String of Bombings Hit Afghanistan; PM Modi Expands Council Of Ministers; Protest Leader Khan Makes New Demand
Afghanistan String of bombings hit Afghanistan On Sunday, at least two explosions detonated within one hour in Kabul, killing the police chief’s chief of staff, Col. Mohammad Yassin, and injuring seven others (Washington Post, BBC, TOLO News). One of the explosions was a suicide bomber who entered the city’s police headquarters, one of the most ...
String of bombings hit Afghanistan
On Sunday, at least two explosions detonated within one hour in Kabul, killing the police chief’s chief of staff, Col. Mohammad Yassin, and injuring seven others (Washington Post, BBC, TOLO News). One of the explosions was a suicide bomber who entered the city’s police headquarters, one of the most guarded compounds in Kabul, successfully making it past numerous checkpoints and entering the office of the police chief on the third floor (NYT). A second explosion targeted a bus of soldiers but caused no casualties. A third bombing occurred in Kabul only an hour after the first but the location and target were unclear. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed the Taliban were responsible for the police headquarters and army bus attacks.
On Monday, three more bombs detonated across Afghanistan, killing at least ten (NYT). In Jalalabad, a bomb planted in a rickshaw exploded near a police truck, killing three and injuring one other (TOLO News). In Logar province, a suicide bomber disguised as a police officer detonated his bomb near a group of police officers gathered close to the provincial police headquarters in Pul-i-Alam, killing seven and injuring at least four others (TOLO News). A third bomb in Kabul did not result in any immediate reports of casualties. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks in Jalalabad and Logar province (BBC).
Russian Taliban arraigned in U.S. court
Alleged Russian Taliban member Irek Ilgiz Hamidullin, captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2009, pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of terrorism-related charges in a United States district court in Virginia on Friday (Washington Post, RFE/RL). A trial date has been set for April 2015 and Hamidullin has been ordered to remain in U.S. custody until then. Hamidullin was a Russian military officer during the 1980s and joined the Taliban in 2001.
Senatorial elections held
On Monday, provincial council members across Afghanistan voted for their senatorial representatives for the Meshrano Jirga (upper house) of Parliament (Pajhwok). Each of the 34 provinces elects one representative to serve the province as a whole for a four-year term. An additional 34 members of the Meshrano Jirga are elected by district councils but district council elections have not been held for over eight years. Afghan president Ashraf Ghani has promised that district elections will be held simultaneously with the next parliamentary elections.
PM Modi expands cabinet
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expanded and reshuffled his council of ministers on Sunday (Deccan Chronicle, Economic Times, Indian Express). This was Modi’s first cabinet expansion after he became prime minister earlier this year. With 21 new ministers, Modi will have 66 in his council of ministers, which include both cabinet ministers and ministers of state. The four new cabinet ministers include Suresh Prabhu as minister of railways, Birender Singh as minister of rural development, J.P. Nadda as minister of health, and Manohar Parrikar as minister of defense. Parrikar, former chief minister of Goa, took over the position previously held by Arun Jaitley. To read the full list of council of ministers, click here. The Congress party commented on the cabinet expansion. Digvijay Singh, All India Congress Committee general secretary and former chief minister from the central state of Madhya Pradesh tweeted: "Why so much excitement about Cabinet Expansion? Modi doesn’t require a Cabinet. His is a ONE MAN CABINET!" (The Hindu).
India test fires nuclear capable missile
India successfully test-fired its medium-range nuclear-capable Agni-II missile from Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha — located in eastern India — on Sunday (The Hindu, Times of India, NDTV, Indian Express). The specially formed Strategic Forces Command of the Army conducted the test as part of a training exercise and the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) — an agency responsible for the development of technology for military use — provided the logistic support. The two-stage surface-to-surface missile is powered by a solid rocket propellant system, guided by a novel state-of-the-art command and control system, and equipped with an advanced high-accuracy navigation system.
The 20 meter long Agni-II missile can can carry a payload over a distance of more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles). The Agni series of missiles, developed by the DRDO, also includes Agni-I with 700 km (435 miles) range, Agni-III with 3,000 km (1,864 miles) range, Agni-IV with 4,000 km (2,485 miles) range, and Agni-V more than 5,000 km (3,107 miles) range.
Indian Army admits mistake in Kashmiri killings
The Indian Army apologized on Friday for killing two teenage boys in the Budgam district — located in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir — and said that it was a case of mistaken identity (NYT, NDTV, Indian Express). The chief of the Indian army’s northern command, D. S. Hooda said: "We take responsibility for the death of the two boys in Kashmir. We admit a mistake was made… There was some information about a white car with terrorists. Obviously, the identity was mistaken in this case" (BBC). According to police sources, the troops fired at civilians in a car after they failed to stop at a check-point. While the Indian army claimed that they fired at the civilians as the car did not stop, the families of the boys stated that the firing started without warning. The killings led to numerous protests in Jammu and Kashmir.
— Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan
Protest leader Khan makes new demand
On Sunday, protest leader and Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan demanded that an independent commission be created to investigate his claims that the 2013 elections were fraudulent, the subject of his months-long protests (ET). Khan said in a public meeting in Punjab that the government should create "a commission under the Supreme Court to probe into the massive electoral fraud," and that officials from the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence should be included on the panel. The panel’s investigation should take four to six weeks, according to Khan, at the end of which Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns if election rigging is found to have occurred. Previously Khan demanded Sharif resign from office based on allegations alone.
On Monday, Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar dismissed Khan’s demand, stating that offices from the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence cannot be included in any judicial panel (ET). Dar added that the government is still open to discussions with PTI on the condition that Khan’s demands are "according to the law and Constitution."
Sharif disqualification case referred
A three-member bench of the Pakistan Supreme Court referred a case against Prime Minister Sharif to the chief justice on Monday (Dawn). Last week, the bench heard three petitions seeking to disqualify Sharif from office under Article 62-f of the constitution for making false statements during a joint session of parliament over the army’s role in negotiations with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek to end their sit-ins. The bench said that the petitions raised questions of constitutional interpretation.
Sharif to visit Germany
Prime Minister Sharif returned from his official visit to China on Sunday and headed to Germany on Monday at the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Dawn). Sharif and Merkel are scheduled to meet and Sharif will then meet with the president of the German parliament and address a business forum organized by the Pakistan Board of Investment. Currently Pakistan and Germany have bilateral trade worth $2.5 billion annually.
Edited by Peter Bergen
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