AF/pak sweep m 18. 2010 pakistan

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AF/PAK SWEEP M 1.18.2010


PAKISTAN


  1. Five Americans held in Pakistan on suspicion of using the Internet to contact militants said on Monday they had been tortured as police asked a court to indict them on terrorism charges. The students, in their 20s and from the US state of Virginia, were detained last month. Police produced them before an anti-terrorism court on Monday after completing their interrogation. DAWN




  1. Militants blew up a government primary school for boys in the Nadir Khan village of the Landi Kothal Tehsil of Khyber Agency. According to official sources, militants planted two powerful bombs which exploded simultaneously. The school has been completely destroyed but no casualties have been reported so far. DAWN



  1. A video of a Pakistani Taliban leader with the bomber who killed CIA agents in Afghanistan indicated cross-border links between Afghan, Pakistani and Al Qaeda militants, the US regional envoy said on Sunday. Special Representative Richard Holbrooke said in an interview in Kabul that “shadowy but unmistakable” links between groups exposed by the video helped explain why the United States and its allies were fighting in Afghanistan. The video released this month showed the Jordanian suicide bomber posing with Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, before carrying out the Dec 30 attack which killed seven CIA employees, the deadliest strike on the agency in decades. DAWN
  2. At least 20 suspected militants were killed in a pre-dawn US drone attack on a residential compound in Shaktoi area of South Waziristan on Sunday, official sources said. Unmanned drone aircraft had attacked the same area on Thursday and 16 militants were reported to have been killed. That attack had sparked reports that Hakimullah Mehsud, the chief of the Pakistani Taliban, had been killed. But the militants denied the report and released two audio messages of their leader. DAWN




  1. In wake of the reports of possible terror activities in Peshawar, the district government on Sunday imposed section 144 in the city for 30 days.  According to District Coordination Officer Sahibzada Anees, tinted glass vehicles and display of weapons will not be allowed in the city. The section has been imposed all across the city. DAWN



  1. Four militants were killed in an armed clash with security forces near District Char Bagh area in Swat. During the clash the militants instead of surrendering opened firing at the security forces which was retaliated with full force and thus four militants got killed in the operation. AAJ TV

  2. Mianwali police have arrested 7 accused for their alleged involvement in serious acts of terrorism. The arrested are also said to have been involved in suicide attack in Khosa Market, Dera Ghazi Khan and the attack on former prime minister Shaukat Aziz in Attock. GEO TV

  3. A hand grenade blast was reported in Turbat tehsil of Balochistan while anti-tank mines were defused in Kohilo area on Sunday, Geo news reported. Unknown miscreants hurled a hand grenade on the garage of Mullah Saleh located in Turbat bazaar which went off with a loud blast, partially destroying two vehicles but no loss of life was confirmed, source said. GEO TV

  4. At least five miscreants were killed in clashes with security forces in the middle of Kurram Agency and unknown culprits gunned down tribal leader Malik Abdul Qayyum in Bajaur Agency on Monday. GEO TV
  5. Local officials say militants attacked anti-Taliban militiamen in Pakistan's volatile tribal area near the Afghan border, killing one and wounding another. Official Jawed Khan says Monday's attack took place as the militiamen manned a security post in the Bazai section of Mohmand tribal area. Khan says authorities also found the bullet-riddled body of another anti-Taliban militiaman in a nearby area Monday, two days after he was kidnapped. Washington Post


AFGHANISTAN

  1. Taliban gunmen launched a brazen assault on targets in the centre of Kabul on Monday, with suicide bombers blowing themselves up at several locations and heavily armed militants fighting a pitched battle in a shopping centre. The insurgents failed in an apparent attempt to seize government buildings, but demonstrated their ability to cause mayhem at a time when US President Barack Obama is trying to rally support for an expanded military mission to fight them. It was the worst attack on the city in nearly a year. DAWN




  1. The Afghan parliament is to begin its winter recess without waiting for President Karzai to fill vacancies in nearly half of his cabinet. MPs will leave on Monday for a recess lasting until 20 February. The delay will further delay Afghanistan's months of political uncertainty since contested elections. It will also mean that President Karzai will appear at the London Conference on Afghanistan later this month with 11 of his 25 cabinet seats still vacant. BBC



  1. NATO-led troops shot dead an Afghan civilian whose vehicle approached a convoy on Sunday in an area that has seen violent civil unrest over the past week in Afghanistan, the alliance said. It was at least the third time in a week that either NATO or Afghan troops had shot civilians in Helmand Province's Garmsir district, raising the political temperature in an area mostly seized by U.S. Marines from the Taliban last year. Reuters
  2. An official says two Chinese engineers and four Afghans have been kidnapped by gunmen in northwestern Afghanistan. The six men were seized late Saturday while travelling back to their base after a day working on a road construction project. He said Monday that nobody has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. The four Afghans included two engineers and two drivers. Google


  3. An American soldier has died in Afghanistan after being wounded while fighting Taliban-led insurgents, NATO said Sunday. In a brief statement, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the soldier had died on Saturday in eastern Afghanistan, an increasingly volatile theatre of the war against the anti-government militants. It gave no other details. Google

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PAKISTAN

1.)

Detained Americans complain of torture in Pakistan

Jan 18, 2010


SARGODHA: Five Americans held in Pakistan on suspicion of using the Internet to contact militants said on Monday they had been tortured as police asked a court to indict them on terrorism charges.

The students, in their 20s and from the US state of Virginia, were detained last month. Police produced them before an anti-terrorism court on Monday after completing their interrogation.

“We are being tortured, we are being tortured,” several of the men shouted in English from a prison van as it left a court in Sargodha town in eastern Pakistan after their hearing, which took place under tight security.

Jehangir Sarwar, a senior lawyer present in the courtroom, quoted one of the five men as complaining of “police excesses”.

Sarwar, who was in the court as an observer and was not representing anyone, did not say which of the five men made the remark, while police officials denied that mistreatment was raised during the brief hearing.

“None of the five men said anything of the sort in the court. As far as I know, one of these men had a stomach problem,” said Aamir Abbas, a local police official who worked on the case.

A police officer involved in the case, Amir Abbas Shirazi, dismissed the accusation.

“One of them just complained to the court about a stomach problem and said he needed some medicine,” Abbas told reporters.

The five Americans, one of them wrapped in a shawl and another wearing a woolen cap, were brought to the court in handcuffs. Police did not allow reporters into the hearing.

They face lengthy prison terms if found guilty.

Shirazi said police had submitted their interrogation report, including a chargesheet and evidence, and asked the court to indict the suspects under anti-terrorism laws and for violating the penal code.

“These clauses relate to involvement in activities of terrorism and subversion in Pakistan or any of its allies,” Shirazi said.

The men were arrested in the central city of Sargodha, home to one of Pakistan's biggest air bases, 190 km (120 miles) southeast of the Pakistani capital Islamabad, not long after arriving in Pakistan.

Two of them are of Pakistani ancestry, one of Egyptian, one of Yemeni and one of Eritrean.

Police officials said emails showed the suspects had contacted the Taliban, and that the militant group had planned to use them for attacks in Pakistan.

Police also had told court the five men had been in contact with an al Qaeda operative identified as just Saifullah.

The suspects told the court in their last hearing on Jan. 4 that they had no plans to carry out attacks in Pakistan and they had only wanted to give fellow Muslims in Afghanistan financial and medical aid.

They also denied that they had contacts with al Qaeda or any other militant group, according to their lawyer.

A police investigation report showed pictures of a clip of a suicide attack on a US convoy in Kabul posted on the YouTube website.

Police said one of the suspects, Ahmed Abdullah Minni, regularly visited the site and used to praise such videos.

Shortly after Minni became a registered YouTube user, he was contacted by Saifullah, police said in the report.

The next hearing will be on Feb. 2.


http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/03-detained-americans-complain-of-torture-in-pakistan-ss-06

2.)

Militants blow up boys’ school in Khyber Agency

January 18, 2010



KHYBER AGENCY: Militants blew up a government primary school for boys in the Nadir Khan village of the Landi Kothal Tehsil of Khyber Agency, reports DawnNews.

 

According to official sources, militants planted two powerful bombs which exploded simultaneously.



 

The school has been completely destroyed but no casualties have been reported so far.

 

“Militants blew up a government boys' primary school with explosives at around 3.00 am,” tribal administration official Daulat Khan told AFP, adding that all seven rooms of the school were destroyed.



 

Another local administration official, Rehan Gul Khattak, blamed the attack on the militant group Lashkar-e-Islam (Army of Islam).

 

Lashkar-e-Islam is the main extremist group operating in Khyber, and has some ideological ties to the Pakistani Taliban.



 

After the explosion, security forces surrounded the entire area and started a search operation.

So far, militants have destroyed more than 15 schools in Khyber agency. 


http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/provinces/14-militants-blow-up-boys-school-in-khyber-agency-zj-02

3.)

TTP video indicates cross-border links, says Holbrooke

January 18, 2010



KABUL: A video of a Pakistani Taliban leader with the bomber who killed CIA agents in Afghanistan indicated cross-border links between Afghan, Pakistani and Al Qaeda militants, the US regional envoy said on Sunday.

Special Representative Richard Holbrooke said in an interview in Kabul that “shadowy but unmistakable” links between groups exposed by the video helped explain why the United States and its allies were fighting in Afghanistan.

The video released this month showed the Jordanian suicide bomber posing with Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, before carrying out the Dec 30 attack which killed seven CIA employees, the deadliest strike on the agency in decades.

“When people say to us, ‘why are you fighting in Afghanistan when the goal is to destroy Al Qaeda and

they are in Pakistan?’ I think this incident highlights the explanation for what we are doing, because there are some shadowy but unmistakeable connections here,” he said.

The video could show “the very close links between the Haqqani group, Mehsud, Al Qaeda, and it underlines the rationale for our strategy”, he said. “That was a horrifying tape.”

“They’ve all claimed credit for it,” he said of the various militant groups with some possible hand in the CIA attack.

Asked whether he had put more pressure on Islamabad to do more in border regions to rout insurgents, Mr Holbrooke said Pakistan’s military was stretched “very thin”.

“I think they are well aware of the fact that the presence on their soil of the Afghan Taliban and its leadership is not in their own security interests. They know how important this is. They are our allies,” he added.

Pak-India ties

Easing tensions between India and Pakistan would help western efforts in Afghanistan, said Mr Holbrooke. However, it was up to Islamabad and New Delhi to find their own path towards better ties.

He said Washington would welcome better relations between Islamabad and New Delhi, but he had no plans to act as a mediator between the two rival countries. “President (Barack) Obama has said publicly that if India and Pakistan improve their relations, he would welcome it,” he said before leaving for New Delhi.

“But it’s up to them to do it for themselves. We are not intermediating between Islamabad and New Delhi.

“Every time I go to India people say: ‘Are you working on this problem? Are you a messenger? Are you an envoy between the two countries?’” he said. “The answer is ‘no’.”

He described his visit to India as a “consultative trip, it’s not a negotiating trip”, unlike his stops in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

His aim was mainly to explain US regional strategy to Indian officials, on his first visit since Mr Obama announced 30,000 extra troops for Afghanistan in December.

Asked if better India-Pakistan ties were necessary to resolve the Afghan conflict, Mr Holbrooke said: “Is it necessary? ... It would be useful.” Asked why, he said: “For obvious reasons.”

“In this extraordinary strategic context, every country has a legitimate security requirement which has to be acknowledged if we are ever going to get to a resolution of this 30-year process,” he said of the three decades of war in Afghanistan.

“The Pakistan-India relationship is unique because of its origins on the same day in August of 1947 and the unresolved issue of the territory on their common border, which has been so disputed,” he said.

“Pakistan has legitimate security interests like any nation, based on its ... geo-strategic position,” he said. “I am not going to get specific about India’s strategic interests. They will speak for themselves.”—Reuters


http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/world/06-india-pakistan-detente-useful-holbrooke-rs-04

4.)

Twenty killed as drones attack Shaktoi again

January 18, 2010


LADDAH: At least 20 suspected militants were killed in a pre-dawn US drone attack on a residential compound in Shaktoi area of South Waziristan on Sunday, official sources said.

Unmanned drone aircraft had attacked the same area on Thursday and 16 militants were reported to have been killed.

That attack had sparked reports that Hakimullah Mehsud, the chief of the Pakistani Taliban, had been killed. But the militants denied the report and released two audio messages of their leader.

According to officials, some foreigners were among the 20 militants killed in Sunday’s attack. However, the claim could not be verified from independent sources.

Official sources said the US drone fired three or four missiles at around 4am on the compound owned by one Pir Gul, adding that two local commanders and four Uzbeks were among the dead.

Taliban neither confirmed nor denied the claim.

Agencies add: Security officials said US drones appeared to be tracking Hakimullah in a surge in strikes by unmanned spy planes. It was the 10th US drone strike to hit the tribal belt this month.

“The target was a militant compound,” said a security official in the area.

“Twenty militant deaths have been confirmed.”

An intelligence official said that militants had ringed the demolished compound in the remote and mountainous area and were digging out the bodies.

“The drones are apparently tracking and targeting Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud whose presence is frequently reported in the area.”


http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/03-at-least-10-killed-in-drone-strike-in-south-waziristan-ss-05

5.)

Section 144 imposed across Peshawar

January 17, 2010



PESHAWAR: In wake of the reports of possible terror activities in Peshawar, the district government on Sunday imposed section 144 in the city for 30 days. 

According to District Coordination Officer Sahibzada Anees, tinted glass vehicles and display of weapons will not be allowed in the city.

The section has been imposed all across the city.

However, the DCO clarified that government has not banned pillion riding.



http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/metropolitan/03-section-144-imposed-across-peshawar-ss-04

6.)

Troops kills four militants in Swat

January 18, 2010

MINGORA : Four militants were killed in an armed clash with security forces near District Char Bagh area in Swat.

During the clash the militants instead of surrendering opened firing at the security forces which was retaliated with full force and thus four militants got killed in the operation.



http://www.aaj.tv/news/Latest/497_detail.html

7.)

Seven held on terrorist charges in Mianwali

January 18, 2010

MIANWALI: Mianwali police have arrested 7 accused for their alleged involvement in serious acts of terrorism.

The arrested are also said to have been involved in suicide attack in Khosa Market, Dera Ghazi Khan and the attack on former prime minister Shaukat Aziz in Attock.

DIG Sargodha Mian Javed Islam told a press conference that Sajjad alias Shahzad, Imran, Sher Zaman, Amanullah, Muhammad Amjad, Mehboob and Irfan were arrested from Kactcha Gujrat area of Mianwali along with 409 kilograms of explosive material, 16 kgs of detonator chips, suicide jackets, Kalashnikov and other weapons.

He said four of their accomplices identified as Abu Ubaida alias Hasaan, Nadir Abdullah, Ziaullah and Niaz alias Qari Usman alias Khalid are still at large. Raids are being undertaken for their arrest, he added.


http://www.geo.tv/1-18-2010/57278.htm

8.)

Grenade blast in Balochistan

January 18, 2010

QUETTA: A hand grenade blast was reported in Turbat tehsil of Balochistan while anti-tank mines were defused in Kohilo area on Sunday, Geo news reported.

Unknown miscreants hurled a hand grenade on the garage of Mullah Saleh located in Turbat bazaar which went off with a loud blast, partially destroying two vehicles but no loss of life was confirmed, source said.

Meanwhile, security forces planted an anti-tank mines near Vilayat Fort which was defused by FC forces and commenced further investigation into incident, sources said.

http://www.geo.tv/1-18-2010/57228.htm

9.)

Forces kill 5 miscreants in central Kurram

January 18, 2010

PARA CHANAR: At least five miscreants were killed in clashes with security forces in the middle of Kurram Agency and unknown culprits gunned down tribal leader Malik Abdul Qayyum in Bajaur Agency on Monday.

According to sources, the fierce skirmishes took place in Ghalo Ghandi locality situated in the center of Kurram Agency, which claimed lives of five suspected extremists while another 3 sustained injuries.

Meanwhile, DPO Kohat Dilawar Khan old media four tribesmen were rounded up and a huge amount of illegal weaponry was seized from their possession amid raid conducted by security forces on the home of Khan Akbar located in Jirma area of Khwasi Banda.

He said the arrested suspected tribesmen were actually hailing from Kurram Agency while 5 vehicles were also recovered from them.

Malik Fayyaz Khan has been designated the head of Peace Committee in Mahmond Agency following the death of former head Malik Qayyum – died in a bomb attack.


http://www.geo.tv/1-18-2010/57240.htm

10.)

Militants kill anti-Taliban militiaman in Pakistan

January 18, 2010

KHAR, Pakistan -- Local officials say militants attacked anti-Taliban militiamen in Pakistan's volatile tribal area near the Afghan border, killing one and wounding another.

Official Jawed Khan says Monday's attack took place as the militiamen manned a security post in the Bazai section of Mohmand tribal area.

Khan says authorities also found the bullet-riddled body of another anti-Taliban militiaman in a nearby area Monday, two days after he was kidnapped.

The Pakistani government has encouraged anti-Taliban militias to help it battle a raging insurgency that has killed more than 600 people in the last three months. Militant attacks against the militia members are common.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/18/AR2010011801543.html

AFGHANISTAN

11.)

Kabul “under control” after brazen Taliban assault

Jan 18, 2010



KABUL: Taliban gunmen launched a brazen assault on targets in the centre of Kabul on Monday, with suicide bombers blowing themselves up at several locations and heavily armed militants fighting a pitched battle in a shopping centre.

 

The insurgents failed in an apparent attempt to seize government buildings, but demonstrated their ability to cause mayhem at a time when US President Barack Obama is trying to rally support for an expanded military mission to fight them.

 

It was the worst attack on the city in nearly a year.

 

Gunfire and loud explosions shook the city and a huge column of smoke towered over its centre, pouring out of the shopping centre where gunmen battled security forces for hours.



 

After more than four hours of gunbattles, President Hamid Karzai said in a statement that “the security situation is under control and order has once again been restored”.

 

The Taliban said 20 of their fighters were involved in the attacks, which they said targeted the presidential palace, justice ministry, ministry of mines and a presidential administrative building, all clustered in the centre of town.



 

When the attacks began outside Karzai's sprawling palace compound, he was inside swearing in new members of his cabinet.

 

“As we were conducting the ceremony of swearing in, a terrorist attack in a part of Kabul close to the presidential palace is going on. This is just one of the dangers,” Karzai told ministers.


“The danger that could harm Afghanistan is sowing national discord among Afghans.”

 

US envoy to the region Richard Holbrooke, who had left Kabul hours earlier for New Delhi, said: “The people who are doing this certainly will not survive the attack nor will they succeed, but we can expect this sort of a thing on a regular basis. That is who the Taliban are.”



 

The attacks were a slap in the face for an initiative to lure Taliban fighters to lay down their arms, which Karzai plans to announce at an international conference in London this month.

 

The initiative is a key part of Obama's new strategy, which will also see 30,000 extra troops sent to turn the tide against a mounting insurgency.


 

A Reuters correspondent at the scene of the blazing shopping centre siege saw the body of a shopkeeper carried out.

 

People wept over the body as gunshots could be heard ringing out.


 

Mohammad Shah, who had escaped the building where he keeps a shop, said the gunmen had stormed in after an explosion at the gate to the nearby presidential palace. Security guards evacuated civilians while the gunmen rushed to the higher floors.

 

Afghan forces recaptured the shopping centre after noon, killing five fighters there, a security source said. A Reuters reporter at the scene could still hear gunfire, and the head of the Kabul police criminal investigations department said battles were still underway behind the justice ministry building.



 

While the siege was on, a suicide car bomber exploded his vehicle outside another shopping centre nearby killing several police and security officials. A rocket later struck near a cinema hundreds of metres away.

 

Three suicide bombers loaded with grenades blew themselves up in different places: one near the education ministry, a second in a crowded square near the central bank and a third outside the shopping centre, a senior government official said.



 

Initial reports of casualties were only partial. Nato forces said at least two armed insurgents were killed. A security source said two guards were shot dead by the bombers as they stormed the Grand Shopping Centre. Another said three people had died.

 

Health Ministry spokesman Ahmad Farid Raeed said 18 wounded civilians had been transported to hospitals around the city. He did not have any information on how many people had been killed.


 

Government buildings and diplomatic offices in Kabul are heavily fortified but a series of attacks in the past year, including one which specificially targetted foreign UN employees, have underscored the city's vulnerability even at a time of unprecedented security.

 

Last Feburary, attackers stormed the justice ministry and other government buildings and Taliban fighters have mounted similar commando raids in other cities.


 

A Reuters reporter overheard security forces saying on a radio that the car bomber who struck the second shopping centre had driven a military ambulance, suggesting fighters may have posed as members of Afghan security forces or infiltrated them.



http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/world/14-bomb-blasts-gunshots-heard-in-central-kabul-zj-07

12.)

Parliament delays Afghan cabinet

Published: 2010/01/17 15:39:16 GMT

The Afghan parliament is to begin its winter recess without waiting for President Karzai to fill vacancies in nearly half of his cabinet.

MPs will leave on Monday for a recess lasting until 20 February.

The delay will further delay Afghanistan's months of political uncertainty since contested elections.

It will also mean that President Karzai will appear at the London Conference on Afghanistan later this month with 11 of his 25 cabinet seats still vacant.

Parliament has twice rejected many of Mr Karzai's nominations for a new cabinet, forcing the president to direct deputy ministers or other caretaker figures to run their ministries.

"We'll introduce new members after they come back from their recess," the president's spokesman, Waheed Omar, told reporters.

Members have voted to cut their winter recess to 33 days from the original 45 because they must debate the national budget as well as consider the new cabinet nominees, MP Shukria Barakzai said.

Mr Karzai's lists have raised eyebrows for including names linked to warlords and known human rights abusers.

There is speculation that the president is failing to name competent ministers but instead favouring regional bosses who helped him in the fraud-marred election.

Confirming the cabinet is the first big test for Mr Karzai since his re-election last August.

His return to power in a vote marred by fraud has damaged his standing at home and abroad.

And another parliamentary election looms, due to be held on 22 May this year, according to the president's spokesman.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/south_asia/8464283.stm

13.)
NATO troops shoot Afghan in area that saw unrest
Sun, Jan 17 2010

KABUL (Reuters) - NATO-led troops shot dead an Afghan civilian whose vehicle approached a convoy on Sunday in an area that has seen violent civil unrest over the past week in Afghanistan, the alliance said.

It was at least the third time in a week that either NATO or Afghan troops had shot civilians in Helmand Province's Garmsir district, raising the political temperature in an area mostly seized by U.S. Marines from the Taliban last year.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said troops had opened fire after a large vehicle with no headlights approached a convoy at high speed early Sunday morning.

The troops fired 3-5 rounds into the vehicle's grill, ISAF said in a statement. One Afghan civilian man in the vehicle was hit in the chest and died hours later at a U.S. base where he was brought to treat his wounds.

The statement did not identify the nationality of the troops involved in the incident. The NATO-led ISAF force is manned in the area mainly by U.S. Marines.

On Wednesday U.S. and Afghan troops fired on a crowd outside a U.S. base, wounding five people, the military has said.

The previous day, Afghan authorities say Afghan troops fired on a crowd of demonstrators trying to storm a government building, killing eight and wounding 13. U.S. troops say they also fired during that demonstration, but only at a sniper.

The civil unrest has underscored the ongoing volatility of the Lower Helmand River valley, part of Afghanistan's opium-growing heartland, which U.S. Marines seized from the Taliban last year in the eight-year-old war's biggest assault.

U.S. and Afghan officials blame the Taliban for stirring up the unrest by spreading false rumors that American troops desecrated a holy book during a raid.

The 10,000 Marines in Helmand mostly arrived as part of a first "surge" of extra forces ordered by U.S. President Barack Obama at the beginning of last year. The Marine contingent is set to double in coming months under a second surge of another 30,000 troops Obama ordered in December.

The main goal of the extra troops is to secure population centres under a new counter-insurgency strategy, a mission that U.S. commanders say is set back by civilian casualties.


http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60G0GL20100117
14.)
Official says 2 Chinese engineers and 4 Afghans kidnapped in northwestern Afghanistan

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (CP) – 4 hours ago

KABUL, Afghanistan — An official says two Chinese engineers and four Afghans have been kidnapped by gunmen in northwestern Afghanistan.

Abdul Sattar Barez, the deputy provincial governor of the Faryab province, says the six men were seized late Saturday while travelling back to their base after a day working on a road construction project.

He said Monday that nobody has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. The four Afghans included two engineers and two drivers.

Afghan police and intelligence services are searching for the men, who have not been identified for security reasons.



http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5i-zlTu9nlRW_WPYcJZlKm-plGQkw

15.)

US soldier dies in Afghanistan: NATO

(AFP) – January 17, 2010

KABUL — An American soldier has died in Afghanistan after being wounded while fighting Taliban-led insurgents, NATO said Sunday.

In a brief statement, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the soldier had died on Saturday in eastern Afghanistan, an increasingly volatile theatre of the war against the anti-government militants.

"An ISAF service member from the United States died of wounds yesterday as a result of an engagement with insurgents in eastern Afghanistan," it said.

It gave no other details.

Around 113,000 international service men and women are deployed to Afghanistan under US and NATO command for the fight against the Islamist militants, now in its ninth year.

Another 40,000 troops are being sent to the country and are due to arrive by August, military officials have said.

The decision to send more foreign soldiers is part of a renewed strategy for bringing the fight to the Taliban while backing up battlefield progress with aid and development efforts to win over local populations.

The increased forces, however, mean more engagements and inevitably a higher rate of deaths among foreign troops, the officials say.

This has become evident in recent months, as the total death toll among international soldiers in 2009 was 520, compared with 295 for the year before.

According to an AFP tally based on that kept by the independent website icasualties.org, 28 foreign soldiers have died in Afghanistan so far in 2010.

Civilian casualties have also become a central issue in the hostilities, with the Garmser district of southern Helmand province a focal point in recent weeks as the Taliban whips up hostility and ISAF and Afghan forces retaliate.

ISAF said a civilian died after being shot by its troops in the early hours of Sunday morning when they fired on a large vehicle travelling at high speed without headlights towards one of its convoys.

"After firing three to five rounds into the grille of the vehicle, it stopped," ISAF said in a statement.

"The initial assessment determined one civilian received a gunshot wound to the chest... The man died of his wounds this morning. None of the other five passengers suffered any injuries," it said.

Garmser has been the scene of violence for the better part of a week, after demonstrations that government investigators said were whipped up by Taliban rumours that foreign troops had desecrated a copy of the Koran during an operation.

Seven people were killed on Tuesday during a protest march that turned violent when shoots were fired from among a crowd of hundreds of people, officials said.

The following day, another five Afghan civilians were shot and wounded outside a military base during a demonstration that appeared to be related to the Tuesday incident.

The United Nations said in a report released last week that civilians killed in the Afghan war jumped last year to 2,412, making 2009 the deadliest year for ordinary Afghans since the US-led invasion. In 2008, 2,118 civilians were killed.

The majority, or 67 percent of the dead, were killed in Taliban attacks, the UN said.

Among the Taliban's increasingly effective arsenal are roadside bombs, which military intelligence officials say claim up to 90 percent of foreign troops casualties, as well as Afghan security forces and civilians.

Afghanistan's defence ministry said two Afghan soliders were killed on Saturday in the Sangin district of Helmand by a roadside bomb.

In Helmand's Marjah district, an air strike was called in during a fire fight between militants and Afghan troops, also on Saturday, the ministry said in a separate statement, resulting in the deaths of five "terrorists".

And in southern Paktika province four militants were killed and three wounded in a NATO air strike on Saturday, the spokesman for the provincial governor, Mukhlis Afghan, told AFP.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gGHzuvnZyFGKTPlc5yUMwjbPteqg
















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