Showing posts from February 3, 2013

One killed in Pakistan bomb blast

Islamabad: At least one person was killed and three others injured in a bomb blast that hit Pakistan's southwestern provincial capital of Quetta Saturday evening, local media and police said. According to the reports, the explosion took place when a suspected suicide bomber tried to attack the Kuchlak police station of the city but he exploded his explosive jacket mistakenly before reaching the target, Xinhua reported. The suicide bomber was killed in the blast while three passersby were injured. Security forces cordoned off the area for search operation and found an abandoned explosive-laden vehicle parked near the police station. The bomb disposal squad defused the bomb. Source

Top U.S. officer says sufficient troops to remain in Afghanistan

By David Alexander RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany | Sat Feb 9, 2013 7:50am EST (Reuters) - The top U.S. military officer said on Saturday he was confident enough U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after 2014 to accomplish the three-part mission agreed to by allies at last year's NATO summit in Chicago. Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he did not know whether President Barack Obama would announce the size of the post-2014 U.S. force for Afghanistan during his upcoming State of the Union address. But he said an announcement on the management of forces in 2013 "has to come fairly soon, simply because we're two months in(to)" the year. Officials have said a decision on the size of the post-2014 U.S. force would be made before any announcement of the speed of the 2013 drawdown. Afghan forces are expected to take over the lead role for security in Afghanistan this spring. The international force plans to hand over full

Bomb kills family of six in south Afghanistan: officials

Kandahar: A landmine explosion ripped through a civilian vehicle in southern Afghanistan and killed six members of a family, provincial authorities said on Saturday. "Six people all on-board -- two elderly men, two women and two men -- were killed in a landmine explosion in Nad Ali district of Helmand province," Ahmad Zirak, the provincial governor's spokesman, told AFP. The blast at around 7:00 pm on Friday took place as they were traveling from one village to another in the district, Zirak added. Mohammad Ismail Hotak, Deputy Director of the coordination center for security forces in Helmand, confirmed the toll. Roadside bombs are the favorite weapons of Taliban Islamists fighting to oust the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai, and the indiscriminately placed explosives regularly kill civilians. Less than a week ago a Taliban roadside bomb killed five civilians, including a family of four, and two police officers in the country's troubled

Assange urges leak of US drone rules

LOS ANGELES: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange urged US officials on Friday to leak secret documents on drone strikes, saying that the broad discretion to kill citizens showed a "collapse" in the American system. Assange, who has angered US officials by releasing thousands of secret memos, used a rare US television appearance to condemn President Barack Obama's controversial green light to kill American citizens who conspire with al-Qaida. "I can't see a greater collapse when the executive can kill its own citizens arbitrarily, at will, in secret, without any of the decision-making becoming public," Assange told the HBO talk show "Real Time with Bill Maher." "That's why we need organizations like WikiLeaks. I encourage anyone in the White House who has access to those rules and procedures, work them on over to us. We'll keep you secret and reveal it to the public." Assange spoke to host Bill Maher, a supporter of WikiLeaks,

80 pc killed in US drone strikes were terrorists: Pak foreign secy

Eighty per cent of about 3,000 people killed in US drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt were terrorists, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani has said. Jilani made the remarks while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday. However, he described the drone attacks as "unacceptable as they violate the sovereignty of Pakistan". "Dialogue with the United States is the only way to resolve the issue," he said, contending that the international community was backing Pakistan's position on drone attacks. Hours after Jilani addressed the parliamentary panel, seven suspected militants were killed when a drone targeted a compound in the restive Waziristan region bordering Afghanistan. Reports said that two al-Qaeda operatives – Abu Majid al-Iraqi and Sheikh Waqas al-Yamoni – were among those killed in the drone strike in Babar Ghar area located on the boundary between North and South Waziristan. The compound targeted by the dr

Suspected US drone kills 9 in Pakistan

Dera Ismail Khan: Pakistani officials say the death toll from a suspected US drone strike in a restive tribal region has risen to 9, all of whom were militants. Two intelligence officials said on Saturday that three members of the Pakistani Taliban movement wounded in the Friday strike on a militant compound died overnight. They had originally put the death toll at six. The officials said their field informants confirmed two members of al-Qaida, Abu Majid Al Iraqi and Sheikh Abu Waqas Al-Yamani, were among the dead. They said the remaining seven were all members of Pakistan’s branch of the Taliban. Both officials spoke anonymously as they weren’t authorized to speak to the media. The Taliban did not immediately comment on the strike in the Bobar Ghar area of South Waziristan. Source

Polish city angered by portrayal in ''Zero Dark Thirty''

By Dagmara Leszkowicz WARSAW | Fri Feb 8, 2013 2:01pm EST (Reuters) - The Polish city of said it was offended by Hollywood blockbuster "Zero Dark Thirty" for labeling the home town of the communist bloc's first independent labor union as the location of a secret CIA detention centre. The critically acclaimed movie has already sparked controversy by suggesting that the torture of al Qaeda suspects played an important role in tracking down al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. special forces during a raid on a Pakistan compound in 2011. Polish prosecutors are looking into the country's role in helping U.S. intelligence services transport suspected members of the al Qaeda group who carried out the September 11, 2001 suicide airliner attacks on New York and Washington to facilities outside the United States for interrogation. The remote airfield in northern Poland where human rights groups accuse the CIA of flying al Qaeda suspects is located s

Federal Agents Arrest Man After He Attempts to Bomb Bank in Oakland

OAKLAND, CA—Federal agents arrested Matthew Aaron Llaneza, age 28, of San Jose, California, this morning after he allegedly attempted to detonate a vehicle-borne explosive device at a bank branch in Oakland. Llaneza’s arrest was the culmination of an undercover operation during which he was closely monitored by the FBI’s South Bay Joint Terrorism Task Force. Unbeknownst to Llaneza, the explosive device that he allegedly attempted to use had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement and posed no threat to the public. Llaneza was charged this morning by criminal complaint with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against property used in an activity that affects interstate or foreign commerce. The arrest was announced by Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California; Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and FBI Special Agent in Charge, San Francisco Field Office, David J. Johnson. According to the affidavit filed in suppor

Police Boss: Bulgaria Was Platform, Not Target for Terrorists

February 9, 2013, Saturday It cannot be claimed that Bulgaria is a target for international terrorism, although it has been used as its platform, stated Bulgarian Ministry of Interior chief secretary Kalin Georgiev. Georgiev was commenting recent developments in the investigation of the July 18, 2012 terrorist attack in Burgas, which killed 5 Israeli tourists and their bus driver. "I wouldn't say that Bulgaria is a targed. Bulgaria is a platform, i.e. it has been used for the perpetration of a terrorist attack which was targeted elsewhere," said Georgiev. According to the police chief secretary the probe on the Burgas bus bombing is progressing well and has reached a stage in which direct perpetrators and organizers are being ascertained. "A number of investigative requests for information have been sent to some other countries, such as Australia, Canada and Israel," said Georgiev. He was resolute that there are absoltely no data suggesting that a Bu

Should Canada Strip Terrorists of Dual Citizenship?

Canada is considering removing citizenship to dual nationals who commit acts of terrorism. In the National Post, Andrew Coyne (@acoyne) defends the idea: Recent weeks have furnished at least one and possibly two examples of terrorist attacks — one in Bulgaria, the other in Algeria — by Canadian citizens, or perhaps more accurately by foreign citizens who also held Canadian passports. ... If this is discrimination, it is of the most highly circumscribed kind. The only way in which dual citizens would ever run afoul of this law would be by committing crimes of such severity, and so expressly directed against the Canadian state, as to convey a profound contempt for the very thing of which they might thereby be dispossessed: their Canadian citizenship. ... If citizenship does not entail loyalty, on the other hand — if it does not mean putting aside all other allegiances and casting your lot with this country and its citizens, but is more or less like taking out a magazine subscripti

Europe divided on branding Hezbollah ‘terrorists’

The European Union is unlikely to bow to US pressure to brand Hezbollah a terrorist organisation in the wake of EU member Bulgaria blaming the militia group for an attack that killed five Israeli tourists, diplomats said Wednesday. New US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged the EU to follow Washington's lead by designating Hezbollah as terrorists in a move that will notably lead to a crackdown on its fund-raising activities. Britain is among EU member states in favour but with key countries like France and Italy reluctant to countenance such a move, there is little prospect of achieving the consensus required for a change of policy in the 27-member EU. A Foreign Office spokesman in London said the right response to the Bulgarian investigation would be to subject Hezbollah's military wing to the EU's terrorism asset freezing regime. "Designation would send out a clear message that we condemn the terrorist activities of its military wing and that terrorist a

Has UK learnt nothing from the Iraq fiasco?

British Prime Minister David Cameron can make his mentor George W. Bush really proud. His rhetoric, veering dangerously towards jingoism, echoed what the former American president so unabashedly said in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Soon after the bloody siege of the part BP-operated In Amenas gas plant in Algeria came to an end, Cameron sounded exactly like Bush and Tony Blair, his cohort in the crime he committed. Cameron claimed, Britain was threatened by "existential" and "global threat" to its interests and way of life. For a moment aghast Britons felt traumatized at their prime minister's efforts to resurrect the dark days of 2001. Subsequently, when Britain endorsed French offensive in Mali backing it up deploying Royal Air Force Cameron was once again at his jingoistic best preparing his countrymen for yet another "generational struggle" which he promised to pursue with "iron resolve". "The fight over the new front in the terr

Terrorist expert fears long haul for Finnish hostages in Yemen

Helsinki University terrorism researcher Leena Malkki on Yle's A-Studio Monday night. Image: Yle The fact that the Finns kidnapped in the Yemeni capital Sanaa have not been released suggests that tribal groups no longer hold the hostages, said Malkki, a terrorism researcher with the University of Helsinki. “The situation is so confused and has continued for so long, that we are beginning to wonder if this is a regular tribal kidnapping,” Malkki said on Yle’s A-Studio discussion programme on Monday night. Malkki said it is possible that members of the terrorist group al-Qaeda have indeed purchased the hostages or that they were behind the kidnapping all along. From the hostages’ perspective, this would be unfortunate, as they could then expect to be held for a long time. One other western hostage is currently in Yemen, and has been detained for about one year. “It’s still not known precisely what this case is about,” Malkki said. However Malkki pointed out that al-Qaeda is

Norway remembers victims of 'meaningless' hostage drama in Algeria

OSLO - Norway has paid tribute to five Statoil workers killed in what the country's oil minister called a "meaningless" terror attack on a gas field in Algeria. Speaking at a memorial service Monday in the west coast city of Bergen, Oil and Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe said last month's hostage drama had brought Norwegians together in their rejection of violence and terror. Statoil CEO Helge Lund's voice cracked as he remembered the five Norwegians as "innocent victims of brutal terrorism." The men, aged between 35 and 58, were among at least 37 hostages killed in a four-day standoff between al-Qaida-affiliated militants and the Algerian army. Source

Pakistan’s ISI Detained, Tortured Hundreds for CIA

New reports confirmed that Pakistan was among the 54 nations actively participating in the CIA’s extraordinary renditions and tortures, but the details show an almost shocking level of involvement in the program. The reports say that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, the military intelligence operation with virtual independence from both Pakistan’s military and its government, not only allowed the CIA use of their airports, but also detained and tortured hundreds of people on the CIA’s behalf. This should perhaps not be so surprising, after all the CIA provides roughly one third of the ISI’s operating budget in any given year. But the revelation will likely add to the sentiment that the US wields undue influence in Pakistan. This could well have a deleterious effect on the ruling PPP just months ahead of the election, though their abortive attempts at getting any oversight over the ISI failed, and they likely had no influence over the agency’s

Attack on Iranian dissident camp in Iraq kills five

Rows of housing containers formerly occupied by the U.S. military and later housed some 3,300 members of the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, who spent past three decades at Camp Ashraf, northeast of Baghdad. AP/Karim Kadim Read more: (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: BAGHDAD: At least five people were killed and 20 wounded in a rocket attack on an Iranian dissident camp in Iraq's capital Baghdad early on Saturday, police sources said. The dissident group Mujahadin-e-Khalq (MEK) said six people including a woman died after its camp was hit by mortars and missiles, while the U.N. mission in Iraq said it was aware of a number of deaths. MEK calls for th

Jailed rebel leader holds power to end Turkey's Kurdish conflict

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Sitting across the table from top Turkish officials, jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan wields the power to silence guns across southeastern Turkey which have killed more than 40,000 people in a three decade-old insurgency. Reviled by most Turks and held in virtual isolation since his 1999 capture, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader has expressed in fledgling peace talks with Ankara a will to end a conflict which both sides realize they cannot win militarily. A similar resolve in Ankara amid a winter lull in violence has created an unprecedented opportunity to end fighting which has inflicted massive human and economic costs, and has long undermined Turkey 's democratic ambitions. But both sides face major challenges to meet their end of the bargain. Looming elections next year and the growing risk of renewed clashes as summer approaches mean Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan will need to

EU Supports Turkey-PKK Talks to Solve Kurdish Issue

Lucinda Creighton, Minister of State for European Affairs. Photo: Lucinda Creighton website. ERBIL,Kurdistan Region – The European Union continues to regard the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization, but backs peace talks in Turkey aimed at disarming the group, EU parliamentarians said at a debate in Strasbourg on Wednesday. At the debate over a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue in Turkey, some ministers also noted that Turkey’s treatment of Kurds and other minorities remained unjust. Ireland's EU Presidency Minister Lucinda Creighton in the opening statement said that the EU council shares the “profound shock” of the EU parliament over the assassination of PKK activists in Paris last month. “But they underline to all of us the importance of settling the Kurdish issue. That’s in the interest of all concerned. A settlement would play vital role in securing the security and stability in th

FARC-EP Demands Simon Trinidad's Presence at Peace Talks

Havana, Feb 8 (Prensa Latina) The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP) reiterated today in Cuba its request to include Simon Trinidad in the peace talks with the government. After a 24-hour recess in the talks, guerrilla commander Jesus Santrich said that Trinidad's presence is urgently needed in order to make the dialogue move "towards a solid peace agreement." Trinidad is part of the guerrilla delegation to the talks, although he is doing a 60 year prison sentence in the United States, to where he was extradited in 2004. From Havana's Conference Center, permanent headquarters of talks, Santrich denounced the current situation of Trinidad, who is in an inhumane prison conditions. "This situation must change, and the Colombian government should stop its obstruction relative to the real possibility of the presence of Simon Trinidad or his participation as a peace catalyst in this process in Havana," he said. Th

Egyptian protesters clash with police after days of calm

CAIRO: Egyptian police fired volleys of tear gas at protesters in several provinces, as thousands took to the streets to demand Islamist President Mohamed Morsi fulfill the goals of the revolt that brought him to power. Protesters lobbed petrol bombs and set off fireworks, as security vans charged towards demonstrators who fled down the large avenue flanking the presidential palace in Cairo. Clashes also erupted in several cities and towns in the Nile Delta province of Gharbiya, where the health ministry said 28 people had been injured, suffering mainly from tear gas inhalation. In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, five people were hurt in sporadic clashes between police and protesters. The confrontations came after a day that saw thousands take to the streets across Egypt after opposition groups called "Friday of dignity" rallies. In recent months, Egypt has witnessed regular, often bloody, protests against Morsi who is accused of betraying the revolution that

Thousands displaced in Mali's far-north need help: Red Cross

GENEVA: Thousands of displaced Malians who have fled to the far north of the country near the Algerian border are in great distress, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned on Friday. "The ordeal of many people displaced by the conflict in Mali is far from over," the ICRC said in a statement, highlighting the plight of more than 6,500 displaced people and the 400 local families in Tinzawatene, in the Kidal region in the far north. "Those who have fled to Tinzawatene had to leave all their belongings behind," Jean-Nicolas Marti, head of the ICRC regional delegation for Mali and Niger, said in the statement. "They have nothing. They are taking shelter under trees, in deserted houses and even in the shells of abandoned vehicles. More worryingly still, they do not have enough to eat," he said, stressing that "pregnant women, children and the elderly are most at risk." The organisation said that despite the successes of the French

Maoist mediator Mohanty arrested

Maoist mediator Dandapani Mohanty was arrested from his residence in Berhampur in Ganjam district of Odisha on Friday on charges of involvement in extremist activity. Mr. Mohanty, along with others, had mediated between the Maoists and the State government when they abducted Malkangiri Collector R. Vineel Krishna in 2011 and Italian tourists Paolo Bosusco and Claudio Colangelo in Kandhamal district in 2012. He had been chosen by the Maoists as mediator. Mr. Mohanty claims to be a civil rights activist and heads an organisation named Jan Adhikar Manch. A team of plain-clothes police personnel from Gajapati district took Mr. Mohanty into custody from his residence in Shanti Nagar area of the city. He was immediately taken to R. Udaygiri in Gajapati district. Speaking to The Hindu, Gajapati Superintendent of Police (SP) C.S. Meena said Mr. Mohanty had 15 cases filed against him in the district and there were six non-bailable warrants pending. The cases included murder, blasting o

Security audit in Red-hit districts

Feb 9, 2013, PATNA: The Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) has issued a letter to all the Naxalite-affected states to conduct a security audit, especially in the jails where Maoist prisoners are lodged. In pursuance to this letter, the state home (prisons) department has ordered all the SPs of the Maoist-hit districts, including Patna, to audit the available security arrangements and to enhance the security wherever necessary. According to intelligence inputs, Naxalites strike the most in February and March; so the security forces are on high alert to prevent Red violence. With the onset of summer, the extremists desert camps in hill areas and head for home as soaring temperature makes life miserable in the forests. "It is also difficult to execute attacks during monsoon. After rains, they hold training camps, prepare blueprints of major attacks and execute them between February and April. R K Singh, home secretary, Government of India, in his letter to the state home dep

Nepal Maoists end first convention after revolution

KATHMANDU: The head of Nepal’s ruling Maoists yesterday pledged that the country was headed towards elections after he cemented his position as leader at the end of the party’s biggest post-revolutionary meeting. Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known as Prachanda, was returned as party chairman at the Maoists general convention which was designed to reaffirm their commitment towards democracy after successfully toppling the monarchy in 2008. “We have successfully concluded our convention. Now, the country will head towards elections for parliament,” Prachanda told delegates gathered in the southern industrial town of Hetauda. “As chairman of our party, I will use all my strength to steer the party and the country in a new direction,” he added. The Maoists waged a 10-year civil war which ended in 2006 before they then came to power two years later in elections for an interim assembly. However in-fighting, including a split in the party last year, has confounded efforts to draw up

Afzal Guru, the man who attacked the temple of Indian democracy

New Delhi: Mohammad Afzal Guru, was a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist convicted of the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament and was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of India in 2002. The sentence was scheduled to be carried out on 20 October 2006. Afzal was given a stay of execution and remained on death row. On 8th Feb, 2013, his mercy petition was rejected. He was hanged early morning on 9th Feb, 2013 at Delhi's Tihar Jail. He hailed from the Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir. He had completed the first year of his MBBS course and was preparing for IAS exams. However, he became a member of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front where he received terrorist training and became involved in terrorist activities. Unhappy with the situation there, he moved back to Kashmir and surrendered to the Border Security Force. His native place is Sopore and he was doing a commission agency business, it was during this business venture that he came into contact with Tariq of Anantan

The Debate on Drones: Away from the Politics, the Nameless Dead Remain

Undated handout image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft. The Obama Administration’s use of drones in its war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates has finally garnered real attention in the U.S., dominating front pages of late and appearing on TIME’s cover last week. At Thursday’s confirmation hearing for John Brennan, the counterterrorism chief tapped to head the CIA, drones hovered over proceedings: a recently leaked Justice Department memo revealed the legal arguments used by the Administration to justify targeted drone strikes on those suspected to “present an imminent threat to national security,” including American citizens. Far from simply providing Washington with an improved tool to achieve its policies, drones are transporting the U.S. — and the rest of the world — into unfamiliar territory, clouded by murky moral and legal reasoning. At the hearing, Brennan recognized there ought to be more transparency in the way Washington uses its d

Ground War: Syria’s Rebels Prepare to Take a Province from Assad

A shoe stuck in the mouth of a statue of the late Syrian President Hafez Assad, at the museum of Maaret al-Numan, in Idlib province on Oct. 17, 2012 It was pomegranate season when the battle for Wadi Deif began in mid-October. Like so many rebel offensives, the fight for the Syrian military base, just east of the devastated city of Maaret Numan and one of the last major loyalist outposts in the vast northern province of Idlib, soon sputtered for the usual reasons — the rebels’ lack of coordination, lack of ammunition and heavy weapons and the strength of regime reinforcements backed by airpower and artillery. The pomegranate trees in many of the abandoned, rubble-strewn, hollowed-out homes in the adjacent frontline village of Marshamsheh are now denuded, their branches bare, but the rebels hope that before the first buds of new foliage sprout, the base will be theirs. It is difficult terrain to storm. The base is protected by two large outposts, the Zahlanee, which is just 600 t

Movie, Books Push Indonesia to Confront Its Bloody Past

Carlos Arango de Montis A still from The Act of Killing. The documentary shows how self-professed killers of the 1960s massacre in Indonesia reenact their violent acts, including burning a village One of the most-shocking films ever screened in Indonesia isn’t likely to be shown in movie theaters, but rather in bookshops, university campuses and art spaces. The Act of Killing (2012), directed by Joshua Oppenheimer together with Christine Cynn and an anonymous Indonesian filmmaker, tells of brutal state-sponsored mass killings through the eyes of the perpetrators. They are preman — Indonesian for gangsters — who took part in the massacre of suspected communists in the town of Medan, in northern Sumatra. It was part of the purge that engulfed the country in 1965 and ’66, targeting members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), their friends and families, sympathizers and ethnic Chinese (because of the party’s close ties with Beijing). Many lost their lives at the hands of the army,