Daily brief: Pakistan suicide attack kills at least 12
Under fire In the second such attack in as many days, a suicide bomber targeted the convoy of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the leader of the hardline Islamist political party the JUI-F, in the northwest Pakistani town of Charsadda earlier this morning (AP, BBC, Dawn, ET, Reuters). Up to 12 people, including three Pakistani policemen, ...
In the second such attack in as many days, a suicide bomber targeted the convoy of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the leader of the hardline Islamist political party the JUI-F, in the northwest Pakistani town of Charsadda earlier this morning (AP, BBC, Dawn, ET, Reuters). Up to 12 people, including three Pakistani policemen, were killed, and more than 25 injured in the attack; Rehman was unhurt. Though there have been no claims of responsibility yet, a spokesman for the JUI-F blamed the CIA and the government of Khyber-Puktunkhwa for the attack yesterday in Swabi (Dawn, Dawn). Attacks targeting militant sympathizers in Pakistan are unusual, but not unheard of.
Pakistani security officials said yesterday that a CIA tip led to the arrest in Pakistan earlier this year of Umar Patek, the Indonesian Arab militant who was wanted in connection with the 2002 Bali bombings (AP). Indonesia is sending a team of investigators to Pakistan to identify and possibly bring home Patek, who is currently reportedly being interrogated by the Pakistani intelligence service the ISI, though an Indonesian police official said he was not sure Patek could be taken back to Indonesia since he was reportedly arrested for crimes committed in Pakistan and would be tried there (NYT, The News, Jakarta Post). Though the reasons Patek was in Pakistan remain unclear, ISI officials suggested he may have turned up in search of safe haven and/or joined up with the Pakistani Taliban. The AP adds that Patek was hurt in a firefight during his arrest (AP).
The World Bank has approved a $125 million loan to the government of Pakistan to help with relief efforts from last summer’s flooding, though Dawn notes that it is "unclear why the government has sought a loan from the World Bank when it has cash on hand already allocated towards flood relief" (Dawn). Some Rs. 6.9 billion (around $81 million) are reportedly still undisbursed in the Prime Minister’s Flood Relief Fund.
The Post reports on internal Obama administration debates over the size and pace of the American troop drawdown from Afghanistan expected to begin this summer, with military officials and documents describing the July pullout plans as "small to insignificant" and civilian advisers pushing for a larger withdrawal (Post). Top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus is said to be preparing a list of options to present to the president, though has not finalized his recommendations. And Afghan sources tell Carlotta Gall that a series of killings, arrests, and internal disputes in the Afghan Taliban have put strain on the movement (NYT).
An Afghan reportedly tried to ram his car into a NATO convoy in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, and two civilians were killed when the car flipped over after NATO forces fired on the driver, who was injured (AP, Pajhwok). Six French soldiers and four Afghans were lightly wounded when a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives near a transport vehicle in Kapisa (AP). And Afghan president Hamid Karzai has fired the deputy governor of Helmand province, Abdul Satar Mirzakwal, after he organized a concert last November at which women sang without headscarves, and a spokesman for the governor commented, "Unfortunately the president has some ultra-conservative people around him who advise him on these issues" (Reuters).
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