Daily brief: NATO aircraft crashes in Afghanistan

Special invitation: Join the New America Foundation on Monday at 12:15pm for a presentation by Gen. Montgomery Meigs (U.S. Army-Ret.), the former director of JIEDDO, and Alec Barker, author of a newly-released policy paper on roadside bombs in Afghanistan and Pakistan (NAF). Aircraft down Three U.S. troops and one civilian employee were killed earlier today ...

Majid Saeedi/Getty Images
Majid Saeedi/Getty Images
Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

Special invitation: Join the New America Foundation on Monday at 12:15pm for a presentation by Gen. Montgomery Meigs (U.S. Army-Ret.), the former director of JIEDDO, and Alec Barker, author of a newly-released policy paper on roadside bombs in Afghanistan and Pakistan (NAF).

Aircraft down

Three U.S. troops and one civilian employee were killed earlier today when an aircraft that takes off like a helicopter but flies like an airplane, the CV-22 Osprey, crashed near Qalat city in the restive southern Afghan province of Zabul (AFP, AP, ISAF, Pajhwok, NYT). The Taliban immediately took responsibility, but the claim could not be confirmed and the cause of the crash is unknown. Pajhwok reports that as announced, U.S. Marines have assumed control of Musa Qala district in Helmand from the British (Pajhwok).

Special invitation: Join the New America Foundation on Monday at 12:15pm for a presentation by Gen. Montgomery Meigs (U.S. Army-Ret.), the former director of JIEDDO, and Alec Barker, author of a newly-released policy paper on roadside bombs in Afghanistan and Pakistan (NAF).

Aircraft down

Three U.S. troops and one civilian employee were killed earlier today when an aircraft that takes off like a helicopter but flies like an airplane, the CV-22 Osprey, crashed near Qalat city in the restive southern Afghan province of Zabul (AFP, AP, ISAF, Pajhwok, NYT). The Taliban immediately took responsibility, but the claim could not be confirmed and the cause of the crash is unknown. Pajhwok reports that as announced, U.S. Marines have assumed control of Musa Qala district in Helmand from the British (Pajhwok).

The commander of Joint Special Operations Command yesterday went to make reparations to the family of five people killed in a Special Forces raid in February in eastern Afghanistan who the military initially claimed were insurgents or already dead before the raid (Times, ABC, CSM). Vice Admiral William McRaven offered the head of the family, Haji Sharabuddin, two sheep — the cultural equivalent of begging for forgiveness. The investigation into the Feb. 12 raid in Gardez has put a spotlight on Special Forces operating in Afghanistan, said to be responsible for a disproportionate number of civilian casualties (LAT).

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen yesterday called Afghan President Hamid Karzai "the man with whom we can and will and must cooperate," and said that in general, NATO has "very good cooperation" from the Afghan leader (AP). U.S. President Barack Obama made similarly encouraging comments about the relationship to ABC News, but referred to Karzai as a "partner" rather than an "ally" (ABC, AP). And Special Representative to the region Richard Holbrooke has gotten the all-clear from his doctors to leave for Afghanistan later this week, after the news two days ago that he was being treated for clogged arteries (Reuters, Pajhwok).

Reform and security in Pakistan

As Pakistani media reported yesterday, Pakistan’s lower house of parliament has unanimously passed a package of constitutional reforms known as the 18th amendment that strips the office of the president of the ability to dissolve parliament without the advice of the prime minister, impose unilateral emergency rule, appoint judges, and other powers acquired over years of military dictators (CNN, AP, BBC, Wash Post). The bill is expected to pass the upper house of the Pakistani parliament without any trouble, and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will then sign it into law, a move which could lessen tension on the embattled leader, who critics like opposition figure Nawaz Sharif claim was too slow to relinquish the powers (Dawn, The News, Geo). The bill is reportedly making its way to the Senate on Monday (Geo).

On the security front, 15 militants were killed in the nearly three-week-old offensive in Orakzai after insurgents attempted to overrun a security checkpoint and were repelled (AFP, Geo, Reuters). Two dozen militants were killed in brief clashes with security forces in Swat and Dir, the site of a major Pakistani military offensive in 2009 that officials claim cleared the region of insurgents (Daily Times). Pakistani fighter jets bombed the private prison of Lashkar-e-Islam, a militant group in Khyber agency led by Mangal Bagh (Daily Times). And in Lakki Marwat, where a massive bombing killed more than 100 people on New Years Day this year, Pakistani police killed two would-be suicide bombers (AFP, Geo).

Spike!

A volleyball team from the Afghan province of Nangarhar has emerged victorious over teams from Kunar and Laghman in a tournament (Pajhwok). In the final match, Nangarhar beat Kunar 3 to 1.

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