Daily brief: Afghan kills 2 Spanish officers

A gunfight in Badghis Two Spanish police trainers and a Spanish interpreter were killed when an Afghan reportedly opened fire after an argument at a "mentoring session" in Badghis province, before being shot and killed (BBC, AFP, NYT, AP). Spain’s interior minister said the shooter was the driver for the Spanish police contingent (AP). A ...

ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images
ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images
ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images

A gunfight in Badghis

A gunfight in Badghis

Two Spanish police trainers and a Spanish interpreter were killed when an Afghan reportedly opened fire after an argument at a "mentoring session" in Badghis province, before being shot and killed (BBC, AFP, NYT, AP). Spain’s interior minister said the shooter was the driver for the Spanish police contingent (AP). A crowd of several hundred angry Afghans protested outside the small NATO base in the provincial capital following the incident. In Kabul, around 40 schoolgirls have fallen ill in another case of apparent gas poisoning, though no claims of responsibility have been made (Reuters).

In the sharpest public criticism yet from a senior military official of the Obama administration’s plan to begin U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan in July 2011, Marine Corps commandant Gen. James Conway said yesterday that the deadline is probably giving the Taliban "sustenance" and a "morale boost" (AJE, NYT, AP, FT, Times, Tel, Post). Gen. Conway, who is scheduled to retire this fall, followed up by commenting that the ongoing U.S. presence after July 2011 could be a blow to the "enemy’s psyche" and could force insurgent commanders to explain themselves to their footsoldiers after the deadline passes.

The Guardian reports that a record number of Afghan women are running for parliament in the elections scheduled for September 18; of the lower house’s 249 seats, 64 are reserved for women, and 406 Afghan women are running for office, up from 328 in 2005 (Guardian). Afghan election authorities say that nine of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces are fully secured ahead of the election (Tolo). Reuters has a useful Q & A about how the Afghan elections work (Reuters).

Assessing the damage

Some 800,000 Pakistanis are reachable only by air as "superflooding" passes through Pakistan’s Sindh province near Hyderabad and the weather forecast predicts more rain in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa, central Punjab, and Kashmir (NYT, Daily Times, ET, Geo). Pakistan’s vast water irrigation infrastructure has been badly damaged by the floods, and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said yesterday that 3.5 million children are at risk from disease (Geo, Dawn/AFP). The Pakistani government has reportedly shut down at least 16 aid camps in K-P that were allegedly being run by charities affiliated with Islamist militant groups (Tel).

The head of USAID, Rajiv Shah, told the AP that Pakistan must demonstrate "real transparency and accountability" in spending the some $800 million in emergency aid that has been delivered or pledged to flood relief efforts so far (AP). Shah also said that much of the five year, $7.5 billion Kerry-Lugar aid package will now be spent on rebuilding. The U.N. has reportedly made the unusual request of asking donors to flood relief efforts to wire money directly to a Pakistani or Swiss bank account that does not have the standard monitoring safeguards, at the request of the Pakistani government (AP).

Two articles today assess some of the broader implications of the flooding: Carlotta Gall observes that the supply lines through Pakistan to the war in Afghanistan have been slowed down (NYT), and David Roman writes that because of the floods, Pakistan’s economic growth estimate may be revised down to 3 percent or 3.5 percent from 4.5 percent, Pakistan’s budget deficit could increase, and cotton exports could decrease (WSJ).

Flashpoint

A protester who was hospitalized on Monday died earlier today of injuries allegedly sustained from Indian paramilitary forces in the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, sparking thousands of Kashmiris to protest in the streets of Srinagar (AFP, Hindustan Times, ToI, Dawn/AFP). A curfew continues in areas of Srinagar and several other towns in Kashmir, where 64 protesters have died in the last two months.

Shahadah on melons?

An Afghan governme
nt employee has purchased a cantaloupe from a local bazaar that appears to contain the Shahadah, one of the five pillars of Islam, a statement which means, "(I profess that) there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of God" on its skin (Pajhwok). A local mullah has confirmed the presence of the Shahadah, which has also appeared on the skin of an eggplant and on other fruits and vegetables in the country.

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