Pakistani University Terror Attack Kills at Least 22; India Puts Fifth Navigation Satellite Into Orbit; White House Gives Pentagon Authority to Target ISIS in Afghanistan

Pakistan Bonus read: “School attacks: Gaps and vulnerabilities persist in Pakistan’s security infrastructure,” by Muhammad Amir Rana (Dawn) Pakistani university terror attack kills at least 22 At least 22 people were killed and more than 50 injured at Bacha Khan University in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Wednesday when four armed militants attacked the ...

Pakistani army soldiers take part in search operation at the Bacha Khan university following an attack by militants in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEED / AFP / A Majeed        (Photo credit should read A MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani army soldiers take part in search operation at the Bacha Khan university following an attack by militants in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEED / AFP / A Majeed (Photo credit should read A MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani army soldiers take part in search operation at the Bacha Khan university following an attack by militants in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEED / AFP / A Majeed (Photo credit should read A MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan

Bonus read: “School attacks: Gaps and vulnerabilities persist in Pakistan’s security infrastructure,” by Muhammad Amir Rana (Dawn)

Pakistani university terror attack kills at least 22

Pakistan

Bonus read: “School attacks: Gaps and vulnerabilities persist in Pakistan’s security infrastructure,” by Muhammad Amir Rana (Dawn)

Pakistani university terror attack kills at least 22

At least 22 people were killed and more than 50 injured at Bacha Khan University in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Wednesday when four armed militants attacked the campus (NYT, RFE/RL, Dawn). According to the Charsadda district police chief Saeed Wazir, security forces killed the attackers before they could detonate suicide vests. Khalifa Umar Mansoor, a Pakistani Taliban leader, called reporters in Peshawar to claim responsibility for the attack, and he confirmed that four of their men were involved. Mansoor said the attack was in response to the December execution of four men convicted of aiding the 2014 Peshawar school attackers.

Pakistan offers to host Saudi-Iran reconciliation talks

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday offered to host talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia to reconcile the rival nations (NYT). Sharif met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman in Riyadh and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran and told reporters that Iran expressed an interest in improving relations with Saudi Arabia. Tensions increased between the historic rivals after Saudi Arabia executed prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Jan. 2. Sharif has described reconciling the two countries as Pakistan’s “prime duty and sacred mission.”

–Alyssa Sims

India

Bonus Read: “Hope for L.G.B.T. Rights in India,” by Raghu Karnad (NYT)

India puts fifth navigation satellite into orbit

India successfully launched a navigation satellite into orbit on Wednesday, the country’s fifth such satellite (Indian ExpressNDTV). The satellite is part of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, which will provide position information to users in the country and region. The system is also expected to have defense applications for the Indian military. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) plans on launching two more satellites — bringing the total to seven — the number required for a fully functioning navigation system. If successful, India will join the United States, Russia, China, and Japan as the only countries with satellite-based navigation systems. The European Union is also currently developing its own satellite positioning system. Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated ISRO over the successful launch.

Two militants killed in Kashmir

A joint team of Indian Army soldiers and police special forces have killed two militants in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir in an overnight battle (Indian ExpressThe Hindu). The security team cordoned off an area of Naina Batapora village, where they had received reports of a militant presence. As the team approached their target area, the militants opened fire. The security forces returned fire, killing two militants. An army spokesperson said the operation is still ongoing. Jammu and Kashmir is the Indian-administered portion of Kashmir, which is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan.

Indian tycoon guilty of murder

A court in the southern state of Kerala found Mohammed Nisham, a millionaire tobacco tycoon, guilty on Wednesday of murdering his security guard (BBCHT). In January of last year, Nisham drove his security guard, Chandrabose, into a wall with his Hummer for being too slow in opening the gate to his apartment. Nisham then beat him to death with an iron rod. Nisham has previously faced legal trouble for numerous other incidents, including for allowing his nine-year-old son to drive his Ferrari and for allegedly locking a female police officer in his car for pulling him over. In all previous cases, however, Nisham was acquitted. The court will deliver Nisham’s sentence on Thursday.

–Udit Banerjea

Afghanistan

White House gives Pentagon authority to target ISIS in Afghanistan

In response to ISIS’ growing footprint and number of attacks carried out in Afghanistan, U.S. President Barack Obama has approved Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s request — originally made in December 2015 — to legally target ISIS in Afghanistan with increased military action (WSJ). The U.S. military now has the authority to engage the Taliban, al Qaeda, and ISIS in its efforts to expunge the extremist groups from the country. “We are prepared to take action against any terrorist group that poses a threat to U.S. interests or the homeland, including members of ISIL-K,” said a senior administration official in a statement. ISIL-K (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan) is the U.S. government’s acronym for the group’s affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Taliban threatens Afghan forces in three Helmand districts

On Tuesday, the Afghan government sent supplementary forces to Gereshk, Sangin, and Marjah to help thwart the Taliban’s increasingly strong efforts to take these opium-rich districts in the Helmand province in southern Afghanistan (Reuters). The Taliban seem to gain the upper hand by striking where the Afghan forces are not present. A spokesman for the provincial governor, Omar Zwak, said, “They usually attack the weak places and exploit the gaps in our security.” The fighting continues to be close to the main highway that links the strategically important city of Kandahar in the south to the western city of Herat.

Ghani to attend World Economic Forum alongside global dignitaries

President Ashraf Ghani will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland with heads of state, diplomats and security officials (including U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense, John Kerry and Ash Carter), and business executives from around the world starting this week (TOLO News). Ghani has plans to meet with Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Vice President of the United States Joe Biden at the forum. Ghani’s attendance comes on the heels of the conclusion of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), where officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the United States met in Kabul on Monday to discuss peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Afghan woman’s nose cut off by husband

20-year old Reza Gul was the victim of her husband, 25-year old Mohammad Khan, in a village under Taliban control in Faryab province (NYTRFE/RL). According to Gul’s mother, Zarghona, this is just the latest abusive incident against her daughter – who has also been subjected to beatings and being bound in chains – and has caused outrage across the country amongst all citizens, including members of the Taliban. “This infidel cut off my daughter’s nose,” Zarghona said. “If I catch him, I’ll tear him to pieces.”

–Albert Ford

Edited by Peter Bergen

A MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images

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