Tag Archive: Taliban


New footage of captured US soldier: SITEhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110507/ap_on_re_us/us_afghan_captured_soldier_father_s_appeal

By JOHN MILLER, Associated Press John Miller, Associated Press Sat May 7, 7:14 am ET

BOISE, Idaho – In a rare public appeal, the father of a U.S. soldier held captive in the Afghan war has sought the help of Pakistan’s military in securing the release of Spc. Bowe Bergdahl.

Idaho resident Bob Bergdahl, in a video post on YouTube, directly addresses Pakistan Army Chief of Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the head of the country’s intelligence service.

“Our family is counting on your professional integrity and your honor to secure the safe return of our son,” he said. “And we thank you. Our family knows the high price that has been paid by your men in the army and the frontier corps. We give our condolences and thanks to the families of those who have fallen for Pakistan.”

Bowe Bergdahl’s parents have declined to say much publicly since he went missing from his base in southern Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. He is the only American soldier being held in the war.

While it’s unclear where the 25-year-old soldier is being held, a video released on the Internet earlier this week shows him standing next to a senior official in the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network in Paktika province in Afghanistan.

Wearing a long beard he began growing just after his son’s capture, Bob Bergdahl speaks in English, Pashto and Arabic in the video, and he talks directly to members of the Haqqanis and their military commander, Mullah Sangeen.

“Strangely to some, we must also thank those who have cared for our son, for almost two years, Mullah Sangeen, the Haqqanis, and others who have played a role in sheltering the American prisoner,” he said. “We know our son is a prisoner and at the same time a guest in your home.”

Idaho National Guard spokesman Col. Tim Marsano, a liaison for the U.S. Army in Idaho, confirmed that Bob Bergdahl is the man in the video.

The U.S. considers the Haqqani group to be its greatest enemy in Afghanistan. U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, complained last month that Pakistan’s military-run intelligence service maintains links to the Haqqani network. The Haqqanis are Afghan Taliban who control parts of eastern Afghanistan and have bases in Pakistan’s North Waziristan frontier tribal region.

The video comes after Osama Bin Laden’s death on Sunday in Pakistan. Bergdahl doesn’t allude to any relationship between that and the timing of this video.

Speaking to his son, Bob Bergdahl offered reassurances that the family has done all it can — and that they want him home safe.

“We have been quiet in public, but we have not been quiet behind the scenes,” Bob Bergdahl said. “Continue to be patient and kind to those around you. You are not forgotten.”

In the video, Bergdahl appears to reference the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, or Taliban.

“We understand the rationale the Islamic Emirate has made through their videos,” Bergdahl said. “No family in the United States understands the detainee issue like ours. Our son’s safe return will only heighten public awareness of this. That said, our son is being exploited. It is past time for Bowe and the others to come home.”

Bergdahl does not indicate to whom he’s referring to with the phrase “the others.” There are no other U.S. soldiers in captivity in Afghanistan.

Marsano said he was uncertain about the passage.

“I’m not privy to all the information Mr. Bergdahl has, nor did he ask me to expand upon his remarks,” Marsano said.

A phone call to U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., wasn’t immediately returned.

The Bergdahls, who live in a home outside of Hailey near the tourist resort of Sun Valley, have largely shunned media attention following their son’s capture. Last year, Bowe Bergdahl’s mother, Jani Bergdahl, attended an elementary school ceremony after students wrote President Barack Obama urging him to help bring about the captive’s release.

___

Online:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?vyJmmZQ3byKQ

Taliban free hundreds in brazen Afghan jailbreak

An Afghan National Army soldier keeps watch outside Kandahar's main jailhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110425/wl_nm/us_afghanistan_prison

By Ahmad Nadeem Ahmad Nadeem 52 mins ago

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Hundreds of prisoners escaped from a jail in Afghanistan’s south on Monday through a tunnel dug by Taliban insurgents, officials said, a “disaster” for the Afghan government and a setback for foreign forces planning to start a gradual withdrawal within months.

Tooryalai Wesa, governor of volatile southern Kandahar province, told Reuters 488 prisoners escaped due to the negligence of Afghan security forces at the province’s main jail. He said the tunnel led to a nearby house.

The Taliban said in a statement that 541 prisoners escaped through the tunnel, which took months to construct, and were later moved in vehicles to safer locations. The prison, touted as one of the most secure in Afghanistan, is located on the outskirts of Kandahar city.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s chief spokesman told a news conference that the incident, in which many Taliban commanders were said to have escaped, exposed serious vulnerabilities in the Afghan government.

“This is a blow, it is something that should not have happened. We are looking into finding out … what exactly happened and what is being done to compensate for the disaster that happened in the prison,” spokesman Waheed Omer said.

General Ghulam Dastgir, the governor in charge of the jail, said the prisoners had all escaped through the tunnel.

“No one managed to escape through the main gate, everybody went out through the tunnel. The insurgents worked on it for some seven months,” Dastgir said.

“The Taliban have planted bombs inside the tunnel and it is hard to investigate until the explosives are removed,” he said.

BIRTHPLACE OF THE TALIBAN

Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, has been the focus of the U.S.-led military campaign over the past year, with tens of thousands of U.S. and Afghan troops launching offensives around Kandahar city.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan said it is too early to tell what impact the escape will have on plans to hand over other prisons to Afghan security control.

A U.S. State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, indicated that the push to transfer more security responsibilities to Afghan officials will continue.

“This escape is a serious issue which the Afghan authorities are working to address,” the official said, adding that both U.S. and Canadian advisors helped train and mentor Afghan Central Prisons Directorate staff at the prison.

Twenty-six prisoners were recaptured and two killed in a gunfight with security forces, Wesa said.

Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Robbins, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said Afghan officials had not officially asked for help in recapturing the prisoners but NATO “personnel who patrol the area are aware of the situation and will assist the Afghan authorities in responding as needed.”

Reporters were taken into the prison after the jailbreak to view the opening of the tunnel in one of the cell blocks.

Reuters photographs showed a hole, several feet deep, cut into the concrete floor of one of the cells. The hole, big enough to allow one man to climb down at a time, appeared to be connected to a tunnel.

A large carpet in the cell looked to have been folded back to expose the hole. Police told reporters the insurgents had used car jacks to break through the concrete floor, which was several centimeters thick.

The Taliban said the prisoners escaped over a four-and-a-half hour period during the night, meaning more than 100 prisoners an hour would have had to crawl out through a tunnel barely large enough to fit one man.

“Mujahideen started digging a 320-meter (1,049 feet) tunnel to the prison from the south side, which was completed after a five-month period, bypassing enemy checkposts and the Kandahar-Kabul main highway leading directly to the political prison,” the Taliban statement said.

“They moved people in several groups. They had a comfortable period of time to move that many people. It’s obviously very worrying with the timing around fighting season,” said a foreign official in Kandahar with knowledge of the incident.

Wesa said of the 488 who had escaped, 13 were ordinary criminals and the rest were insurgents.

COLLABORATION?

Analysts said the escape was a serious setback for security, and there was doubt about whether it could have happened without the help of guards.

“It is either a case of the jailers being financially motivated and being bribed, or a case of them being politically motivated,” said Waheed Mujhda, a Kabul-based analyst and expert on the Taliban.

Justice Ministry spokesman Farid Ahmad Najibi said he could not rule out the possibility guards had helped in the escape.

Whether the insurgents had all escaped through the tunnel or not, the freeing of hundreds of prisoners, including Taliban militants, is embarrassing for the Afghan government and foreign troops who have trumpeted recent security gains in and around Kandahar after months of heavy fighting, Mujhda said.

The brazen jailbreak comes months before the start of a transfer of security responsibilities from foreign to Afghan forces in several areas — including the main city in neighboring Helmand province — as part of the eventual withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.

Under the transition program, Afghan forces would begin taking over from foreign troops in seven areas this summer and should have control of the whole country by the end of 2014.

While Kandahar is not among the areas listed for the transition of forces in the first stage, Monday’s jailbreak raises serious questions about the readiness of Afghan forces to take over from foreign troops.

The jailbreak also drew comparisons to a similar incident three years earlier. In 2008, Taliban insurgents blew open the gate of the Kandahar prison at night, allowing up to 1,000 inmates, including hundreds of Taliban insurgents, to escape.

Days after that escape, hundreds of Taliban fighters seized villages in districts close to Kandahar and appeared to threaten the city itself, with the government sending more than 1,000 extra troops from the north as reinforcements. Nearly 100 Taliban fighters were killed in the ensuing battle.

(Additional reporting by Ismail Sameem in KANDAHAR and Hamid Shalizi and Rob Taylor in KABUL; Andrew Quinn and David Alexander in WASHINGTON; Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Paul Tait, Alex Richardson and Will Dunham)

NATO: Bomb kills 10 in Afghanistan

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110416/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan

By SOLOMON MOORE, Associated Press Solomon Moore, Associated Press 2 hrs 38 mins ago

KABUL, Afghanistan — Like hundreds of thousands of Afghan men, he volunteered in the national army, ran drills in the mud, carried an automatic rifle, and worked alongside coalition mentors struggling against a hardcore insurgency.

But he was not one of them.

On Saturday, he walked into a meeting of NATO trainers and Afghan troops at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in the eastern province of Laghman and detonated a vest of explosives hidden underneath his uniform, killing 10.

Five NATO troopers, four Afghan soldiers and an interpreter were killed in the deadliest sleeper agent assault since November, when an Afghan border policeman shot six U.S. soldiers to death at a base in the eastern province of Faryab.

Four Afghan soldiers and three interpreters were wounded in Saturday’s attack.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing and said the soldier was a sleeper agent who joined the army a month ago_a contention confirmed by an Afghan army official.

“Today, when there was a meeting going on between Afghan and foreign soldiers, he used the opportunity to carry out the attack,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in an email to reporters.

Attacks by insurgents donning security uniforms are a relatively rare, but recurrent problem as NATO and Afghan forces work more closely together. Afghanistan’s security forces are also ramping up recruitment of Afghan soldiers and policemen so they can take the lead in securing their nation by the end of 2014 — adding more than 70,000 police and soldiers last year in an effort to reach a goal of 305,000 troopers by the end of this year.

Afghan security forces are supposed to be vetted by past employers or even village elders, but in a country where unemployment is about 35 percent, the literacy rate is about 28 percent, and computerized record-keeping is a novelty, background checks are often rudimentary.

The explosion took place at 7:30 a.m., as many people on the base were beginning the morning shift and as NATO and Afghan service members conducted what military officials call a “key leader engagement” meeting according to a NATO spokesman.

Following the explosion, Blackhawk helicopters swooped down to carry the dead and wounded to hospitals.

The bodies of four Afghan soldiers brought to a hospital in Jalalabad were too badly damaged to determine their military rank, said Baz Mohammad Sherzad, the health director in nearby Nangarhar province.

NATO declined to provide further identifying information about its soldiers killed in the blast pending notification of their next of kin.

In the wake of such attacks, often it’s not clear whether the shooter was an Afghan trooper who turned on his Western counterparts spontaneously or an insurgent who donned a uniform to infiltrate the base and attack from inside.

On Friday, a suicide bomber dressed as a policeman blew himself up inside the Kandahar police headquarters complex, killing the top law enforcement officer in the restive southern province. The funeral of Police Chief Khan Mohammad Mujahid, one of Afghanistan’s most prominent law enforcement officials, was attended Saturday by at least 1,500 people including Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa, Afghan Interior Minister Gen. Bismillah Khan Mohammad, Afghan chief justice Abdul Salam Azimi, and the Afghan president’s half brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai.

Earlier this month, a man wearing an Afghan border police uniform shot dead two American military personnel tasked with helping train members of the country’s security forces in Faryab province.

In February, an Afghan soldier shot and killed three German soldiers and wounded six others in the northern province of Baghlan.

Until Saturday, the worse case of a sleeper agent attack was in November, when an Afghan border policeman shot to death six American soldiers before he himself was shot to death in the eastern province of Nangahar. The policeman had been in the force for three years and had accompanied American troopers for about three months when he opened fire on them.

The Taliban took responsibility for that attack.

___

Rahim Faiez in Kabul and Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.

Gunmen kill 8 in attack on minibus in Pakistan

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110325/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan

By HUSSAIN AFZAL, Associated Press Hussain Afzal, Associated Press Fri Mar 25, 7:59 am ET

PARACHINAR, Pakistan – Gunmen attacked a minibus carrying mostly Shiite Muslims and killed eight people on Friday in a stretch of northwestern Pakistan that has seen a recent peace deal between rival Sunni and Shiite tribes, a government official said.

The gunmen who carried out the ambush in the Bagan area of the Kurram tribal region also kidnapped 18 people from the bus, said Javid Khan, a local administrator. The attack was the latest blow to the peace deal, which was meant to end a four-year conflict that cost hundreds of lives, but has failed to extinguish violence in the area.

The bus was attacked as it was traveling on the main road that runs through Kurram that connects the main town in the region, Parachinar, with Peshawar, the capital of nearby Khyber Pakhtunwkha province, said Khan.

Violence had kept the road closed until the peace deal was struck in February.

Five people were wounded in the attack, said Khan. The bus was mostly carrying people from the Toori tribe, one of the main Shiite tribes that struck the peace deal, he said.

A similar attack killed nine people in mid-March who were traveling on the road from Parachinar, a Shiite-dominated town.

It is unclear how the Shiite tribes will respond following Friday’s incident and whether the peace deal will be scrapped.

Tribesmen in Kurram have reported that the Haqqani network — a fiercely independent branch of the Afghan Taliban and a major enemy of U.S. and NATO forces — had helped cut the deal with the Shiites so it could use Kurram as a staging ground for fighting in Afghanistan.

The Taliban, who adhere to a hard-line interpretation of Sunni Islam, have at times exploited sectarian and tribal feuds to spread their influence along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

Also in the northwest, a roadside bomb struck a tribal police patrol in the Munda area of Lower Dir district, killing two policemen and wounding two others, police official Naveed Ahmed said Friday. The attack occurred overnight, he said.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110309/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan

By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Riaz Khan, Associated Press 5 mins ago

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A suicide bomber struck a funeral attended by anti-Taliban militiamen in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing at least 36 mourners and wounding more than 100 in the deadliest militant attack in the country this year. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.

The blast near the city of Peshawar was not far from the tribally administered regions bordering Afghanistan where militants are at their strongest. The area struck is home to several tribal armies that battle the Pakistani branches of the Taliban with the government’s encouragement.

Police officer Zahid Khan said about 300 people were attending the funeral for the wife of a militiaman in the Matani area when the bomber struck. TV footage showed men picking up bloodied sandals and caps from a dusty, open space where mourners had gathered.

Witnesses said the bomber, who appeared to be in his late teens, showed up at the funeral just as it was about to begin.

“We thought this youth was coming to attend the funeral, but he suddenly detonated a bomb,” survivor Syed Alam Khan said.

Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said the insurgents targeted the militiamen because they were allied with the Pakistani government and, effectively, the United States.

“We will carry out more such attacks if they did not stop their activities,” he said via phone from an undisclosed location.

Militia commander Dilawar Khan said he would consult his fighters and local elders about whether to keep battling the Taliban, insisting that the government did not provide them with the resources they need.

Another witness, Farman Ullah, complained that there was no police security in place for the funeral.

“It was the duty of the government to provide us security, but it did not do it,” he said.

The main hospital in Peshawar received at least 36 bodies and more than 100 wounded after the blast, hospital official Jamal Shah said.

Al-Qaida and Taliban militants are waging a bloody war against the Pakistani state from their bases in the northwest. The army has launched several offensives against the Islamist extremists but has also encouraged the formation of private militias to help out in the fight.

While human rights groups are alarmed at the state ceding authority to armed civilians, the government has praised the role of the militias in battling the Taliban or holding ground retaken from them.

Police in Peshawar said late last year that the militias in Matani were essential in stopping Taliban infiltration into the city.

The militiamen operate from heavily fortified compounds in the region and have seen their influence rise. But commanders have complained they do not get enough government help.

The army says it is winning the war against militants, but bombings still regularly strike in much of the country. On Tuesday, at least 20 people were killed in a car bombing in Punjab province.

Also Wednesday, police in Pakistan’s largest city said they had arrested four Pakistani Taliban militants after a tip and a shootout, but four alleged insurgents managed to escape. The militants were believed to be planning attacks in Karachi, a southern city of 18 million, senior police official Mohammad Aslam said.

Police showed reporters four hooded men who they said were the suspects. They also displayed an explosives-laden sucide jacket, assault rifles and other weapons they said they recovered late Tuesday.

Karachi has a history of sectarian, political and ethnic violence. Officials say Pakistani Taliban fighters, who tend to be based in the northwest, increasingly use Karachi as a hide-out.

In the country’s southwest, a landmine exploded next to a vehicle in Dera Bugti area of southwestern Baluchistan province, killing five people and wounding 18, government official Shoaib Jadoon said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility. But Baluchistan has long been the scene of a low-level insurgency which wants the province to have more autonomy and a greater share of the money derived from its natural resources.

____

Associated Press writers Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan, Ashraf Khan in Karachi and Abdul Sattar in Quetta contributed to this report.

Ya’ll read this and tell me what you think.

%d bloggers like this: