Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Forty suspected militants killed in Bara operation

LANDI KOTAL: At least 40 suspected militants were killed and 43 others captured in a new military offensive in the Bara area of Khyber tribal region on Tuesday. Helicopter gunships provided cover to troops.The local administration imposed curfew in Bara tehsil in the morning before the operation, Biya Daraghlam (Here I come again), was launched.In an earlier operation, named ‘Here I come’, the army did not succeed to enforce the writ of the government in Bara and the area remained under the control of the outlawed Lashkar-i-Islam.Briefing journalists, Khyber Agency’s Political Agent Capt (retd) Tariq Hayat Khan said there was no time-limit for the new operation and it would continue till the achievement of all its objectives.He said the operation had been launched at the request of the people of Bara whose lives had been made miserable by anti-social elements. He said the curfew would be lifted only after the security forces had gained control of the situation. Capt Hayat said that peaceful people of the area would not be harmed, but those who had challenged the writ of the government would be severely dealt with.Referring to deaths of security personnel in recent attacks, he said: ‘It’s payback time and we are going to pay back with interest.’He said the operation was not only against the Lashkar-i-Islam, but against all groups, organisations and individuals who had challenged the government.He said the people who had been detained would be released if they proved their innocence.He refuted allegations that some captured people had been shot at close range and said that militants were killed only when they put up resistance.Military commander for Khyber Agency Brig Fayyaz was present at the briefing. Two leaders of the banned group, Murad and Abdur Rehman, were among those killed. Security personnel blocked all points of entry to Bara and the local bazaar was closed.Troops operated mainly in Shalobar, Qamakhel and Malikdinkhel areas.
Ali Hazrat Bacha adds from Peshawar: Police arrested at least 20 suspected militants who were fleeing towards Peshawar after the operation was launched in Bara.SSP (Operation) Abdul Ghafoor Afridi said around 500 policemen had been deployed at 35 points on the Kohat road, Bara road and around Hayatabad Township.According to sources, police intended to launch an operation in the outskirts of Peshawar against people who were supporting militants and criminals.

Suicide Bomber Kills 23 in Eastern Afghanistan

VOA News
A suicide bomber has detonated explosives in a crowd of government officials in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 23 people, including the country's deputy chief of intelligence.

The bombing occurred Wednesday morning at a mosque in the city of Mehtarlam in Laghman province, about 100 kilometers east of Kabul.

Authorities suspect intelligence official Abdullah Laghmani was the target of the attack.

A Taliban spokesman says the militant group was responsible for the bombing.

US senators raise Balochistan issue

ISLAMABAD: Three US senators called on President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday and expressed concern over the law and order situation in Balochistan.

According to sources, Senators Carl Levin and Jack Reed of the US Senate’s Armed Services Committee and Edward Kaufman of the Foreign Relations Committee stressed the need for complete peace in Balochistan and asked the government to settle all outstanding issues with the Baloch people.

The US believes that peace in Balochistan is imperative to winning the ‘war on terror’ because security agencies will not be able to concentrate on other fronts if they remain engaged in the province.

President Zardari called upon the US to expedite reimbursement of $1.6 billion outstanding payments relating to the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) and work for early adoption of the Kerry Lugar Bill and legislation to set up reconstruction opportunity zones (RoZs) in war-affected areas.

He also sought help in the energy sector and for a $2.5 billion plan for rehabilitation of displaced people and reconstruction of their area.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, presidency’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the president had urged the senators to try to expedite the reimbursement and supply of critically needed equipment, including helicopter gunships.

‘Payment of outstanding amounts in the support funds is important for the security forces to continue the ongoing military operation against militants,’ he said.

The president said inordinate delays in reimbursement of the CSF claims were not conducive for the fight against militancy.

He said that security forces had cleared 94 per cent of Swat and a large number of displaced people had returned to their homes.

A national consensus and support of a cross-section of people had made the success possible, he said.

The president said Isaf and Nato forces in Afghanistan should ensure that there was no direct or indirect support to militant factions from Afghanistan. He called for increased access of Pakistani goods to the US and EU markets.

President Zardari said attaching conditions to aid would be counter-productive and impart a transactional nature to the relationship which must be avoided.

Terming the RoZ legislation a critically important national security initiative, he called for increasing its area as well as product coverage.

He said that a deadlock over the legislation would send wrong signals to the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan who badly need a peace dividend.

He welcomed President Barack Obama’s commitment to help Pakistan address its energy needs and said the US government and private sector could help by supporting projects and mobilising investment.

Pakistan's religion minister shot

Pakistan's Minister for Religious Affairs, Hamid Saeed Kazmi, has been injured in a gun attack on his car in the capital, Islamabad, police say.
A man believed to be Mr Kazmi's driver was killed in the attack and another passenger injured, said police.No one has claimed to have carried out the attack. Mr Kazmi has been an outspoken critic of the Taliban.He was behind a conference in May which denounced the Taliban's suicide bombing tactics as un-Islamic."Gunmen sprayed bullets on the minister's car," a police officer who identified himself as Qasim told Reuters news agency.