Cargo plane crash in Afghanistan kills seven

Deadly crash Seven U.S. citizens were killed Monday when a civilian cargo plane crashed shortly after taking off from Bagram Air Base (NYT, CNN, WSJ). Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said militants shot down the plane, but international military officials said there was no enemy activity in the area at the time. Afghan President Hamid Karzai ...

Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Deadly crash

Seven U.S. citizens were killed Monday when a civilian cargo plane crashed shortly after taking off from Bagram Air Base (NYT, CNN, WSJ). Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said militants shot down the plane, but international military officials said there was no enemy activity in the area at the time.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirmed his reported receipt of "ghost money" from the CIA on Tuesday, while Afghan lawmakers demanded an explanation of the regular cash deliveries (Pajhwok, NYT). Karzai, who is on a three-nation tour of Europe at the moment, told reporters in Helsinki, "Yes, the [Afghan National Security Council] has received financial assistance from the US over the past decade, but at a reasonable scale, not at a massive one."

Deadly crash

Seven U.S. citizens were killed Monday when a civilian cargo plane crashed shortly after taking off from Bagram Air Base (NYT, CNN, WSJ). Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said militants shot down the plane, but international military officials said there was no enemy activity in the area at the time.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirmed his reported receipt of "ghost money" from the CIA on Tuesday, while Afghan lawmakers demanded an explanation of the regular cash deliveries (Pajhwok, NYT). Karzai, who is on a three-nation tour of Europe at the moment, told reporters in Helsinki, "Yes, the [Afghan National Security Council] has received financial assistance from the US over the past decade, but at a reasonable scale, not at a massive one."

A roadside bomb in the northern province of Kunduz on Tuesday killed two policemen, including the local police commander Miran, who is credited with reducing insurgent attacks in the area (Pajhwok, AP). And in another northern province, Faryab, Taliban militants kidnapped seven members of the Afghan Local Police on Tuesday (Pajhwok).

A report released today by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) finds that religious freedom in Afghanistan remains "exceedingly poor" for the country’s minority Shi’a Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians, as well as dissenting Sunni Muslims (AP). The report faults both the Taliban for its continued attacks on individuals deemed "un-Islamic" and the Afghan government for its failure to protect its people’s freedom of belief.

Violence wins

The Election Commission of Pakistan postponed elections in the Jhal Magsi area of Balochistan on Tuesday after a local candidate and eight of his supporters were kidnapped on Monday night (ET). The candidate, Abdul Fateh Magsi, and three of his kidnapped supporters were found dead on Tuesday; the other five are still missing.

More than 50 people have been killed in bomb and gun violence related to Pakistan’s upcoming elections, primarily perpetrated by the Pakistani Taliban, who justify their campaign by citing the Pakistani military operations against militants in the country’s northwest, and criticizing the secular platforms of Pakistan’s main political parties (Tel, Post). In a recent statement explaining their motives, the Taliban said the military is "responsible for displacement of millions of people, for the plight of Pashtun nation, for their abandoned villages, for the destroyed mosques."

While entrenched Pakistani politicians face violence from extremists, newcomers to elections face the daunting task of breaking into a political system that has long been dominated by just a few large, wealthy, landowning families (Post). Extensive patronage networks that critics liken to a feudal system tend to define the outcome of elections in Pakistan, and rising independent candidates are at a disadvantage without those resources or name brand appeal. Many analysts predict that the May 11 polls will result in a divided parliament in the hands of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other stalwart politicians, though the chances of new faces being elected is greater this year than it has been before.

King of Speed

24-year-old cricketer Ahmed Jamal won Pakistan’s "King of Speed" competition on Monday by bowling at 143 kph (about 89 mph) (AP). He won a grand prize of 1 million rupees (about $10,000), but declined to reveal his plans for spending it.

— Jennifer Rowland

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

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