At least 26 people killed and 85 injured in attacks across Afghanistan
Increased violence At least seven people died and nearly 60 were injured in Ghazni province on Wednesday when Afghan Taliban fighters attacked the base of a local Provincial Reconstruction Team (AJA, NYT, Pajhwok, RFE/RL). According to Col. Assadullah Khan Ensafi, the deputy police chief in Ghazni, the attack began around 4:00 p.m. when a truck ...
At least seven people died and nearly 60 were injured in Ghazni province on Wednesday when Afghan Taliban fighters attacked the base of a local Provincial Reconstruction Team (AJA, NYT, Pajhwok, RFE/RL). According to Col. Assadullah Khan Ensafi, the deputy police chief in Ghazni, the attack began around 4:00 p.m. when a truck bomb exploded at the southern entrance to the base. Between seven and ten Taliban gunmen then stormed the base’s perimeter but were shot and killed before they could move further into the facility. Sgt. Peter Dean, a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), confirmed the attack but did not have any information on foreign casualties. The base is staffed primarily by Polish soldiers, and Maj. Marek Pietrzak, a military spokesman in Warsaw, said 10 were wounded in the attack (AP). A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility for the attack in a letter sent to journalists.
Mujahid also claimed responsibility for an attack in Farah province on Wednesday that killed 15 Afghan National Police officers, including the commander of the 40-person unit, and wounded 10 others (Pajhwok, RFE/RL). According to Abdur Rahman Zhwandai, the governor’s spokesman, the incident took place as the officers inspected security posts along the Herat-Kandahar highway (AP).
In Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, at least four Afghan civilians were killed and 15 others were injured on Wednesday when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle next to a convoy of foreign troops (AP, NYT, RFE/RL). An Afghan police official said there were casualties among the coalition soldiers but an ISAF spokesman denied that report, saying that none of the targeted soldiers were killed or wounded (AJA). No one has claimed responsibility for the attack but Afghan officials are blaming the Taliban.
Reacting to a statement from Altaf Hussain, the leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), demanding that the Pakistani army take over the city administration in Karachi, the government has created a blueprint for a "targeted operation" intended to restore law and order in the city (ET). Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held a special cabinet meeting on Wednesday to discuss the worsening security situation and weigh potential options for dealing with the increase in violence. During a press conference after the meeting, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the Interior Minister, said: "There is no need for a full-scale military operation…as scores of target killers, extortionists, and criminals have already been identified." He added that there were two operational plans under consideration: one would have the paramilitary Sindh Rangers lead the operation, the other would form a committee with representatives from the business community, media, and political parties who would then oversee the operation. The plan will be decided on at another special cabinet meeting to be held early next week.
While they wait for the government to decide between the ministry’s two plans, law enforcement authorities in Karachi began conducting search-and-arrest operations on Thursday, taking several suspects into custody and seizing a number of weapons (Dawn). Members of political parties, including the MQM, were also detained in the operations, causing MQM members to walk out of the National Assembly on Thursday in protest (ET). Khan said the situation would be addressed but also asked that the Pakistan Peoples Party, which is currently leading Karachi’s city administration, be given more time to deal with the security situation.
Pakistan’s Senate committee on information and broadcasting approved a draft version of a "Freedom of Information Law" on Wednesday, after eight months of deliberations, and will submit it to the Senate Secretariat on Thursday (Dawn). Kamil Ali Agha, the committee’s chairman, told reporters that the bill would give members of the media and the general population access to all types of information – classified and unclassified. Agha added that the bill covers all government departments, and any decisions those departments make will be placed on a website for public disclosure.
Pakistani officials, led by Foreign Secretary Jalil Jilani, concluded a two-day visit to Russia on Thursday, wrapping up a "strategic dialogue" that focused on economic, political, and security cooperation, as well as regional and international security concerns (RFE/RL). While the exact outcomes of the discussions are unknown, Islamabad has backed Moscow’s bid to gain observer status in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and in turn, Russia helped Pakistan become an observer in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Buildings in Lahore, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, and other nearby areas were evacuated on Thursday as an earthquake rocked the region (ET). The exact intensity of the quake and the scope of any resulting damage are not yet known.
Golfing in Swat
Imtiaz Hussain, the Deputy Commissioner in Swat, announced on Thursday that Pakistan’s Kabal Golf Course is reopening for the first time since 1992, when increased militancy and other issues in the area shuttered the facility (Dawn). Kabal, the largest golf course in the country, is celebrating its re-opening by holding a three-day open tournament that includes 200 golfers, 81 of which are senior professional and professional players. Hussain said the tournament is designed to promote tourism in the alpine valley, and that they are hoping to "give a message to the people that Swat is peaceful now and they can come here without any fear."
— Bailey Cahall
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