News from South Asia, Wednesday 24th April 2013

Pakistan:

Reuters: A prominent leader of Pakistan’s ethnic Hazara minority narrowly escaped a suicide attack that killed six people on Tuesday, underscoring the growing threat militants pose to secular politicians in the run-up to next month’s general elections.

“The blast in Quetta was the worst attack since a series of bombings in the city at the start of the year killed almost 200 people, briefly drawing global attention to a growing campaign of persecution of the Hazaras by sectarian militants. The 500,000-strong community in Quetta has been subjected to an escalating campaign shootings and bombings by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), a militant group dedicated to attacking Pakistan’s Shi’ite Muslim minority, which includes the Hazaras…LEJ’s spokesman claimed responsibility for the blast via telephone from an undisclosed location, though he did not specify whether the HDP leader was the target.”

CNN: At least five people have been killed and 37 wounded in a suicide bombing in Pakistan’s Balochistan province yesterday evening.

“Police said the bomber blew himself up near a military checkpoint. Around a dozen shops and two houses were also destroyed. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Pakistan, which has a strong presence of militants near the Afghan border and other parts of the country, has been engulfed in violence. The attack comes as the nation gets ready for elections next month.”

The Guardian: Pakistani police have defused a bomb found near Pervez Musharraf’s house, where he is under house arrest.

“Pakistani police say they have defused 50kg (110lb) of explosives hidden in a car wired with remote-controlled detonators near the fortified farmhouse where the former president Pervez Musharraf is under house arrest. Pakistan’s Taliban movement, which threatened to kill Musharraf shortly before he returned to Pakistan last month after almost four years of self-imposed exile, denied any involvement in the incident. ‘We would have sent suicide bombers,’ the Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said.

Musharraf made many enemies during his stint in power, notably among militant groups who felt betrayed by his decision to align Pakistan with the United States following the 11 September 2001 attacks.”

Afghanistan:

The Washington Times: American and British drones will maintain operations over Afghanistan long after most international ground troops have left the country after 2014, NATO’s most senior air officer in country said Tuesday.

“The challenges in building Afghanistan’s air force require the continued presence of the drones and of coalition airmen to train native recruits, AIr Force Maj. Gen. H.D. “Jake” Polumbo Jr. told Pentagon reporters. The Afghan air force will be able to stand on its own as early as 2016 ‘at best,’said Gen. Polumbo, commander of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force in Afghanistan. Most coalition forces are due to leave the country by the end of 2014…After 2014, NATO’s mission will be to provide training and support to Afghan security forces. A ‘recognizable percentage’ of NATO’s air presence will consist of drones, which are flown from U.S. sites such as Creech Air Force Base in Nevada and Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, the general said, adding that some drones will be armed.”

India:

The Times of India: 25 Maoist rebels have surrendered in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

“Giving a boost to the Sadbhavana Yatra, an initiative launched by the Visakha rural police in February this year to lure underground Maoist cadres into the mainstream, 25 militia members and Maoist sympathizers surrendered before the police in the city on Monday. Commanders, deputy commanders and sympathizers of Maoists from Naxalite areas such as Korukonda and Balapam in Chintapalli mandal were among those who surrendered before Visakha range DIG Swathi Lakra. All of them were considered to be active militia leaders who played a key role in mobilizing the people for militant action.”

The Times of India: A court in Maharashtrahas rejected suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba operative Abu Jundal’s appeal to have his case dismissed.

“The special additional sessions court on Monday rejected suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal’s application to discharge him from the charges framed against him in connection with the terror conspiracy case in Nashik. Abu Jundal, accused number three in the terror conspiracy case, had filed an application in the sessions court on April 4 to discharge him from the case, contending that he had no role in conducting reccee of the Maharashtra Police Academy, Nashik police commissionerate and Devlali military area.”

Bangladesh:

People’s Daily Online: The 36-hour strike called by an alliance of opposition parties has been marked by stray incidents of violence so far.

“However, no major incidents have so far been reported. Shortly after seven top leaders including Acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul IslamAlamgir were denied bail on Sunday evening, ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led 18-party alliance called the 36-hour non-stop strike from Tuesday morning. Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, senior BNP standing committee member, announced the strike at a press briefing, saying the hartal is also to demand restoration of a non-party caretaker government system.


On account of the hartal, stray incidents of clash, arson, vandalism, explosion of hand bombs, chase and counter-chase, detention have been reported in capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the country since morning.”

 

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