Taliban Attack Kills Dozens, Wounds Hundreds; Suicide Attack Kills One, Wounds Several in Northwestern Pakistan; Koh-i-Noor “Given” to the United Kingdom: Indian Government
Afghanistan Taliban attack kills dozens, wounds hundreds A truck full of explosives detonated on Tuesday on an Afghan government security compound in central Kabul in a Taliban-coordinated attack that killed at least 28 people and wounded 327 others (NYT). A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, issued a statement that claimed responsibility for the attack. ...
Taliban attack kills dozens, wounds hundreds
A truck full of explosives detonated on Tuesday on an Afghan government security compound in central Kabul in a Taliban-coordinated attack that killed at least 28 people and wounded 327 others (NYT). A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, issued a statement that claimed responsibility for the attack. The statement said that “a truck full of explosives” was detonated on “Department 10,” a National Directorate of Security (NDS) unit (Reuters), prior to armed militants entering the government compound. The explosion happened in a crowded urban area, near several government offices, however, most victims were civilians. Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah visited the site of the attack, saying it showed “the depth of barbarity and terror of Afghanistan’s enemies.”
Security forces in the compound entered into a gun battle with an unknown number of insurgents following the explosion, according to Mohammad Afzel, a police officer at the attack site, the Taliban spokesman, Mujahid, and reports by the New York Times and Reuters (NYT, Reuters). However, Kabul’s police chief, Gen. Abdul Rahman Rahimi said only one militant ambushed the compound after the explosion and was gunned down by security forces in less than half an hour.
The explosion set off warning sirens from the U.S. embassy compound which is near both the site of the attack and the headquarters of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission (Reuters). The U.S. embassy and the NATO mission both said that they were unaffected by the blast. On April 12, the Taliban announced the start of their ‘spring offensive’ and said in a statement that they would “employ large-scale attacks on enemy positions across the country (Yahoo).”
Afghanistan launched first surveillance drone
The Afghan army, aided by American advisers, launched its first unmanned surveillance drone on Monday from a base in Helmand province (Reuters). The army will receive eight systems from Washington which include six drones each. “Before this technology, they relied on human and signals intelligence,” Maj. Jason White, a U.S. Army adviser, said in reference to the Afghan army in a statement. “The ScanEagle systems considerably increase their intelligence collection and reconnaissance ability.” Afghan forces continue to struggle to build an independent air force to combat Taliban insurgents across the country. Bonus Read: “World of Drones: Military,” by the International Security Program (New America)
Suicide attack kills one, wounds several in northwestern Pakistan
A suicide bomber attacked a government tax office on Tuesday in the northwest Pakistani city of Mardan, killing at least one person and wounding between nine and eleven others according to reports (NYT, RFE/RL). The city police chief, Faisal Shahzad, said at least two of the wounded were in critical condition. Ahsanullah Ahsan, a spokesman for the Jamat-ul-Ahrar militant group, claimed responsibility for the attack on the tax revenue office and warned that the group will continue such attacks in the future.
Pakistan claims more than 140 rebels surrender in Baluchistan
The Pakistani government announced on Tuesday that more than 140 rebels surrendered to government authorities in Baluchistan province (Reuters). According to a provincial government spokesman, Anwaar ul Haq, the rebels were from groups including the Baluchistan Liberation Front (BLF), the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Lashkar-e-Baluchistan. Haq said they laid down their arms on Monday. “According to them, they were disillusioned from the fight, because they joined thinking that it was for a national cause, but within a year or two, they realized…that the movement was directionless,” Haq stated. No rebel groups have commented on the matter, but Baluch separatists have dismissed previous claims of surrender as government-staged propaganda.
Koh-i-noor “given” to the United Kingdom: Indian government
The Indian government told the Supreme Court that the famous Koh-i-noor diamond was “neither stolen nor forcibly taken” by the British, rather it was “gifted” to the East India Company by the former rulers of a north Indian state, Punjab, in 1849 (BBC, Guardian). India’s chief prosecutor Ranjit Kumar told the court that the government should not try to reclaim the gem from Britain. One of the biggest gem stones in the world, the 105-carat Koh-i-noor came into British hands in the mid-19th century, and forms part of the Crown Jewels on display at the Tower of London. Many Indians believe it was stolen by the British and have often demanded that it be returned to India. Numerous British prime ministers, including David Cameron, have refused to do so.
Riots in Bengaluru over new provident fund rules
Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya announced on Tuesday that the change in rules for withdrawals from the government-run provident fund savings plan will be delayed till July 31 this year, after protests in Bengaluru against the new measure turned violent (HT, NDTV, TOI, Hindu). Thousands of garment factory workers in Bengaluru blocked traffic on a highway and set vehicles on fire on Tuesday while protesting against amendments to provident fund rules. The proposed amendment prevents withdrawal of an employer’s contribution to the provident fund until the employee reaches the age of 58. On Monday, approximately 15,000 female garment factory workers also held a similar protest outside the city.
Three killed on suspicion of witchcraft
Three members of a family were burned to death in the eastern state of Jharkhand after a mob torched their house over suspicions that the head of the household practiced witchcraft (Indian Express). The incident took place in Lohardaga district where police sources said that the mob accused the head of the family of being a tantric, who would steal babies for carrying out sacrifices. Police officials confirmed that they were able to rescue the remaining two members of the family. However, numerous policemen were injured due to the confrontation with the mob.
–Alyssa Sims and Shuja Malik
Edited by Peter Bergen
WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Hoplite Group
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