Daily Archives: July 17, 2017

Suicide Attacker Targets Pakistan Paramilitary Force, Killing At Least One

Pakistani officials say at least tone soldier was killed and four others wounded when a suicide bomber hit a vehicle carrying Pakistani paramilitary force members in the morning on July 17.

The Pakistani Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack in Peshawar, on the edge of the Khyber tribal area that borders Afghanistan.

Peshawar police superintendent Imran Malik said the attacker was riding a motorcycle. Two vehicles that were part of a convoy of military vehicles were damaged in the blast, police say.

The Pakistani paramilitary force, known as the Frontier Corps, is the front-line force battling militants in the country’s tribal regions stretching hundreds of kilometers along the border with Afghanistan.

The attack in Peshawar comes a day after the Pakistan Army announced it had launched an operation in Khyber to rout Islamic State (IS) militants who it said were operating in the volatile tribal area.

The local IS affiliate emerged a few years ago, mainly from disenchanted Taliban fighters.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

Pakistan’s Opposition Calls on Court to Oust Prime Minister

ISLAMABAD � Pakistan’s Supreme Court is holding high-profile hearings to determine the fate of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the basis of a probe that accuses him and his children of money laundering, tax evasion and concealing overseas assets.

After looking into the financial wealth and overseas assets of the family, the Joint Investigation Team, or JIT, appointed by the court concluded last week that Sharif, sons Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, as well as daughter Maryam Nawaz, are living beyond their means.

Investigators also accused the daughter, Sharif’s presumed heir, of signing forged documents to obscure ownership of expensive London apartments.Sharif and his children have denied any wrongdoing.

At Monday’s inaugural hearing inside the tightly guarded Supreme Court building, lawyers for opposition political parties called on the three-judge panel to immediately disqualify and remove the prime minister from office in light of the JIT’s conclusions.

Attorneys for the Sharif family questioned the legality of the JIT and its findings, saying the investigators have exceeded their mandated authority.The attorneys were making arguments when the judges adjourned the proceedings until Tuesday.

Legal experts say despite objections and denials by the Sharif family, the Supreme Court could put the prime minister on trial on corruption on the basis of the JIT report, which contains documentary evidence about overseas assets and business Sharif has not revealed to tax authorities in Pakistan.

The 67-year-old politician twice served as prime minister in the 1990’s and on both occasions, his government was dismissed on charges of corruption and mismanagement.

Sharif was elected for a third time in the 2013 parliamentary elections after returning from years of exile in Saudi Arabia.He has consistently denied corruption charges.

The court case against the prime minister stems from leaked financial documents known as the Panama Papers that also listed Sharif’s sons and daughter, along with hundreds of other Pakistanis, as holders of offshore bank accounts and posh property.

Imran Khan, the opposition leader heading the court battle against Sharif, has been demanding the prime minister’s immediate removal since the family’s names appeared in the Panama Papers.Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party has also staged anti-government protests.

The powerful military institution notorious for ousting elected governments in Pakistan has denied its role in the legal battle on Sharif’s current tenure.The prime minister has a history of tensions with the military, which removed him in a bloodless coup in 1999 and exiled him.

Source: Voice of America

Pakistan Says Four Soldiers Killed After Shelling By Indian Forces In Kashmir

The Pakistani military says four soldiers were killed when their vehicle was struck by shelling that they blame on Indian forces in the disputed region of Kashmir.

Pakistani officials on July 16 said the vehicle dove into the Neelum River after being hit by shells fired from across the Line of Control that separates India- and Pakistan-held sectors of the mountainous region.

India’s Ministry of Defense said it had no knowledge of the incident.

Pakistan said the Indian “cease-fire violation” occurred in Athmaqam in the Pakistan-administered portion of Kashmir.

“The vehicle fell into the Neelum River. Four soldiers drowned. Body of one shaheed [martyr] recovered, search for remaining three in progress,” the Pakistani military said in a statement.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the firing and “praised the prompt response by Pakistan army in thwarting the attack,” his office said.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947.

Both claim the territory in full and have fought two wars over the region.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

6 Killed as Indian, Pakistan Soldiers Trade Fire in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, INDIA � Four Pakistani soldiers, one Indian soldier and a child were killed Monday as Indian and Pakistani troops traded fire across a cease-fire line dividing the troubled Kashmir region between the two countries, officials said.

Indian army spokesman Lt. Col. Manish Mehta said Pakistani troops fired mortar shells and automatic weapons into the Rajouri sector of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday morning. A mortar shell landed on a bunker, wounding a soldier who later died at a hospital, he said.

Mehta called the Pakistani firing an unprovoked violation of a 2003 cease-fire between the neighbors and said Indian troops returned fire.

In Islamabad, the director general of military operations, Maj. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza, accused Indian soldiers of attacking a Pakistani army vehicle, killing four soldiers.

Three civilians, two on the Indian side and one on the Pakistani-controlled part of the Himalayan region, were also reported injured.

Senior Indian police officer S.P. Vaid said in the Poonch area, near Rajouri, an 8-year-old girl was killed and her mother was wounded when a shell landed on their house.

Recent violence in the region has affected at least 5,000 civilians on the Indian side who have homes in the area, according to local civil administrator Shahid Iqbal.

Iqbal said all schools in the Poonch area have been closed and at least 120 students were evacuated from one school in armored vehicles after several shells landed nearby.

Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan but is claimed by both in its entirety. The nuclear-armed rivals have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.

The two armies often blame each other for initiating firing across the cease-fire line.

Insurgents have been fighting for Indian-controlled Kashmir’s independence or its merger with Pakistan since 1989. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Islamabad denies.

Source: Voice of America

Afghan Forces Retake Key Southern District From Taliban

ISLAMABAD � Afghan security forces, backed by U.S. military advisers and air power, have evicted insurgents from a strategically important southern district, nine months after the Taliban had overrun it.

A regional military spokesman, Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai, told VOA that Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) entered Nawa district in southern Helmand province early Monday and established government control over it following two days of intense battles with the Taliban.

He said overnight U.S. airstrikes against three important Taliban bases in the area killed more than 20 insurgents and made it easier for Afghan forces to retake control of the district center.

The Taliban has not yet commented on official victory claims.

Ahmadzai said a search and clearing operation is currently underway in the district where insurgents have heavily mined areas around key installations. He promised to release details of casualties suffered by both sides, saying the Taliban lost dozens of its fighters since Afghan forces launched a large-scale offensive on Saturday to retake Nawa.

The agriculturally-rich Afghan district is located about 30 kilometers west of the provincial capital of Lashkarga and its collapse had enabled the Taliban to stage repeated assaults on the city in their bid to capture it.

Lashkarga hosts hundreds of U.S. marines who returned to Afghanistan earlier this year to assist struggling local forces reverse Taliban advances in Helmand. The insurgents control many of the districts in the country’s largest province and poppy producing region.

Helmand borders Pakistan, where Afghan officials allege the Taliban has established recruiting and training centers, charges the neighboring country denies.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has warned the Afghan conflict continued to inflict record high levels of casualties on innocent civilians in the first six months of 2017.

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), in its mid-year report released Monday, documented a total of 1,662 civilian deaths between January 1 and June 30, showing an increase of two percent over the same period last year. The fatalities included 174 women and 436 children, it said. UNAMA began documenting civilian casualties in January, 2009, and has since recorded more than 26,600 civilian deaths and just under 49,000 injuries as result of the armed conflict in Afghanistan.

Source: Voice of America

UAE denies Washington Post’s claim it hacked Qatari sites

Dubai, (IINA) – The UAE’s Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al-Otaiba has denied a report by The Washington Post that claims the country orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir in late May.

The UAE’s embassy in Washington responded to the article in a series of tweets posted Monday morning, saying, The @washingtonpost story is false. UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article in comments attributed to the ambassador.

The Washington Post report, published on Sunday, alleges that US officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by US intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation. The officials said it remains unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted to have them done.

Despite The Washington Post’s article, it was recently reported that Russian hackers were thought to be behind the purported breach of Qatar’s state news agency.

CNN reported in June: US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies.

Qatar claims that a report released by a state-run news agency in May, in which Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani was said to have made incendiary comments regarding the GCC, was the result of a hack.

The report sparked a diplomatic row in the region, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE leading a host of nations in cutting ties with Qatar.

Source: International Islamic News Agency