Governor of Afghanistan’s Logar province killed in mosque attack

Editor’s Note: The New America Foundation launched its new and updated Yemen drone database today, which tracks all reported U.S. air and drone strikes in Yemen, the locations of these strikes, and civilian, militant, and unknown casualty numbers, as well as the militant organizations targeted by the strikes and any leaders killed.  Click here to ...

HARAZ N. GHANBARI/AFP/Getty Images
HARAZ N. GHANBARI/AFP/Getty Images
HARAZ N. GHANBARI/AFP/Getty Images

Editor's Note: The New America Foundation launched its new and updated Yemen drone database today, which tracks all reported U.S. air and drone strikes in Yemen, the locations of these strikes, and civilian, militant, and unknown casualty numbers, as well as the militant organizations targeted by the strikes and any leaders killed.  Click here to explore the new site.  

Mosque bombing 

Editor’s Note: The New America Foundation launched its new and updated Yemen drone database today, which tracks all reported U.S. air and drone strikes in Yemen, the locations of these strikes, and civilian, militant, and unknown casualty numbers, as well as the militant organizations targeted by the strikes and any leaders killed.  Click here to explore the new site.  

Mosque bombing 

Arsala Jamal, the governor of Afghanistan’s Logar province and a close friend of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was killed on Tuesday when a bomb exploded inside a mosque in Pul-e-Alam, the provincial capital (AFP, AP, BBC, Pajhwok, Reuters, RFE/RL, VOA).  Jamal was in the city’s main mosque giving a speech to mark the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice.  According to Deen Mohammad Darwish, Jamal’s spokesman, the bomb was placed inside a microphone and detonated remotely.  No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, which also wounded 15 people, but Haji Abdul Wali Wakil, a member of the Logar provincial capital, blamed "the enemies of Islam and Afghanistan," terms that typically refer to the Taliban (NYT).  Both the BBC and the New York Times noted that the fact that the attack was committed in a mosque, on one of the holiest days of the Muslim calendar, shows the militants’ commitment to attack government officials by any means necessary.  

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force also announced on Tuesday that a coalition soldier had died following an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan, though it did not provide further information on the exact location of the incident or the soldier’s nationality (AP, Pajhwok).  This latest attack brings the 2013 death toll for international troops to 141, 112 of which were American.  

Reports also emerged that a NATO airstrike killed seven insurgents in the Sara Roza district of Paktika province on Tuesday (Pajhwok).  Raz Mohammad Mukhlis, the district chief, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the strike came as insurgents launched an attack on the district center.  When the police responded, the attackers fled to the district’s Musakhel area, where they were targeted in the strike.  The Afghan Taliban have not yet commented on the incident. 

According to a new report by Reuters, $5.00 is the going rate for voter identification cards in Afghanistan (Reuters, VOA). Sayed Gul, one of the many people selling these cards, told reporter Hamid Shalizi that he buys the cards from voters for about $2.00 and then sells them to campaign managers for a little less than $5.00.  These managers can then use the cards with poll officials to cast seemingly legitimate votes.  As this trade grows into a thriving business, Afghan observers and presidential candidates are concerned that it will mar the legitimacy of the election and play into the hands of the Taliban, who constantly tell voters to boycott the elections. 

Grenade attack

At least 10 people were wounded in Quetta, Pakistan on Tuesday when unidentified motorcyclists threw a hand grenade at a Balochistan Constabulary convoy (Dawn, ET).  Five of the security personnel were wounded, as were three children and several other bystanders.  An investigation into the attack is underway and police are searching for the perpetrators.  The incident follows a similar attack on September 19 that also wounded 10.

Four sexual assaults and three kidnappings were reported in Faisalabad on Monday, highlighting Pakistan’s continued struggles combatting such incidents (ET).  Ameer Nasir Javaid, a police spokesman, told Pakistan’s Express Tribune that three local residents had filed complaints that their daughters had been raped, and that two women and one man were reportedly kidnapped from different sections of the city.  Separate reports emerged that a 14-year-old factory worker had been allegedly sodomized by a security guard.  According to Javaid, no one has been arrested for any of the crimes.  Bonus read: "In Pakistan, new focus on rape after a string of deadly attacks on children," Tim Craig (Post). 

Four terrorism suspects, including a British Pakistani citizen, were arrested Sunday by London police during an anti-terror operation (Dawn).  The men — including a British Algerian, a British Azerbaijani, and British Turkish — were arrested and held because of suspicions that they were involved in acts of terrorism, specifically planning an attack on British soil similar to the recent siege at the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya.  Gulsabah, the sister of Naveed Baluch, the British Pakistani who was detained, said she was shocked that he had been arrested as "he doesn’t go to the mosque and isn’t even religious" (ET).    

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) released a statement on Tuesday saying that nearly 2,000 men from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are missing after military operations there (RFE/RL).  The statement came one day after women in Swat held a protest demanding to know the fates of approximately 6,000 men who have been missing since 2009.  It also followed an HRCP report that called on the Pakistani government to talk more with insurgents operating in the country’s restive province, of which Khyber Paktunkhwa is one.  Pakistani military officials admitted that some men are missing from Swat but said the figures cited by the protestors were too high.

"The Kind Executioner"

Mumtaz Hussain, a Pakistani-American writer, whose drama "The Kind Executioner" was shortlisted last week in a Hollywood screenplay contest, says he cannot wait to turn the script into an actual film (ET).  The story, which judges said was intense and moving, focuses on the relationship between Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a former Pakistani prime minister who was executed in 1979, and Tara Masih, his executioner — though Hussain is quick to note that "Executioner" is a piece of fiction.  When discussing the contest, Hussain said: "I am delighted to learn that my script has been appreciated because I am working hard to make this film as my singular achievement.

— Bailey Cahall 

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