Sunday, 29 September 2013

Bomb Kills Dozens at Market in Northwestern Pakistan.

Bomb Kills Dozens at Market in Northwestern Pakistan.

A man carried an injured a child from the site of a car bombing
 on Sunday in Peshawar, Pakistan.
PESHAWAR | Pakistan | 29 Sep 2013 :: A powerful car bomb ripped through a busy marketplace in Peshawar, the regional capital of northwestern Pakistan, early Sunday, killing at least 38 people in the third major attack in and around the city in the past week.The explosion occurred in the historic Qissa Khwani bazaar in the old quarter of the city, roughly two miles from the site of a double suicide bombing of a Christian church a week earlier that killed dozens of people.

Experts said the blast was caused by homemade explosives and artillery shells that had been hidden in a parked car. The dead included 14 members of one family who had come to Peshawar from a nearby village to distribute wedding invitations.

Rescue workers cut through the smoldering wreckage of burning vehicles and destroyed buildings in an effort to find survivors. Television stations carried graphic images of the carnage, which underscored to Pakistanis across the country the continuing threat from the Taliban and allied militant groups.

“The people behind this are not human,” said Ghulam Mohammad, who was looking for the body of a close relative at a hospital. “This is the work of animals.”

The Pakistani Taliban, however, denied that they were responsible for the latest attack. “We have nothing to do with today’s bomb blast,” said Shahidullah Shahid, a Taliban spokesman. “We have made it clear several times that it is not our policy to target the general public. We condemn it and ask the government to ascertain its perpetrators.”

The attack came after a particularly bad week across Pakistan. An earthquake killed at least 300 people in a remote part of Baluchistan, the country’s largest but least populous province, and three major militant attacks in Peshawar killed at least 140 people.

Last Sunday, the suicide attack on the nearby All Saints Church killed 85 people, and a bombing on a crowded bus on Friday killed 21 government employees as they traveled home for the weekend.

“Collecting the dead and digging graves — this is unspeakable,” said the deputy city commissioner, Zaheerul Islam. “I don’t know what to say anymore.”

The attack on Sunday took place in the Qissa Khawani, or storytellers’ bazaar, which takes its name from ancient times when merchants and travelers from Central Asia stopped there to rest and share their stories. Some of the tea stalls from that time still exist.

Police officials said at least 440 pounds of explosives was used to make the bomb, which left a crater that was three feet deep. The explosion blew up storefronts, some of which caught fire, destroyed at least three shops and damaged dozens more. Traders announced three days of mourning.

The violence also came at a time of intense political debate over whether the government should hold peace talks with Taliban insurgents in a bid to end the bloodshed.

The opposition leader Imran Khan, whose party runs the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government, advocates peace talks and putting a halt to military operations in the tribal regions.(Courtesy:The New York Times)

Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism, Manmohan Singh tells Obama.

Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism, Manmohan Singh tells Obama.

"Explained to Obama the difficulties that we face,
 given the fact that the (presence) of terrorists
 still remains focused in Pak," Singh said.
Washington | 29 Sep 2013 ::  Pakistan was in sharp focus at the Manmohan Singh-Barack Obama summit in Washington on Friday with the Indian Prime Minister telling the US President of the difficulties in dealing with its neighbour as terrorists "still remained focused in Pakistan". Manmohan Singh and Barack Obama described the relationship between two nations as indispensable after an hour long meeting. Issuing a statement after the meeting, Manmohan Singh said, "India needs US standing by our side. We have a relationship based on both principles and pragmatism.The atmosphere was more like a farewell meeting. Both Barack Obama and Manmohan Singh thanked each other profusely for helping each other and continuing support. Manmohan Singh said that he had always maintained an excellent relationship with the US and thanked the previous president George Bush and the current President Obama, who he said have made this possible. Sending out a strong message to Pakistan, the Prime Minister said that the epicenter of terrorism was still in Pakistan and it was posing a major threat to India's stability. President Obama once again mentioned the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and thanked India for engaging Pakistan in peace talks. He said that India's support was much needed to stabilise both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Describing India as a world power and not just a regional power, the US President said that America was interested in a strong India. He said, "For a very long time, they (India and US) have invested in peace and prosperity, people-people ties, business, science, academics and other areas". A smiling Obama then went on to say, "even Miss America (Nina Davuluri) is of Indian origin." He emphasised more on the conflict in Syria, tension in Iran, Afghanistan's slow march towards peace and stability and sought India's support. Referring to controversial civil nuclear deal between both the nations, Obama said that the deal between an American company and India was a good sign. A visibly tired Manmohan Singh said, "Indo-US relationship is growing and expanding. We have explored new areas like defence, security, energy and environment." He added that despite a slowdown American investment in India is growing. Obama returned the compliment by saying that India is growing at an amazing rate. Obama stressed more on the relationship Manmohan Singh shared with him and his predecessor Bush. It was almost like a farewell speech. There was a feeling of personal warmth and affection during the meeting. Manmohan Singh's visit to the US is being described as his last visit as India's Prime Minister.(Courtesy:IBN Live)

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Al-Shabab attacks Kenyan border towns.

Al-Shabab attacks Kenyan border towns.

Three killed in attacks by Somali terrorist group responsible for attack on mall; vows to continue until Kenyan troops leave Somalia

Dawn breaks over the still-smoldering Westgate Mall in Nairobi,
 Kenya, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Ben Curtis)
NAIROBI | Kenya | AP | 26 Sep 2013 ::  The Islamic extremist group that killed scores of people at a Nairobi mall has now attacked two Kenyan towns near the Somali border, killing three people. The leader of the Somali group affiliated with al-Qada said the attacks will continue until Kenyan troops are withdrawn from Somalia.
The leader of al-Shabab said in a message that there is no way Kenya can “withstand a war of attrition inside your own country.”
“Make your choice today and withdraw all your forces,” said Ahmed Abdi Mohamed Godane, who goes by his nom de guerre Mukhtar Abu Zubayr, in a new statement posted on the Internet late Wednesday. “Otherwise be prepared for an abundance of blood that will be spilt in your country, economic downfall and displacement.”
Al-Shabab said the Nairobi mall attack was not only directed at Kenya, but was also “a retribution against the Western states that supported the Kenyan invasion and are spilling the blood of innocent Muslims in order to pave the way for their mineral companies,” according to the statement from Godane.
Al-Shabab attacked Nairobi’s upscale Westgate mall Saturday and held it for four days in a siege in which at least 67 people were killed. Forensic experts from around the world, including the US, Britain, Germany and Canada, continued their work Thursday reconstructing events in the crime scene including by carrying out fingerprint, DNA and ballistic analysis.
Early Thursday, Al-Shabab fighters attacked the border town of Mandera, killing two police officers, injuring three others and destroying 11 vehicles, said regional police chief Charlton Mureithi.(Courtesy:The Times of Israel)

Violence claims 33 lives in Iraq.

Violence claims 33 lives in Iraq.

KIRKUK | Iraq |26 Sept 2013 :: Militants attacked local government and police buildings in northern Iraq with suicide bombings and mortar fire on Wednesday, sparking clashes that killed 14 people, among 33 deaths nationwide, officials said.
The assault came in Hawijah, a town in ethnically mixed Kirkuk province near which security forces stormed an anti-government protest camp in April, triggering Iraq's deadliest day this year.
One suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle near a police station, while a second blew up another near a local administrative building.
Militants then hit both buildings and a local council office with mortar fire, and gunmen clashed with the army.
Seven civilians, three soldiers and four militants were killed and 22 people wounded, army Staff Major General Mohammed Khalaf al-Dulaimi said.
Troops were combing the area for another nine assailants who were believed to have escaped, Dulaimi added.
The Hawijah assault came a day after militants attacked two police stations and a local official's house in two towns northwest of Baghdad, killing seven police and the official's brother.
In the capital, six members of a single family were shot dead on Wednesday, officials said.
A man, his wife, their three children aged between three and six, and another woman were killed in the Shaab area of east Baghdad, officials said, while at least one person was killed and nine wounded by a bomb near a cafe in the capital.
North of Baghdad, a bomb exploded near Balad, killing five people and wounding three, while gunmen killed two farmers in the Muqdadiyah area and a soldier in Taji.
And a bomb killed three people and wounded 25 in Mosul, while one person was also shot dead in the northern city.(Courtesy:Dawn)

Deadly blasts hit Baghdad markets.

Deadly blasts hit Baghdad markets.

BBC News | AP | 26 Sep 2013 :: At least 23 people have been killed in blasts targeting markets in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, officials say.
Bombs in the Shia Sabaa al-Bour area, north of Baghdad, killed up to 16 people. More than 40 others were reportedly injured as the area was packed with shoppers.
A blast in the Sunni Dora district, south of Baghdad, killed seven people.
Sectarian violence has surged across Iraq in recent months, reaching its highest level since 2008.
More than 5,000 people have died so far this year in Iraq, 800 of them in August alone, according to the United Nations.
The worsening violence is also seen a spill-over from the conflict in Syria, which has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones.
There are fears of a return to the all-out Sunni-Shia sectarian violence that peaked in 2006-2007 and killed tens of thousands of people.
In recent weeks, Iraqi security forces have reportedly arrested hundreds of alleged al-Qaeda members in and around Baghdad as part of a campaign which the Shia-led government is calling "Revenge for the martyrs".
But the operations, which have taken place mostly in Sunni districts, have angered the majority Sunni community and failed to halt the violence.
Diplomats say that the government's failure to address Sunni grievances - both their political exclusion and abuses against them by the security forces - are the main factors behind the rise in violence.(Courtesy:BBC News)

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Al Qaeda-linked rebel leader reported killed in Syria.

Al Qaeda-linked rebel leader reported killed in Syria.

Los Angle Time | 24 Sep 2013 :: A leader of an Al Qaeda-linked rebel group in Syria has been assassinated, activists said Monday, further inflaming hostilities between opposition fighters and potentially throwing into greater disarray those trying to oust PresidentBashar Assad.
Abu Abdullah Libi, the self-styled emir of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the northern province of Idlib, was killed Sunday when the vehicle he was riding in was sprayed with bullets, rebels and activists said.
One activist with close ties to the Islamic State said Libi was probably on his way to the village of Hazano, where fighting between his group and mainstream Free Syrian Army rebels erupted earlier in the day, in a bid to negotiate a cease-fire.
As Libi passed through a Free Syrian Army checkpoint, his vehicle came under fire from several directions, said the activist, who goes by the alias Junood for security reasons. Other activists and rebels said the ambush happened on a stretch of highway not controlled by any one group and was carried out by unknown assailants.
A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army denied that its fighters were involved, although the group is far from cohesive.
The incident is certain to cause a further fracturing of the relationship between the two rebel groups, which have by turns fought alongside and against each other.  Activists in Idlib said they feared the Islamic State would retaliate and there would be more fighting.
That would be one more setback for the rebels, whose foreign backers have been slow to send promised military aid because of fears that extremists in their midst are gaining influence.  Fighters within the Free Syrian Army increasingly accuse the Islamic State of being interested only in seizing areas already controlled by the opposition to establish an Islamic caliphate.(Courtesy:Los Angle Time)

Islamist stronghold near Cairo.

Egypt police raid Islamist stronghold near Cairo.

Security forces determined to assert control over pro-Morsi areas, bring to justice killers of 15 policemen in attack last month

CAIRO | 24 Sep 2013 :: Egypt’s state TV said security forces raided a village near the Giza Pyramids west of Cairo hunting for suspects in the brutal killing of 15 policemen last month.
The Tuesday security sweep of Nahya, a stronghold for Islamist groups, was the latest move by authorities to assert control over towns and villages seized by supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi after his July 3 overthrow by the military.
The police officers were killed in the nearby village of Kerdasa, and their bodies mutilated, in apparent retaliation for an August 14 assault by the security forces on pro-Morsi protest camps that left hundreds dead. Security forces reoccupied Kerdasa last week, arresting scores of suspects.
State TV showed security forces in body shields and masked special commandos searching suspects’ home.(Courtesy:The Times of Israel)

Iraq clashes, attacks kill 25.

Iraq clashes, attacks kill 25.

Eight people, including seven policemen, were killed
 on Tuesday during attacks on two police stations
 and a local official's house northwest of
 Baghdad. — File photo
BAGHDAD | 24 Sep 2013 ::  Violence, including fighting between security forces and militants, killed 25 people in Iraq on Tuesday, as the UN warned that sectarian attacks threaten to force more Iraqis from their homes.
Violence in Iraq has reached a level this year not seen since 2008, when the country was emerging from a brutal sectarian conflict.
Militants attacked two police stations and a local official's house in the towns of Rawa and Aana near the highway to Syria in Anbar province, killing seven police and the official's brother, officers and doctors said.
Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Assadi told journalists a large group of militants had attacked Aana, seeking to take control of security positions.
Security forces killed six of the militants, Assadi said, adding that SWAT units were deployed to the area.
Separately, soldiers battled militants in the Hamreen area north of Baghdad, killing four, while two soldiers were killed and nine wounded, officers said.
A helicopter pilot was wounded by gunfire in the operation, during which two militants were arrested and weapons seized, army Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir al-Zaidi told AFP.
Two officers said a helicopter had been shot down, but Zaidi insisted that it was able to return to base.
Militants, including those linked to Al-Qaeda, frequently target security forces and other government employees, and security forces have carried out major operations against them in recent months.(Courtesy:Dawn)

Monday, 23 September 2013

Two killed in suicide attack in Russia's Caucasus.

Two killed in suicide attack in Russia's Caucasus.


Dagestan is one of the most unstable regions in the
 Northern Caucasus, with rebels staging attacks
 against local authorities almost every day.
 — Photo byReuters/File
MOSCOW | AFP | 23 Sep 2013 ::  Two officials were killed and six more people were wounded when a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb on Monday in the volatile Russian Caucasus region of Dagestan, police said.
A car was driven near a police station in the Dagestani village of Khuchni before dawn on Monday morning and was detonated as it came to a sudden halt, regional police said in a statement.
“A suicide bomber was in the car,” the statement said.
An employee of the federal migration service and a policeman died while another six people received injuries. One of the wounded was in a “grave state.”
Police did not provide further details, saying only it was searching for those behind the attack.
The majority-Muslim region of Dagestan experiences almost daily shootings and bombings that officials blame on local criminals and Islamists with links to Chechnya, where the Kremlin has fought two wars over the past 20 years.(Courtesy:Dawn)

Muslim Rebels Attack Another Philippine Town in Mindanao.

Muslim Rebels Attack Another Philippine Town in Mindanao.

Philippine security forces on Monday battled a small splinter group of Muslim extremists in the southern region of Mindanao.
Government troops patrol to secure the city streets on Sept.
 21 in Zamboanga city in the southern Philippines.
23 Sep 2013 :: Philippine security forces on Monday battled a small splinter group of Muslim extremists in the southern region of Mindanao, raising concerns about the stability of the resource-rich region as an earlier hostage standoff in the commercial hub of Zamboanga City appeared to inch closer to an end.
Rebels belonging to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a small group of militants that broke away from the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front to protest peace talks with the government, attacked government volunteers in Midsayap town and took more than a dozen hostages after military troops arrived. Some of the hostages either escaped or were released.
The Philippine government is now negotiating with the Islamic Front, the largest Muslim rebel group, to forge lasting peace in Mindanao, whose development has been stalled by decades of separatist conflict.
In the other rebel fight, now in its third week, security forces are battling rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front faction of Nur Misuari in Zamboanga City, which is around 300 miles from Midsayap. That rebel faction, which had a peace deal with the government in 1996 and is against the current peace talks, attacked Zamboanga City on Sept. 9 to declare its independence from the Philippines. Zamboanga City is 1,160 miles south of Manila, on Mindanao island. The two rebel groups aren’t believed to be connected.
The Bangsamoro Fighters had been planning Monday’s attack on Midsayap town for some time and took advantage of the standoff in Zamboaga City to launch their offensive,Army Capt. Antonio Bulao, spokesman of the 602nd infantry brigade based in North Cotabato, told The Wall Street Journal.
“Authorities and residents have prepared for this attack,” Capt. Bulao said.
The attackers failed to reach the town hall, the captain said, and were confined to villages in marshlands of the town in North Cotabato, a province 283 miles west of Zamboanga City, where several people have been “trapped” by the encounter and being used human shield by the rebels to protect their escape.
Capt. Bulao said three soldiers and two Bangsamoro Figthers were killed in the early morning attack. He said negotiations are ongoing for the release of the seven hostages.
In Zamboanga City, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, a spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said sporadic gun battles continued Monday. He said, however, that the skirmishes aren’t as frequent, likely an indication that the National Front rebels still holed out in two villages are running low on ammunition.
He said government forces continue to clear houses and other structures of rebels and unexploded munitions.

Lt. Col. Zagala said around 105 rebels have been killed since the fighting erupted, while 176 hostages have been freed.
The military estimates there are still 40 rebels holding out in the two villages and that they are holding around 20 hostages.
The standoff in Zamboanga City has forced more than 100,000 residents from their homes.

On Sunday, President Benigno Aquino pledged to bring National Front leader Misuari before the courts to answer for the standoff in Zamboanga City, which the government estimates will cost around $90 million to rehabilitate.(The wall Street Journal)

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Suicide attack on Pakistani church kills 75.

Suicide attack on Pakistani church kills 75.

A Pakistani man carries an injured Christian woman on her arrival
at the hospital after two suicide bomb attacks on a Church in
 Peshawar on September 22, 2013. Two suicide bombers killed at
 least 53 people and wounded more than 100 in an attack on a
 church service in the restive northwestern Pakistani city
of Peshawar, officials said.
PESHAWAR | Pakistan | 22 Sep 2013 :: A pair of suicide bombers detonated their explosives outside a historic church in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing 75 people in the deadliest-ever attack on the country’s Christian minority, officials said.
A wing of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing in the city of Peshawar, saying it would continue to target non-Muslims until the United States stopped drone attacks in the country’s remote tribal region.
The latest drone strike came Sunday, when missiles hit a pair of compounds in the North Waziristan tribal area, killing six suspected militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
The attack on the All Saints Church, which also wounded 110 people, underlines the threat posed by the Pakistani Taliban at a time when the government is seeking a peace deal with the militants. It will likely intensify criticism from those who believe that negotiating peace with the Taliban is a mistake.

Pakistan again violates ceasefire in Kashmir .


Pakistan again violates ceasefire in Kashmir .

Jammu | 22 Sep 2013 ::  Pakistani troops violated ceasefire for the second time Sunday, firing at Indian troops on the Line of Control (LoC) in the Mendhar sector of Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir. Saturday night, Pakistani troops indulged in unprovoked firing at Indian positions on the LoC in Rajouri district, an army spokesman said Sunday. He added, "The Pakistani firing started at 11.55 p.m. and the exchange of gunfire in the area continued till 2 a.m. today (Sunday). No loss occurred on our side.
In the second violation Sunday, Pakistani troops used small arms and automatics to target Indian positions across the LoC, a defence spokesman told IANS. "Pakistani firing started at 3 p.m. Sunday. Our troops retaliated with similar calibre weapons. Intermittent exchange of firing is still going on," he said. Pakistan has violated the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir almost 20 times this month and 100 times so far this year.(Courtesy:IBN Live)

Kenya mall hostage crisis continues, toll 59 .

Kenya mall hostage crisis continues, toll 59 .

New Delhi | Nairobi | 22 Sep 2013 :: Kenyan troops were locked in a fierce gunfight with Somali militants inside an upmarket Nairobi shopping mall on Sunday, in a final push to end a siege that has left 59 killed and 200 wounded with an unknown number of hostages still being held. Israeli forces joined Kenyan efforts to end adeadly siege by Somali militants at the mall, a security source told AFP.
"The Israelis have just entered and they are rescuing the hostages and the injured," the source said on condition he not be named.
The intervention came 26 hours after gunmen walked into the complex, tossing grenades and spraying gunfire at shoppers and staff.
Fifty-nine people are confirmed dead in an attack by Somali Islamist militants on a Nairobi shopping mall, Kenya's interior minister Joseph Ole Lenku said on Sunday.
Some 10 to 15 gunmen are still battling security forces inside Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, he said.
"A number of attackers are still in the building, and range between ten to fifteen gunmen," he said.
"We believe there are some innocent people in the building, that is why the operation is delicate."
Somalia's Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels said the carnage at the part Israeli-owned complex mall was in retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia, where African Union troops are battling the Islamists. Timeline: al Shabab attacks in Somalia, other nations
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a televised address to the nation late Saturday that he had "personally lost family members in the Westgate attack".(Courtesy:Hindustan times)

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Three Nato troops killed in Afghanistan insider attack.

Three Nato troops killed in Afghanistan insider attack.

Three US special forces have been killed by an Afghan wearing a security forces unfiorm, in the first apparent "insider attack" in months.

 Three foreign special forces have been killed by an
 Afghan wearing a security forces unfiorm
 Photo:
AFP/Getty Images
The Telegraph | 21 Sep 2013 :: Since last year, attacks by Afghan soldiers on their allies in the NATO-run ISAF force have become a serious problem, threatening to further undermine waning support for the war among Western nations sending troops here.
"Three International Security Assistance Force service members died when an individual wearing an Afghan National Security Forces uniform shot them in eastern Afghanistan today," ISAF said in a statement.
A US defence official confirmed to the AFP news agency that the three victims were from the United Sates.
US forces provide the bulk of ISAF troops in the east. The attack was the seventh reported insider attack this year, and 12 ISAF personnel have been killed.
The last reported insider attack was on July 9, when an Afghan soldier at a military base in Kandahar shot dead one soldier and wounded three others.(Courtesy:The Telegraph )

Syrian Troops Attack Sunni Village, 15 Killed.

Syrian Troops Attack Sunni Village, 15 Killed.

VOA | 21 Sep 2013 :: Syrian activists say government troops backed by militia fighters have killed at least 15 people during a raid on a Sunni village in the center of the country.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday two women and a child were among those killed in the attack on Sheik Hadid village.

The group said the fighters used guns and knives to kill the residents, calling the raid a "massacre." It said it is not clear if the rest of the men killed were rebel fighters or civilians.

Syria's government is fighting a Sunni-dominated rebel force. Over 100,000 people have been killed in the two-and-a-half-year conflict.

Diplomatic efforts have recently focused on a U.S.-Russian deal that would require Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to give up his stockpile of chemical weapons.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says the Syrian government has begun supplying information about its chemical weapons, in line with the deal.

In a VOA interview Friday, spokesman Michael Luhan said the group has received a partial inventory of the weapons and expects to receive additional information by this weekend.

He said the OPCW would not release details of what was in Syria's declaration.

U.S. and Russian officials agreed, last Saturday, on a framework for ending Syria's chemical weapons program that included a one-week deadline for Damascus to submit a comprehensive list of such weapons.

The plan also calls for Syria to eliminate or remove all chemical weapons material and equipment by mid-2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Syrian non-compliance could lead to a request for punitive action in the U.N. Kerry said Friday that he had discussed prospects for a "firm and strong" U.N. resolution with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

Luhan said the next step for his agency was supposed to be a Sunday meeting to discuss plans regarding Syria's chemical weapons. However, he says the meeting has been postponed indefinitely.

A U.N. report released earlier this week showed overwhelming evidence that chemical weapons were used in an attack near Damascus, last month. However, the report does not assess blame.(Courtesy:Voice of America)

Friday, 20 September 2013

Iraq mosque blasts kill 16 people.

Iraq mosque blasts kill 16 people.


According to the Associated Press, violent attacks in Iraq have
 killed more than 3,000 people since April. (File photo: AFP)
Iraq | AFP | 21 Sep 2013 :: Two bombs exploded in a Sunni mosque in Iraq as worshippers entered for prayers on Friday, killing 16 people, police and a doctor said.
The bombs, which hit the Musab bin Omair mosque near Samarra, north of Baghdad, also wounded 15 people, the sources said.

Militants have carried out numerous attacks on both Sunni and Shiite mosques this year, raising fears of a return to all-out sectarian conflict, which peaked in 2006-2007 and killed thousands of people.

The February 2006 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra itself sparked the wave of brutal violence.

The blasts came a day after the bodies of 10 young men who had been shot dead were found in Baghdad, another reminder of the sectarian conflict in Iraq, during which militants frequently carried out summary executions.
Violence in Iraq has reached a level not seen since 2008, killing more than 4,200 people since the beginning of the year, according to an AFP toll based on security and medical sources.(Al Arabiya )

Pakistan frees top Taliban prisoner Mullah Baradar today.

Pakistan frees top Taliban prisoner Mullah Baradar today.

Mullah Baradar
ISLAMABAD | 21 Sep 2013 ::  Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the senior most Afghan Taliban in Pakistan’s custody, would walk out of detention centre on Saturday amid the hope that he could be the game-changer for the stalemated reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
In order to further facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process, the detained Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, would be released tomorrow (21 September 2013), said a press release issued by the Foreign Office on Friday.
The announcement came hours after Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI Director General Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Pakistan’s top official on foreign affairs and national security, earlier in the month had said that Baradar could be released as soon as this month.
“In principle, we have agreed to release him. The timing is being discussed. It should be very soon ... I think within this month,” said Sartaj Aziz, advisor on foreign affairs and national security to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will be freed into Pakistan and he will remain in the country until he decides himself to move anywhere he deems necessary to initiate the peace process,” he told Dawn.com on Monday.
Aziz, however, added that the former Taliban second-in-command will not be handed over to Afghanistan. “Handing over the key Taliban commander to Afghanistan will sabotage the purpose behind the decision of releasing him,” he said.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry did not make any statement about his future but an official and a Taliban source in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa said that Baradar was expected to stay at home in Karachi where his family lived.
“He will be kept as a simple guy in the network, who can convey messages from time to time but who will not be able to reintegrate the Shura and regain power,” the Taliban official said.
Born in 1968 in the southern province of Uruzgan, Mullah Baradar fought the occupying Soviet forces in the late 1980s before becoming one of the founding members of the Taliban movement.(Courtesy:Dawn)

Thursday, 19 September 2013

UK judge rules Muslim can cover face during trial.

UK judge rules Muslim can cover face during trial.

Woman must remove veil when giving testimony, says court in controversial decision

A Muslim woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons
 arrives at a London court, where a judge has ruled that she
 will be allowed to stand trial while wearing a full-face veil
, but that she must remove it when giving evidence.
 (photo credit: AP/Stefan Rousseau)
LONDON | AP | 19 Sep 2013 ::  In Britain this week, a judge struck a blow for religious freedom. Or for secularism. It all depends on whom you ask.Judge Peter Murphy ruled that a female Muslim defendant may stand trial wearing a face-covering veil — but must remove it when giving evidence. The compromise ruling had some insisting it backs a woman’s religious right to wear the veil, and others saying it shows British justice remains independent and won’t bow to religious demands.

The case has reignited a debate about Muslim veils that has flared across Europe, sparking protests and exacerbating religious tensions in several countries. Those tensions exist in Britain, too, and attacks on Muslims and mosques rose after the May slaying of an off-duty British soldier by Islamist extremists.
But both the court ruling and the interpretations of it suggest that Britain is facing the issue with a streak of pragmatism, and there is little appetite from the center-right coalition government for a ban like that introduced in France.
This is a country where many politicians agree with the aide to former Prime Minister Tony Blair who famously said: “We don’t do religion.”
“I don’t think the government should tell women what they should be wearing,” Home Secretary Theresa May, the country’s interior minister, said Tuesday.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg agreed: “We shouldn’t end up like other countries issuing edicts or laws from Parliament telling people what they should or should not wear.”
The veil has become an emotive issue in European countries that are home to visible and growing Muslim populations.
Two years ago France became the first country to ban face-covering veils such as the niqab or burqa anywhere in public. The officially secular nation had already banned Muslim headscarves and other “ostentatious” religious symbols from classrooms.(Courtesy:Dawn)

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Blasts kill Pakistan Army officers.

Blasts kill Pakistan Army officers.


Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa | K-P | 15 Sep 2013 ::  chief minister Pervez Khattak approved the withdrawal of Pakistan Army from Swat and Malakand on Saturday,once controlled by the banned militants,as the process of pulling out troops from Shangla and Buner districts would start next month.
Pakistan army troops had been ordered into the valley in 2009 by the then democratic government after militants had attempted to take over. After the successful completion of their operation and talks with the militants, it was decided that army personnel will be called off from the area.In the initial stage, security forces will be withdrawn from Buner and Shangla districts in the province starting mid-October.
Pervez Khattak said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had honoured its pledge of establishing the writ of the government.
An official communique issued from the CM House statedthat provincial Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak announced thewithdrawal of army from Malakand division in Nowshera.
Khattak said that withdrawal of army from these two districts would be followed by a phase-wise withdrawal from Upper Dir, Lower Dir and Swat where "the writ of the government has been consolidated".
The announcement comes in the backdrop of federal government preparing to start peace talks with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the light of decisions of an all-party conference.
The army was called out by the then government in 2007 to assist the administration in parts of Malakand division to quell militancy in the mountainous region.
The division comprises Swat, Buner, Shangla, Upper Dir,Lower Dir, Chitral and Malakand districts.When several militant groups, led by Mullah Fazlullah,established a parallel administration in Swat, Buner and other adjoining districts and started brutalities, the army launched an operation in May 2009. The Air Force assisted the army.(Courtesy:Samay Live)

Outcry over rape of five-year-old girl in Pakistan.

Outcry over rape of five-year-old girl in Pakistan.

Pakistani workers from NGOs perform during
 an anti-rape protest in Lahore.
Lahore | 15 Sep 2013 ::  Rights campaigners staged protest rallies across Pakistan on Sunday against the rape of a five-year-old girl in the eastern city of Lahore whose condition is now relatively stable.

Police still have no clue who carried out the attack despite detaining several suspects and releasing most of them after questioning, a law enforcement official said.

The five-year old girl was kidnapped on Thursday and brutally raped in the eastern city of Lahore. 

Police said the girl was found outside a hospital at around 8pm (1500 GMT) on Friday, a day after she went missing from a low-income neighbourhood in the city.

"Her condition is relatively stable but still she is in the Intensive Care Unit," doctor Farzand Ali, medical superintendant in the Services hospital told AFP.

Senior police officer Zulfiqar Hameed said investigators had questioned several suspects but have yet to formally arrested anyone.

"We are investigating and we hope steady progress [is being made] but no one has yet been identified nor anyone formally arrested," Hameed told AFP.

Doctors earlier said the child was raped several times. 

Rights campaigners and workers from NGOs on Saturday and Sunday staged protest rallies across Pakistan and demanded the arrest of the culprits, witnesses said.

Widespread outrage dominated social media while Pakistan private TV channels prominently broadcast reports on the girl and her ordeal.(Courtesy:NDTV)

Pakistan violates ceasefire again.


Pakistan violates ceasefire again.

Pakistan violates ceasefire again
IBN live | India | 15 Sep 2013 :: Pakistani troops on Sunday fired at Indian positions in Mendhar sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said. "Around 6.30 am, Pakistani troops fired at Pilli and Noal posts in Dari Dabsi area of the LoC in Mendhar sector," police sources told IANS. The Pakistan army used automatics and light weapons and the Indian side retaliated the fire.

Till last reports came in, firing exchangebetween the two sides was still going on. On Friday, India's External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Pakistan's adviser on foreign affairs and national security, Sartaj Aziz, agreed to a meeting of the prime ministers of the two countries in New York later this month. Aziz and Khurshid met in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. The two leaders had agreed to respect the LoC ceasefire agreement. Just two days after the meet, Pakistan again violated the ceasefire. The bilateral ceasefire agreement was signed by the two neighbours in November 2003. It had brought normalcy in the lives of thousands of people living close to the border. India has been accusing Pakistan of unprovoked violation of the ceasefire agreement since the beginning of the year.(Courtesy:IBN live)

Taliban bomb kills top Pakistani general, officers.

Taliban bomb kills top Pakistani general, officers.

Islamabad | Pakistan | CNN | 15 Sep 2013 ::  A roadside bomb killed a top Pakistani general Sunday, just a day after officials announced plans to withdraw troops from a war-ravaged region near the border with Afghanistan.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed Maj. Gen. Sanaullah Khan, the commanding officer in Swat Valley. Two other officers were also killed, army officials said.
For years, troops have clashed with Taliban militants in Swat, which drew global attention last year when militants there shot teenager Malala Yousafzai point-blank in the head and neck after she defied the Taliban's ban against girls in school.
The Pakistani army has reclaimed control of the Swat Valley, where the Taliban held significant sway for years. But Sunday's attack was a troubling reminder of the region's volatility even as officials consider pulling out troops.
The roadside bombing occurred in the Upper Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in northern Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan.
On Saturday officials in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa announced for a "phased withdrawal" of troops from Upper Dir, Lower Dir and Swat.
And last week the Pakistani government announced plans to pursue renewed peace talks with Taliban militants.
But a Taliban spokesman said Sunday that there is no ceasefire with the Pakistani government, warning that such attacks will continue.
"We have killed them," Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said, "as they are killing us."
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issued a statement expressing condolences over the slain officers' deaths Sunday.
"(The) Pakistan Army has made substantial sacrifices to protect the nation against the menace of terrorism," he said, "and such cowardly acts by terrorists cannot deter the morale of our armed forces."(Courtesy:CNN )