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Nov 8th, 2009

‘The Dead and Injured Were Lying Everywhere’

Image: A father carries his injured son through the halls of a hospital
A father carries his injured son through the halls of a hospital in Peshawar after a suicide bomber struck a nearby livestock market. (Photo credit: Fayaz Aziz / Reuters)

Nov. 8, 2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A suicide bomber blew himself up Sunday in a market in northwest Pakistan crowded with shoppers ahead of a Muslim holiday, killing 12 people, including a mayor who once supported but had turned against the Taliban, officials said.

In the heavily guarded capital, police shot and killed another suicide bomber before he was able to detonate his explosives at a checkpoint, an officer said. The incidents underscore the difficulty of combating militancy in Pakistan, where the Taliban have carried out a series of attacks in recent weeks.

The militants have said the assaults are meant to avenge a government offensive in South Waziristan, the main Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuary in the country.

‘Turned into a hell’

The suicide blast hit the town of Adazai, about 10 miles south of the main northwestern city of Peshawar. The bomber hit as shoppers thronged a market where goats were being sold to celebrate the upcoming Muslim festival of Eid, killing the Adazi mayor, Abdul Malik, and 11 other people, including a young girl, said Sahibzada Anis, the top official in Peshawar.

“That place turned into a hell where the dead and injured were lying everywhere and blood and flesh were spread around,” he said, adding that two of his relatives were badly injured. “Now we have our blood in this war,” he said, vowing revenge against the attackers.

Twenty-five people were wounded, several critically, police officer Abdul Sattar Khan said. Malik, the mayor, had once been a Taliban supporter but later switched sides and formed a local militia to help fight the militants. He had survived several attacks on his life in the recent past, said Anis.

A purported Taliban commander claimed responsibility for the attack. …

Militants have struck repeatedly in Pakistan in recent weeks, killing more than 300 civilians and soldiers in attacks aimed at weakening the government’s resolve to continue the South Waziristan operation. …

Fighting around South Waziristan

Pakistani troops have fought gunbattles in and around key Taliban towns in South Waziristan for several days. The latest fighting Sunday there killed 20 militants and wounded eight soldiers, an army statement said.

Ten militants and two soldiers were also killed Sunday after a group of militants attacked a security checkpoint in the Mohmand tribal region to the north of Wazristan, an army official said. …

About 350,000 people have fled the fighting.


11/9/09 Update

Suicide Bomber in Rickshaw Kills 3 in Pakistan

Image: Rescue workers clean up wreckage after a suicide bombing
Pakistani rescue workers and police officers stand next to the wreckage of a rickshaw at the site of a suicide bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan on Monday, Nov. 9, 2009. (Photo credit: Mohammad Sajjad / AP)

Nov. 9, 2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A suicide bomber in a rickshaw detonated his explosives near a group of policemen in northwest Pakistan’s main city of Peshawar on Monday, killing three people, police said.

The attack was the latest in a string of strikes that has killed more than 300 people over the past six weeks. The bloodshed appears aimed at distracting the government from its offensive against the Taliban in the South Waziristan tribal region.

Five other people were wounded in the blast at an intersection on the main road that circles the city, police official Shaukat Khan said. TV footage showed a crane lifting the rickshaw’s carcass to clear the road. …

Peshawar has been struck several times during the recent surge of strikes. A late October explosion in the city leveled a market, killing at least 112 people in the deadliest attack to hit the country since 2007.

Violence in Bajur

Militants have also stepped up attacks in other areas near the Afghan border. A roadside bomb killed two paramilitary troops and wounded a third in Salarzai town in the Bajur tribal region, said a local government official, Abdul Wadood Qureshi.

Also in Bajur, militants shot and killed a senior police officer in the main town of Khar as he was leaving his office, said another local government official, Adalat Khan. …


11/11/09 Update

Bomb Kills 9 Security Officers in Pakistan

Local residents examine the damage at the site of a suicide car bombing at a market in Charsadda, Pakistan on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009. (Photo credit: Mohammad Sajjad / AP)

Nov. 11, 2009

KHAR, Pakistan — A roadside bomb killed nine Pakistani security officers close to the Afghan border Wednesday, while two other soldiers died in a separate militant assault on a security post in the same area, officials said.

The bomb struck a convoy of paramilitary soldiers as it traveled along a road near Ghallani town in the Mohmand region just before sunset, said Zabid Khan, the top civilian administrator in the semiautonomous region. One passer-by was also killed, he said. …

Some 12 hours earlier, dozens of militants armed with automatic weapons and rocket launchers attacked the security outpost, killing two soldiers and wounding three others, local government official Maqsood Khan said. …

Pakistan is battling Taliban and al-Qaida militants on several fronts in the northwest. The insurgents have responded with a rash of terror attacks they hope will weaken the army’s resolve. A suicide car bomber attacked a crowded market in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing 26 people, the fourth such attack in about a month. …


11/13/09 Update

Blast Strikes Near U.S. Military Base in Kabul

NATO-led troops are seen at the site of a blast in...
NATO-led troops are seen at the site where a suicide car bomber struck a convoy of civilian vehicles outside a U.S. military base in Kabul early on Friday, Nov. 13, 2009. (Photo credit: Omar Sobhani / Reuters)

Nov. 13, 2009

KABUL — A suicide car bomber struck a convoy of civilian vehicles outside a U.S. military base in Kabul early on Friday, wounding three Afghans and causing several casualties among foreigners, police said. …

A damaged white civilian vehicle could be seen at the debris-strewn blast site on a main road about 100 yards from Camp Phoenix, a large U.S. military base also used by troops from other NATO countries near the airport. Witnesses said a second civilian vehicle that was destroyed in the blast had been removed, while U.S. troops in armored vehicles blocked off the site. …

Violence in Afghanistan this year has reached the worst levels of the eight-year-old war, and militants have staged a number of attacks in the capital in recent months.


Pakistans Spy Agency Hit by Deadly Bombing

Image: Pakistani soldiers secure a blast site in Peshawar
Pakistani soldiers secure the destroyed Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) building after a bomb blast in Peshawar on Friday, Nov. 13, 2009. (Photo credit: A Majeed / AFP — Getty Images)

Nov. 13, 2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Suicide car bombers killed 16 people and wounded more than 80 in two attacks in northwestern Pakistan on Friday, including a devastating strike on the regional headquarters of the spy agency overseeing much of the country’s anti-terror campaign.

The bombings were the latest in a string of attacks on security forces, civilians and Western targets since the government launched an offensive in mid-October against militants in the border region of South Waziristan, where al-Qaida and Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding out.

The attack on the Inter-Services Intelligence agency building occurred in the city of Peshawar, which has borne the brunt of the militants’ retaliation against the army offensive. A wave of bombings in the last week alone in and around the city has killed more than 50 people. …

‘Guerrilla war’

The early morning blast, heard across the city, destroyed much of the three-story building and killed 10 people, including seven who worked for the spy agency, the army said in a statement. Another 55 people were wounded, officials said. …

About an hour later, a second suicide car bomber attacked a police station farther south near the Afghan border, killing six people, said police official Tahir Shah. Five of the dead were policemen working at the station in Bakkakhel village in Bannu district; the other was a civilian. Another 27 people were wounded, he said.

The station is close to the border with North Waziristan, an area in Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal region where officials believe many militants have fled to escape the recent army offensive. …

Friday’s attack in Peshawar was the second to target a spy agency complex this year. A suicide squad using guns, grenades and a van packed with explosives attacked a police and an ISI building in Lahore in May, killing 30 people.

The ISI has been involved in scores of covert operations in the northwest against al-Qaida targets since 2001, when many militant leaders crossed into the area following the U.S. led invasion of Afghanistan. The region is seen as a likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden.

Its offices in Peshawar are on the main road leading from the city to Afghanistan. The agency was instrumental in using CIA money to train jihadi groups to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Despite assisting in the fight against al-Qaida since then, some Western officials consider the agency an unreliable ally and allege it still maintains links with militants.

Taliban and al-Qaida fighters are waging a war against the Pakistani government because they deem it un-Islamic and are angry about its alliance with the United States. The insurgency began in earnest in 2007, and attacks have spiked since the run-up to the offensive in South Waziristan.

A car bomb exploded in a market in Peshawar at the end of October, killing at least 112 people in the deadliest attack in Pakistan in over two years. On Oct. 10, a team of militants staged a raid on the army headquarters close to the capital, Islamabad, taking soldiers hostages in a 22-hour standoff that left nine militants and 14 others dead. …

Militants have also targeted convoys in Pakistan delivering supplies to soldiers in Afghanistan.

Attackers fired rockets at a group of tankers near the southwestern city of Quetta on Friday that were delivering fuel to U.S. and NATO troops. One driver was killed and five tankers were torched, said local police chief Bedar Ali Magsi.

About 80 percent of all nonessential supplies to Western forces in Afghanistan are trucked through Pakistan after landing at the Arabian Sea port of Karachi. NATO and U.S. officials say the attacks do not affect their operations.


11/14/09 Update

Suicide Attack Kills 11 at Pakistan Checkpoint

Deadly blast (MSNBC, Nov. 14, 2009) — At least 10 people are dead after a suicide bombing near Peshawar, Pakistan.’s Dara Brown reports. (00:39)

Nov. 14, 2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A suicide car bomber attacked a police checkpoint in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, killing 11 people, including four children, the latest in a wave of militant attacks that have claimed more than 300 lives in the past month.

The attack on the outskirts of Peshawar solidifies the city’s ominous status as a primary target for militants trying to force the military to end an offensive against their associates launched last month in the border region of South Waziristan, where al-Qaida and Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding.

Strikes in the past week alone have killed more than 50 people in the city, including 10 at the regional office of Pakistan’s top intelligence agency, which was targeted by a massive truck bombing Friday. The agency, the Inter Services Intelligence, has been overseeing much of the country’s anti-terror campaign. …

Taliban and al-Qaida fighters are waging a war against the Pakistani government because they deem it un-Islamic and are angry about its alliance with the United States. The insurgency began in earnest in 2007, and attacks have spiked since preparations for the offensive in South Waziristan began. …


11/15/09 Update

Pakistan: Militants Attack 2 Anti-Taliban Figures

Nov. 15, 2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Militants staged a pair of attacks against anti-Taliban figures in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing one of the men as part of an escalating campaign to weaken the country’s resolve to fight Islamic extremism.

Suspected militants have killed more than 300 civilians and security personnel in the last month in retaliation for an army offensive launched in the tribal area of South Waziristan, where al-Qaida and Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding.

The government has supplemented its military campaigns by helping tribal leaders and local government officials set up militias to battle the Taliban. The militias, known as lashkars, have been compared to Iraq’s Awakening Councils, which helped U.S. forces turn the tide against al-Qaida there. …


11/16/09 Update

Suicide Bomber Slays 4 Near Pakistan Air Base

Image: People sift through rubble after a suicide bomb blast in Pakistan
Pakistani officials and local residents gather at the site of a car bombing in Badh Ber near Peshawar, Pakistan, on Monday, Nov. 16, 2009. (Photo credit: Mohammad Sajjad / AP)

The Associated Press and Reuters via
Nov. 16, 2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A suicide bomber killed four people Monday near an air force base close to Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar and the Afghan border, a government official said.

The city has been targeted several times since the army began an offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan last month and militants stepped up retaliatory attacks. Hundreds of people have been killed.

The attacker set off his bomb after being challenged at a checkpoint near a police station about 1 mile from the Badaber air base on the city’s outskirts. The blast badly damaged the police station, a mosque and a shop. …

A growing number of recent attacks in Pakistan have targeted civilians, including a suicide bombing at a market in Peshawar in late October that killed 112 people, the deadliest attack in Pakistan in more than two years.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks targeting public places, but Pakistani officials have blamed the Taliban.

In a video released Sunday, the group denied the allegations, saying it was focused on attacking the Pakistani government and did not believe in killing civilians.

Conspiracy theories

Repeating conspiracy theories that have appeared in local media, Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq blamed the recent attacks, including a suicide bombing at an Islamic university in the capital, on the Pakistani government and the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater.

“The dirty Pakistani intelligence agencies, for the sake of creating mistrust and hatred among people against the Taliban, are carrying out blasts at places like the Islamic university, Islamabad, and the Khyber bazaar, Peshawar,” said Tariq.

The video, which was posted on YouTube, carried the logo of al-Qaida’s media wing, As-Sahab. It was the first time the Taliban spokesman has appeared in an As-Sahab video, showing the growing links between the two groups. …


2 American Pilots Die in Iraq

Nov. 8, 2009

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military says two American pilots have died in a helicopter crash in Iraq.

A military statement says the two pilots were killed on Sunday, during a “hard landing” in the Salahuddin province north of Baghdad. …

The deaths raise to at least 4,361 the number of U.S. military personnel who have died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003. That’s according to an Associated Press count.


Iraqi parliament passes key election law (AP, Nov. 8, 2009) — Iraq’s parliament on Sunday passed a long-delayed law in a crucial step to setting up nationwide elections, and the head of the electoral commission said he did not expect any major delays in the vote planned for January. … Full story


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — November 8, 2008

Iraqis Demand Withdrawal Date

A U.S. soldier secures the scene of a roadside bombing in Baghdad. Iraq wants nearly all U.S. combat troops to be gone by the end of 2011.
A U.S. soldier secures the scene of a roadside bombing in Baghdad. Iraq wants nearly all U.S. combat troops to be gone by the end of 2011. (Photo credit: Khalid Mohammed /Associated Press)

One year ago today, I reported reported that Iraqi officials, who saw President-elect Obama’s views on the timing of a U.S. withdrawal as consonant with their own, appeared to be leveraging his election to pressure the Bush administration to make last-minute concessions in negotiations to reach a status-of-forces agreement with the United States; that Iraqi and U.S. officials were concerned about a surge in “sticky bombs”; and that Afghan president Hamid Karzai urged U.S. president-elect Barack Obama to stop the killing of civilians in coalition operations, which he said undermines popular support for the Afghan government and the international mission.

3 Responses to “Iraq-AfPak War Update”
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