Daily brief: six foreign soldiers killed in Afghanistan attacks

Mayday At least eight crew members — six Filipinos, one Indian national, and a Kenyan — were killed yesterday when a civilian cargo plane crashed into mountains east of Kabul (CNN, AP, Reuters, Pajhwok, Reuters). The cause of the crash is unknown, and weather conditions were clear at the time. The explosion yesterday on board ...

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

Mayday

At least eight crew members -- six Filipinos, one Indian national, and a Kenyan -- were killed yesterday when a civilian cargo plane crashed into mountains east of Kabul (CNN, AP, Reuters, Pajhwok, Reuters). The cause of the crash is unknown, and weather conditions were clear at the time. The explosion yesterday on board a Chinook helicopter in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar that left one dead was reportedly caused by an insurgent rocket attack shortly after the the chopper landed (Reuters, CNN, AFP). The Taliban in Afghanistan claim to have shot it down. And six foreign troops were killed in three separate attacks in Afghanistan today, including four in one bomb attack in the south (AFP, AP, Reuters).

A delegation of Afghan elders in Kunar claims they were close to Linda Norgrove, the British aid worker who was kidnapped in late September, when she was killed during a U.S. special forces rescue mission (Guardian). British and U.S. officials say her captors "made no meaningful effort to negotiate her release," and coalition officials say the command rushed out a statement over the weekend asserting that she had been killed by one of her captors, and are now "scrambling to find out" why a U.S. soldier may have thrown a grenade that killed her (WSJ, Independent). Norgrove's post-mortem, which will provide information for the investigation into her death, has been delayed (Times).

Mayday

At least eight crew members — six Filipinos, one Indian national, and a Kenyan — were killed yesterday when a civilian cargo plane crashed into mountains east of Kabul (CNN, AP, Reuters, Pajhwok, Reuters). The cause of the crash is unknown, and weather conditions were clear at the time. The explosion yesterday on board a Chinook helicopter in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar that left one dead was reportedly caused by an insurgent rocket attack shortly after the the chopper landed (Reuters, CNN, AFP). The Taliban in Afghanistan claim to have shot it down. And six foreign troops were killed in three separate attacks in Afghanistan today, including four in one bomb attack in the south (AFP, AP, Reuters).

A delegation of Afghan elders in Kunar claims they were close to Linda Norgrove, the British aid worker who was kidnapped in late September, when she was killed during a U.S. special forces rescue mission (Guardian). British and U.S. officials say her captors "made no meaningful effort to negotiate her release," and coalition officials say the command rushed out a statement over the weekend asserting that she had been killed by one of her captors, and are now "scrambling to find out" why a U.S. soldier may have thrown a grenade that killed her (WSJ, Independent). Norgrove’s post-mortem, which will provide information for the investigation into her death, has been delayed (Times).

NATO reportedly killed Ansari Khan, a Haqqani network commander in Khost’s Spera district, and Taliban commander Shirin Agha in the northern province of Kunduz (AP). Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with residents of eastern Laghman province to offer condolences for alleged civilian deaths in a coalition raid in late September (AJE).

On the base or in the field

C. J. Chivers has today’s must-read describing the contrast between Afghan security forces’ performances in the field — where troops and journalists have documented concerns about drug use, corruption, lack of fighting skills, and Taliban infiltration — and at training bases, where the "newly formed forces are clearly improving" (NYT). The Afghan Army current has 136,000 members and the Afghan police 120,000; the combined forces are expected to grow by 50,000 within a year.

Italy plans to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by 2014, following the Dutch withdrawal earlier this year and Canada’s decision to leave next year (Tel).

The Karzai government’s High Peace Council, a group of nearly 70 members tasked with guiding talks with the insurgency, is having its first business meeting today and suggested that releasing several Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and removing some from the United Nations’ terrorist blacklist could jump-start peace talks (AP, FT). A State Department spokesman indicated the possibility of de-listing more militants, but was not receptive to connecting Guantanamo with reconciliation efforts (AFP, Pajhwok).

Judicial politics

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has postponed a hearing into a corruption case against Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari until November 1 so the government can appoint new counsel, and the Post’s Karin Brulliard puts the current tension between the court and the president in context (AFP, Post, ET). The court will then also rule on a petition by the Zardari administration to overturn the court’s December 2009 decision to scrap a controversial amnesty bill that had allowed some 8,000 politicians to avoid graft charges.

Three anti-Taliban tribal elders were killed recently in Mohmand, and gunmen shot and killed a Baluch political activist earlier today, the third prominent member of the Baluchistan National Party to be killed this year (AP).

Watching: Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, along with other top officials, will be in DC for two days of talks with U.S. officials beginning on October 21 (ET). Gen. Kayani made his first visit yesterday to Kurram since NATO helicopters fired on a Frontier Corps checkpost there on September 30 and Pakistan closed the Torkham checkpoint in the northwest, and later visited South Waziristan (The News). Dawn reports that two NATO helicopters crossed into Pakistani airspace near Chaman, the other main crossing for NATO supply lines, and "went back after a moment" (Dawn).

Flood watch: Pakistan’s floods have caused $9.5 billion of direct damages to property, infrastructure, and crops, according to
an Asian Development Bank and World Bank assessment, and total recovery costs could be an additional $30 billion (Reuters). The LA Times reports how 35 years of logging by "unscrupulous timber businesses and wealthy landowners" and a decade of tree felling by militants in Pakistan’s Swat Valley may have exacerbated the effects of the floods (LAT).

Flashpoint

India has appointed three non-politicians to serve as mediators in the Kashmir conflict: journalist Dilip Padgaonkar, academic Radha Kumar and government official M.M. Ansari (AP, AFP, PTI). Hardline separatist leaders dismissed the move and vowed to continue protests.

Cricket camp

Afghanistan’s cricket team and a female trainer brought from Pakistan are teaching some 120 Afghan girls and 200 Afghan boys proper techniques for batting, bowling, and fielding on the cricket pitch at a training camp in eastern Afghanistan (Pajhwok). Cricket’s popularity in Afghanistan has been on the rise since the national team competed in the Twenty20 tournament earlier this year.

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