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Posts Tagged ‘attacks’

Merger of Somali militants could mean more attacks

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 9:30 am

 Somalia’s weak, U.N.-backed government could face an increase in attacks from Islamist insurgents after the two largest groups dropped their running feud and merged, analysts and fighters said Monday.

The announcement on Sunday of a merger between al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam means the two won’t waste resources fighting one another, and will instead concentrate on fighting the Mogadishu-based government and the African Union troops who protect it, said Sheik Mohamed Osman Arus, Hizbul Islam’s head of operations.

“The two groups have already shared ammunition, field clinics and fought together,” Arus said. “But having a united leadership will mean the end of the puppet government and the African dogs,” a term militants use for the 8,000 African Union troops in Mogadishu.

Some of the 1000 soldiers of Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) trained by Uganda and European Union at their passing out parade, in Bihanga about 350kms west of Uganda capital Kampala, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Since its establishment in 2007, al-Shabab has sought to defeat any Islamist rival. The group — Somalia’s most dangerous — increased attacks on Hizbul Islam in recent months and overtook several towns Hizbul Islam once controlled, military momentum that hastened the merger.

Abdirahim Isse Adow, the director of the government-run Radio Mogadishu, saw the merger as an opportunity for the government.

“It will be easier for the government to fight one group instead of fighting two different parties,” he said. “The public got fed up with al-Shabab’s tactics, and now the government can present itself as the only option in the market of winning hearts and minds.”

Al-Shabab imposes a harsh and conservative reading of Islam that bans movies and TV. Punishments include the chopping off of hands of thieves and death by stoning of adulterers. Several hundred foreign fighters — some of them veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts — populate its ranks.

Hizbul Islam has previously condemned al-Shabab’s use of suicide bombers and summary executions. Its founder, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, also criticized al-Shabab’s public pledge of allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Hizbul Islam is widely seen as having a more nationalist agenda than al-Shabab, which has been heavily influenced by Wahhabi Islam ideology.

Arus, the Hizbul Islam commander, said his group united with al-Shabab under its own terms because continued fighting would only degrade both organizations, giving “more power to the enemy.” He said that 22 Hizbul Islam leaders met in Mogadishu on Friday and Saturday and decided on joining al-Shabab.

“We said to ourselves fighting al-Shabab will only lead to the Islamists’ downfall, as those apostates (the government and its backers) will take advantage of our weakness,” Arus said. “So we decided to unite with al-Shabab and strengthen the Mujahedeen. We will advise those hardline elements in it from within.”

Omar Abdirahman Mohamed, a political commentator on Mogadishu radio stations, said the merger wasn’t equal, but that al-Shabab “gobbled up” Hizbul Islam.

“The merger is a not a sea change in Somali politics,” he said. “I don’t think that their merger will affect the government significantly because they were already government enemies. If it brings something it is that it will only make reconciliation efforts more difficult because the anti-peace al-Shabab has taken over the opposition.”

Rashid Abdi, a Somali analyst with the International Crisis Group, downplayed the alliance, calling it “tactical.”

“I don’t think it can have a serious military effect on the government because Hizbul Islam has been weakened by al-Shabab and desertions,” he said. “I’m skeptical about its life span.”

Source: SGGP

Pakistan praised India response on Mumbai attacks: WikiLeaks

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2010 at 10:56 am

A Pakistan High Commission official praised India for acting “responsibly and maturely” following the Mumbai terror attacks which killed 166 people, according to US official cables released by WikiLeaks.

A fire breaks out of the dome of the Taj hotel in Mumbai, 2008.

The official, whose name was deleted in the confidential cable, made the comments when contrasting New Delhi’s reaction to the Mumbai attacks to its response after the bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul in July 2008.

The cable, dated December 1, 2008 and signed by then US envoy David C. Mulford, spoke of strong demands in the Indian media for retaliatory action against terror camps in Pakistan after Mumbai.

It quoted the Pakistani official as saying the Indian government’s reaction to the embassy bombing was “impulsive and politically motivated” when it swiftly blamed Pakistan’s intelligence agency.

More than 40 people, including India’s military attache and a diplomat, were killed in the July 2008 attack on the embassy in Kabul, while 166 people died in the Mumbai attacks by Islamist gunmen in November 2008.

According to the Pakistan officer, the negative effects of the Mumbai attacks on ties between the nuclear-armed rivals, who have fought three wars, would “fizzle out over the next few months”, the cable said.

The concluding comment on the Mumbai attacks by the US Embassy was: “No Military Confrontation Anticipated”.

India is still pressing Pakistan to bring to justice the alleged masterminds of the attacks in which 10 Islamist gunmen attacked a host of targets including luxury hotels, a Jewish centre and the train station.

Nine of the gunmen were killed and the sole survivor, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, was condemned to death by a Mumbai court in May. He is challenging the sentence.

Seven suspects in Pakistan including the alleged mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Lashkar-e-Taiba operative Zarar Shah have been put on trial in the country, but none has yet been convicted.

Source: SGGP

N.Korea blames South over attacks, says ready to fire again

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2010 at 1:20 am

SEOUL, Nov 25, 2010 (AFP) – North Korea again blamed the rival South for provoking a deadly artillery attack on a border island and warned that it stood ready to strike once more.

The country, officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), said it fired a barrage of shells Tuesday because South Korea’s military had failed to call off a military exercise in disputed waters.

“The DPRK that sets store by the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula is now exercising superhuman self-control, but the artillery pieces of the army of the DPRK, the defender of justice, remain ready to fire,” a government statement released late Wednesday said.

North Korea killed at least four people when it fired 80 shells on to Yeonpyeong island, which lies near the disputed Yellow Sea border.

Pyongyang does not accept the UN demarcation line running through maritime territories which was drawn after the 1950-53 Korean war.

In a statement attributed to a foreign ministry spokesman, the North reiterated its case that Seoul provoked the attack by carrying out live-fire exercises on the island that sent shells into waters claimed by the North.

“The enemy fired shells from the islet which is so close to the territory of the DPRK that it is within each other’s eyeshot,” it said.

“This powder-reeking sabre-rattling cannot be construed otherwise than a politically motivated provocation.”

North Korea said that when South Korea went ahead with the exercise after repeated requests to halt it, it was forced to retaliate.

“The army of the DPRK (North Korea) took such a self-defensive measure as making a prompt powerful strike at the artillery positions from which the enemy fired the shells as it does not make an empty talk,” it said.

Source: SGGP

Obama kicks off Asia tour with Mumbai attacks tribute

In Uncategorized on November 6, 2010 at 7:51 am

British units ‘under scrutiny over Afghan attacks’

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 at 5:35 am

LONDON, Oct, 27 (AFP) – Three British military units in Afghanistan face questions about their conduct after details of their involvement in attacks on Afghan civilians emerged, a report said.

Of casualties caused by British forces, two-thirds involved troops from the three units, reported Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which obtained the information from the government through freedom of information legislation.

AFP file photo of Royal Marines taking part in a live-fire exercise on Salisbury Plain.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) released information about 21 incidents in response to the paper’s demands.

The information revealed that the Coldstream Guards shot four civilians in Kabul over four weeks, while the Royal Marine commandos killed or wounded civilians eight times in six months.

And a third unit, The Rifles, were involved in three incidents last year.

Children were among the casualties and a man with mental health problems was attacked on one occasion, the information showed.

The attacks were among incidents mentioned in tens of thousands of classified US military documents on the war in Afghanistan, which were published by whistleblower website WikiLeaks in July.

Exact details of the attacks were not released at the time, said the Guardian.

Defence officials insisted protecting Afghan civilians remained a priority.

“We deeply regret all civilian casualties,” said an MoD spokesman.

“Protecting the Afghan civilian population is a cornerstone of [the NATO-led force] ISAF’s mission, and all British troops undergo comprehensive training on the strict rules of engagement.”

He added this was in contrast to the insurgents, who “cause the majority of civilian deaths and injuries in Afghanistan.”

Source: SGGP

Canadian colonel gets life for sex attacks, murders

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2010 at 7:54 am

A Canadian judge imposed two life jail sentences on a top air force colonel, branding him a “sick and dangerous man” for a spree of murders, sexual assaults and burglaries.

Colonel Russell Williams, who once piloted a plane for the British royal family, broke down and sobbed as the two consecutive life terms were announced after he admitted killing two young women and coldly videotaping their murders.

Police arrested Williams in February for the disappearance and death of 27-year-old Jessica Lloyd, who was last heard from in January.

He was later charged with the November 2009 murder of Marie-France Comeau, a female corporal under his command at the Trenton military base.

A Canadian fighter jet inside a hangar.

Williams was also charged with two home invasions in which women were confined and sexually assaulted, and 82 counts of burglary and attempted breaking-and-entering in the Ontario cities of Ottawa, Belleville and Tweed.

A stash of women’s undergarments taken by police from his Ottawa residence was linked to the burglaries near his home and job.

Hundreds of photographs and videos of the sexual assaults and murders were also found on his home computer.

Throughout the week, the court heard horrific evidence and Williams’s chilling confession to police of how he repeatedly raped Lloyd and Comeau over several hours before strangling one and taping the other’s mouth and nostrils closed to watch her suffocate.

Williams, 47, had commanded Canada’s busiest air force base, the 437 Squadron in Trenton, east of Toronto, for more than a year prior to his arrest.

He had only met Comeau once prior to her death. She was working as a flight attendant on a military flight. But as her boss, he knew her schedule and that she lived alone.

On the night of November 23, 2009, he left his office at the military base, broke into her home through a basement window and attacked her. They struggled. He beat her nearly unconscious with a flashlight, tied her up and covered all of the windows in the house.

She pleaded with him: “I don’t want to die. Leave me alone. I don’t want to die.”

Afterwards, Williams washed her bed sheets and drove directly to Ottawa for a meeting with military brass.

He would later send a signed letter of condolence on behalf of the Canadian Forces to Comeau’s father, a 45-year veteran of the military.

Williams took an interest in his second victim, Lloyd, after spotting her once on a treadmill through a window as he was driving by her house.

Over a 24-hour period, he kept her confined and took more than 900 lurid photographs of her while raping her.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Scott described Williams as a “sick and dangerous man” as he handed down the most severe sentence available under Canadian law.

Williams will not be eligible for parole for 25 years.

“Russell Williams will forever be remembered as a sadosexual serial killer, (and)… Canada’s bright shining lie,” he said. “The depths of the depravity shown by Russell Williams have no equal.”

The disgraced colonel apologized for the pain and suffering he caused, for “violating people’s intimate privacy” and betraying his family, friends and military colleagues.

Most of the break-ins occurred at night, and at least once while he wore his military uniform.

“Your Honour, I stand before you ashamed of the crimes I’ve committed,” he said. “I deeply regret what I’ve done, and the harm I’ve caused with these despicable crimes.”

Outside the courtroom, prosecutor Lee Burgess described Williams as “one of the worst offenders in Canadian history.”

“As long as he dies in jail, I’m happy,” said Andy Lloyd, the brother of one of Williams’ victims.

Before overseeing the repatriation of dead soldiers from Afghanistan, Haiti relief flights and Arctic search and rescue from the Trenton military base, Williams was in charge of Canada’s secretive Camp Mirage in Dubai.

The married pilot also flew the jet used to ferry Canada’s prime minister as well as the British royal family on a visit.

“I guess we still don’t understand the why, and this is something that troubles Canadians at large as it troubles those who have known this individual,” said Chief of the Air Staff Lieutenant-General Andre Deschamps.

“How could we have known? What could we have done differently? I’m not sure we’ll ever get answers to that,” he said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada’s military has been “very badly wounded and betrayed” by this “horrific series of events.”

Source: SGGP

Red Face Monkey attacks human

In Uncategorized on July 5, 2010 at 4:09 pm

A heard of about 30 Red Face Monkeys attacked a person in a cornfield on July 4, said a representative of the Tan Trach commune People’s Committee.

Red Face Monkey

Dinh Rau, deputy chairman of the Farmer’s Association in the commune went to the cornfield with two dogs and discovered the monkey herd taking corn.

Upon seeing Rau, the herd retreated into a nearby rock cave to hide.

Rau and the two dogs pursued the monkeys into the cave to retrieve the corn, but the herd appeared and attacked him.

Rau came to Phong Nha – Ke Bang forest management board to complain about this.

The management board explained and supported medicine and money as well as advised him not to kill the moneys because the Red Face Money is a precious species protected by law.

Source: SGGP

Iraq on alert after attacks kill over 100

In Uncategorized on May 11, 2010 at 4:48 am

Iraqi police man a checkpoint in Baghdad. AFP photo

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Security forces were on alert Tuesday after a wave of attacks including three car bombs at a factory and another against emergency workers killed at least 100 people in Iraq’s bloodiest day this year.

Nearly 350 people were wounded in around two dozen attacks nationwide, a surge in violence that came as Iraq moved closer to forming a government two months after a general election seen as crucial to US combat troops leaving the country by August 31.

The United States led international condemnation of the violence, saying opponents of Iraqi progress were making “one last charge” at fomenting chaos, while France “strongly condemned” the attacks.

The deadliest attack saw two suicide car bombs detonate simultaneously in the car park of a textiles factory in the central city of Hilla, as workers boarded buses to go home, followed minutes later by a third car bomb, police Captain Ali al-Shimmari told AFP.

About an hour later, according to Shimmari, a fourth explosives-packed vehicle exploded, engulfing the area as emergency service workers treated victims at the scene.

“When I heard the explosions, I rushed outside and saw the massive damage — there were bodies everywhere, people were crying and screaming,” said Haidar Ali, 35, who had by chance stayed in the factory to speak to a colleague.

“It’s the fault of the government and the company. They care only about their own personal safety, and they left the workers without any security. They were very easy targets.”

Dr. Ihab al-Dhabhawi, a doctor at Hilla’s hospital, said the explosions, the first of which struck the State Company for Textile Industries at around 1:30 pm (1030 GMT), killed 50 people.

A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said security forces had received intelligence of car bombs targeting the city, 95 kilometres (60 miles) south of Baghdad, and had searched different parts of it before hearing the explosions.

And in the southern port city of Basra, three car bombs at two markets killed 20 people, police said.

The first blast struck in a busy market in the centre of the city, 450 kilometres (280 miles) south of Baghdad, at around 6:00 pm (1500 GMT), while two other blasts hit another market in central Basra an hour later.

Earlier on Monday, the capital Baghdad was hit by a spate of shootings with automatic weapons against six police or army checkpoints in the east and west of the city, which left seven dead, the interior ministry official said.

Two other policemen died in three bombings in south and west Baghdad, he added.

“The attacks started at 6:30 am (0330 GMT) and ended around 8:00 am (0500 GMT),” the official said, noting that nearly all of the wounded were security personnel.

A double bomb attack near the mosque in Suwayrah, 60 kilometres (40 miles) southeast of the capital, meanwhile, killed 11 people and wounded 70, a police lieutenant told AFP.

Twelve other people were killed in separate attacks around the former Sunni insurgent bastion of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, the northern city of Mosul, in Iskandiriyah, south of Baghdad, and near Tarmiyah, north of the Iraqi capital.

Monday’s death toll was the highest since December 8, when 127 people were killed in five massive vehicle-borne bombs across the capital.

Although violence has dropped in the past two years, the latest unrest will be seen as evidence that insurgents remain capable of wreaking carnage on a grand scale, two months after elections in which no clear winner emerged.

Electoral officials said on Sunday that results from the March 7 vote were nearly finalised, with totals from all but one province sent for ratification. A recount in the lone exception, Baghdad, is more than half complete.

Monday’s violence came after figures showed the number of Iraqis killed in violence in April fell slightly month on month but was almost unchanged from 12 months ago — 328 people died as a result of attacks last month.

Also last month, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the political leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and Abu Ayub al-Masri, an Egyptian militant and the group’s self-styled “minister of war,” died when their safehouse north of Baghdad was bombed.

Source: SGGP

Indian court convicts gunman in Mumbai attacks

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm

(AFP File) – Mumbai Police-issued photo shows Pakistan national Mohammed Ajmal Kasab on a hospital bed in December.

MUMBAI (AFP) – The lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks was convicted by an Indian court on Monday of murder and waging war against India for his role in the 60-hour siege that left 166 people dead.

Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, 22, was found guilty on the most serious charges over the assault that saw 10 gunmen attack three luxury hotels, a restaurant, a Jewish centre and the main CST train station.

“You have been found guilty of waging war against India, and killing people at CST, killing government officials and abetting the other nine terrorists,” judge M.L. Tahaliyani said as he delivered his verdict.

Kasab was convicted on most of the 86 charges against him and faces the death penalty.

Dressed in a long white shirt from his native state of Punjab, Kasab stood impassively in the dock in the special prison court as the verdict was announced.

Two Indian nationals Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed accused of providing logistical support to the gunmen by supplying them with handwritten maps of the city were found not guilty.

The widely-expected judgement came after the prosecution said there was “overwhelming” evidence against Kasab, including DNA and fingerprints, security camera footage and photographs showing him with a powerful AK-47 assault rifle.

Kasab, a school drop-out, was captured in a photograph walking through Mumbai’s train station wearing a backpack and carrying an AK-47 in one of the defining images of the attacks.

The former labourer initially denied the charges, then pleaded guilty, before reverting to his original stance and claiming that he was set up by the police and had been in Mumbai only to watch films.

Observers expect the judge to hand down the maximum death sentence when a sentence is announced on Tuesday, but a lengthy, possibly open-ended, appeal through the Indian courts is likely.

The government officially supports capital punishment for what the Supreme Court in New Delhi has called the “rarest of rare” cases but no execution has been carried out since 2004 and only two since 1998.

Decisions are still pending on appeals for clemency to India’s president from the killers of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and Mohammad Afzal, a Kashmiri separatist who attacked the country’s parliament in 2001.

In his first confession, Kasab admitted to being one of two gunmen who threw grenades and opened fire at unsuspecting rush-hour commuters at Mumbai’s main railway station.

The railway assault, which killed 52 and wounded more than 100, was the bloodiest episode in the siege, blamed by India on Pakistan-based Islamist extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and elements in the Pakistani military.

Kasab later retracted the confession, saying it was made under police pressure and that he was a victim of mistaken identity. He had earlier alleged torture while in police custody.

He and his accomplice also gunned down a number of senior police officers as they fled the station while a home-made bomb they placed in a taxi that took them to the station later exploded, killing the driver and his passenger.

In Kasab’s home village of Faridkot in Pakistan, many people denied any connection with him, while some sought to justify his attack on the implacable foe across the border.

Nuclear armed neighbours India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947.

“Look, don’t blame him. There is nothing wrong if he did it with good intentions against an infidel country like India,” said Amjad Ali, a 60-year-old farmer.

The trial, which began at a high-security prison court last April, was keenly-watched given the psychological impact of the attacks, which are often compared in India to the September 11, 2001 assault on New York and Washington.

The death and destruction in Mumbai came after a series of blasts in Indian cities in 2008 blamed on Islamist extremists.

The episode revealed glaring gaps in national security, prompted an expensive upgrade in home security and severely strained diplomatic ties with with Pakistan which are yet to recover.

Many Indians, including some lawyers, said the trial should never have taken place, with some calling for Kasab to be hanged without trial.

Source: SGGP

Thai police tell Reds to retreat after grenade attacks

In Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 at 8:44 am

Thai police sought Friday to push back anti-government “Red Shirts” from a confrontation zone in Bangkok after deadly grenade attacks further stoked tensions in the long-running political standoff.

Hundreds of riot police, unarmed but carrying shields and batons, moved on the heavily fortified barricades which form the front line of the Reds’ vast encampment that has paralysed the main retail district in the heart of Bangkok.

“Police asked protesters to move their barricade some 100 metres… to ease the confrontation but so far there is no agreement,” Major General Anuchai Lekbumrung of Bangkok Metropolitan Police told AFP.

“There will more talks this afternoon,” he said after police later withdrew from the barricades, a three-metre (10-foot) high wall of car tyres, sharpened bamboo staves and plastic sheeting which has also been doused with fuel.

Red Shirt anti-government protesters are seen next to their barricades during a face-off with riot police at the Silom road intersection, in central Bangkok’s financial district early on April 23

The action came after five grenade blasts hit the area on Thursday night, targeting hundreds of pro-government supporters in attacks that left one Thai woman dead and scores wounded, including foreigners.

It was the latest bloodshed on the streets of Bangkok in the weeks-long standoff between the government and Red Shirts, and triggered alarm in the international community which issued urgent calls for for restraint.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the grenades were fired from within the sprawling Red Shirt encampment, but leaders of the protest movement — who are campaigning for snap elections — denied they were responsible.

“The bomb attacks last night have nothing to do with our movement, we still adhere to a policy of non-violence,” said Red Shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar, accusing the government of orchestrating the blasts.

Nattawut told demonstrators to prepare for a crackdown by security forces, which have warned time is running out for Red Shirts who have staged rolling street rallies since mid-March.

“The authorities are trying to push in,” Nattawut told the crowd from a rally stage, where live pop music was playing to entertain a dancing crowd despite Thursday’s bloodshed.

The grenade blasts came after a failed attempt by authorities on April 10 to disperse the Red Shirts, sparking clashes that left 25 people dead and more than 800 injured in the worst civil unrest in almost two decades.

Suthep had said three were killed in the blasts, but emergency services and the health ministry said Friday that only one person was killed, a Thai woman.

The number of injured was put at between 78 and 85, including up to four foreigners — an Australian man, an American, a Japanese citizen, and an Indonesian.

Ambulances rushed away bloodied victims after the grenades exploded at a station in the elevated Skytrain network, outside the exclusive Dusit Thani hotel and near a bank, causing panic on the streets.

The crowd of hundreds of government supporters, neatly dressed people of all ages who had been peacefully singing to Thai folk music and waving national flags, scattered into the night taking their injured with them.

The blast scene was littered with pools of blood along with abandoned shoes and Thai flags, in an area dotted with dozens of corporate towers as well as a notorious red-light district.

Clashes later broke out between riot police and hardcore pro-government demonstrators who had hurled bottles at their Reds rivals, triggering cat-and-mouse chases as police pursued the agitators through narrow alleys.

The United Nations appealed for restraint and several nations including the United States issued travel warnings for Thailand, which has been in turmoil since former premier Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a 2006 coup.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the world body’s chief Ban Ki-moon was “very concerned about the continuing standoff and tension in Thailand and the potential for this to escalate.”

The army this week signalled it was preparing to crack down on the Red Shirts, and warned that security forces would use tear gas and live ammunition in any new clashes.

The Reds, drawn from the ranks of the rural poor as well as increasing numbers of urban working class, are mostly supporters of Thaksin, who is now living in exile to avoid a jail sentence for corruption.

They say the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is illegitimate because it came to power in a parliamentary vote at the end of 2008 after a court ruling removed Thaksin’s allies from office.

Source: SGGP