The South Asia Channel
Suicide Bomb Near Polio Center in Quetta Kills 16; Italian Marine “Will Not Return” to India to Face Murder Trial; Gunfight Follows Explosion at Pakistani Consulate in Afghanistan
Pakistan Suicide bomb near polio center in Quetta kills 16 A suicide bombing outside of a polio vaccination center in Quetta has killed at least 16 people on Wednesday (NYT). According to Syed Imtiaz Shah, a senior official with the Quetta police, 13 of the victims were police officers there to guard polio workers, who ...
Suicide bomb near polio center in Quetta kills 16
A suicide bombing outside of a polio vaccination center in Quetta has killed at least 16 people on Wednesday (NYT). According to Syed Imtiaz Shah, a senior official with the Quetta police, 13 of the victims were police officers there to guard polio workers, who are often attacked by militants in Pakistan. Two civilians and a paramilitary police officer were also killed, and 10 police officers and nine civilians were wounded. Pakistani Taliban spokesman Muhammad Khurrasani claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of the group.
Italian marine “will not return” to India to face murder trial
An Italian marine accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012 will not return to India to face trial after being allowed to seek medical treatment in Italy, according to a prominent Italian senator (BBC, NDTV). Two Italian marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, were arrested by Indian authorities in 2012 after killing two Indian fishermen they mistook to be pirates. Italy has insisted that since the killings took place in international waters, the marines should be tried in Italy. Last year, and Indian court allowed Latorre to temporarily return to Italy following a heart surgery, while Girone remains in custody at the Italian embassy in New Delhi. “Massimiliano Latorre will not return to India, and furthermore, the possibility of asking for Salvatore Girone’s return is being explored,” said Nicola Latorre, president of the Italian Senate Defence Committee. Both marines were previously allowed to briefly return to Italy in February 2013 to vote in the Italian elections. A diplomatic dispute erupted after Italy initially refused to send the marines back, but both were eventually returned a month later. Massimiliano Latorre was due to return by Jan. 8, but the Indian Supreme Court has extended his leave to April.
45 stranded whales dead in Tamil Nadu
At least 45 short-finned pilot whales have died after becoming stranded on a beach in the southern state of Tamil Nadu (WSJ, BBC). Locals attempted to float the whales back into the water, but they kept returning to shore. About 36 other stranded whales were rescued and pushed back into the ocean, but they remain near the shore and are at risk of becoming stranded again. The highly social nature of the whales makes rescuing them difficult, as once pushed into the sea, the whales often return to shore in response to the distress calls of those still stranded.
Acid attack survivor becomes face of fashion brand
Indian fashion retail company Viva N Diva named acid attack survivor and activist Laxmi Saa its face for a new range of women’s designer clothing (BBC). After rejecting a man’s marriage proposal at age 15, she was attacked with acid, leaving her face permanently scarred. Since then, Saa has become a prominent activist pushing for the regulation of acid sales and for harsher punishments for acid attacks. According to Acid Survivors Trust International, there may be as many as 1,000 acid attacks in India alone each year. “This opportunity to represent an apparel brand was a platform for me to set an example for women like me to be confident and have courage despite their physical appearances. This was also a platform for me to send a clear message to criminals that women will not lose courage even after they are attacked with acid to destroy their physical beauty,” said Saa.
Gunfight follows explosion at Pakistani consulate in Afghanistan
Afghan security forces killed two gunmen barricaded inside a house, ending a gunfight that followed a suicide attack on the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad on Wednesday (Reuters, NYT). Nangarhar governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said a suicide bomber attempted to join a queue of people seeking visas to Pakistan and blew himself up after being prevented from entering the building. Two policemen were killed in the blast, and at least seven members of the security forces were killed in the shootout. No group has claimed responsibility for either attack.
5.6-magnitude earthquake hits Afghanistan
A 5.6-magnitude earthquake hit northeastern Afghanistan early Wednesday morning (NYT, Reuters). Tremors reportedly could be felt in Kabul as well as Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was 242.9 km deep and its epicenter was 62 km south-southeast of the town of Feyzabad. There were no immediate reports of casualties or serious damage.
Afghan official warns Taliban against neglecting peace talks
On Tuesday, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai warned the Taliban against staying out of the peace process with the Kabul government (NYT). Karzai attended Monday’s four-country meeting in Islamabad to create a roadmap for ending Afghanistan’s 14-year war. Karzai told reporters that “most Taliban want peace,” but added, “We will use all the means we have against those who do not.” He also described the country’s conflict as “not a war between Afghans” and stressed the involvement of “foreign elements.” The Taliban were not invited to the one-day meeting with officials from Afghanistan, the United States, China, and Pakistan, and are currently not scheduled to attend the next meeting on Jan. 18.
Russia to supply arms to Afghanistan
On Wednesday, the Russian foreign ministry stated that it plans to supply small arms to Kabul (NYT). Referring to the size and delivery of the supply, Russian special envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said, “The delivery will be in February and for now it’s more than sufficient.” This shipment comes amid growing concerns about instability in Afghanistan pouring into the former Soviet republics and Russia.
–Alyssa Sims and Udit Banerjea
Edited by Peter Bergen
NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images