News from South Asia, Monday 6th May 2013

Pakistan:

Jagran Post: Four people have been killed in Karachi in an attack on a political candidate. “A convoy of an independent candidate came under attack in Sibi, killing 4 people. Seven people were injured when militants attacked the offices of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and National Party in other parts of the Balochistan province.

Police said that despite enhanced security for candidates, militants had attacked a convoy of Sardar Sarfaraz Domki and Dostain Domki candidates for provincial and national Assembly seats in Karak area of Sibi district.

‘Four people were killed in the attack when militants opened fire on an election rally. The candidates had taken out,’ one official said. In another incident, militants hurled a hand grenade at the office of Jamiatul Ulema-e-Islam (Ideological) in Deba area of Quetta.”

News International: Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain has said that his party wants the Pakistan envisioned by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, not the Taliban. “Altaf Hussain while addressing a public meeting via telephone as part of MQM’s electoral campaign here in the province of Punjab, said if religion does not espouse subjecting people to coercion then why mosques and Imam Bargahs are being attacked.

The MQM Chief said despite all the propaganda, the graph of his party’s popularity could not be prevented from moving up.”

New York Times: Extremist parties are resorting to populism in the upcoming elections. “Mr. Rehmani was speaking at a rally in Khanewal, a district of lush fields and poor farmers between the city of Multan and the Indus River. His group, once known as Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, is the country’s main anti-Shiite group and was banned as a terrorist organization by Pervez Musharraf, then the president, in 2002.

Sipah is widely viewed as the ideological center of sectarian thinking in Pakistan; its most notorious offshoot is Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the militant group responsible for much of the sectarian bloodshed this year: roadside executions, drive-by shootings and two major suicide attacks in the western city of Quetta that killed almost 200 people earlier this year.

But relatively little sectarian violence touches Sipah’s political heartland in southern Punjab, where such groups drive deep roots in conservative rural communities by exploiting religious sentiment, profound social inequality and — in some cases — the support of mainstream politicians eager to capture their votes.”

Afghanistan:

BBC: Seven NATO soldiers have been killed in two attacks in Farah and Kandahar provinces. “An Afghan soldier turned his weapon on coalition troops in the western Farah province, reports said, killing two in the latest so-called insider attack.

Earlier, a roadside bomb killed five US soldiers in the southern Kandahar province.

The deaths came after three British troops were killed by a roadside bomb this week in southern Helmand province.

The Taliban launched its annual spring offensive last Sunday, saying it would target foreign military bases and diplomatic areas.”

Wall Street Journal: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has suggested the Afghan Taliban turn their weapons against Pakistan. “Speaking to reporters in Kabul, Mr. Karzai praised an Afghan policeman who died in Wednesday’s border clash and then called on the Taliban to ‘target the place that is hostile to Afghanistan.’

No Afghan government, he added, will recognize as an international frontier the British-drawn boundary with Pakistan, known as the Durand Line, which cuts in two the ethnic Pashtun homeland.

Mr. Karzai’s comments—his strongest remarks yet since the border clashes—may complicate U.S.-led efforts to mediate a peace settlement and to ship military equipment out of Afghanistan through Pakistan as most international troops prepare to leave the country by the end of 2014.”

Reuters: A new bout of fighting along the AfPak border has erupted. “Afghan officials said the clash on Monday erupted after Pakistani troops tried to repair a gate on the border, in the Afghan district of Goshta, where last week an Afghan border policeman was killed in an exchange of fire.

It is unclear if there were any casualties on Monday.

‘This morning’s clash began after the Pakistani side continued to repair the gate, which was damaged in the previous fighting,’ said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province.”

India:

Indian Express: Security personnel in the state of Madhya Pradesh have arrested a suspect in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts case.

“In a joint operation, a team of Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) from Ahmedabad and Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of Madhya Pradesh arrested a suspect in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts case in Ujjain Friday night. The suspect, identified as Shahid Nagori, was being brought to Ahmedabad on transit warrant. Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCB) Himanshu Shukla said Nagori was arrested around 10 pm on Friday. An alleged activist of banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Nagori was wanted by DCB in connection with the serial bomb blasts in which 57 persons were killed. So far, the DCB has arrested 68 accused in the case.”

The Times of India: There has been an intelligence alert regarding a possible terror attack on the U.S. consulate in the city of Mumbai.

“The Western Naval command headquarters has alerted the city police about the threat of a bomb attack on the US consulate here on July 21. The intelligence was shared with reference to an anonymous letter received by the consulate-general and American Centre in Kolkata, threatening to attack both places. A copy of the single-page letter was passed on by Sanjay Kumar, command intelligence officer, western naval command. The letter has ‘Al-Jihad’ written on top, much like a logo or the name of an organization. It said US consulate officials are the targets and told the Americans to vacate the consulates…It was unclear when the US consulate received the letter and why July 21 was chosen. Al-Jihad is not known to intelligence agencies but they are taking the threat seriously as terror outfits are known to hide under various names.”

Hindustan Times: A Lashkar-e-Taiba militant has been arrested in connection to the murder of a village leader.

“Jammu and Kashmir Police on Sunday claimed to have arrested a Lashkar-e-Taiba militant allegedly involved in the killing of a sarpanch in North Kashmir’s Pattan town. A police spokesman said a locally trained LeT Muzaffar Ahmad Lone was nabbed after they received information about his presence in Palhalan village. ‘Muzaffar is involved in a murder case of a sarpanch of Palhalan village. He is a close associate of Hilal Molvi of LeT militant in Kongamdara Magam area,’ the police spokesman said”.

The Times of India: There has been bomb hoax at the office of a political party in the district of Balaghat.

“A parcel allegedly containing bomb and pamphlets dumped in front of a BJP MLA’s office in naxalite-infested Balaghat district led to panic on Sunday morning. Later it was found that the packet contained fire crackers. A packet containing ‘bombs’ and pamphlets was found in front of MLA Ramkishore Kawre’s office in Paraswada town. Some pamphlets were also found scattered around the office. Police is investigating the matter.”

Bangladesh:

BBC News: Police in Bangladesh have used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse a huge demonstration by Islamist protesters in the capital Dhaka on Sunday.

“Thousands fled as police took control of the central business district. Up to half a million supporters of the group Hefazat-e Islam had gathered in the city to call for stronger Islamic policies. Rioters went on to set fire to shops and vehicles.At least seven people were killed and 60 injured in clashes with police.Some casualties suffered bullet wounds in the head, hospital sources say.”

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