The South Asia Channel

Five Dead in Attack on Kabul Airport; Child Sex Abuse Case Rocks Pakistan; 10 Pilgrims Die at Hindu Festival

Afghanistan Five dead in attack on Kabul airport after weekend of violence On Monday, a car bomb exploded near the entrance of Kabul’s international airport killing five people and injuring at least 16 more (Pajhwok, TOLO News, WSJ, BBC). Najibullah Danish, deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, stated: “Unfortunately the attack happened in a ...

Afghan security forces keep watch at the site of a huge blast near the entrance of the international airport, in Kabul on August 10, 2015.  At least five people were killed when a Taliban suicide car bomber struck near the entrance of Kabul's international airport, the latest in a wave of lethal bombings in the Afghan capital.  AFP PHOTO/ Wakil Kohsar        (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan security forces keep watch at the site of a huge blast near the entrance of the international airport, in Kabul on August 10, 2015. At least five people were killed when a Taliban suicide car bomber struck near the entrance of Kabul's international airport, the latest in a wave of lethal bombings in the Afghan capital. AFP PHOTO/ Wakil Kohsar (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan

Five dead in attack on Kabul airport after weekend of violence

On Monday, a car bomb exploded near the entrance of Kabul’s international airport killing five people and injuring at least 16 more (Pajhwok, TOLO News, WSJ, BBC). Najibullah Danish, deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, stated: “Unfortunately the attack happened in a crowded area,” adding that an investigation into the attack has been initiated. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack naming a foreign convoy as the target. The airport bombing is the latest attack in a wave of violence that hit Afghanistan over the weekend that killed at least 77 people (WSJ). The violence began on Friday with three separate attacks that killed 50 people – the deadliest single day in Kabul in years. First, a truck bomb killed 15 people outside an Afghan military intelligence compound. Then in the evening two bombings, only hours apart occurred. One killed 28 people outside a Kabul police academy and the second outside the headquarters of American special operations forces, enabling insurgents to breech the perimeter. In addition, on Sunday at least 29 people were killed in a suicide bombing targeting a militia in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province (NYT).

China set to support Afghan security forces

On Sunday Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan Deng Xijun said that China was ready to equip and support the Afghan security forces (Pajhwok). The comment came during a meeting with Afghan National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar. Xijun also expressed support for the peace negotiations with the Taliban and expressed condolences regarding the wave of bombings over the weekend in Afghanistan.

Senator calls for answers on “Ghost Schools”

Last Monday, Senator Bob Casey sent a letter to Larry Sampler, the USAID Assistant to the Administrator for Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, calling for answers regarding so-called “ghost schools” that were listed as having been built and funded but whose enrollment was exaggerated (Buzzfeed). Senator Casey specifically cited a Buzzfeed investigation by investigative reporter Azmat Khan into the issue that found a tenth of the schools that they examined as being claimed as functioning either were not operating or were never even built. The letter read in part: “I am also concerned about allegations in the Buzzfeed report regarding the estimates of how many students, especially female students, are enrolled and attending school in Afghanistan.”

Pakistan

Child sex abuse case rocks Pakistan

Pakistan is being rocked by allegations of widespread child sexual abuse (NYT, BBC, Reuters, RFE/RL). On Sunday, Kasur district regional police chief Shahzad Sultan said that the police are sifting through evidence including at least 18 videos that have been seized so far. Seven men have been arrested and police say 10 more will be arrested soon. The gang of men are believed to have sexually assaulted at least 280 children from three villages in Punjab province. Sultan stated: “This group was active since 2007 when they were school students.” The allegations emerged in July and on Tuesday hundreds of residents protested the lack of action on the case; dozens of people were injured during the protests.

Rangers: First stage of Karachi operation complete

On Monday, the Sindh Rangers, a paramilitary organization tasked with providing security in Karachi, announced that the first stage of their Karachi security operation is complete (ET). The second phase of the operation is expected to commence on Aug. 14. The statement read: “Stage-II will be more severe than stage-I as the main task is to hunt down land grabbers, target killers, extortionists, kidnappers, terrorists.” In July, the Rangers released a report saying they had conducted 5,795 raids, apprehended 10,353 suspects, and recovered 7,312 weapons and 34,8978 rounds of ammunition since the operation began.

Iranian FM to visit Pakistan

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is expected to visit Pakistan this week to discuss prospects for cooperation in the wake of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the United States and other world powers (ET). The exact dates of the visit are unknown. Zarif last visited Pakistan in April in the midst of the conflict in Yemen during which he urged Pakistan to not join the Saudi campaign against the Houthi rebels. In addition to discussing opportunities following the nuclear agreement and the Iran-Pakistan pipeline, Zarif is expected to discuss the regional threat from ISIS with Pakistan’s top leadership.

MQM protest killing of worker

On Monday, MQM lawmakers protested the killing of an MQM worker in the Sindh Assembly (Dawn, ET). The lawmakers held photos of the dead worker and shouted slogans. The MQM had earlier called for a strike but withdrew the call after the Rangers assured they were investigating the case. According to the MQM, Muhammad Hashim, the worker was extra-judicially killed after being arrested and taken to an unknown location in May.

— David Sterman

India

10 pilgrims die in a stampede at a Hindu religious festival

Officials in eastern Indian state of Jharkhand confirmed that at least 10 people were killed and 20 injured in a stampede at the Baidyanath Jyotirlinga  temple during a Hindu religious festival in Deoghar town (BBC, NYT, PTI). The stampede occurred as pilgrims surged towards the shrine shortly after the doors opened early on Monday.

Monday is considered an auspicious date to visit the shrine, which includes a main temple and 21 smaller ones devoted to Shiva, the god of destruction. Deadly stampedes are common during Indian religious festivals, which attract large crowds with few safety measures in place. In October last year, 91 pilgrims, mostly women and children, were killed in a stampede at a Hindu festival near the Ratangarh temple in Madhya Pradesh state.

The government cannot do moral policing: Attorney General

During a hearing at the Supreme Court on a petition to ban pornographic websites in India, Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi told the court that the government cannot do moral policing and become a totalitarian state (HT, NDTV, TOI). Rohatgi said that the government “can not regulate what people are doing in their bedroom.” Indore-based lawyer Kamlesh Vaswani had filed a public interest petition seeking a ban on porn websites in the country. Vaswani had contended that the court should pass an interim order because the government had failed to act.

The government subsequently issued an order on July 31 to internet service providers to block 857 websites but the move was severely criticized. A second order, issued on August 5, directed internet service providers to only block only websites hosting child pornography.

Bangladesh

Police in Bangladesh kill six suspected tiger poachers

Police on Sunday killed six suspected tiger poachers during a raid in the Sundarbans mangrove forest in southwestern Bangladesh (AP/TIME). Local police official Harendranath Sarker said authorities recovered six bodies of suspected poachers following a gunfight with a gang in the forest, and recovered the skins of three adult tigers and seized firearms, from the location they were targeting.

Sundarbans is the world’s largest mangrove forest and home to critically endangered Royal Bengal tigers.  The 10,000-square-kilometer (3,860-square-mile) forest is shared by Bangladesh and India, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. A few local media outlets reported that the suspects were arrested in different parts of the forest before they were killed, but police said they died during the raid. 440 tigers were recorded in the Sundarbans forest in a 2004 census but revised estimates from 2015 put the number closer to 105. Experts say poaching is a major reason for the decline of the tiger population in the area.

— Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images

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