KABUL, Afghanistan -- Eight Taliban gunmen wearing suicide vests attacked three Afghan government buildings Wednesday in a coordinated assault that killed 20 people in the heart of Kabul just ahead of a planned visit from the new U.S. envoy to the region. The attacks in a city dense with barricades and armed guards underscored the difficulty of fending off the Taliban even with abundant troops and weaponry as the U.S. beefs up its presence.
The assailants sent three text messages to the leader of their terror cell in Pakistan before launching Wednesday's assault, said Amrullah Saleh, chief of Afghanistan's intelligence agency, underlining the links between militants in the two countries.
Five men armed with assault rifles and grenades attacked the Justice Ministry in late morning, shooting at workers and temporarily trapping the minister and scores of others inside, witnesses said. The gunmen appeared to hold the building for about two hours before Afghan security forces regained control about midday, according to an AP reporter on the scene.
At about the same time, two men in suicide vests blew themselves up at the ministry's correction department across town. A third assailant in a suicide vest was shot as he tried to force his way into the Education Ministry, about a half-mile from the Justice Ministry attack, said Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi.
At least 20 people were killed in the attacks and 57 wounded, said Mohammad Hanif Atmar, the interior minister. All eight attackers died, Azimi said, bringing the total death toll to 28.
Zabiullah Mujaheed, a spokesman for the Taliban, said the attacks were in response to the alleged mistreatment of Taliban prisoners in Afghan government jails. "We have warned the Afghan government to stop torturing our prisoners," Mujaheed told AP in a phone call from an undisclosed location. "Today we attacked Justice Ministry compounds."
Saleh, the intelligence chief, said officials had intelligence indicating a "spectacular" attack involving multiple homicide bombers was imminent, but said they did not have enough specifics to prevent it.
He compared Wednesday's attacks to the assault on hotels, markets and a train station in Mumbai last November that killed 164 in India. Indian officials have blamed the Mumbai attack on the Pakistani-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Saleh did not offer any more specifics. Twenty-one suspects were detained, he said.
The incident comes as Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama's newly appointed envoy to the region, is expected imminently in Afghanistan from neighboring Pakistan. Obama has vowed to increase U.S. focus on the resurgent Taliban, including sending more troops and designating Holbrooke, who is helping the administration chart a new strategy to beat the insurgencies raging in both countries.
The Taliban regularly use homicide bombings in their assaults on Afghan and foreign troops, but attackers have rarely made it inside the barricaded and guarded compounds of government buildings in the capital.
Justice Minister Sarwar Danesh spoke to the AP while he was briefly trapped inside the ministry with a number of government employees. "They used grenades and AK-47s," Danesh said of the attackers, speaking by mobile phone.
A ministry worker said he scrambled out of a second-floor window to escape an advancing gunman. "I came out of my office to see what was going on, and I saw a man with an AK-47 shooting at every employee he saw in the hall," said ministry employee Nazir Mohammad, shaking as he spoke.
Wednesday's attack follows on an assault last month, when a Taliban homicide bomber attacked vehicles on a road that runs by both the German Embassy and a U.S. military base. One U.S. service member and four Afghan civilians died.
Elsewhere, in Logar, one province south of Kabul, a roadside bomb exploded near a French military medical team's convoy, killing one French officer and two Afghans, said Den Mohammad Durwesh, the governor's spokesman. The French government said another soldier was seriously injured.
Also in Logar, a helicopter with the U.S.-backed coalition killed five civilians as it responded to ground fire, Durwesh said. U.S. spokesmen could not immediately be reached for comment.
Clearly all Afghani government employees need to be armed when on the job.
Separately, NPR today reported that in 1997(?) New York City was just hours away from a multiple suicide attack like this one when the plotters were arrested, thanks to a brand new Egyptian immigrant who'd subletted a room in their Brooklyn apartment. In response to a television report of suicide attacks in Israel they'd showed our man their own bombs, and told him proudly of their plans. He immediately went out and, despite speaking almost no English, managed to persuade the first policeman he found to that he was trying to report terrorists. After several hours, according to the NPR report, the police managed to find a translator, then managed to persuade the FBI and the NYC SWAT unit to investigate. As I said, they broke in to the Brooklyn apartment only a few hours before our terrorist friends set out upon their planned adventures.
Let us pause a moment to thank that force who watches over fools and America.
tw, I often wonder what would have happened if the US intelligence agencies had actually connected the dots before 9-11, and arrested enough of the plotters to foil the plan. There would have been a few headlines about an "alleged" plot to capture airliners and fly them into buildings, but it would have been just a plot. No invasion of Afghanistan, nor of Iraq. The Taliban and Saddam would probably still be in charge.
Posted by: Rambler in Virginia ||
02/11/2009 20:16 Comments ||
TW, I believe it was Eric Sevareid who said that God looks after fools, drunks, little children, and the United States of America.
PAKISTANI DEFENCE FORUM > TALIBAN THREATEN TO ATTACK ISLAMABAD [ + also to wage war agz other major alleged anti-Talib Radical Islamist Groups]. The Taliban proclaim the see no real difference between MUSHARAFF + ZARDARI.
(AKI) - Yemeni police say they have arrested 30 people with alleged links to the Al-Qaeda terror network on the border of Saudi Arabia. According to the Saudi newspaper, al-Watan, half the number of people arrested were Saudi citizens who had illegally crossed the Saudi border into Yemen.
Police are conducting inquiries to determine if those arrested are part of a resurgent Al-Qaeda network that recently invited Saudi militants to go to Yemen and join local Al-Qaeda cells.
Police are continuing to conduct investigations in the provinces of Mareb and al-Jawf, where there are believed to be Al-Qaeda cells.
Earlier this week, Yemen said it would release 176 men suspected of links to Al-Qaeda on condition of good behaviour.
Yemen has developed a reputation as a haven for Islamist militants in recent years and there have been a several attacks there against western targets.
Previous prisoner releases have worried US officials.
As a result, the US was more reluctant to free Yemeni prisoners from the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, correspondents say.
Last week Saudi Arabia issued a list of 83 wanted militants living abroad and urged them to return to their home country and resume normal life.
Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the leader of the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda, is on the wanted list.
Saudi daily Okaz last week quoted unnamed sources saying 11 former detainees from Guantanamo, who returned to home to Saudi Arabia in 2006 subsequently entered Yemen and joined local Al-Qaeda cells there.
Posted by: Fred ||
02/11/2009 00:00 ||
Top|| File under: al-Qaeda in Yemen
Security forces claimed Tuesday killing as many as seven another militants amid an ongoing operation against militants here in Bajaur Agency, security forces said. While US drone planes continued hovering over North Waziristan and Landi Kotal all day, sources added. According to a local security soldier Mustakim Shah told that security forces which were backed by Gun ship helicopters, started operation in Ainaiat Kali a remote area of Bajaur agency. A rocket was fired by extremists which fell upon a shop starting fire in it, however no casualties were reported. Security forces also fired Artillery strikes and Mortar shells killing 7 militants. On the other hand Taliban representative Moulvi Omer while talking to media envoy on phone claimed that they have killed 5 security officials in Ainaiat Kali and blew a tank also. According to eyewitnesses cross firing was still going on till last reports came in however no casualties were reported till the filing of the report.
Police and intelligence agencies claimed arresting eight more Indian spies across country on Tuesday, police said adding they were planning to attack politicians. Suspects have been moved to concealed places for investigation, police maintained. The arrests were made in Abbotabad, Mirpur and Rahimyar Khan cities in Panjab and Sindh provinces, a media correspondent reported. The police sources said the suspected spies were working for India''s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) spy agency. The suspected spies were traced through mobile phones, according to Pakistan intelligence agencies. While suspected RAW agents, Muhammad Sharif, Ghulam Mahmood and Mir Abdul Ghafoor were captured from Abbotabad, others namely Fida Hussain, Abdul Saboor and Abdul Sattar were arrested in Rahimyar Khan. Police also seized important documents, maps and fake ID''s from them, intelligence sources said.
Posted by: Fred ||
02/11/2009 00:00 ||
Top|| File under: Govt of Pakistan
A Qassam rocket fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip exploded in an open field near the western Negev city of Sderot on Tuesday evening, just half an hour before the polls were to close on Israel's general election.
(AKI) - Human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Gaza Strip's ruling Hamas movement of conducting a "deadly campaign" of abductions, killings, and torture against those accused of "collaborating" with Israel. In a report released on Tuesday, Amnesty said at least two dozen men had been shot dead by Hamas gunmen and scores of others had been shot in the legs, kneecapped or inflicted with other injuries since the end of December 2008.
Others had been subjected to severe beatings which have caused multiple fractures and other injuries, or otherwise tortured or ill-treated, Amnesty said.
The report summarises the research of an Amnesty International fact-finding team which visited Gaza during and after the recent Israeli offensive which killed more than 1,330 Palestinians, most of them civilians. Thirteen Israelis died during the three-week offensive that began on 27 December.
Amnesty said most of the victims attacked by Hamas were abducted from their homes and later dumped -- dead or injured -- in isolated areas, or found in the morgue of one of Gaza's hospitals. Some were shot dead inside hospitals where they were receiving treatment for injuries.
The fact-finding team which visited Gaza during and after the Israeli offensive recorded testimonies from a number of victims, as well as medical sources and eyewitnesses who corroborated their stories.
"Scores of others are too afraid to speak publicly for fear of retribution by Hamas forces and militias," Amnesty said in a statement.
Amnesty is calling on the Hamas de-facto administration to immediately end the campaign of abuse and to agree to the establishment of an independent, non-partisan national commission of experts to investigate the claims.
Looks like another case of Offended Palestinian Dignity. And go blame the Jooooos, like you're supposed to...
Gaza -- Ma'an - Amnesty International accused Hamas of waging a violent campaign against its Palestinian opponents in the Gaza Strip, to which the party responded calling the report "unfair" and "discriminative."
The report is based on false stories and propaganda against Hamas, spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement Wednesday. "This report directly insults Hamas and its reputation," the statement said and suggested it was "better for Amnesty to look for the Israeli war criminals that killed hundreds of people in the Gaza Strip instead of tracking Hamas."
He added, "Amnesty has to bring real evidence and submit it to the international institutions and to the international court instead of making the entire world busy with Hamas and blinded to the Israeli crimes in the latest war against the Gaza Strip."
has anyone noticed how now that Obama is in and the US is no longer a force to be reckoned with, outfits like the UN and Amnesty are actually bad-mouthing the bad guys. Fairly easy to tell whom they considered the greater enemy.......
(AKI) - Government troops on Monday killed two Muslim militants in the southern Philippines suspected of belonging to the Al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf militant group. The clash occurred in Akbar, in Basilan province, when troops encountered militants while searching for three kidnapped aid workers and a nine-year-old boy allegedly being held by Abu Sayyaf.
Five marines were wounded on Monday in clashes on the southern island of Jolo, where the Filipino authorities believe the hostages are being held captive. The three Red Cross workers, Italian citizen Eugenio Vagni, Swiss national Andreas Notter and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba were abducted on the island last month after visiting a local prison.
The firefight on Jolo began when Abu Sayyaf bandits fired at soldiers in the village of Barangay, the Philippines army public information chief, Lt. Col. Ernesto Torres said in a statement, quoted by GMA News.
Troops are putting mounting pressure on the kidnappers to release the Red Cross workers. Media reports gave no information about the nine-year-old boy.
Sixteen of surrounding Sulu province's 19 mayors have signed a pledge to help secure the hostages' release, GMA News said.
They also condemned "in the strongest terms" the actions of Abu Sayyaf and other militant groups operating in the region.
Abu Sayyaf, which means "bearer of the sword" is listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States. Filipino authorities have linked the group to a spate of kidnappings and killings in Sulu and Basilan provinces.
Abu Sayyaf has reportedly demanded a ransom of up to 10 million dollars for the release of the Red Cross workers, who were kidnapped on 15 January.
Posted by: Fred ||
02/11/2009 00:00 ||
Top|| File under: Abu Sayyaf
Shells hit a make-shift hospital in Sri Lanka's war zone, killing 16 patients, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The ICRC said in a statement on Tuesday that the temporary facility in Putumattalan was shelled on Monday. It did not say who was responsible for the attack in an area where government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels are locked in fierce combat. "We are shocked that patients are not afforded the protection they are entitled to," said Paul Castella, head of the ICRC delegation in Colombo.
"Once more, we call on both parties to meet their obligation under international humanitarian law to spare at all times the wounded and sick people, medical personnel and medical facilities," he was quoted as saying by AFP.
Sri Lanka's army is pushing ahead with a massive offensive to crush the rebels, who have been accused by the government of using civilians in the war zone as "human shields". Didja ever notice how, according to the papers, the Lankans seldom shoot at anything other than hospitals?
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.