Daily Brief: Suicide bombers attack U.S. base in Afghanistan

Surprising setback Four militants attacked the headquarters of the joint U.S.-Afghan run Provincial Reconstruction Team in the eastern Afghan province of Panjshir on Saturday, marking the first suicide attack the normally peaceful province has seen in the ten-decade war (AP, CNN, Post, LAT, BBC, Reuters, AFP). Three attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at a security tower while the fourth detonated a bomb ...

STR/AFP/Getty Images
STR/AFP/Getty Images
STR/AFP/Getty Images

Surprising setback

Four militants attacked the headquarters of the joint U.S.-Afghan run Provincial Reconstruction Team in the eastern Afghan province of Panjshir on Saturday, marking the first suicide attack the normally peaceful province has seen in the ten-decade war (APCNNPostLATBBCReutersAFP). Three attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at a security tower while the fourth detonated a bomb in his vehicle, killing two Afghan civilians and leaving at least two injured; all four attackers were killed. The attack, claimed by the Taliban, came after 30 people were reported killed across Afghanistan on Friday, including three NATO service members (AP). Afghan police on Sunday shot dead three would-be suicide bombers targeting the offices of the mayor in Paktia Province, but the explosives-laden car was detonated and killed one worker (AFP). A suicide bomber targeted the convoy of an Afghan provincial intelligence chief today on his way to Maimanah, the capital of Faryab Province, wounding the official and killing a child (AP).

Senior NATO officials said Saturday that they are seeing a "reversal" in the gains made by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the number of insurgent attacks is falling for the first time in more than five years (NYTMcClatchy). NATO's numbers, which differ significantly from those reported by the United Nations, show that militant attacks in the quarter ending in September were 26% lower than they were over the same quarter last year. The Times' C. J. Chivers reported yesterday, however, on frustrations felt by U.S. and Afghan soldiers over an increase in rockets fired from across the Afghan border with Pakistan, and the restrictions placed on their response because of the relationship between the United States and Pakistan (NYT). A Department of Defense investigation into the killing of two U.S. servicemen by friendly fire from an unmanned aerial vehicle in Afghanistan in April found that the mistake was a result of miscommunication between the controllers in Nevada and analysts watching the situation on the ground from Indiana (LAT).

Surprising setback

Four militants attacked the headquarters of the joint U.S.-Afghan run Provincial Reconstruction Team in the eastern Afghan province of Panjshir on Saturday, marking the first suicide attack the normally peaceful province has seen in the ten-decade war (APCNNPostLATBBCReutersAFP). Three attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at a security tower while the fourth detonated a bomb in his vehicle, killing two Afghan civilians and leaving at least two injured; all four attackers were killed. The attack, claimed by the Taliban, came after 30 people were reported killed across Afghanistan on Friday, including three NATO service members (AP). Afghan police on Sunday shot dead three would-be suicide bombers targeting the offices of the mayor in Paktia Province, but the explosives-laden car was detonated and killed one worker (AFP). A suicide bomber targeted the convoy of an Afghan provincial intelligence chief today on his way to Maimanah, the capital of Faryab Province, wounding the official and killing a child (AP).

Senior NATO officials said Saturday that they are seeing a "reversal" in the gains made by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the number of insurgent attacks is falling for the first time in more than five years (NYTMcClatchy). NATO’s numbers, which differ significantly from those reported by the United Nations, show that militant attacks in the quarter ending in September were 26% lower than they were over the same quarter last year. The Times’ C. J. Chivers reported yesterday, however, on frustrations felt by U.S. and Afghan soldiers over an increase in rockets fired from across the Afghan border with Pakistan, and the restrictions placed on their response because of the relationship between the United States and Pakistan (NYT). A Department of Defense investigation into the killing of two U.S. servicemen by friendly fire from an unmanned aerial vehicle in Afghanistan in April found that the mistake was a result of miscommunication between the controllers in Nevada and analysts watching the situation on the ground from Indiana (LAT).

The Afghan parliament on Sunday approved a plan to begin repaying the $825 million owed to Afghanistan’s central bank for bailing out Kabul Bank, the country’s largest private lender, last year (PostAFPReutersAP). The decision marks a key step toward resuming the flow of stalled development aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) announced in a statement on Sunday that it had initiated a probe into the agency’s involvement in the severe beating of a prisoner during his interrogation in Khost Province (AFP). The Times’ Alissa J. Rubin reported Saturday on the discomfort Afghan men feel about the turban-searching rule at the palace of President Hamid Karzai that has been strictly implemented since the head of Afghanistan’s peace council Burhanuddin Rabbani was killed by an explosive hidden in an attacker’s turban (NYT). Hundreds of Afghans worked to restore the ruins of an ancient citadel in Herat with help from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and significant support from the U.S. and German governments, giving the population hope for the future of tourism in the country (AP).

Strike force

Drone-fired missiles killed six suspected militants on Saturday in Baghar in Pakistan’s South Waziristan region, an area believed to be controlled by Maulvi Nazir, who is allied with the Haqqani Network (APCNNAFP). The Post’s Karen DeYoung reports that the killing of senior Haqqani commander Janbaz Zadran in a drone strike last Thursday was approved by U.S. President Barack Obama two weeks ago at a meeting of his National Security Council to "send a signal" to Pakistan that the United States would continue to pursue the Haqqani Network (Post). Pakistani intelligence officials said Sunday that a U.S. drone strike on Friday had killed three Egyptian militants linked to the Haqqani Network (AP). Meanwhile, the Post’s Karin Brulliard and Haq Nawaz Khan reported yesterday that Pakistan appears to be more willing to make peace with Taliban insurgents than it is to take military action against them (Post). Pakistani army spokesman Athar Abbas said today that Pakistan has repeatedly asked Afghan and coalition forces to target Maulvi Fazlullah, a Taliban cleric whose fighters are believed to be responsible for several cross-border raids that killed around 100 Pakistani security officers in recent months, but its request has been ignored (Reuters).

One of Balochistan’s Provincial Ministers, Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, escaped unharmed Friday when an explosive device was detonated on the road near his convoy of vehicles in an attack claimed by the Baloch Liberation Front (ET). The president of the Pakistan Medical Association died on Saturday from wounds received when armed gunmen ambushed his car in Quetta on Friday, as the Balochistan chapter of the Human Rights Commission Pakistan (HRCP) staged a march in Quetta to protest a lack of law and order and extensive human rights violations in that province (ETET). Mortars fired by militants in Afghanistan Saturday killed two people in Pakistan’s lower Dir, and 10 militants were killed in airstrikes targeting Taliban sanctuaries in Lower Orakzai Agency (ETET). Police clashed with militants at a checkpoint in Peshawar on Friday, resulting in the death of one attacker and the retreat of the others (ET). Police in Dera Ismail Khan on Friday and police in Peshawar on Monday separately recovered large caches of arms and ammunition, arresting a total of three suspects (ETETDawn).

Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Friday blamed unrest in Balochistan on the sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi as he sought to persuade a member of the National Assembly from Balochistan to end his sit-in outside the Parliament House Building (ET). And members of the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) staged a sit-in outside the Punjab chief minister’s office in Lahore on Saturday to protest alleged government incompetence in dealing with the dengue fever epidemic ravaging the Punjab (ETNationDawn). Soon after the sit-in, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced that the government would provide compensation to the families of each dengue victim, of whom there have been 235 so far (ETET). The Awami National Party told the Balochistan Assembly today that NATO forces had reportedly violated Pakistani airspace during a 20 minute flight over Balochistan, creating panic amongst Pakistani residents living near the Afghan border (ET).

The Lahore High Court today suspended the sentences of eight of the ten policemen convicted of their involvement in the lynching of two young men in Sialkot last year, and the officers will be released after paying bail (ET). Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters today that he has information that Shahbaz Taseer, the kidnapped son of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, is alive and has been taken to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border (ET). Data collected by the Punjab Provincial Government shows that three out of every four suspected terrorists arrested in the last twenty years has been acquitted by the courts for lack of evidence against them (ET). An India-Pakistan joint working group on visa matters completed a draft of a new Bilateral Visa Agreement (ET). And the secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said today the ECP plans to recommend the government allow Pakistani dual-citizens living abroad and Pakistanis who have given up their citizenship to vote in national elections (ET).

Red carpet

A documentary by Emmy award-winning Pakistani journalist and documentarian Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Saving Face, has been shortlisted for an Oscar (ET). The documentary tells the story of two female victims of acid violence and looks at the lead-up to the Pakistani parliament’s long-awaited Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill.

Jennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.

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