The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: 10 aid workers murdered in Afghanistan

Unspeakable Gunmen in the remote Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan killed 10 members of a medical assistance team at the end of a three-week mission to provide eye care to isolated parts of neighboring Nuristan province (LAT,  AP, VOA, NYT, WSJ). The team worked for the International Assistance Mission (IAM), which has been in operation ...

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

Unspeakable

Gunmen in the remote Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan killed 10 members of a medical assistance team at the end of a three-week mission to provide eye care to isolated parts of neighboring Nuristan province (LATAP, VOA, NYT, WSJ). The team worked for the International Assistance Mission (IAM), which has been in operation in Afghanistan since 1966, and was returning from Nuristan when gunmen with "red dyed beards" came across them, took their possessions, and shot ten of them, including six Americans, one German, one Briton, and two Afghans. A Taliban spokesman claimed credit for the attack, saying the group were proselytizers and spies, charges that the group's director in Kabul denied vehemently (CNN).

The attack showed not only the decreasing level of security in places once considered secure like Badakhshan, but also the growing threat to aid workers in Afghanistan (Wash Post, CNN). The IAM, whose teams contain doctors with decades of experience in Afghanistan and who travel unarmed and with no escort, has vowed to continue its operations in the country (Wash Post). However, as a result of the attack some non-governmental organizations are considering changing their practices, and contemplating negotiating safe passage for teams with insurgent groups (Guardian).

Unspeakable

Gunmen in the remote Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan killed 10 members of a medical assistance team at the end of a three-week mission to provide eye care to isolated parts of neighboring Nuristan province (LATAP, VOA, NYT, WSJ). The team worked for the International Assistance Mission (IAM), which has been in operation in Afghanistan since 1966, and was returning from Nuristan when gunmen with "red dyed beards" came across them, took their possessions, and shot ten of them, including six Americans, one German, one Briton, and two Afghans. A Taliban spokesman claimed credit for the attack, saying the group were proselytizers and spies, charges that the group’s director in Kabul denied vehemently (CNN).

The attack showed not only the decreasing level of security in places once considered secure like Badakhshan, but also the growing threat to aid workers in Afghanistan (Wash Post, CNN). The IAM, whose teams contain doctors with decades of experience in Afghanistan and who travel unarmed and with no escort, has vowed to continue its operations in the country (Wash Post). However, as a result of the attack some non-governmental organizations are considering changing their practices, and contemplating negotiating safe passage for teams with insurgent groups (Guardian).

A 48-year old widow this weekend in northwestern Badghis province was reportedly given dozens of lashes before being executed in public by the Taliban (Reuters). In Ghazni province police found the beheaded body of a parliamentary candidate abducted by the Taliban 18 days ago (AFP). According to a new report from Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission more than 1,300 civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year, with 68 percent of those deaths caused by the Taliban (RFE/RL). And this morning three combat outposts in southern Afghanistan reportedly came under attack from insurgents (Reuters).

Building tension

In another sign of friction with the United States Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for private security companies to be disbanded, saying that Afghan security forces were up to the task of protecting buildings and foreigners working in Afghanistan (Reuters). There are believed to be 30,000-40,000 private security guards in Afghanistan, though many are owned by Afghans with links to government figures, as well as relatives of Karzai (WSJ).

Al Jazeera reports that a senior adviser to Karzai told them the government has begun negotiations with some members of the Taliban, and that some fighters have already left the insurgency (AJE). And a spokesman for the website WikiLeaks told reporters that despite pressure the group would continue publishing classified documents, while the New York Times has a profile of Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking documents including the video that came to be known as "Collateral Murder" to the site (AP, NYT).

Bleak outlook

Pakistani authorities are saying that as many as 14 million people have been affected by massive flooding throughout the country, with more rains falling this weekend and forecast for the coming days (BBC, AP, Dawn, AJE). Food prices across the country skyrocketed as deadly landslides struck northwestern Pakistan, while in Sindh province one dam has been breached and two of the world’s largest dams, the Tarbela and the Margla, are reaching their maximum water capacity (BBC, AJE, ET, BBC, Dawn). The top U.N. official in charge of the humanitarian response to the flooding, Martin Mogwanja, said this weekend that Pakistan could need up to $1 billion to rebuild destroyed parts of the country, including the enormous infrastructure toll the flooding has exacted (CNN, VOA). Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani this weekend admitted that the catastrophe had gone "beyond [Pakistan’s] capacity" to handle (ET, Daily Times).

Pakistan’s army has reportedly rescued up to 100,000 people from flooding, and its efforts have earned it praise in contrast to the civilian government’s perceived confused response to the crisis (McClatchy, Reuters). Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has received intense criticism for going ahead with a trip to the U.K. and France as the crisis continues to unfold, and one protester at a Zardari rally in Birmingham threw a shoe at the president (VOA, AP). And aid organizations with links to militant groups like the Taliban continue to expand their aid effort, as the Falah-e-Insaniat foundation, allegedly linked to the banned Jamat-ud-Dawa, claims to be providing food to 100,000 people a day (AP, FT, Wash Post).

Uneasy truce

Prime Minister Gilani arrived in the troubled city of Karachi on Friday to condemn the outbreak of violence there and hold talks with the city’s leading political parties, including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP) (AFP). Leaders from the MQM and ANP as well as the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) held a peace march on Sunday in Karachi to urge an end to the targeted killings that have wracked the city (ET). And sectarian violence continues in Faisalabad, where last month riots broke out after two Christian brothers were killed by an unidentified attacker (NYT).

The U.N. and United States on Friday designated the Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) a terrorist organization, along with its commander Mohamed Ilyas Kashmiri (ToI, AP, NDTV). HUJI is blamed for multiple attacks in India and Pakistan, as well as for working with al Qaeda and sending fighters to the Taliban in Afghanistan; Kashmiri also allegedly worked with David Coleman Headley on a plot targeting a Danish newspaper that ran a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad (AFP).

And a British couple of Pakistani origin has been killed in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa province in a supposed "honor killing" after their daughter expressed her wishes to back out of an engagement with a local man (Tel, Independent, BBC).

Flashpoint

More than 500 people are missing after flash floods in Indian-administered Kashmir, and 300 foreign tourists are stranded in one afflicted part of the region (AP, Reuters, VOA). Kashmiri separatists this weekend rejected an Indian offer for talks (AJE, AFP). And Indian authorities on Monday reinstated a the curfew that had been lifted only the day before, after a protester hospitalized after clashes last week died overnight (Dawn, AP, Tel).

Snake doctor

In Afghanistan,which has one doctor for every 10,000 people, one in the north stands out for his use of homeopathic remedies based on snake and scorpion venom (AP). Despite official doubts about his effectiveness, the doctor says his remedies have treated many suffering from skin diseases and epilepsy, and hundreds go to his clinic for treatment.

Sign up here to receive the daily brief in your inbox. Follow the AfPak Channel on Twitter and Facebook.

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration of a captain's hat with a 1980s era Pepsi logo and USSR and U.S. flag pins.

The Doomed Voyage of Pepsi’s Soviet Navy

A three-decade dream of communist markets ended in the scrapyard.

Demonstrators with CASA in Action and Service Employees International Union 32BJ march against the Trump administration’s immigration policies in Washington on May 1, 2017.

Unionization Can End America’s Supply Chain Crisis

Allowing workers to organize would protect and empower undocumented immigrants critical to the U.S. economy.

The downtown district of Wilmington, Delaware, is seen on Aug. 19, 2016.

How Delaware Became the World’s Biggest Offshore Haven

Kleptocrats, criminals, and con artists have all parked their illicit gains in the state.