Daily brief: Suicide bombers attack Afghan governor’s compound
Targeted blow A group of six Taliban suicide attackers fought their way into the Parwan provincial governor’s compound Sunday north of Kabul, killing at least 22 people before the attackers were subdued (NYT, AJE, Tel, AFP, WSJ, Post, BBC, Reuters, AP). The militants, who detonated a car bomb at the compound’s entrance before storming in, ...
A group of six Taliban suicide attackers fought their way into the Parwan provincial governor's compound Sunday north of Kabul, killing at least 22 people before the attackers were subdued (NYT, AJE, Tel, AFP, WSJ, Post, BBC, Reuters, AP). The militants, who detonated a car bomb at the compound's entrance before storming in, struck as governor Abdul Basir Salangi, a former insurgent commander who fought Soviet forces and an ally of Afghan president Hamid Karzai, was meeting with officials to discuss the security situation in the province. According to the Guardian, Salangi himself helped push back the attackers after grabbing a machine gun from one of his security officers (Guardian).
A group of six Taliban suicide attackers fought their way into the Parwan provincial governor’s compound Sunday north of Kabul, killing at least 22 people before the attackers were subdued (NYT, AJE, Tel, AFP, WSJ, Post, BBC, Reuters, AP). The militants, who detonated a car bomb at the compound’s entrance before storming in, struck as governor Abdul Basir Salangi, a former insurgent commander who fought Soviet forces and an ally of Afghan president Hamid Karzai, was meeting with officials to discuss the security situation in the province. According to the Guardian, Salangi himself helped push back the attackers after grabbing a machine gun from one of his security officers (Guardian).
Afghan authorities on Friday discovered the bodies of five Afghan police officers and three intelligence officials in Wardak province, a day after they were kidnapped by insurgents (CNN, Reuters, BBC, AP). The increasing violence in the province recently prompted the governor of Wardak to issue a rebuke of the Afghan National Army for not doing enough against militants (AFP). And at least one Afghan police officer was killed Monday after insurgents attacked a district center in the eastern province of Ghazni (AP).
The Post reports that according to U.S. military officials, the United States will not hand over control of the important Parwar Detention Center until well after a January 2012 deadline, reflecting a lack of confidence in the country’s nascent justice system (Post). Rajiv Chandrasekaran has a must-read profile of U.S. official Carter Malkasian, a State Department contract worker who was able to build trust among locals in the volatile Garmser district of Helmand province after staying in the area for over two years (Post). And in an interview, the former head of Afghan intelligence and current opposition figure Amrullah Saleh warned against a peace deal with the Taliban, saying, "No Taliban will say my license comes from Mullah Omar, their leader: they say my license comes from God. Settlement with that type of group is a disaster for Afghanistan" (Tel).
Also in Afghanistan news this weekend, the Times of London interviews a Taliban fighter claiming to be the only survivor of a team that shot down a U.S. helicopter last Saturday, killing 30 Americans (Times). The Christian Science Monitor analyzes Afghanistan’s political future (CSM). And Joshua Partlow goes to a hill community in eastern Kabul built by widows of Afghanistan’s wars (Post).
Thieves in the night
A group of armed men kidnapped an American aid expert, Warren Weinstein, from his home in an affluent section of Lahore early Saturday (NYT, Post, ET, CSM, AFP, AJE, Bloomberg, Tel, Reuters, WSJ, LAT, BBC). Weinstein, a 70-year-old Maryland man who has lived in Pakistan for the last seven years, was reportedly involved in a number of aid projects, including some funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in the country’s restive tribal areas. Pakistani police reportedly have no leads in the case, though Weinstein’s three bodyguards and driver have been taken into custody and interrogated (Dawn, AP).
Violence rocked Pakistan Sunday as it celebrated its independence from Britain, with three paramilitary soldiers killed in a rocket attack on their base in Miranshah, North Waziristan, and at least fourteen civilians killed in the bombing of a hotel in Baluchistan (AJE, AFP, AP, BBC, ET, Dawn, CNN, Reuters, DT). Also in Baluchistan, a journalist was killed and two frontier corps soldiers wounded by a grenade in two separate incidents, while Pakistani prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced Sunday that all of the province’s political prisoners would be released (DT, ET, Dawn). A Pakistani military court this weekend convicted seven men of involvement in a brazen 2009 attack on the country’s army headquarters in Rawalpindi, including a former soldier and purported attack leader known as Dr. Usman, who was sentenced to death (BBC, Dawn, AFP, ET, The News, AP). And cross-border mortar and rocket fire has reportedly killed a child in South Waziristan and injured at least five people in Bajaur (Dawn, Dawn).
The Financial Times first reported this weekend that according to a U.S. intelligence official, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) allowed Chinese military engineers to take photographs of and skin samples from the wreckage of a specially-modified Blackhawk helicopter that crashed during the May 2 raid that killed Osama bin Laden (FT, BBC, Reuters, Guardian, Tel, NYT). The Journal and others wrote Monday that The United States has begun to condition billions in aid to Pakistan’s security services on a secret "scorecard" measuring progress against al-Qaeda and other militant groups (WSJ, ET, The News). Pakistani prime minister Gilani urged ties with the United States that went beyond counterterrorism Saturday, as the Pakistani government is said to be reconsidering limits on where foreign diplomats can travel (ET, Dawn, ET). And two members of Pakistan’s security forces were killed this weekend in Orakzai agency, as AFP indicates that the country’s army is considering permanent bases in the Swat Valley (ET, AFP).
Five stories round out the news this weekend: Several prison officials were disciplined after two Taliban prisoners escaped during a trip to a dental hospital last week (Dawn). A strike shut down Karachi Saturday as Sindhi nationalist parties called for a protest against a newly-reinstated local government law (Dawn). The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) will reportedly rejoin the coalition government led by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) this week (ET). Reuters looks into Pakistani efforts to develop Islamic banking in poor, rural areas of the country (Reuters). And an investigation has found that a Pakistani firm working with aid organization Oxfam embezzled nearly £135,000 (more than $220,000) destined for victims of last year’s devastating floods (Tel).
Can I get a witness?
Two young Pakistanis this weekend organized the largest singing of a national anthem ever, bringing 5,857 people together in Karachi in honor of Pakistan’s independence day (DT). The gathering also included the unfurling of a 40-meter-long Pakistani flag, and bested a record previously established by 5,248 singers in India.
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