News from South Asia, Thursday 30th May 2013

Pakistan:

Dawn: At least seventeen militants have been killed in Kurram tribal region in an operation by Pakistani security forces. “The militants were killed when four insurgent hideouts were destroyed in the action in central Kurram’s Tabay area. Moreover, several militants were also injured, official sources told DawnNews.

A military operation has been ongoing in central Kurram for past three weeks. Reportedly, at least 100 militants have been killed and several insurgent hideouts have been destroyed during this time.”

Afghanistan:

New York Times: Suicide bombers in Jalalabad bombed an International Committee of the Red Cross building, injuring two and killing one. “Security forces managed to evacuate all seven Western employees working in the Jalalabad compound, with only one injured, the provincial police said. One guard was killed and another wounded when one of the attackers blew himself up at the entrance to the compound, which caught fire after the blast. The other two attackers also died in the assault. The compound was surrounded by Afghan forces during and after the attack, police officials said.”

NBC: An American general has said it is ‘not feasible‘ to completely destroy the Taliban. “‘If we think the Taliban will be completely destroyed, that’s not feasible. They’ll continue to show up,’ Major General Lee Miller told reporters at the Pentagon during a briefing via satellite from Afghanistan.

‘The key is to get the Afghan national security forces to the level where they can maintain security for the populace of Afghanistan,’ he added.

Miller said that in recent months Afghan forces have made significant progress in their ability to defend against Taliban attacks, citing success in an ongoing battle in Sangin, in Helmand Province — an area that has been a hotbed for insurgents. The fighting, which began May 25, should be over in a matter of hours, Miller predicted.”

India:

The Times of India: India’s government “may get access” to David Headley and his accomplice Tahawwur Rana, both involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, for questioning.

 “India may get access for the second time to Mumbai attack terrorist David Headley and his accomplice Tahawwur Hussain Rana, currently in the custody of the United States, for questioning. 

The positive indication was given by Washington to New Delhi during a recent bilateral meeting held in America. Government sources said following New Delhi’s consistent persuasion, the US has indicated to interlocutors that India could be given access to Headley, who carried out a recce of the 26/11 targets for the Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, for the second time to get more information about the conspiracy hatched to carry out the 2008 attack.”

Analysis: Shubhranshu Choudhary writing for The New Indian Express: Could a recent change in Maoist leadership have contributed to Saturday’s attack by Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh?  

“A recent news report has quoted intelligence sources as saying there has been a change of guard in the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) in Dandakaranya, the rebel hub in the country’s very heart. It said a guerrilla known by his nom de guerre Ramanna had been appointed the new secretary for the region, replacing Kosa…If the report is correct, it may explain the ghastly Maoist violence in ChhattisgarhSaturday that killed two senior Congress leaders among nearly 30 people.

Ramanna is known for leading almost all the ferocious military attacks against security forces in the last 30 years in the Bastar region…His predecessor, Kosa, was more of a political figure than a military strategist. Does a change of leadership imply a change in policy?”

Bangladesh:

Gulf Times: The arrest of two senior leaders of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has led to strikes marked by explosions, arson and vandalism.

“Former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on Monday called for the countrywide general strike, protesting the issuance of arrest warrant against its deputy chief and Zia’s son Tarique Rahman, now living in London. A court in Dhaka on Sunday issued the warrant of arrest in a money laundering case, saying it would ask Interpol to help detain Rahman, the eldest son of two-times former premier Khaleda, also chairperson of BNP.

…The court order triggered huge protests from the opposition party in the past three days when stray incidents of clashes, explosions of cocktails, torching and vandalism of vehicles were reported in parts of the capital city Dhaka and elsewhere in the country where the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government last week banned political rallies for one month.”

Bangladesh News 24 Hours: The chief of Hefazat-e-Islam, Shah Ahmad Shafi, has claimed his organisation is being wrongly blamed for the violent clashes on May 5 and demanded a fair investigation into the incident.

“Hifazat-e Islam, a Quami madrasa-based Islamic organisation based in Chittagong, held a rally in the city’s commercial hub Motijheel on May 5 following its high-voltage ‘Dhaka-Siege’ programme to press home 13-point charter of demands.The demands include exemplary punishment to all ‘atheist’ bloggers and others who ‘insult Islam’ and a ban on mixing of men and women in public.

Rowdy Hifazat supporters, instigated and bolstered by Jamaat and Shibir activists, vandalised and set on fire police outposts, hundreds of shops, including dozens selling religious books, and makeshift vending stalls on footpaths at Paltan, Gulistan, Bijoy Nagar, Baitul Mukarram and Bangabandhu National Stadium markets during the mayhem that evening.”

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