Daily brief: Afghan, NATO forces end Kabul siege
Calm restored? Afghan and NATO forces killed the final two attackers laying siege to one of Kabul’s most upscale and secure districts Wednesday morning, ending a nearly 20-hour ordeal that killed at least 11 civilians and saw several rockets land within the perimeter of the U.S. embassy compound (Reuters, Pajhwok, BBC, Tel, CNN, WSJ, LAT, ...
Afghan and NATO forces killed the final two attackers laying siege to one of Kabul’s most upscale and secure districts Wednesday morning, ending a nearly 20-hour ordeal that killed at least 11 civilians and saw several rockets land within the perimeter of the U.S. embassy compound (Reuters, Pajhwok, BBC, Tel, CNN, WSJ, LAT, Guardian, NYT, AJE, AP). The attackers are believed to have gained access to a half-constructed building near the embassy by wearing burqas, and had reportedly stockpiled weapons and ammunition so as to be able to hold out longer (Post, Tel). U.S. ambassador to Kabul Ryan Crocker told reporters that he believed the Haqqani Network was responsible for the attack, but said, "If this is the best [the Taliban] can do, I find both their lack of ability and capacity and the ability of Afghan forces to respond to it actually encouraging in this whole transition process" (BBC, AP).
The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee voted Tuesday to freeze defense spending next year at $513 billion, and cut $1.6 billion from funds to train Afghan forces as well as nearly $5 billion in other Afghan war-related funds (AP, Post). And the AP discusses the difficulty of a group of U.S. Marines in explaining their experiences in Afghanistan to friends, family, and loved ones back home (AP).
Investigations about investigations
Pakistani Supreme Court chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said Wednesday that the situation in Karachi would improve after a special panel headed by Chaudhry releases the findings of its investigation into the city’s ongoing violence, while interior minister Rehman Malik said that government operations were helping to secure the city (ET, Dawn, DT, Dawn, ET, Dawn). Meanwhile, 29 people were killed due to rain and flooding in Karachi Tuesday, as flooding took 270 lives in Sindh province (Dawn, ET, ET, Dawn). And many minority groups reportedly face discrimination as they try to receive flood aid (ET).
The Pakistani judicial commission investigating Osama bin Laden’s presence in the country visited the former al-Qaeda leader’s compound Tuesday, and announced that their findings would be made public (Dawn, ET). In congressional testimony Tuesday CIA director David Petraeus spoke of the "window of opportunity" to destroy al-Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan, while Defense Department official Michael G. Vickers said at a conference that, "within 18 to 24 months, core al-Qaeda’s cohesion and operational capabilities could be degraded to the point that the group could fragment." (WSJ, Post). And CNN’s Tim Lister analyzes the new tape released by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri (CNN).
The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have claimed responsibility for an attack Tuesday on a school bus near Peshawar, saying the attack was intended to "punish the Kalakhel tribe" for setting up an anti-Taliban militia (ET). In Bannu, three Pakistani intelligence agents were killed Wednesday when their vehicle was ambushed (Dawn, ET). And the government in the province of Baluchistan has asked Pakistan’s High Court for four weeks’ time to request an arrest warrant for former dictator Pervez Musharraf in the 2006 death of Baluch tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti (ET).
Dengue fever continues to ravage Pakistan, with 3,530 cases reported across the country so far, as local and provincial governments struggle to keep the virus in check (Dawn, ET, Dawn). The Tribune reports that water shortages are increasingly shaping the way people live in Quetta (ET). And officials from the United States and Pakistan will meet today to discuss energy issues, following an agreement between Pakistan and Iran to expedite the construction of a gas pipeline between the two countries (ET).
Something borrowed, something gold
The rising price of gold has put a damper on purchases of gold jewelry during the wedding season in Pakistan, with many choosing instead to give heirlooms to brides-to-be (ET). Families in Pakistan traditionally give their daughters gold jewelry before their weddings.
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