- By Jennifer RowlandJennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.
Two suicide bombers launched a coordinated attack on a market near a U.S. military base southwest of Kabul on Saturday morning, killing at least 14 people, including six Afghan security forces (NYT, AP). The attack occurred almost exactly one year after a similar attack near the same base killed five Afghans and wounded 77 U.S. soldiers. Last September’s truck bombing was blamed on the Taliban-linked Haqqani Network, which the United States is reportedly leaning toward adding to its list of designated foreign terrorist organizations (NYT).
Congress has directed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to report to lawmakers by September 9 on whether the Haqqani Network fits the criteria of a terrorist group, and if not, why. The Post’s Karen DeYoung published a must-read on Friday unpacking the conflict within the Obama administration over whether to risk diplomatic fallout with Pakistan by blacklisting the Haqqani Network (Post). Designating the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization would also make peace talks with the group more complicated, another consequence that some inside the administration are concerned about.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned Australian troops for "unilaterally" launching a night raid on Friday in Uruzgan Province that he said killed two civilians and violated an agreement with NATO on the acceptable way to conduct such raids (WSJ, The Australian). NATO and local officials said, though, that Afghan forces were part of the raid, and that the two men killed were insurgents (AFP). The raid was launched as part of the hunt for an Afghan Army soldier who turned his weapon on his Australian colleagues on Thursday, killing three of them.
The commander of Special Operations forces in Afghanistan suspended training of all new Afghan Local Police (ALP) forces last week, while the U.S. military re-vets the recruits for connections to insurgent groups (Post, NYT, AP). The suspension follows a rash of attacks by Afghan security forces on their NATO counterparts, some of which Special Operations officials attributed to a lack of follow-up with ALP recruits to root out those who had fallen in with insurgents or developed personal grievances against their Western trainers. The New America Foundation tracks the ‘green-on-blue’ attacks here: NAF.
The ALP is also being blamed for carrying out brutal reprisal attacks on Afghan civilians believed to be Taliban sympathizers, one of which occurred this weekend in Kunduz Province and resulted in the deaths of 11 young and middle-aged men (NYT). And on Friday, the body of a 7-year-old girl was found beheaded in the eastern Afghan province of Kapisa, while the body of a 12-year-old body was also found beheaded in the southern province of Kandahar (NYT, Reuters). The boy’s uncle said he was killed by the Taliban because his father and uncle work for the local police force, but officials had no explanation for the girl’s murder.
A car bomb at a market near the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Friday killed at least 11 people, wounded 20, and damaged 30 shops (NYT). And on Monday, a suicide bomber drove a car full of explosives into a U.S. Consulate vehicle in Peshawar, killing two Pakistanis outside the vehicle and injuring 21, including two U.S. diplomats inside the car (NYT, Post, The News, Dawn, LAT, ET, CNN, AP). Gunmen on motorcycles killed seven ethnic Hazaras in Balochistan on Saturday, sparking a large-scale strike in the provincial capital of Quetta on Sunday (ET).
Mohammad Khalid Chisti, the Muslim cleric who accused a young Pakistani Christian girl of burning Islamic material was arrested on Saturday after one of his colleagues told police that Chisti had planted some of the evidence of burned papers (NYT, AP, LAT, Guardian, CNN). The former Navy SEAL who wrote a first-hand account of the covert raid that killed Osama bin Laden last May did so because of "bad blood" between himself and his former comrades, other SEAL Team 6 veterans wrote in an e-book released Monday (NYT).
Nine militants, including top Taliban "commanders" were killed in clashes with security forces in Bajaur Agency on Sunday, while eight militants were killed in South Waziristan after a group of Taliban fighters attacked a security checkpoint (The News, Dawn, ET). Sunday marked the tenth day of a Pakistan Army campaign against militants in Bajaur; on Saturday the commander and spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Bajaur were killed (ET, Dawn, The News).
A U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan Agency on Saturday targeted a house and a vehicle, killing at least five suspected militants (AP, The News, AFP, AJE, CNN, Dawn). Reports suggest that all of those killed were supporters of local militant leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur, and two of them may have been foreigners (a term usually used in the Pakistani press to mean Arab militants). The AP’s Kathy Gannon reported this weekend that the demographic makeup of militant groups in Pakistan’s tribal regions is shifting away from Arabs and toward Central Asians, a change which may represent a news threat for the United States and Europe, as well as Russia and China, which have both struggled to contain violent Muslim separatist movements (AP).
Going for gold
Former U.S. Navy Lt. Bradley Snyder won a gold medal in the men’s 100m freestyle swim at the London Paralympics on Friday (AFP). Snyder lost his eyesight last September in Afghanistan during a tour as a bomb disposal specialist, when an improvised explosive device exploded in his face.
– Jennifer Rowland