Daily brief: Complex suicide attack rocks eastern Afghanistan

Deadly strike As many 10 Taliban fighters, several wearing suicide vests, were involved in an attack on a government complex Thursday in Paktia province that killed up to four Afghan police (NYT, BBC, Reuters, AFP, CNN). Afghan and American troops eventually retook the building, and destroyed a mosque that a second group of insurgents reportedly ...

Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images
Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images
Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images

Deadly strike

As many 10 Taliban fighters, several wearing suicide vests, were involved in an attack on a government complex Thursday in Paktia province that killed up to four Afghan police (NYT, BBC, Reuters, AFP, CNN). Afghan and American troops eventually retook the building, and destroyed a mosque that a second group of insurgents reportedly used to fire on U.S. attack helicopters (BBC). Anonymous officials told the L.A. Times that the tactics used in the attack -- multiple suicide bombings beginning with a suicide attack on a front gate -- and the location of the strike indicated the possible involvement of the Haqqani Network (LAT). Bonus read: Kate Clark, "Have the Taliban changed their tune?" (FP).

The Guardian has a must-read on a wave of attacks on cell phone towers in Afghanistan, destruction that has caused cell phone service to decline noticeably in parts of the country and inhibits the ability of Afghans to tip off the U.S. military about insurgents (Guardian). Meanwhile, the BBC reports that according to Afghan officials, Taliban militants stoned and then shot dead a mother and daughter in the province of Ghazni Thursday, after allegedly accusing them of adultery (BBC). And Germany's government announced Thursday that it would withdraw 450 soldiers from Afghanistan in the beginning of 2012, reducing the German contingent in the country to 4,900 (Reuters).

Deadly strike

As many 10 Taliban fighters, several wearing suicide vests, were involved in an attack on a government complex Thursday in Paktia province that killed up to four Afghan police (NYT, BBC, Reuters, AFP, CNN). Afghan and American troops eventually retook the building, and destroyed a mosque that a second group of insurgents reportedly used to fire on U.S. attack helicopters (BBC). Anonymous officials told the L.A. Times that the tactics used in the attack — multiple suicide bombings beginning with a suicide attack on a front gate — and the location of the strike indicated the possible involvement of the Haqqani Network (LAT). Bonus read: Kate Clark, "Have the Taliban changed their tune?" (FP).

The Guardian has a must-read on a wave of attacks on cell phone towers in Afghanistan, destruction that has caused cell phone service to decline noticeably in parts of the country and inhibits the ability of Afghans to tip off the U.S. military about insurgents (Guardian). Meanwhile, the BBC reports that according to Afghan officials, Taliban militants stoned and then shot dead a mother and daughter in the province of Ghazni Thursday, after allegedly accusing them of adultery (BBC). And Germany’s government announced Thursday that it would withdraw 450 soldiers from Afghanistan in the beginning of 2012, reducing the German contingent in the country to 4,900 (Reuters).

Finally, a five-member military panel convicted U.S. Army Sgt. Calvin Gibbs Thursday of killing three Afghans for sport, as well as assaulting another soldier and taking fingers and a tooth from the dead civilians (NYT, AP, Guardian, BBC, CNN). Gibbs was sentenced to life in prison, but may be eligible for parole in 10 years.

Pakistan’s "Dirty Harry"

Declan Walsh has a detailed profile of Karachi’s controversial and feared senior police officer Chaudhry Aslam Khan, who has survived multiple attempts on his life, been shot five times, and publicly promised to "bury" terrorists who had bombed his house in the crater they left behind (Guardian). Police in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa province found five bodies Thursday, including two men in Peshawar and three women in the Swabi District whose bodies bore signs of torture (Dawn). And Atmanzai clansmen of the Wazir tribe protested in Miranshah against U.S. drone strikes Thursday, and demanded that North and South Waziristan be given provincial status, under the name "Islamia" (ET).

Meetings between Pakistan and an International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation began in Dubai this week, as both sides discussed Pakistan’s economic situation, falling foreign exchange reserves, and the impact of the worldwide recession on Pakistan’s economy (ET). Pakistan’s federal government has disclosed that the country’s provinces have not used 82 percent of Rs934.3 billion ($10.8 billion) allocated since 2002 under the country’s Public Sector Development Program (Dawn). And the Tribune reports that Pakistan will buy two nuclear reactors from China, with a combined output of 2,000 megawatts (ET).

Former Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will reportedly join Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) party on November 27, while the party’s leader in Balochistan has resigned, saying that the PTI, "is accepting all those people who are openly working for the establishment and recent [PTI] policy changes strongly point towards the policies of the military establishment" (ET). And in an interview with the BBC, a Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman denounced Khan, calling him a "slave" of Europe and the United States (ET).

Three stories finish off the week: A report submitted to Pakistan’s Supreme Court has found that more than 5,000 acres of land owned by Pakistan Railways is illegally occupied by the country’s army and federal government (Dawn). More than 800 female health workers recently protested in Swat, claiming that they had not been paid in four months (ET). And India’s Supreme Court expressed "shock" Friday upon finding out during a hearing that more than 250 Pakistanis are being held in Indian jails without trial, including one who has been imprisoned since 1965 (Dawn).

Lyari story

A musical focused on gang violence in Karachi has been a surprising hit, playing to large audiences since opening last month in the city (Dawn). "Karachi – The Musical" is attempting to revive Karachi’s once-celebrated theater scene, which faded after the 1947 partition of the Indian subcontinent.

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