Thursday, February 12, 2009

NATO has failed to stop Afghan heroin trade: Russia

MOSCOW- Russia on Thursday blamed NATO's failure to stamp out heroin production in Afghanistan for a rise in domestic drugs use.U.S.-led forces entered Afghanistan to chase out Taliban Islamists after the al Qaeda attacks on the United States in 2001, but NATO members only agreed last year they could carry out direct strikes on drug traffickers.This was too late to prevent drug addiction becoming a serious problem in Russia, Viktor Ivanov, head of Russia's Federal Drug Control Agency, told a news briefing.Afghanistan supplies 90 percent of the world's heroin."The growth of narcotics from abroad has continued since the appearance of troops (in Afghanistan) in 2001," Ivanov said."This organization (NATO) had a remit to combat terrorism and not to combat drugs."Ivanov said 80 people died in Russia every day from drugs and another 250 people became addicts.About 80 percent of people with the HIV virus in Russia are drug users injecting themselves with infected needles, U.N. officials said at a conference in Moscow last year.Ties between NATO and Russia -- which lies on the main drugs transit route to Europe -- have been strained since August's war in Georgia.However, NATO is trying to enlist Russia's help to ensure supplies reach its forces in Afghanistan as Taliban attacks threaten NATO's main supply line from Pakistan.

President Obama honors legacy of Abraham Lincoln

China pledges to increase aid to Africa

Bamako -- China will continue to increase aid to Africa despite the impact of the current global financial crisis upon itself so that China and African countries will be able to weather the difficult times together through mutual support, President Hu Jintao announced on Thursday.

Hu made the pledge on behalf of the Chinese government while meeting the press with Mali President Amadou Toumani Toure.

China will also, within its capability, reduce or cancel African countries' debt and expand its trade and increase investment in Africa, to fulfill the commitments it made during the China-Africa Cooperation Forum Beijing Summit in 2006, Hu said.

The financial crunch that started in the United States last year has now spread across the world. In China, hundreds of thousands businesses have closed down and millions of migrant workers lost their jobs.

While acknowledging that China's economic development also face many difficulties due to the global economic crisis, Hu said the grave challenges rising in the times of economic downturn makes it all the more important for China and Africa to unite and cooperate with each other.

As a genuine friend of Africa, China will further take concrete actions to enrich such the cooperation, Hu said.

Meanwhile, China will also call for the international society to pay close attention to the severe adverse effect of the global economic slow-down on Africa and honor their pledge of aid to Africa, Hu said.

China-Mali Relations

Hu arrived on Thursday in Mali, the second leg of his current "Journey of Friendship and Cooperation".

Immediately after the grandiose welcoming ceremony, Hu exchanged views with Toure over bilateral relations and regional and international issues of common concerns.

During the talk, Hu made four proposals to cement the two countries' 49-year friendship and cooperation.

While continuing high level exchanges, Hu said the two countries should also expand such interactions between the two governments, parliaments, military and non-government organizations, to enhance mutual political trust.

As far as further enriching bilateral collaborations to promote mutual development, he said Chinese government will continue to encourage and support competent Chinese firms to invest in Mali and strengthen bilateral cooperation in the fields of telecommunications, agriculture, infrastructure construction, including the third sugar processing factory in Mali and the No 3 bridge in Mali's capital.

The two countries will set up a joint committee on economy, trade and technology to coordinate and improve the level of collaboration.

In terms of expanding people-to-people and cultural exchanges, Hu said China welcomes Mali to participate the World Expo in Shanghai next year, to display Mali's ancient civilization and culture.

He told the media that China will offer additional 34 scholarships for Mali students to study in China and help train 65 professionals.

Meanwhile, China will ensure the completion of the 10 centers for women and children and furnish with medicines and medical facilities for a new center for treatment of malaria, which Hu will unveil Friday.

He also proposed to enhance coordination and mutual support to safeguard the interests of the developing countries.

During their talk, Hu also said China will work with Mali and other African countries to actively prepare for the fourth China-Africa Cooperation Forum and push forward the new type of strategic partnership between China and African countries to benefit the Chinese and African people.

Extending his warm welcome to President Hu Jintao's visit, Malian president said Malian people are proud of their brotherly friendship with the Chinese.

China helped Mali to make its first step towards modernization since its independence in 1960, Toure told the media.

"The collaborations between Mali and China are fruitful and of high quality," Toure said. "All the major projects that have appeared in Mali have borne the Chinese mark."

As all countries are facing the global financial crisis, Toure said that Mali and Africa need China's assistance and he is thankful for China's pledge to continue providing the support.

Toure also praised China for honoring its promises made during the China-Africa Cooperation Forum Beijing Summit three years ago.

Since the summit, progress has been made in the eight policy measures that China committed itself to support development in African countries.

For instance, the value of China-Africa trade last year surpassed $100 billion for the first time.

Hu's talk to the media, which drew the local as well as international media organizations such as BBC, AFP and Reuters, has aroused warm response from some local journalists.

Alassane Souleymane, a reporter from the Mali Broadcasting Corporation, told China Daily that China places the Malian people's interest first as its aid projects always cover education, agriculture and health.

"Hu's talk today show that our collaboration in these traditional fields are still strong and Malian and Chinese people are true friends," Souleymane said.

India welcomes Mumbai admission

India has described the admission by Pakistan that last year's Mumbai terror attacks were partly planned on its soil as a "positive development".A foreign ministry statement said India also expected Pakistan to take steps to dismantle the "infrastructure of terrorism" on its territory.Pakistan's interior minister said suspects arrested could be prosecuted.The admission was condemned by militant groups in Kashmir, who accused the government of bowing to US pressure.This is the first sign of an easing in tension between the countries over the attacks, a BBC correspondent says.Many in Delhi are genuinely surprised at what some see as a major turn-around by the Pakistani authorities, Sanjoy Majumder reports from the Indian capital.Relations had deteriorated considerably after the attacks by 10 gunmen which claimed 170 lives.Pakistan denied any responsibility in the immediate aftermath of the attacks but later admitted that the sole gunman captured alive was one of its citizens.Top Indian officials are now meeting to examine the information that has been handed over before determining their next move.
'By boat from Karachi'
"It remains India's goal to bring the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai to book and to follow this process through to the end," the Indian foreign ministry statement said."We would also expect that the government of Pakistan take credible steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan."Earlier, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said eight suspects from the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group could face prosecution."Some part of the conspiracy has taken place in Pakistan," he told a news conference in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.He said six of the suspects were in custody while two others remained at large."The attackers left from Karachi on a boat hired from Balochistan [Province]," Mr Malik said.
"An e-mail claiming responsibility for the attack was sent by Zarrar Shah of the Lashkar-e-Taiba."Mr Shah was arrested at a Lashkar camp in December in Pakistani-administered Kashmir by security forces.Another man arrested at the time was Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, described as Lashkar's chief of operations.Mr Malik named Hamad Amin, a Karachi resident currently in Pakistani custody, as the mastermind behind the attacks.
Militant anger
The main alliance of militant groups in Kashmir, the United Jihad Council (UJC), condemned the Pakistani government for admitting to Lashkar-e-Taiba's involvement.
A UJC spokesman, Syed Sadaqat Hussain, said the government had done an about-turn after US envoy Richard Holbrooke's visit."Pakistan has succumbed to American pressure and fallen victim to an Indo-US conspiracy," he said.Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said that Pakistan did "not have an independent foreign policy" and had "bowed before the US".

TTP threatens to kill more ANP leaders

TTP threatens to kill more ANP leaders
PESHAWAR: A close aide of Baitullah Mehsud and senior commander of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Thursday claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on Awami National Party (ANP) MPA Alam Zeb Khan in Peshawar.“We carried out this attack and will continue such attacks on ANP leaders in future,” Hakeemullah Mehsud, who heads the TTP in Orakzai, Kurram and Khyber tribal regions, said in telephone calls to media offices in Peshawar. Alam Zeb Khan died of excessive injuries when a powerful bomb went off near his car in Peshawar on Wednesday. He became the first target of the Taliban since the Pukhtoon nationalist party took power last year. The ANP became a major target of the outlawed TTP after its peace deal with Maulana Fazlullah in Swat collapsed and a military operation began to target the Taliban. Asfandyar Wali Khan, central ANP president, survived a suicide attack on Eid Day at his Wali Bagh residence last year, while relatives of several ANP MPAs from Swat have also been targeted. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti announced Rs 5 million for the grieved family and recommended the federal government’s higher gallantry award for the deceased MPA. The CM’s Gallantry Medal, along with Rs 500,000 in cash, was also announced for the late MPA’s family.The chief minister assured the family members that the ANP government would bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice.

Taliban Gains Under Weak Karzai Rule, U.S. Aide Says

WASHINGTON — The new director of national intelligence warned Thursday that Afghanistan’s weak and corrupt government is failing to halt the spread of Taliban control, and said public support for the Taliban and local warlords was increasing. The assessment underscored in stark terms the obstacles facing the Obama administration as it vows to focus more American troops and attention on deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. The intelligence chief, Dennis C. Blair, described the American-backed government of Hamid Karzai as increasingly ineffective and unpopular.Mr. Blair delivered his assessment in written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, offering the government’s first public accounting of the national security challenges facing the new administration. Mr. Blair also reiterated that no improvement in Afghanistan was possible without Pakistan taking control of its border region but said that Pakistan’s government was losing authority over that territory and that even more developed parts of Pakistan were coming under the sway of Islamic radicalism.Mr. Blair did say that a top echelon of Al Qaeda’s leadership hiding in the Pakistani mountains has been battered in recent months — the result of a barrage of strikes by drone aircraft operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. But American intelligence officials have long said that dismantling Al Qaeda’s safe haven in Pakistan would take more than a campaign of airstrikes against the group’s leadership, but a sustained effort by Islamabad to develop and govern the semiautonomous tribal lands.Mr. Blair’s written testimony was made public as he prepared to appear in person before the intelligence committee on Thursday afternoon. For the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks, the annual threat report does not list Al Qaeda as the most immediate threat facing the United States. Instead, Mr. Blair devoted the beginning of his testimony to the implications of the economic crisis and the “likelihood of serious damage to U.S. strategic interests.”The crisis spawned by American markets, the report read, “has increased questioning of U.S. stewardship of the global economy and the international financial structure.”Mr. Blair also cited growing concern among American spies that North Korea could be using a covert uranium enrichment program to produce fissile material for its small arsenal of nuclear weapons. Officials in Washington believe that North Korea is preparing for another long-range missile test, in an attempt to demonstrate an ability to threaten cities along the west coast of the United States.Reversing Afghanistan’s downward spiral is a top priority for President Obama, who has pledged to send thousands more American troops there. In his testimony on Thursday, Mr. Blair, the president’s top intelligence adviser, laid bare the challenges standing in the way of the White House meeting its goals.His critique of Mr. Karzai’s government was withering.“Kabul’s inability to build effective, honest, and loyal provincial and district-level institutions capable of providing basic services and sustainable, licit livelihoods erodes its popular legitimacy and increases the influence of local warlords and the Taliban,” Mr. Blair reported.Taliban gunmen on Wednesday demonstrated just how far they could penetrate the inner workings of the Afghan government, storming government buildings and even taking control of the Ministry of Justice.In a departure from previous years, when the heads of several intelligence agencies joined the director of national intelligence to deliver the threat testimony, Mr. Blair on Thursday is facing the committee alone. The message was clear: that the Obama administration plans for Mr. Blair to exert greater control over American spy agencies and for him to take on a more public role at the top of the intelligence pyramid.

Mehdi Hassan admitted to hospital

KARACHI: Veteran ghazal singer Mehdi Hassan was brought to a private hospital in Karachi Thursday after his heath deteriorated.The singer was hospitalised following a lung infection and was getting treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU). Talking to Geo news, Hassan’s son Arif Mehdi requested Sindh government to bear the expenses for his father’s treatment. Mehdi Hasan has been bestowed with the title “Shahenshah-e-Ghazal”. He is a legendry Ghazal singer and a former playback singer for Lollywood films.

Pakistan ‘must take responsibility’ for fighting terrorists: UK

LONDON: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stressed on Thursday that "Pakistan has responsibilities upon itself" to fight war against terrorism due to the continued presence of al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan.
Gordon Brown said that Britain was ready to help Pakistan to deal with terrorism problem. "We can see the flow, unfortunately, of terrorists from Pakistan to Afghanistan, and we know that if we are dealing with the al-Qaeda problem we are dealing with a problem that exists in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan," the British leader said.
Answering questions at a hearing of the chairpersons of British parliamentary committees, Brown welcomed a two-month review of Afghanistan and Pakistan policies announced by the Obama administration.
He said he had met the US Special Representative Richard Holbrooke in the last few days to discuss the review.
"It is important to recognise that, first of all, we have got to take action against the new type of threat that we have got. Secondly, that means taking action on the borders, working with the Pakistani authorities, to deal with the terrorist problem there," Brown said.
However, he said, British policy in Afghanistan must complement military action in order to ensure the country's social and economic development and strengthen army, police and local government.
He said he expected a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) April 03 and 04 to come up with "a new set of proposals about how we deal with the evolving situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan"

Zardari, Asfandyar discuss political, law & order situation

Zardari, Asfandyar discuss political, law & order situation F.P. Report
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari and Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali on Thursday discussed the current political and law and order situation of the country. The meeting, held at Aiwan-e-Sadr, also discussed the latest development in investigations of the Mumbai terror attacks and the forthcoming Senate elections. According to sources the President while talking to the ANP Chief, reiterated Pakistan's commitment to bring the culprits of the Mumbai terror attacks to the justice. He said that Pakistan has fulfilled its obligation as was pledged earlier to the international community by sharing with Indian authorities of the findings by Federal Investigative Agency based on information based on the information given by the Indian authorities. The President urged the Indian government to positively respond to the questions given by Pakistan in order to continue the investigations in an effectively way. The sources said that President Zardari said that terrorists were common enemy of the both neighbouring countries and called for joint efforts to eradicate terrorism. The leaders also discussed the overall law and order situation of the country particularly the Frontier Province. The President condoled with the ANP leader on the sad demise of MPA Alamzeb Khan who was killed in a bomb attack in Peshawar on Wednesday. Zardari strongly condemned the terror attack saying that the government was committed to wipe out terrorism and extremism and such kind of incidents would not discourage the government. The sources said that the ANP leader apprised the President of the NWFP government commitment to eradicate the terrorism and extremism and help restore peace in the troubled areas. They said that the two leaders also discussed the forthcoming Senate elections.

US envoy arrives in Afghanistan

The new US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, has arrived in Kabul on what is being described as a fact-finding mission.He is to meet senior Afghan officials to discuss issues including the worsening security situation.On Wednesday, co-ordinated Taleban attacks in the Afghan capital killed at least 27 people.President Obama has repeatedly said that Afghanistan's problems cannot be addressed in isolation.Some analysts have suggested that Wednesday's attacks may have been an attempt by the Taleban to overshadow Mr Holbrooke's visit.Mr Holbrooke's trip to Afghanistan follows a four-day visit to neighbouring Pakistan.Reports say that in talks with Pakistani leaders he stressed Washington's financial commitments to the country but underlined the need to purge militant sanctuaries in the north-west region, along the Afghan border.
Politician killed
Mr Holbrooke also visited the North West Frontier Province to see the security situation there at first hand.While in Peshawar, a local politician was killed by a roadside bomb.Before leaving for Afghanistan, Mr Holbrooke met Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister and leader of Pakistan's main opposition party.After their meeting, Mr Sharif told reporters that Mr Holbrooke said he understood many Pakistanis' feelings about US drone attacks inside the country.The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan, in Islamabad, says Mr Holbrooke is being seen as a key player in a renewed effort to reverse the deteriorating situation on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.Mr Holbrooke has said he is in the region to "listen and learn", before reporting back to President Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Before his trip the envoy called the situation in Pakistan "dire".

Pakistan wish list exposes Holbrooke challenge

Pakistan— US envoy Richard Holbrooke leaves Pakistan Thursday with a wish list for aid, but in no doubt about the challenge of eradicating Islamist havens in the nuclear-armed Muslim nation.Paying a first visit to Pakistan, Afghanistan and India to conduct a major review of US policy in the "war on terror", Holbrooke spent three days hearing a litany of woes and requests from the government and the military.
Pakistan has been a vital US ally since former president George W. Bush invaded neighbouring Afghanistan to oust the extremist Taliban regime in Kabul for sheltering Al-Qaeda after the September 11, 2001 attacks.But relations between Washington and Islamabad have soured, not least in the wake of dozens of suspected US missile strikes against militants on Pakistani territory, which has weakened and embarrassed an already unpopular government.The United States is impatient over Pakistan's reluctance or inability to eradicate Islamist "safe havens" used to attack Western forces in Afghanistan.Pakistan wants an end to US missile strikes and billions of dollars in military and civilian aid to combat the Islamist threat in their own backyard.Military commanders say they urgently need attack and transport helicopters, drones for surveillance and targeting locations, night vision goggles for pilots and foot soldiers; and jammers to neutralise landmines and roadside bombs.
Pakistan, whose 500,000-strong military -- the fifth largest in the world -- has deployed 110,000 troops in the semi-autonomous tribal areas on the Afghan border -- says it has only dozens of night-vision goggles.Lack of equipment precludes military operations at night, allowing Taliban fighters to operate with impunity under the cover of darkness."This is an absolute must for the army to sustain its operations. It has to be better equipped and it must get these things," one senior military official told AFP on condition of anonymity."We hope that with the change in administration, the offer to review policy and to understand Pakistan's perspective we'll get these things," he said.On the surface, the signals have been encouraging.
Pakistan declared that new US President Barack Obama and President Asif Ali Zardari agreed on "active engagement" to turn the tide in the war on extremism.Officials here are quietly optimistic that the days of Bush unilateralism -- when they felt Pakistan was undermined and intelligence ignored -- are over."A new package of economic assistance with a separate military component is expected. US reports say it involves 1.5 billion dollars a year, but we have to see what finally comes out," said defence analyst Talat Masood."It (the visit) was meant to convey in strong terms that Pakistan has to eliminate Al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries in the tribal area and Pakistan has to get control of these areas," said Masood.But Pakistan and the United States have so far disagreed on the enemy.Pakistan draws a distinction between those Taliban who confine their attacks to US troops in Afghanistan and others, like the Taliban in its Swat valley, who attack Pakistani soldiers and carry out suicide bombings here.But the United States wants Pakistan to take direct action against militants who are fighting its forces across the border in Afghanistan.
Pakistan says first it must secure its own backyard -- more than 1,500 people have been killed in extremist bombings across the country in 20 months and more than 1,500 troops have died since Pakistan joined the "war on terror".Neither is Pakistan reassured that its perceived number one threat -- from India and the dispute over Kashmir -- is not in Holbrooke's mandate.The next step for Pakistan will be Washington.Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's office said Holbrooke invited officials for talks in March. Pakistan's army chief General Ashfaq Kayani is scheduled to visit Washington later this month for the first time since taking office.

Special Envoy Heads to Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Barack Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan was due to arrive in the Afghan capital Thursday afternoon, one day after a coordinated series of Taliban suicide attacks here underscored the deteriorating security in Kabul and across the country.Security forces here remained on high alert Thursday, not only in preparation for the arrival of the U.S. envoy, Richard C. Holbrooke, but also because a Taliban spokesman claimed eight bombers remained at large in the city and were still “looking for a chance.” The spokesman described Wednesday’s attacks as retaliation for the mistreatment and torture of Taliban prisoners.The suicide bombers and Taliban gunmen struck government buildings at three sites in Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least 20 people and wounding 57. It was a complex and highly organized attack that demonstrated the ease with which the insurgents could penetrate even a heavily fortified place like Kabul.At the Justice Ministry, five Taliban guerrillas armed with explosives and Kalashnikov rifles killed two guards, stormed inside and took control of the building for more than an hour. Frightened employees, including the justice minister, barricaded themselves in their offices while the armed men stalked the halls for victims. At least 10 people were killed, including 2 who were shot in the cross-fire between government forces and the insurgents, security officials said.Afterward, security forces carried the mangled bodies of the attackers out of the building and, in a sign of deep disrespect, dumped the bodies unceremoniously on the concrete forecourt. All eight attackers at the three sites were killed in addition to their 20 victims, the Interior Ministry said.
Earlier Thursday, Mr. Holbrooke met with the former Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, in the Pakistani city of Lahore. His tour of the region was part of a ground-up review of American policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan ordered by Mr. Obama, who met with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Wednesday to discuss plans to bolster American force levels here.The brazen nature of the attacks was certain to influence the debate among administration officials over the strength of the Taliban, who control much of the countryside and have steadily encroached on Kabul.The attacks also highlighted the fluid and murky nature of the insurgents’ ties with terrorist networks in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which Mr. Holbrooke visited briefly on Wednesday under Pakistani military escort.One senior official in Washington said initial intelligence indicated that Wednesday’s attack was probably planned or supported by the Pakistan-based network of Jalaluddin Haqqani.Mr. Haqqani’s group was also implicated in the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul last summer and might have had the assistance of members of Pakistan’s intelligence agency in that operation, American officials have said.The attacks on Wednesday were the most audacious since the embassy assault. And in an eerie echo of the attacks in Mumbai, India, in November, which Indian and American intelligence officials say have been traced to a Pakistani militant group, the Taliban gunmen on Wednesday sent three messages to Pakistan seeking the “blessing of their mastermind,” said Amrullah Saleh, director of the Afghan national intelligence service.Moments later, they began “indiscriminate killing” inside the Justice Ministry, Mr. Saleh said. Officials said 21 people had been detained, but it was not clear what linked them to the attacks.The multiple coordinated strikes cloaked Kabul, a dusty and chaotic city of four million, in panic for the entire day. Miles of Kabul’s principal thoroughfares were blocked off, as police officers and soldiers rushed to reinforce scores of checkpoints.Hours later, there were fears that other bombers were still roaming Kabul. In addition to the eight bombers who struck the Justice Ministry, the Education Ministry and the directorate for prisons.Across the city, many streets were empty as residents were too scared to go outside. The attacks clearly unnerved Afghan officials.“The enemy still has the capability to bring this amount of weapons and explosives inside the city of Kabul and find their way to government institutions,” said Hanif Atmar, the interior minister. He promised new and strict security measures that would be “uncomfortable” for residents, but necessary. Many parts of the capital are already sectioned off for security, and foreign embassies sit behind layers of checkpoints and blast walls.The most confidence-shaking attack, at the Justice Ministry, began about 10 a.m., when five Taliban fighters took over three of the building’s four floors. The ministry is in the heart of the capital, a few hundred yards from the presidential palace.Employees locked their doors and dived for cover inside their offices. There was “chaos on all four floors,” said Habib Mushakhas, a senior ministry official, after the police rushed him out of the building. “I heard an explosion, then a firefight. There was a lot of blood in the corridors. I saw one dead body.”A little more than an hour after the attack, security forces counterattacked. Scores of soldiers and police officers rushed into the building and scaled ladders onto upper floors. More than 20 shots were fired. Soon after, ambulances took several police officers and soldiers away, their feet hanging off of stretchers poking out the open doors. It was not clear whether they were wounded or dead.Eventually, the police and soldiers retook enough of the building to begin evacuating dozens of survivors. Then they rushed children out from the kindergarten classroom inside the ministry.The police also began removing civilian bodies. By early afternoon they said they felt confident that they had defeated the gunmen, and they called an impromptu news conference in the Justice Ministry’s forecourt.But minutes later they realized that one Taliban attacker was still inside, and a handful of different security forces — the police, the Afghan Army and national intelligence officers — went searching for him. A nervous commander barked into his radio, “Try to recognize each other, and don’t shoot our own guys.”A radio call came from a commander inside the building. “We’ve cornered him,” he said. “Could you order us to shoot? We are worried because we think there are children and other civilians around.”Two commanders outside talked. “What should we do?” one said. “Shoot him!” said the other.Moments passed, and the commander inside the building said: “There’s nobody here. We should attack.”
“Attack!” came the response from a commander outside.
About 60 shots were fired over the next 20 minutes. Finally, the last gunman was dead. But so, too, were two more civilians whose bodies were brought outside and laid on stretchers. Security officials later said two hostages were killed in the cross-fire as government forces killed the last gunman.All of the gunmen had worn suicide-bomb vests, but none of the vests had detonated. The government forces had defused and stripped them from the bodies, which bore large gashes and bullet holes, or had arms ripped partly from shattered shoulders.As security forces fought to take back control of the Justice Ministry, a single Taliban suicide bomber was killed as he tried to attack the Education Ministry.Across town, two more Taliban bombers killed and wounded more people at the Prisons Department. One bomber blew himself up at a security checkpoint in front of the prisons building, while witnesses said the other bomber used the distraction to run inside.Gholam Farouk Wafa, a 35-year-old policeman, said he was attending a training class inside with 60 other policemen when they saw a clean-shaven man with a large backpack come to the door. One of the policemen fired two shots at him, and the man fled upstairs, where he detonated his bomb, Mr. Wafa said.Reporting was contributed by Lynsey Addario, Abdul Waheed Wafa and Sangar Rahimi from Kabul; Taimoor Shah from Kandahar, Afghanistan; David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt from Washington; and Mark McDonald from Hong Kong.

Turkey condemns attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan

ANKARA, Feb. 12-- Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday that Turkey harshly condemned the heinous attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "Turkey strongly condemns the terrorist attacks in Afghan capital city of Kabul and Pakistani city of Peshawar, those attacks harmed regional peace, security and stability," said a statement posted on the ministry's website."The attacks once more indicated the heinous face of terrorism," it added.The statement said that Turkey was following the developments in Kabul with concern. It also expressed sorrow over death of a Pakistani lawmaker, Alam Zeb Khan, in the Peshawar attack.The statement also said Turkey attached vital importance to efficient international cooperation and solidarity in fighting against terrorism and it would continue to support efforts aimed to restore regional peace and stability.A bomb killed a lawmaker and wounded six others Wednesday in Peshawar.On the same day, eight Taliban gunmen attacked three Afghan government buildings in a coordinated assault that killed 20 people in the heart of Kabul.