Daily brief: car bomb kills 9 in Pakistan

Across the border In the fifth attack in the northwestern city of Peshawar in less than a week, a car bomb exploded in a busy marketplace and killed 9, including 3 children and a woman (AP, AFP, Geo). Yesterday, two government-run schools for girls near Peshawar were damaged in blasts (Daily Times). In the Mohmand ...

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

Across the border

In the fifth attack in the northwestern city of Peshawar in less than a week, a car bomb exploded in a busy marketplace and killed 9, including 3 children and a woman (AP, AFP, Geo). Yesterday, two government-run schools for girls near Peshawar were damaged in blasts (Daily Times). In the Mohmand tribal area, suspected militants attacked a security checkpoint and killed three Pakistani paramilitary soldiers, while in Orakzai fighter jets killed 15 alleged fighters (AP, AFP).

Yesterday, the number two commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, said that the Pakistani military's inaction against militants in North Waziristan is "not a mission stopper," in contrast to comments by chairman of the joint chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen, who said last month that "we cannot succeed in Afghanistan without shutting down those safe havens" (NYT, AP, AFP, Reuters). Today, Afghan troops accused Pakistani soldiers of firing across the border from North Waziristan into Khost, and Pakistani forces accused Afghan troops of firing mortar shells on a checkpost in Ghulam Khan (AP, BBC, AFP). One Pakistani soldier was reported killed. In the southwest province of Baluchistan, two people were killed when gunmen attacked a NATO oil tanker headed from Karachi to the Chaman border checkpoint (Daily Times). And in the Bolan area of Baluchistan, gunmen killed 5 policemen and kidnapped 6 more (ET/AFP).

Across the border

In the fifth attack in the northwestern city of Peshawar in less than a week, a car bomb exploded in a busy marketplace and killed 9, including 3 children and a woman (AP, AFP, Geo). Yesterday, two government-run schools for girls near Peshawar were damaged in blasts (Daily Times). In the Mohmand tribal area, suspected militants attacked a security checkpoint and killed three Pakistani paramilitary soldiers, while in Orakzai fighter jets killed 15 alleged fighters (AP, AFP).

Yesterday, the number two commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, said that the Pakistani military’s inaction against militants in North Waziristan is "not a mission stopper," in contrast to comments by chairman of the joint chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen, who said last month that "we cannot succeed in Afghanistan without shutting down those safe havens" (NYT, AP, AFP, Reuters). Today, Afghan troops accused Pakistani soldiers of firing across the border from North Waziristan into Khost, and Pakistani forces accused Afghan troops of firing mortar shells on a checkpost in Ghulam Khan (AP, BBC, AFP). One Pakistani soldier was reported killed. In the southwest province of Baluchistan, two people were killed when gunmen attacked a NATO oil tanker headed from Karachi to the Chaman border checkpoint (Daily Times). And in the Bolan area of Baluchistan, gunmen killed 5 policemen and kidnapped 6 more (ET/AFP).

Pakistani police have arrested a 17 year old boy for writing an allegedly blasphemous remark on an exam at his school in Karachi, which the boy said he did out of frustration at not being able to answer a test question (AP). He has submitted an apology to school authorities and remains in custody.

Pakistan’s Express Tribune reports that a police official with "established links" to al-Qaeda had been assigned to protect very important figures in Lahore as recently as December (ET). Police have not taken action against the accused. And the families of the three men who died after Raymond Davis, an American affiliated with the U.S. consulate in Lahore, opened fire last week demanded that Pakistani authorities bring terror charges against him (AFP). Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik asserted that Davis does have a diplomatic passport, contrary to some media reports, and said he would be treated "in accordance with the law of the land" (Dawn).

Military and political goals

Yesterday, CENTCOM chief Gen. James Mattis told an audience in London that he is militarily "uncomfortable" with the coalition’s set date of 2014 for transitioning security control to Afghan forces, though said the date weakens the Taliban’s arguments "that somehow we are there to occupy this country forever" (Reuters). Gen. Rodriguez also predicted that the Taliban in Afghanistan will rely more on less direct methods of confrontation in the coming year, including assassination teams targeting civilian leaders now in power over previously Taliban-held areas (CNN). The Taliban are also, according to Gen. Rodriguez, "killing their own" who are now "trying to turn over and support their government."

In the southern province of Kandahar, a 30-member peace council was set up and tasked with "restoring peace, ensuring security and carrying forward development projects" (Pajhwok). More than a dozen senior- and mid-level commanders of the Taliban tell the BBC they are willing to explore peace talks, given more "solid guarantees" about their futures (BBC). 

Some of those who witnessed the stoning of a young couple in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province last summer claim they were forced by the Taliban to take part in the execution (Times). In Kunar, Taliban fighters have released 6 of the 21 tribal elders they kidnapped some 10 days ago, after negotiations with a local community council (AFP).

Black diamonds

In Pakistan’s scenic Swat Valley, site of a major Pakistani military offensive in 2009, the country’s only ski resort is currently hosting the first ski tournament in three years (BBC). Six teams from Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa are participating, and teams from Lahore and Rawalpindi are headed to Malam Jabba as well.

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