide bombers infiltrated Zaranj.

Some were arrested on Monday, with further arrests early on Tuesday.

One official said he had been searching for further suspected insurgents in a crowded marketplace when the attacks began.

An eyewitness, Mohammad Zalmay, said: “I was buying sweets with my sons and daughters when I heard a bang. I fell to the ground. When I woke up, I saw blood all over.”

Zaranj, near the Iranian border, is a relatively affluent and peaceful city.

The police will be extremely concerned that there will be further attacks, he says.

International troops are gradually handing over responsibilities to Afghan security forces, as NATO prepares to pull out of the country by the end of 2014.

 

The Afghan parliament has passed a vote of no confidence in two of its most senior ministers and demanded that they be replaced.

The interior and defence ministers were criticized for failing to prevent cross-border shelling from Pakistan and security lapses that resulted in the assassinations of senior officials.

They have also been questioned by MPs over allegations of corruption.

The vote is a blow to President Hamid Karzai’s administration, observers say.

The Afghan parliament has passed a vote of no confidence in Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak

The Afghan parliament has passed a vote of no confidence in Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak

Hamid Karzai’s office said he would make a decision on Sunday about the future of Interior Minister Besmillah Mohammadi and Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak.

The president has the power to keep them in their posts for another month. In the past, he has retained his ministers for even longer.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Rahim Wardak said he had responded to cross-border attacks by sending more troops to the north-eastern border, and had deployed long-range artillery and ammunition.

But parliament passed a measure to remove him by a vote of 146 to 72.

A separate vote of no-confidence in Besmillah Mohammadi was passed by 126 to 90.

The international community appears to have lost two key Afghan figures with whom they have been dealing the most at what is a critical time.

NATO-led forces are looking to withdraw from the country by the end of 2014.

 

John Henry Browne, the lawyer representing Staff Sgt. Robert Bales accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in their homes has said there is little proof of his client’s guilt.

John Henry Browne said there were “no forensic evidence” against his client and “no confession”.

He also dismissed reports suggesting Robert Bales was having financial troubles as irrelevant to the case.

Robert Bales, 38 is being held a military detention centre awaiting charges, which are expected this week.

The killings have undermined US relations with Kabul and led to calls for NATO to speed up their planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

After meeting with Sgt. Robert Bales at a US army base in Kansas, John Henry Browne told reporters: “We’ve all heard the allegations. I don’t know that the government has proved much.”

Robert Bales is the only known suspect in the killings – despite repeated Afghan assertions that more than one American was involved.

There is no evidence in Afghan massacre suspect Sgt. Robert Bales, says his lawyer John Henry Browne

There is no evidence in Afghan massacre suspect Sgt. Robert Bales case, says his lawyer John Henry Browne

 

John Henry Browne said he now plans to travel to Afghanistan to gather his own evidence.

The lawyer also responded to questions about Robert Bales’ financial history.

Robert Bales and his wife had reportedly struggled to make the payments on two properties they had bought.

It has now also emerged that – along with another man and his company – Robert Bales owed a reported $1.5 million from an arbitration ruling nearly a decade ago which found him guilty of securities fraud while he was working as a stockbroker.

John Henry Browne told Associated Press “that doesn’t mean anything”.

“Sure, there are financial problems. I have financial problems. Ninety-nine percent of America has financial problems,” John Henry Browne said.

“You don’t go kill women and children because you have financial problems.”

Robert Bales’ wife, Karilyn, has issued a statement expressing her condolences to the victims and their families and saying what reportedly took place is “completely out of character of the man I know and admire”.

John Henry Browne first met his client at Fort Leavenworth on Monday to begin preparing his defense.

The Pentagon has previously said that Sgt. Robert Bales could face charges that carry a possible death penalty.

Such a trial could take years, contrasting with Afghan demands for swift and decisive justice.

 

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Sharah is an Afghan mother who has given birth to sextuplets at a hospital in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

The mother was not aware she was carrying more than one child and had not received fertility treatment.

Doctors say Sharah, 24, arrived in hospital on Monday and gave birth on the same day to three boys and three girls. It was her first pregnancy.

Doctors say that having six children without fertility treatment is extremely rare.

Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world.

Sharah arrived in Mazar-e-Sharif hospital from a remote village in Balkh province.

Provincial Health Director Mirwais Rabi said that all six babies are well but under-weight, with one only weighing about 700g (25oz).

Mirwais Rabi said the sextuplets were being kept inside incubators and a special team of nurses and doctors are looking after them.

The sextuplets’ mother is said to be in good health but exhausted.

Doctors say that had they been aware that Sharah was carrying six children, she would have been in hospital at least several days in advance.

All six babies are well but under-weight, with one only weighing about 700g

All six babies are well but under-weight, with one only weighing about 700g

Her story has made headlines on Afghan television and radio stations.

“She is brave, she is amazing,” one resident said.

“I don’t know how she carried six children. The government should help her now.”

A 2010 survey revealed that infant and under-fives mortality rates appeared to be decreasing.

Experts say that despite recent improvements, Afghanistan remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a pregnant woman or a young child.

One in 10 children in Afghanistan still dies before they are five years old, the survey said.

At least 54 people have been killed after a bomb exploded at a packed mosque in Afghanistan as people celebrated a major Shi’ite festival in Kabul.

Bodies lie strewn on the ground after the powerful bomb killed the people at a shrine by the river in Kabul’s old city.

People rush to the scene to help those injured in the blast, people who moments earlier had been praying and chanting with scores of other worshippers.

Another 4 people were killed and 17 injured after a bicycle bomb exploded near the main mosque in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif shortly afterwards.

One witness said the bomber was at the end of a line and detonated his explosives near one of the gates to the shrine.

Bodies of the dead lay on top of one another where they fell.

At least 54 people have been killed after a bomb exploded at a packed mosque in Afghanistan as people celebrated a major Shi'ite festival in Kabul

At least 54 people have been killed after a bomb exploded at a packed mosque in Afghanistan as people celebrated a major Shi'ite festival in Kabul

It was the single deadliest attack in Kabul for more than three years.

Religiously motivated attacks on Shi’ites are rare in Afghanistan, although they are common in neighbouring Pakistan.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, reminiscent of the wave of sectarian violence that shook Iraq during the height of the war there.

The Ministry of Interior blamed the Taliban and “terrorists”. It said police had defused another bomb in Mazar-i-Sharif.

The Taliban strongly condemned the two attacks and said that they deeply regretted that innocent Afghans were killed and wounded.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said it was unprecendented and the first time one had been carried out during a religious event.

The blasts happened in the middle of the Ashura festival – which marks the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Hussein in the battle of Karbala in Iraq in the year 680 – at around 7:30 a.m. GMT.

It is the biggest event in the Shi’ite calendar and features large processions that are vulnerable to militant attacks.

Afghanistan has a history of tension and violence between Sunnis and the Shi’ite minority, but since the fall of the Taliban the country had been spared the large scale sectarian attacks that have troubled neighbouring Pakistan.

Shi’ites account for some 20% of the population in predominantly Sunni Afghanistan. The Taliban insurgency has largely avoided fanning secretarian strife.

The bombing is one of the deadliest in the ten years of war since the Taliban regime was ousted.

It comes a day after a major international conference in Bonn, Germany, on the future of international involvement in Afghanistan.

President Hamid Karzai warned representatives of 85 nations at the conference that his country would need their financial support for at least another decade beyond the 2014 departure of international troops.

Hamid Karzai said: “Together we have spent blood and treasure in fighting terrorism.

“Your continued solidarity, your commitment and support will be crucial so that we can consolidate our gains and continue to address the challenges that remain.”

The conference was overshadowed by a display of bad blood between the U.S. and Pakistan – both of whom have a stake in making Afghanistan safe and solvent.

Pakistan boycotted the conference to protest after an errant U.S. air strike last month killed 24 soldiers along the border with Afghanistan.

Participating nations pledged their support for an inclusive Afghan-led reconciliation process on condition that any outcome must reject violence and terrorism and endorse the Afghan constitution and its guarantee of human rights.

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NATO helicopter crashed in Wardak, Eastern Afghanistan.

 

[googlead tip=”patrat_mic” aliniat=”dreapta”]The Taliban insurgents who shot down a 38 elite troops Navy SEALs helicopter in Afghanistan were killed.

 

U.S. General, John Allen said Wednesday that NATO international troops found out where militants were hiding and launched an air strike on the place.

Allen, who is chief commander of allied forces in Afghanistan ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), made the statements during a press conference held in Washington.

 

The NATO-led ISAF statement said also that, during allied forces air strike, the Taliban leader Mullah Mohibullah and the insurgent who is believed to have fired the rocket that broke CH-47 Chinook helicopter were killed.

Taliban who shot down a Navy SEALs helicopter in Afghanistan were killed.

Taliban who shot down a Navy SEALs helicopter in Afghanistan were killed.

[googlead tip=”vertical_mic”]According to MSNBC, NATO reported that the air strike was called in once the insurgents were tracked to a wooded area, and that no civilians were harmed in the attack.

Last Friday night, a helicopter carrying US commando troops was shot down by Taliban rockets. 38 people, among which at least 20 soldiers from the elite Navy SEAL, unit that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, have died after the NATO machine crashed in eastern Afghanistan, in an area controlled by Islamist militants .

There were also seven Afghan soldiers killed during the attack.

 

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The Taliban have said they were responsible for shooting down the Navy SEALs with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Monday, an Afghan official said:

“We can now confirm that the helicopter was shot down and it was a trap of a Taliban commander.”

 

The helicopter was attacked from both sides of a valley, the only way of access from Sayd Abad district to Wardak, which were controlled by the Taliban.

“The Taliban knew the route the helicopter will go on,” official said, adding: “the rebels have taken positions on both sides of the valley, in the mountains, and when the helicopter approached, they attacked with rockets and other modern weapons”.

[googlead tip=”lista_mare” aliniat=”stanga”]Saturday, two US officials confirmed , under anonymity, that aboard attacked helicopter were 22 members of SEAL Team, the secret Navy commando unit that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Three Air Force air controllers, seven Afghan soldiers, a dog and its trainer, an interpreter and the crew belonging to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment were also aboard the helicopter.

It is not known if among the Saturday dead soldiers were those who took part of al-Qaeda leader killing mission in early May 2011, but official sources said it was “unlikely” to be about the same soldiers.

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Sources said that shooting down of the Chinook helicopter with the Navy SEALs on Friday night is the largest ever recorded loss of lives of SEAL Team Six unit, known as The Naval Special Warfare Development Group, and the single deadliest loss for US forces since the war began 10 years ago.

 

Tuesday, President Barack Obama visited Dover Air Force Base to pay his respects to those soldiers who had died and whose remains were flown home in two C-17 cargo planes, according to ABC 7 News in San Francisco.

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16 NATO supply tankers transporting fuel for US-led forces in Afghanistan were set ablaze in a bomb attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

28 trucks were parked at a terminal on the outskirts of the provincial capital Peshawar when an explosion triggered a fire that engulfed 16 of the vehicles, AFP reported.

16 NATO supply trucks set ablaze by Talibans in Pakistan

16 NATO supply trucks set ablaze by Talibans in Pakistan

Pakistan police official, Khurshid Khan, said:

“We are trying to move away other oil tankers. We are not clear whether the bomb was planted in the terminal or with a tanker,”

“Sixteen tankers were completely destroyed.”

In addition, police official said that there were no reports of any casualties.

Mohammad Ijaz Khan, senior police officer in Peshawar, said three explosions were heard before the fire swept through the parked tankers and fire fighters were hardly trying to control the blaze.

Police cordoned off the area after the incident and launched a search operation to track down the attackers.

So far, no group has claimed the attack.

NATO convoys regularly attacked by Tehrik i Taliban Pakistan militants.

NATO and US military rely heavily on the Pakistani supply route into landlocked Afghanistan, more so now that Taliban attacks are increasing.

As a reaction to this incident, the Pakistani authorities have deployed several police contingents and military forces on all major roads in the area to prevent the new attacks.

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Recently, Taliban militants have carried out numerous attacks in the rugged tribal area, torching hundreds of NATO vehicles and containers destined for foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Supplies arrive by sea in the southern port city of Karachi, where security analysts believe most of the Afghan Taliban leadership are now hiding. From Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan, they have to travel in long, exposed convoys through a northwest province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Using other routes, largely through Russia and the Central Asian states, have proved to be too costly, both economically and politically.

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