The South Asia Channel

Hospital Raid Kills Three Insurgents; Pakistani Taliban Kill Nine Paramilitary Personnel; Government to Inject More Capital Into State-Owned Banks

Afghanistan Hospital raid kills three insurgents Starting Wednesday night and continuing into Thursday morning, Afghan security forces, possibly with NATO advisers, conducted a raid on a hospital that reportedly killed at least three members of the Taliban (NYT, BBC). The location of the attack was the Day Mirdad district of Wardak province, 100 miles south of Kabul. Colonel Michael ...

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Afghan policemen stand guard as ambulances for casualties wait near the house where security forces clashed with suspected Taliban rebels in Kabul on April 30, 2008. Afghan security forces raided a house in Kabul, killing two Taliban militants involved in a weekend attack on a parade attended by President Hamid Karzai, a rebel spokesman said. Intelligence agents and police fought a fierce gunbattle at the building in the west of the city and cordoned off the area but gave no details. Residents reported hearing gunfire for about seven hours. AFP PHOTO/SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan

Hospital raid kills three insurgents

Starting Wednesday night and continuing into Thursday morning, Afghan security forces, possibly with NATO advisers, conducted a raid on a hospital that reportedly killed at least three members of the Taliban (NYT, BBC). The location of the attack was the Day Mirdad district of Wardak province, 100 miles south of Kabul. Colonel Michael T. Lawhorn, a spokesman for the American-led NATO coalition, denied involvement, saying, “At this point, we have no reports of any coalition operations near a hospital.” The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, an international aid organization that runs the hospital, denounced the raid. Jorgen Holmstrom, the group’s country director, said, “Medical facilities and medical staff are to provide treatment to anyone in need, and patients are to be granted safety according to humanitarian law.”

A senior official for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior confirmed an elite police force carried out the attack, but denied that the raid was conducted in a hospital. However, a hospital staff member who identifies only as Dr. Wahidullah, reported that the police force climbed over the hospital walls around 11pm and handcuffed all staff members while they searched for the Taliban members. At the time of the raid, four patients – including one child – were in the hospital.

Afghan ‘Pentagon’ could crumble with major earthquake

According to a report set to be released on Thursday from the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John F. Sopko, the new U.S. taxpayer-funded $155 million Afghan military headquarters in Kabul may have structural inadequacies that could leave it unable to withstand stresses caused by frequent Kabul earthquakes – including two with magnitudes of 6 or greater that occurred in the last four months (Post). The report says the building does not meet standards set by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The report specifically names two deficiencies that “could compromise the building’s ability to withstand ground motion caused by seismic activity.”

28 villages in Nangarhar district cleared of Islamic State fighters

On Thursday, local officials in Afghanistan’s northeastern Nangarhar province said Afghan security forces had cleared 28 villages in Achin district of Islamic State (IS) fighters over the last few days (TOLO News). According to Nangarhar’s National Directorate of Security director Dad Mohammad Harifi, “A public uprising played a vital role in eliminating Daesh (IS) fighters (in Achin). We thank them.” Officials said roughly 50 IS militants were killed in the operation.

–Albert Ford

Pakistan

Bonus Read: “The Pakistani women risking all to fight for their rights,” by Kathy Gannon (AP)

Bonus Read: “Pakistan militants align with Isis,” by Farhan Bokhari (FT)

Pakistani Taliban kill nine paramilitary personnel

On Thursday, in two separate attacks in the Mohmand Agency of Pakistan’s FATA region, Pakistani Taliban militants killed nine Pakistani paramilitary personnel from the Khasadar force (ReutersRFE/RLET). According to local officials, one attack killed two guards at a security checkpoint in the Darwazgai Yaka Ghund area. Seven other Khasadar force personnel were killed at a checkpoint in the Post Pandiali area. Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a Pakistani Taliban faction, claimed responsibility. In an email, spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said, “Jamaat-ur-Ahrar accepts responsibility for both attacks with this vow that until the imposition of sharia our attacks will remain ongoing, God willing.”

–Albert Ford

India

Government to inject more capital into state-owned banks

The BJP government in India, due to present the national budget at the end of this month, is planning to inject $34 billion into under-performing state banks to counter a rise in the number of bad loans (Reuters). Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government already pledged $10.2 billion in August for state-run banks through March 2019 as part of a broader banking reforms program. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is already struggling to meet the fiscal deficit target of 3.5 percent as nominal economic growth in India slows down, hurting tax revenues.

“World’s cheapest smartphone” sales suspended 

A telecom company in India, Ringing Bells, introduced the “world’s cheapest smartphone” called the Freedom 251, priced at approximately $4 on Thursday, but was forced to stop sales as their website crashed immediately due to the huge demand for the product (TOIReuters). Critics say the price is too low to cover the cost of components required for the phone and analysts believe the firm to be hugely subsidized.

The Freedom 251 phone’s first units are set to be delivered in late summer this year and the unit will reportedly have 8GB storage and cameras in the front and back. Ringing Bells was set up just a few months ago and already has one of the cheapest 4G phones on the market in India. Currently they import cell phone parts and assemble them in India but they hope to start manufacturing in India this year.  India is the world’s second-largest mobile market and has one billion mobile phone subscribers.

–Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

Albert Ford is a research assistant with the International Security Program at New America.

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