Three suicide bombers in the usually peaceful city of Zaranj, the capital of Afghanistan's southwestern province of Nimroz, killed at least 20 people and wounded dozens on Tuesday (AP). The first one occurred in the heart of the city, while police shot at and accidentally detonated the explosive vests of the second two attackers.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday that the Pakistani military plans to launch operations against militants operating in the tribal agency of North Waziristan, with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as the primary target (AP). Sec. Panetta welcomed the decision, although the United States would like to see Pakistan take action against another militant group in the region, the Haqqani Network.
Pakistan's Interior Ministry on Monday denied reports that Afghan officials had met with the former second-in-command of the Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who has been in prison in Pakistan since 2010 (AP, AFP). A Pakistani intelligence official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed the meeting, though. Meanwhile, at least 20 militants and five soldiers were killed on Tuesday in Orakzai Agency during a clash after militants ambushed a military patrol (Reuters).
As Pakistan celebrates Independence Day on Tuesday, several officials have made speeches about the country's governance and militancy issues. Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani called Tuesday for unity in the fight against terrorism, and said with reference to the semi-autonomous and restive tribal areas that, "no state can afford a parallel system or militant force" (BBC). And Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said on Monday that Pakistan cannot exist without democracy, and highlighted the achievements of the current democratically elected government, which looks soon to become the first in Pakistan to survive an entire term-length (Dawn, DT).
Heavy fighting erupted early Tuesday morning between Afghan and Pakistani forces in Afghanistan's eastern province of Kunar, which shares a border with Pakistan (BBC, AFP). An Afghan border convoy in Kunar was the victim of an attack -- which Afghan police say originated across the border -- leaving one border policeman dead, after which Afghan authorities sent hundreds of troops to Kunar to support retaliatory attacks.
A spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said Monday that the international coalition and its Afghan partners are taking steps to reduce the number of ‘green-on-blue' attacks in which members of the Afghan security forces attack NATO troops (NYT). Brig. Gen. Gonter Katz said ISAF officials are working with the Afghans to improve the recruiting process for soldiers and policemen, and with their own soldiers to teach them about the importance of being culturally aware and not offending the Afghans. A new CNN piece based on data compiled by the New America Foundation reveals that more U.S. troops have died in green-on-blue attacks this year than in any other year (CNN). And as NATO combat troops transition out of Afghanistan, the military trainers left embedded in Afghan units will be increasingly vulnerable to such attacks.
Usually, when a policeman is awarded a medal for bravery in the line of duty, it is because his peers and superiors want to recognize his outstanding or extraordinary actions. Not so for Inspector General of Punjab Police Habibur Rehman, who actually nominated himself for a Sitara-i-Imtiaz for "remarkable contributions" during a terrorist attack on a police training school in 2009 (ET).
-- Jennifer Rowland