Rescue mission: NATO and Afghan troops on Saturday rescued two British aid workers and their two Afghan colleagues who were kidnapped by the Taliban on May 22 in Afghanistan's northern Badakhshan Province (NYT, WSJ, AP, CNN, LAT). The Canadian government on Saturday condemned a report issued by the United Nations Committee Against Torture on Friday that accuses Canadian forces of handing detainees over to Afghan authorities despite having reason to believe they would be tortured (AP). As NATO prepares to draw down its forces in Afghanistan, Chinese president Hu Jintao and Afghan president Hamid Karzai plan to sign a wide-ranging pact on bilateral ties, which includes security cooperation (Reuters).
U.S. Army prosecutors alleged on Friday in a new charge sheet that Sgt. Robert Bales, who is accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians in southern Afghanistan in March, was using alcohol and steroids near the time of the attack (LAT). The new charges also allege that Sgt. Bales beat an Afghan man the month before the attacks.
The Times' James Risen published a must-read on Monday detailing the power struggles and financial conflicts within the powerful Karzai family (NYT). Two of President Hamid Karzai's brothers, Shah Wali Karzai and Mahmoud Karzai, are locked in a fierce battle over funds that Shah Wali moved from a family-run housing development company called Aino Mena to a new company.
At the urging of President Karzai, 21 criminal indictments in the massive Kabul Bank fraud were sent to a special tribunal on the case, Afghan officials said this weekend (NYT). Karzai also called for the disarming of an Afghan Local Police Unit whose members are accused of raping an 18-year-old girl, Lal Bibi, in the northern province of Kunduz. Bibi's family took the unusual step of filing a complaint with the governor over the rape, but are still considering killing her if the men are not punished, in order to restore the family's honor (NYT).
Flurry of attacks
A U.S. drone strike killed 10 people in the Birmal area of South Waziristan on Sunday, a day after another drone attack in the same area killed two suspected militants (Reuters, AP, Dawn, Dawn, CNN, AJE, Guardian, AFP). And on Monday, a third drone strike killed an estimated 15 people in a village just south of Mir Ali, North Waziristan (NYT, AP, BBC, Reuters, AFP, CNN, ET).
The United States and Pakistan are still working to negotiate the terms of reopening NATO ground supply routes to Afghanistan, the closure of which has rerouted all truck traffic through Afghanistan's Salang Pass, the only passable land route from Afghanistan's Central Asian neighbors to the north (NYT). A narrow, dangerous Soviet-built tunnel at the Salang Pass struggles to accommodate the massive trucks, and the traffic has lengthened travel times on the road by days. As diplomatic relations between the United States and Pakistan have worsened, so too has public opinion of the other country in both nations (Reuters).
A Pakistani court on Saturday acquitted four men accused of providing financial and logistical support to Faisal Shahzad while he was in Pakistan receiving training from the Taliban before he tried to detonate a car bomb in Times Square in May 2010 (NYT, AP, CNN, LAT). Shahzad pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison in October 2010. Pakistan's Supreme Court on Monday suspended Interior Minister Rehman Malik's Senate membership after Malik failed to prove he had given up his British citizenship (Dawn, ET). Pakistani MPs are not allowed to have dual nationality.
Unidentified gunmen in Quetta, Balochistan opened fire on workers in a welding shop taking their lunch break on Sunday, then shot at a police patrol nearby, killing six people in the attack (ET, Dawn, DT). Targeted killings continue in Karachi, with six bodies found in the city on Sunday and four more killed on Monday (ET, ET, Dawn). Pakistani jets bombed militant hideouts in Khyber Agency early Monday morning, killing at least 10 fighters (ET).
Few would expect one of Karachi's most well-known establishments and neighborhood favorites to be called Disco Bakers and Sweets (ET). Opened in 1978, Disco is a not only a much-loved bakery, but also an important landmark for everyone from locals giving directions to visitors, to police writing reports on crimes in the area.-- Jennifer Rowland