Daily brief: dozens dead in Pakistani motorcycle bomb

Weekend must-see: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s Afghanistan documentary "Restrepo," which the NYT called "an impressive, even heroic feat of journalism" that "has the spare, lyrical force of an elegy" opens in DC tonight at the E St. Cinema. A bloody deed As many as 55 people were killed and more than 100 injured when ...

HASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images
HASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images
HASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images

Weekend must-see: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's Afghanistan documentary "Restrepo," which the NYT called "an impressive, even heroic feat of journalism" that "has the spare, lyrical force of an elegy" opens in DC tonight at the E St. Cinema.

A bloody deed

As many as 55 people were killed and more than 100 injured when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated his explosives outside a local government office, near a group of tribal elders having tea in the main town in Pakistan's northwest Mohmand agency earlier this morning before a scheduled meeting with the agency's assistant political agent (NYT, AJE, AFP, AP, BBC, Geo, Dawn). The blast also destroyed more than 70 shops in the local marketplace and created a five foot deep crater, and there have been no claims of responsibility yet.

Weekend must-see: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s Afghanistan documentary "Restrepo," which the NYT called "an impressive, even heroic feat of journalism" that "has the spare, lyrical force of an elegy" opens in DC tonight at the E St. Cinema.

A bloody deed

As many as 55 people were killed and more than 100 injured when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated his explosives outside a local government office, near a group of tribal elders having tea in the main town in Pakistan’s northwest Mohmand agency earlier this morning before a scheduled meeting with the agency’s assistant political agent (NYT, AJE, AFP, AP, BBC, Geo, Dawn). The blast also destroyed more than 70 shops in the local marketplace and created a five foot deep crater, and there have been no claims of responsibility yet.

Around 30 people were injured yesterday when unknown assailants threw sulphuric acid on a crowd protesting the nine day long suspension of electricity to the Sona Tower market in the Sarafa Bazaar area of Peshawar, in northwest Pakistan (ET, Daily Times, The News). Three men have been arrested in connection with the attack, and almost all the injured have been released from the hospital following treatment. In Dir, relatives of 23 suspected militants killed by the Pakistani army claim they were in custody in Timergarah at the time of their deaths, after the military said they were killed in a shootout (BBC).

Reuters’ Chris Allbritton describes a trip to Pakistan’s Kurram tribal area arranged by the Pakistani military, which claims it is "200 percent sure" Kurram has been cleared of militants, though analysts and locals are skeptical (Reuters). And the head of Pakistan’s spy agency, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, reportedly said yesterday during an hour-long Powerpoint briefing to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security that the ISI is in the middle of a "review" of its counterterrorism strategy in light of proposed changes to U.S. and Afghan strategies in Afghanistan (ET, Dawn).

The militant pipeline

A European intelligence official reportedly said the three men arrested yesterday in Norway and Germany in connection with a suspected plot to attack a shopping center in Manchester, England — an Iraqi Kurd, an Uzbek, and a Uighur — were members of the Turkistan Islamic Party, a Uighur separatist group based in Pakistan’s Waziristan region, where the Uighur had allegedly spent time and made contacts with al-Qaeda (NYT, AP). Two of the men were permanent residents of Norway and one had become a Norwegian citizen, after all three sought political or humanitarian refuge in the Scandinavian country.

Indian authorities arrested more than 60 anti-India separatist activists across Indian Kashmir in overnight raids, as protests continue despite a third day of curfews (AP, PTI, AP). Kashmir’s nearly 60 newspapers have been unable to publish under the recent lockdown.

Turnover

The Pentagon announced yesterday that Gen. James Mattis has been nominated to succeed Gen. David Petraeus as the head of CENTCOM (Reuters, Slate, NYT, LAT, CSM). "One of the most complicated initials tasks" facing Gen. Petraeus in his new Afghanistan command, reports Rajiv Chandrasekaran, will be addressing concerns about the coalition’s rules of engagement, which "[pit] the desire of top military officers to limit civilian casualties…against a widespread feeling among rank-and-file troops that restrictions on air and mortar strikes are placing them at unnecessary risk and allowing Taliban fighters to operate with impunity" (Wash Post).

Britain’s ambassador to Afghanistan Sir William Patey said earlier today that political developments in Afghanistan could allow British troops to end their combat role sooner than the five years the government has suggested (Guardian).

The NATO airstrike that mistakenly killed several Afghan National Army soldiers was reportedly the result of miscommunication between NATO and the ANA (AP). The coalition has captured a Taliban commander in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar who allegedly "facilitated a recent influx of operatives for Lashkar-e-Taiba" (AP). And the FT sums up concerns about expected coalition operations in Kandahar, where graffiti on the walls reads, "Mullah Omar wields a sword against the infidels" and soldiers carry out patrols around the main city (FT).

Your daily dose of "awww"

Three U.S. Marines have adopted kittens they found while deployed in Afghanistan, and sent a few of the pets to their families back home to care for until they return (Jezebel). One of the Marines explained that his kitten had been caught in some wire and injured, so he nursed the kitty back to health and "he has been by my side ever since."

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