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Sunday, 4 August 2013

From Today's Papers - 04 Aug 2013



Bombers target Indian mission in Afghanistan, 12 locals dead

8 children among dead; no Indian hurt; no major damage to the consulate


Jalalabad, August 3

Suicide bombers on Saturday targeted the Indian consulate in Afghanistan's eastern capital, bordering Pakistan, killing at least 12 persons.


Three bombers drove in a car towards the consulate and detonated explosives, killing 12, including eight children and injuring 24 others. The dead included the bombers. The explosion, which created a large crater, occurred at a security checkpost just ahead of the consulate. All Indian personnel were safe. There was no major damage to the consulate, official sources said in New Delhi.


The Taliban denied any hand in the attack. The Indian Embassy in Kabul has been attacked twice — 2008 and 2009 — killing scores of people.


Today's attack took place in the backdrop of threats of possible terror attacks on Indian diplomats and other assets in Afghanistan. A security team was dispatched from Delhi to Kabul last week to assess the threats.


Afghan officials said one attacker detonated the explosives-laden vehicle while the other two, wearing suicide vests, were gunned down by security forces in an exchange of fire while trying to target the consulate. Three Afghan policemen were among the injured.


Nangarhar province police chief Gen Sharif Amin said most victims were children attending religious classes at a nearby mosque.


"At least eight children were killed," Amin was quoted as saying by Tolo News channel. Amin confirmed that the consulate was the intended target of the blast. Police in Jalalabad were on alert for such an attack, he said.


The attack happened when many people, including women, were queuing up near the consulate to apply for visas. — Agencies

Suspicion on Haqqani network

Ashok Tuteja

Tribune News Service


New Delhi, August 3

The needle of suspicion is again on the Pakistan-based Haqqani network for the suicide attack on the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad.


Still ascertaining full facts about the incident, New Delhi strongly condemned the attack and expressed deep gratitude to Afghan security personnel who laid down their lives while protecting the Consulate. “The attack has once again highlighted that the main threat to Afghanistan’s security and stability stems from terrorism and the terror machine that continues to operate beyond its borders,” MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.


He asserted that India would not be deterred from its commitment to assist Afghanistan in its reconstruction and development effort.


This was clearly an attack not just against India but an attack against the efforts to help the Afghan people overcome the tragic hardships they had endured due to several decades of war.


This is the second strike on the Consulate which was earlier attacked in 2007. The Indian Embassy in Kabul too had come under a deadly attack in July 2008 and was again targeted in October 2009. The Haqqani network, assisted by Pakistan’s ISI, had been found to have carried out these attacks. A guest house in Kabul, where Indians on transit usually stay, was also attacked in February 2010.


New Delhi had certain intelligence inputs suggesting that Indian Consulates could be attacked in Afghanistan. A team of security officials had visited Afghanistan recently to assess the security threat.


Sources said though it was too early at this stage to arrive at a conclusion, the involvement of Pakistan-based terror outfits could not be ruled out. The Taliban has already denied its involvement in the attack. It is no secret that Pakistan has been opposed to the functioning of Indian Consulates in Jalalabad, Herat, Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan.


As part of its design to gain ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan after the drawdown by NATO troops, Islamabad has made every attempt to see that India winds up its four Consulates but New Delhi has stayed the course.


External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid called up Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul to thank him for the efforts of Afghan forces in ensuring the safety of the Consulate General of India in Jalalabad. Rassoul said the Afghan Government was determined to counter the efforts of those inimical to India's friendship with Afghanistan.

2 militants, soldier killed in Kashmir gun battle

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 3

Two militants and a soldier were killed in fresh fighting near the Line of Control (LoC) as a major counter-infiltration operation launched by the Army -- in which 14 militants have been killed so far -- entered its sixth day in north Kashmir’s dense jungles.


The two militants were killed in separate operations in Kupwara district, 120 km north-west of Srinagar.


One militant, who was part of an infiltrating group that was intercepted last night, and a soldier were killed in Tangdhar near the LoC overnight, an Army official told The Tribune.


He is the second militant who has been killed since Thursday night while attempting to infiltrate through Tangdhar, a mountainous region in Kupwara which has rarely recorded any infiltration in recent years.


The Army official said the two militants killed in the foiled infiltration attempt through Tangdhar were associated with Lashkar-e-Toiba. Their bodies and weapons have been recovered.


Another militant killed in the past 24 hours was shot dead in the dense Hafruda forest near Handwara area of Kupwara where a major operation is under way for the past six days.


He was the sixth militant killed in Hafruda forest where the military operation was launched on July 29.


The official said the six militants are believed to have recently infiltrated into Kashmir and were also associated with the Lashkar-e-Toiba. In an unusual spike in violence, which coincides with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, 14 militants have been killed since Monday when hundreds of soldiers swooped down on the mountainous belts of Kupwara searching for militants and their hideouts.


While two militants are believed to have been killed in a failed infiltration bid through Keran sector on July 29, four others were killed on July 30 in Machil sector.


The Army official said four bodies of Jaish-e-Mohammad militants and six assault rifles have been recovered from the scene of the fight in Machil.


The Army is also continuing an operation in Lolab forests of Kupwara where they are searching for Qari Osama, a commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad who is believed to have succeeded Qari Yasir as the chief operational commander of the outfit. Qari Yasir was killed last month.


The Army official said there has been no contact with the militants in Lolab forest so far but a few “administrative stores” have been located and destroyed.


Over 130 militants are believed to be operating in the Kashmir region which is one of their lowest figures in the past two decades.

Major offensive

One militant, who was part of an infiltrating group that was intercepted on Friday night, and a soldier were killed in Tangdhar near the LoC

Another militant was shot dead in the dense Hafruda forest near Handwara area of Kupwara where a major operation is under way for the past six days

Indian army says it killed 12 militants in Kashmir



The Indian army said Friday it had killed 12 suspected militants in Kashmir in a forested area along the de facto border that divides the territory between India and Pakistan.


Five rebels were killed during a fierce gun battle with the army on Thursday in Hafrada forests, 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Srinagar, the main city of Indian Kashmir.


"The operation was launched on specific intelligence about the presence of a group of terrorists," an officer told AFP, asking not to be named.


Further operations beginning on Monday saw another seven men killed around the border, known as the Line of Control, army general Gurmit Singh told reporters.


Singh said the militants belonged to Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba groups.


About a dozen militant groups have been fighting Indian forces in Kashmir since 1989 seeking independence for the region or a merger with Pakistan.


The violence has declined during the last decade but the fighting has left tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians dead.

Guerrilla killed as army foils another infiltration bid

A guerrilla was killed Friday in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district as the army foiled another infiltration bid from across the Line of Control (LOC), officials said.


"Army foiled an infiltration bid and killed one militant while seriously injuring the other on the LOC in the Tangdhar sector of Kupwara," a defence spokesman said.


He said that based on inputs regarding movement of militants in the area, troops in Tangdhar were on alert and detected movement of two militants on the Indian side of the boundary dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan.


The spokesman said heavy fog with intermittent rains delayed operations throughout the day Thursday, but by night the weather started to clear, and two militants were observed.


On being detected, the two opened fire at the troops.


“The retaliatory fire by the troops resulted in elimination of one terrorist and seriously injuring the other terrorist. The dead body of the killed terrorist has been recovered while the search for the second injured terrorist is still in progress," he said.


An AK-47 rifle, ammunition and warlike stores were recovered on a search, he added.


The army had said Thursday it has killed five guerrillas during operations in Keran and Machil sectors of the LOC in Kupwara district while five more guerrillas had been killed in operations in Hafruda forests of the same district since Monday.

Army Chief's special farewell

In a new gesture that is being much discussed within the Army, all retiring officers have started getting a personal thank you note from the Chief of Army Staff. On an average, close to 50 officers of the Indian Army retire every month. Since March, all retiring officers have been getting a special packet that not only contains all pension and retirement papers but also a personally signed letter of appreciation by Army Chief General Bikram Singh for "service to the nation". Besides, the Army Chief has been hosting a formal function every month for retiring officers.


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