Daily brief: Suicide bombers strike Kunduz guesthouse

Dangerous stay Three Taliban militants attacked a guesthouse in the northern city of Kunduz this morning, killing four private security guards working for a German NGO (Pajhwok, CNN, Reuters, AP, AFP, BBC, Tel, NYT). The attack began when one fighter detonated a suicide car bomb at the building’s gate, while the other two engaged security ...

GUL RAHIM/AFP/Getty Images
GUL RAHIM/AFP/Getty Images
GUL RAHIM/AFP/Getty Images

Dangerous stay

Three Taliban militants attacked a guesthouse in the northern city of Kunduz this morning, killing four private security guards working for a German NGO (Pajhwok, CNN, Reuters, AP, AFP, BBC, Tel, NYT). The attack began when one fighter detonated a suicide car bomb at the building's gate, while the other two engaged security forces in a firefight. The foreign guests were able to escape through the rear of the hotel, while the remaining Taliban detonated their own explosives "in quick succession" after engaging Afghan police (BBC).

British forces in Afghanistan have released two British nationals detained in Herat last month on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, after their lawyer threatened to challenge their detention in a British court (Guardian, BBC). British government officials admitted they did not have enough evidence against the two, who were scheduled to be repatriated to Britain last week, but told the Guardian that the case is "not over" (Guardian).

Dangerous stay

Three Taliban militants attacked a guesthouse in the northern city of Kunduz this morning, killing four private security guards working for a German NGO (Pajhwok, CNN, Reuters, AP, AFP, BBC, Tel, NYT). The attack began when one fighter detonated a suicide car bomb at the building’s gate, while the other two engaged security forces in a firefight. The foreign guests were able to escape through the rear of the hotel, while the remaining Taliban detonated their own explosives "in quick succession" after engaging Afghan police (BBC).

British forces in Afghanistan have released two British nationals detained in Herat last month on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, after their lawyer threatened to challenge their detention in a British court (Guardian, BBC). British government officials admitted they did not have enough evidence against the two, who were scheduled to be repatriated to Britain last week, but told the Guardian that the case is "not over" (Guardian).

NATO forces have begun an investigation into the death of BBC reporter Ahmed Omed Khpulwak in a Taliban attack in Uruzgan province (BBC, Reuters, Guardian). The BBC requested the inquiry after conflicting reports emerged indicating that foreign forces may have killed Khpulwak, rather than insurgents.

Also today, a soldier who tried to report the killing by other soldiers of Afghans for sport, Spc. Adam Winfield, will reportedly plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and will serve no more than eight years in prison for his connection to the deaths (AP). And Jonathan Landay has a must-read dispatch from Kabul province’s Sarobi district, the only district in the province where violence has prevented a transfer to Afghan control (McClatchy).

Fighting in the streets

At least 34 people have been killed in the past 24 hours in Karachi and more than 90 vehicles destroyed, as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and other opposition parties stormed out of Pakistan’s National Assembly Monday in protest against the government’s reaction to the violence (AP, ET, Dawn, Dawn, DT, Dawn). The police inspector general in Sindh province has transferred nine senior police officers to Karachi, while MQM member Haider Abbas Rizvi blamed senior government minister Dr. Zulfiqar Mirza and "other gangs" for the violence (ET, Dawn). Observers in Pakistan remain divided over whether or not the MQM will rejoin the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government (ET). Bonus read: Bilal Baloch, "Reforming Karachi’s police" (FP). 

Authorities in Quetta have reportedly arrested 50 suspects after a spate of shootings in the city last month, while Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani denied accusations that the army is involved in the torture and forced disappearances of militants and activists in Baluchistan (ET, ET, DT). A roadside bomb in South Waziristan Tuesday killed two Pakistani soldiers, and the Islamist Jamaat-i-Islami on Monday expressed their opposition to regulations that would give the government more expansive authority to fight militancy in Pakistan’s tribal areas (AP, ET). And the government in Punjab has banned 23 organizations from collecting donations during Ramadan, with violations to be prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws (ET).

Pakistan has reportedly eased travel restrictions on U.S. diplomats after a U.S. State Department spokesman on Monday raised the possibility that restrictions could be imposed on Pakistani diplomats in the United States (TIMEAPBBCAFP). Also Monday, Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari called for "clear terms of engagement" with the United States on counterterrorism issues (ET, DT, Dawn, AFP). A fourth round of trilateral talks between the United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are scheduled to take place today in Islamabad, while the European Union has urged Pakistan to quicken its reform process and set the scene for "strategic dialogue" talks later this year (ET, Dawn). And the Journal and the L.A. Times analyze China’s unusual step of blaming Pakistan-based militants for an attack Sunday in the western province of Xinjiang (WSJ, LAT).

Three stories round out the day: Pakistan’s Supreme Court has requested the records from previous investigations into the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007, in what may be a prelude to a larger investigation (Dawn). The opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Monday organized a committee to gather recommendations on the formation of new provinces in Pakistan (Dawn). And police near Faisalabad have arrested a man for marrying off his five-year-old daughter in exchange for winning permission to wed to another man’s sister (ET).

The Ramadan palate

In a bid to counter traditionally poor sales during the holy month of Ramadan, the Tribune reports that many Pakistani restaurants specializing in non-Pakistani food are now offering more popular local dishes (ET). As the manager of a Chinese restaurant told the paper, "Customers [during Ramadan] want the instant satisfaction that comes from fatty and spicy Pakistani food…Chinese food is neither spicy nor oily."

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