Daily brief: 8 killed in Kurram attack
The Rack: Anatol Lieven, "All Kayani’s men," The National Interest and Shahan Mufti, "The spoils of war," Harper’s. Suspected sectarian attack Eight people were killed and five wounded earlier today when gunmen opened fire on a minibus carrying mostly Shias in the northwest Pakistani tribal agency of Kurram, on the main road ...
Suspected sectarian attack
Eight people were killed and five wounded earlier today when gunmen opened fire on a minibus carrying mostly Shias in the northwest Pakistani tribal agency of Kurram, on the main road between the capital of Parachinar and Peshawar (AP, AFP/ET, Reuters, AFP, Geo). Twenty were also kidnapped; since a peace deal between rival Sunni and Shia tribes six weeks ago, more than 20 people have reportedly been killed in roadside attacks. Ongoing clashes between Pakistani security forces and alleged militants in Orakzai left 7 militants dead, two girls’ primary schools were blown up in Khyber, and a remote controlled blast killed two security personnel in Lower Dir (AFP/ET, APP, Dawn). In the southern port city of Karachi, eight people died overnight in targeted killings, bringing the 24 hour total number of people killed to 18 (ET, Geo, Dawn). And the international police agency Interpol said it had thwarted a militant plot to carry out an attack on the Cricket World Cup (Reuters).
Marc Grossman, the Obama administration envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the U.S. and Pakistan are trying to reschedule U.S. president Barack Obama’s visit to Pakistan, which was supposed to happen in April but has been postponed following recent tensions (Dawn).
Australian defense minister Stephen Smith called his Afghan counterpart, Abdul Rahim Wardak, to apologize personally for racist comments about Afghans made on Facebook by Australian soldiers serving in Afghanistan (AP, Australian). The Australian military is investigating; the country has 1,550 troops in Afghanistan, the largest non-NATO contingent.
Rajiv Chandrasekaran reports that a Pentagon task force that has worked to help Afghanistan "exploit its mineral wealth and expand private-sector employment" will be forced to scale down because of a provision in the Defense Department authorization legislation passed by Congress in January demanding that the Pentagon fold the operations into USAID later this year (Post). The task force’s director, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Paul Brinkley, resigned as a result, reportedly over concerns that "shifting his group’s work to USAID will smother an entrepreneurial organization in a risk-averse agency that is more oriented toward providing development assistance than brokering business deals."
Two more stories wrap up the week’s news: several thousand Afghan security forces have been deployed in Nangarhar province to prevent a looming clash between two rival Shinwari subtribes over a land dispute (Pajhwok); and the U.S. said it would cooperate better with Russia and Afghanistan on drug raids in Afghanistan (Reuters).
A cricket battle for the ages
India swept defending cricket champion Australia out of the World Cup yesterday, setting up a semifinal showdown with Pakistan on March 30 in Mohali (AFP, AFP, AFP, The News). Tickets to the match sold out in record time, and the Indian government announced that it will make 1,500 additional visas available to Pakistani fans (ToI, ToI).
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