- By Jennifer RowlandJennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.
Sleep with one eye opened?
An Afghan local policeman opened fire on American troops on Friday, killing two U.S. service members and injuring an Afghan National Police officer just moments after they gave him his weapon at an inauguration ceremony for new recruits (AP, Tel, LAT, CNN, BBC, Post, AFP, CBS). The attack took place in the far western province of Farah, and the attacker has been identified as Mohammad Ismail, who had joined the Afghan Local Police force just five days ago.
Hours after the "green-on-blue" attack in Farah Province, an Afghan soldier in the southern province of Kandahar turned his gun on international troops, wounding two before being shot and killed by NATO forces (AP). The two attacks on Friday bring the total number of "green-on-blue," or "insider" shootings, in the past week to seven, and the total number of NATO service member killed in such attacks this year to 39. The New America Foundation maintains a database of these incidents here: NAF.
These latest attacks also occurred just after Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar released an Eid message claiming that the Taliban had successfully infiltrated the Afghan security forces in order to be able to carry out the "insider" shootings (AFP, VOA, Reuters, AJE). In the message he also called on insurgents to minimize civilian deaths in their campaign against coalition and Afghan forces.
Adding to a deadly week for American forces in Afghanistan, a U.S. military helicopter crashed during a firefight with insurgents in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar on Thursday, killing all 11 people on board, including seven U.S. troops and four Afghans (AP, NYT).
A bomb blast in Karachi on Friday killed at least one person and injured 19 others who were on board a bus that was passing through the area to a rally for Youm-e-Quds, an annual event commemorated on the last Friday of Ramadan, begun in Iran in 1979 to show solidarity with the people of Palestine (ET, Dawn, The News).
On Friday, the day after Pakistani Taliban militants launched an attack on a Pakistan Air Force base thought by some analysts and officials to house a number of nuclear weapons, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States has no reason to doubt Pakistan’s claim that the base is actually free of such weapons, and that the U.S. government is confident in the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal (AFP). Meanwhile, one soldier injured in the attack died of his injuries on Friday, bringing the security forces’ death toll to two (ET).
Pakistan’s Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Friday clarified the assertion made by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday that the Pakistani Army would soon be launching an assault on militants in North Waziristan, saying that any operation in the region would not be a joint one, and would not come as a result of any external pressure (Dawn, ET).
Areas of Gilgit-Baltistan have been shut down today to protest the killing of 25 Shi’a Muslims on their way to the far northeastern province on Thursday, as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a statement condemning the sectarian attack (ET, ET). And the doctors’ strike in Balochistan Province to protest the kidnapping of Dr. Ghulam Rasool entered its 17th day on Friday (Dawn). The doctors are refusing to staff any of the emergency departments in their respective hospitals.
Getting with the times
The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has plans to take on the gargantuan task of alerting Karachi’s residents via text message about issues ranging from traffic jams to extreme weather to their children’s vaccination appointments (ET). The city administrator said that mapping the city’s hundreds of shops, perhaps the most difficult of their tasks, is important because "women are especially susceptible to getting lots. This application could really help them."
– Jennifer Rowland