View Full Version : [Afghan News] December 25, 2011

02-26-2012, 12:34 PM
Afghan lawmaker who fought Taliban is among 20 killed in funeral bombing
By Ernesto Londoño and Javed Hamdard, The Washington Post December 25
KABUL — A suicide bomber killed least 20 people, including a member of parliament, at a funeral Sunday afternoon in a northern Afghan province that until now had been relatively secure.
Afghan officials said they believe that the lawmaker, Abdul Mutalib Baig, was the target of the bombing. Baig, they said, was a prominent commander of forces who fought against the Taliban in the 1990s, during Afghanistan’s civil war.
“We lost one of the great jihadi commanders,” said Haji Fareed Zaki, deputy governor of Takhar province, where the bomber struck shortly after 2 p.m. An 8-year-old boy was among the dead in the village of Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province. Dozens were reportedly wounded.
The village is in an area that is home to mostly ethnic Uzbeks and Tajiks and has seen a spike in attacks this year, as Taliban commanders have lost ground in their southern strongholds.
Afghan President Hamid Kar­zai said the bombing of “innocent people who had gathered for a religious ceremony yet again demonstrates the vile and vicious nature of the enemy.”
No group claimed to have carried out the attack, but Zaki said Afghan officials suspect the Taliban.
A statement from the U.S. Embassy also blamed the militant group and accused it of “waging a murderous campaign against Afghan innocent civilians, including women and children.”
The embassy said the attack “exposes as false” statements by Taliban leader Mohammed Omar that his group does not target civilians in violent attacks.
The bombing came a day after Karzai said that continuing night raids by NATO troops were hindering negotiations over a bilateral agreement between Kabul and Washington that would outline a legal framework for the continued presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014.
“Arbitrary operations and house searches have . . . become one of the main obstacles for signing the Afghanistan-U.S. strategic partnership pact,” Karzai said in a statement. “As long as the night raids and house searches are not ceased, the documents will not be signed.”
U.S. commanders have defended their reliance on night raids, which they say are designed to minimize the potential for civilian casualties. They say such operations are increasingly being conducted alongside Afghan forces and, in some cases, led by Afghan troops.
Special correspondent Sayed Salahuddin contributed to this report.

NATO helicopter makes forced landing in Afghanistan after taking ground fire
Associated Press,
KABUL, Afghanistan — NATO says one of its helicopters has made a forced landing in southern Afghanistan after taking ground fire.
A statement says crew members were unharmed in Saturday’s incident in Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand province. The chopper was later transported to a coalition base. It did not identify the exact type of aircraft or say to which country’s military it belonged.
The coalition relies heavily on helicopters to avoid using roads that are frequently mined by the insurgents.
The Taliban have few dedicated anti-aircraft weapons, but they have destroyed or damaged dozens of planes using automatic rifles and other infantry weapons. In August, the guerrillas shot down a U.S. Chinook transport, killing 30 U.S. special operation troops, a translator and seven Afghan commandos.

Five Afghans die after drinking methanol
Reuters Sun Dec 25, 2011
KABUL - Five people died and 10 others were hospitalised after drinking methanol at an engagement party in Kabul, the capital of staunchly conservative Afghanistan, the interior ministry said on Sunday.
Alcohol is forbidden for Muslims in Afghanistan but is available on several European military bases, among a total of about 130,000 foreign troops in the country, and to an extensive Western diplomatic and international aid community.
While it is forbidden to sell alcohol, residents in the capital can readily point to shops where it is available under the counter, usually at heavily inflated prices.
"There was an engagement ceremony and there were some young guys who found this alcohol and drank it. Five are dead and 10 more are at the hospital," said Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the ministry.
He said police would investigate where the alcohol came from.
"It's not acceptable to drink stuff like this in public and it's against our Islamic law. There are different punishments for what they have done," he said, without giving details.
Afghan authorities periodically launch crackdowns against alcohol in the capital, including among passengers returning from overseas through Kabul International Airport, and there are heavy fines and other stern punishments that include flogging.
Methanol is used to make other chemicals, which in turn produce products such as plastics and paints and as fuel for vehicles. It is highly toxic when drunk by humans.
Drinking alcohol in Afghanistan was rigorously banned during the rule of the Islamist Taliban from 1996-2001 and violators could be hanged in public.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Paul Tait)

Afghan Refugees Face No Problems in Iran: Officials Sunday, 25 December 2011
Afghan Ministry of Immigration and Returnees rejects reports that 900,000 Afghan refugees were to be expelled from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Immigration, Islamuddin Jurat, said on Saturday that 900,000 Afghan refugees who are legally living in Iran were faced with no challenges.
He said that Iran only wants to expel those who have no passports, but if they come back to Afghanistan and get passports and visas, they could have no problems.
According to Mr Jurat, presently one million and four hundred thousand Afghan refugees are living illegally in Iran.
Meanwhile, the Ministry says there are educational and health services challenges ahead of Afghan refugees in Iran, but talks are underway with Iranian officials to solve the issue.
The Afghan Ministry of Immigration says there are educational programmes underway to inform Afghans of the consequences of illegal immigrations.

Gunman opens fire on NATO troops at joint outpost in western Afghanistan
By Associated Press, December 25
KABUL, Afghanistan — A gunman wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire on coalition troops in western Afghanistan, military authorities said Monday. An official said several NATO troops were wounded in the shooting and the gunman was killed.
NATO and Afghan authorities were investigating the shooting, which took place Saturday at an outpost in Bala Boluk district, about 340 miles (700 kilometers) west of Kabul, said Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi.
A NATO statement said there were no fatalities among alliance soldiers, adding that it was its policy not to comment on other casualties. An official who asked not to be named because the investigation is ongoing said several coalition troops were wounded in the shooting. He said the man who opened fire was later killed by the NATO troops.
If the probe confirms the gunman was a soldier, the shooting would be the latest in a series of attacks by Afghans against coalition partners. Those shootings have raised fears of Taliban infiltration as NATO speeds up the training of Afghan security forces.
The expansion of the army and police is a critical element in NATO’s exit strategy from Afghanistan.
Coalition troops are to end their combat role in 2014, and the goal is to have 195,000 trained Afghan troops in service by next October. Afghan security forces have already started taking the lead in several regions as part of the process that will put them in charge of security across the nation by the end of 2014.
Commanders of NATO’s training mission have said that coalition and Afghan forces keep a sharp eye out for possible Taliban infiltrators at the recruitment, training and deployment stages.
Military officials estimate the number of insurgents at between 20,000 and 25,000 men. Although outnumbered, the Taliban have mounted a series of high-profile attacks that have brought into question NATO’s claim that it has the upper hand in the war and that violence is decreasing.
A Taliban statement said on Monday that the insurgents were confident of victory and that the NATO forces would face the same fate as the Soviet invaders who withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 after an almost decade-long war.
The insurgents “are successfully withstanding all the coalition forces led by the U.S. invaders and will make them all face the same fate that befell the Red Army,” said the statement marking the 32nd anniversary of the Soviet invasion in 1979.
Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez contributed to this report. (