A NATO airstrike on Thursday morning killed at least five Afghan soldiers and injured at least eight others in a tragic incident of friendly fire that is likely to further inflame the battered Washington-Kabul relations.
The strike, which hit an Afghan National Army outpost in the country's volatile Logar Province, located about 50 miles from Kabul, came from a drone, according to The New York Times. It was most likely "the result of poor coordination between the people on the ground and the operators of the drone," the Logar provincial spokesman told the newspaper. A Logar provincial spokesman described the outpost as the "the front line against Taliban," the Washington Post reported.
The development is a fresh blow to the fragile and increasingly fractious relationship between Washington and Kabul. The US has struggled to reach a security deal with outgoing Afghan president Hamid Karzai for continued US presence in the country after the international troops are pulled out in late 2014. NATO airstrikes -- and Afghan ability to prosecute them for civilian deaths -- are the key sticking point, and today's events stand certain to widen the rift further.
The US-led Afghanistan International Security Assistance Force said in a statement that it has launched an investigation "to determine the circumstances that led to this unfortunate incident.... We value the strong relationship with our Afghan partners, and we will determine what actions will be taken to ensure incidents like this do not happen again."
We have heard from Rabdhure in the Bakool region of Somalia that heavily armed Ethiopian troops have recuperated the village after yesterday there was a big fight between fighters from Al-Shabaab and the Ethiopian forces backed by the Somali National Army.
During this battle, 10 fighters from Al-Shabaab were killed and one of their vehicles burned making it possible for the Ethiopian troops to capture Rabdhure town.
According to anonymous witnesses, they told Radio Shabelle that the fight started on the eastern area of Rabdhure called Calamada. Rabdhure was vacated from citizens after the fight erupted between Al-Shabaab and the Ethiopian troops backed by government forces.
The news says that in the battle, the Deputy Chief of Police for the Bay force, Marshow Kurtun and the Chief of Military Vehicles (Ooyaaye) for Bay died. 4 other soldiers died including military and police and 2 were injured.
This battle came after a fierce confrontation between the Military Forces at a checkpoint occupied by Police where they proceeded the checkpoint with their vehicles.
An Al-Shabaab spokesman died on Wednesday, nearly two months after he was injured in an air strike by Kenya Defence Forces in Somalia.
May we please see the severed head?
Military spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir confirmed the death on his official twitter account saying: "Al Shabaab spokesman Ali Dhere (alias Ali Mohamed Raghe) finally succumbs to last courtesy call injuries! Focus on Al Shabaab leadership targeting continues."
However, another post on twitter came out later by a man claiming he had spoken to Ali Dhere.
"He's not dead yet!"
The post replied to Maj Chirchir's message saying: "The guy you saying is dead just called me! He didn't sound dead to me."
It further quoted the Al-Shabaab spokesman to have said: "He (Maj Chirchir) is doing what he always did, lying to his people. I'm well. Very well."
Ali Dhere sustained the injuries after the air strike at Birta Dheere area in Somalia on January 10. The air strike targeted Al-Shabaab overall leader Muktar Abdirahman Godane, but he escaped by a whisker because he left the area a few minutes before Kenya Air Force F-5 jets launched the attack.
Ah the F-5, always a minute late...
Before the strike, Godane was presiding over a meeting of top Al-Shabaab commanders who had gathered to witness the handing over of leadership to a regional chief who was being installed that day.
Military sources said more than 30 senior Al-Shabaab commanders were killed that day including a Kenyan from Garissa identified as Gamadhere, who was responsible for many grenade attacks that have been carried out in Kenya. Six commanders of different nationalities also died in the strike.
Ali Dheere was the public face of the terrorist group and was last seen in an interview broadcast last month, demanding withdrawal of KDF troops from Somalia and threatening more attacks in Kenya, saying the Westgate massacre was carried out to send a message.
During the interview with Al-Jazeera TV network, he also claimed that Al-Shabaab would regain control of towns that had been liberated by KDF. He also named Britain as a key enemy for supporting the KDF and urged "young British Muslims" to join the war in Somalia.
[An Nahar] As many as 12 fighters from the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) group have been killed in a counter-terrorism operation by French forces in Mali who used drones to track down the Jihadists, La Belle France's defense minister said Thursday.
The offensive took place Tuesday night in northeastern Mali, Jean-Yves Drian said.
Separately, a U.N. source confirmed that "a very large French operation" in the area had taken place.
The AQIM fighters were spotted by French forces operating the U.S.-made Reaper drones, Drian said, confirming a report which had appeared in the daily Le Figaro.
"These are the drones which the French army now has in place which allows us to identify these groups," said Drian.
Ministerial sources said the those killed belonged to the AQIM group, operating in a mountainous region of northeastern Mali.
According to the same source, use of the drones -- as well as Mirage 2000 fighter jets and military helicopters -- underlined the increasingly sophisticated weaponry now being employed by the French military.
The Reaper drones are based in Niamey, the capital of Niger, which borders Mali to the south. No ground forces were used in the operation, said Drian.
The minister added that, despite the success of the latest operation, French forces in the region would remain vigilant.
A source from MINUSMA, the United Nations ...where theory meets practice and practice loses... peacekeeping mission in Mali, told Agence La Belle France Presse that the French assault "has led to the neutralization of a dozen terrorists".
The U.N. promised further details of the operation later.
A Malian army source informed AFP that "Islamists, notably from Libya, have reorganized themselves on the ground".
"They set up two bases in the north-east that the French from (Operation) Serval... destroyed on Tuesday night. At least 11 bad boyz were potted," said the same source.
[Al Ahram] Nigeria has shut five government colleges in the country's restive northeast in the wake of a deadly series of attacks targeting schools.
A ministry of education statement issued late Wednesday said the affected schools were "located within the high security risk areas of the northeast geo-political zone".
Students of the schools in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, which are worst hit by the Boko Haram ... not to be confused with Procol Harum, Harum Scarum, possibly to be confused with Helter Skelter. The Nigerian version of al-Qaeda and the Taliban rolled together and flavored with a smigeon of distinctly Subsaharan ignorance and brutality... insurgency, would be absorbed in other government colleges, it added.
Last week, 43 students were shot and hacked to death when suspected Boko Haram gunnies stormed Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, Yobe state.
An undisclosed number of female students was kidnapped during the overnight attack while the whole school was burnt down.
The traumatised students have refused to stay in their schools and colleges since the attack, which was the latest against schoolchildren by the krazed killers.
Boko Haram, which translates roughly from Hausa as "Western education is sin", rejects a so-called Western curriculum and has burnt hundreds of schools in its four-and-a-half year fight to create an Islamic state in the Moslem-majority north.
Yobe state authorities said last October that Boko Haram attacks had razed 209 schools, causing damage worth an estimated $15.6 million (11.4 million euros).
The attacks have raised fears about the effect on education in a region that already lags behind the rest of Nigeria in social and economic development.
Nigeria has since May launched a military offensive to flush out the turbans from the region, but attacks have continued, particularly in remote, border areas.
The country's top police officer, Mohammed Dahiru Abubakar, said on Tuesday that security agencies were "doing everything humanly possible" to prevent future school attacks.
[An Nahar] Saudi state television ... and if you can't believe state television who can you believe?
has for the first time broadcast the "confessions" of a jihadist who returned from Syria, as the Mohammedan kingdom distances itself from Islamist forces of Evil in that country's conflict.
Sulaiman al-Subaie, 25, who grew popular in his homeland for his posts on video-sharing app Keek, reportedly joined the most radical group fighting in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ... the current version of al-Qaeda in Iraq, just as blood-thirsty and well-beloved as the original... (ISIL), last August.
"The situation in Syria is not as portrayed in the media," Subaie said in a rare interview aired on Saudi television late Wednesday.
"What is amazing is that Saudis are killing fellow Saudis in the fighting between ISIL and Al-Nusra Front," the Al-Qaeda franchise in Syria.
ISIL, disavowed by Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri ... Formerly second in command of al-Qaeda, now the head cheese, occasionally described as the real brains of the outfit. Formerly the Mister Big of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Bumped off Abdullah Azzam with a car boom in the course of one of their little disputes. Is thought to have composed bin Laden's fatwa entitled World Islamic Front Against Jews and Crusaders. Currently residing in the North Wazoo area. That is not a horn growing from the middle of his forehead, but a prayer bump, attesting to how devout he is... , has been accused by rebels battling Syrian Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Supressor of the Damascenes... 's troops of seeking to consolidate power rather than fight the regime, and even of serving the regime's interests.
Fierce festivities between ISIL and opposition fighters broke out in early January, after accusations that the radical group was abusing both civilians and rival rebel forces.
The fighting has left hundreds dead and created openings for regime advances in some areas.
Subaie said in his "confessions" that the death of his brother, a jihadist, as well as "pictures of dead Syrian children" had prompted him to join the war.
"I went to Qatar, from where I traveled to Turkey" before being led into Syria with the help of a smuggler.
He wanted to join Al-Nusra Front but "upon my arrival, I was told that I have now become a member of ISIL," he said.
Subaie decided to quit the group after realizing that his Twitter account, followed by thousands in Soddy Arabia ...a kingdom taking up the bulk of the Arabian peninsula. Its primary economic activity involves exporting oil and soaking Islamic rubes on the annual hajj pilgrimage. The country supports a large number of princes in whatcha might call princely splendor. When the oil runs out the rest of the world is going to kick sand in the Soddy national face... , was being used to broadcast "messages inciting" violence against rulers and holy mans in Saudi Arabia.
He fled back to Turkey and returned to the kingdom, where he is being held.
There are no official figures on the numbers of Saudis who have joined jihadist ranks in Syria, but they are estimated at several hundred.
The Sunni-majority conservative kingdom has been a key backer of the three-year revolt against Assad's regime, which is dominated by the Alawite offshoot of Shiite Islam.
But King Abdullah last month decreed jail terms of up to 20 years for citizens who travel to fight abroad, as the country struggles to deter young Saudis from becoming jihadists.
Tamaulipas state police and Mexican Policia Federal have been reportedly involved a a number of armed confrontations with criminal groups in south-central Tamaulipas state, according to official government reports.
According to a news release posted on the Tamaulipas state website, the fighting has been going on at a location between Jimenez and Padilla municipalities. The report said that Mexican security forces were fired on by armed suspects, and apparently security forces returned fire.
No one from either side was reported hurt in the encounters.
Possibly unrelated is the report from the same website that two unidentified assistants of the municipal president of Abasolo were injured in an auto accident a few hours later about 20 kilometers away,
According to the news release the vehicle's tires had been punctured or were blown out, causing the crash. Both victims were said to be at a hospital in Ciudad Victoria, the state capital of Tamaulipas.
The latest two incidents comes on the heels of the announcement of a new self defense group in southern Tamaulipas, colloquially known as autodefensas.
According to a news report which appeared in the leftist Proceso news weekly, the new group had distributed a leaflet detailing their existence earlier in the week.
The group, dubbed the Brigada Alberto Carreta Torres, was formed to counter the criminal activities of Los Zetas drug cartel in the area.
According to a separate report which appeared in El Universal news daily on February 11th, several autodefensas have formed in Tamaulipas, and were operating in Hidalgo, Tula and Ocampo municipalities. The Proceso article, dated two days ago, said that the newest group was operating in Ciudad Victoria. The article also hinted that the new groups were operating checkpoints in the city.
The Brigada Alberto Carreta Torres group has claimed a number of executions of Los Zetas criminal operatives. The autodefensas of Michocan, unlike the Brigada Alberto Carreta Torres, had not, to this writer's understanding, targeted one criminal group over another as they began their own security operations.
The Brigada Alberto Carreta Torres sounds like the Matazetas groups from Veracruz and Jalisco states three years ago, which were groups funded and operated by local drug gangs to gain public sympathy for their goals, even as they rounded up and brutally murdered innocents. The Matazetas were later found to be funded by the Sinaloa drug cartel.
The absence of a reference to the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels in the announcement of the existence of the group, both of which are in alliance would seem to indicate they were in fact funded and operated by one and/or the other group.
The Proceso article also said that another group, autodefensa Columna Pedro J Mendez, was operating in Hidalgo municipality and had claimed the lives of a number of Los Zetas.
In the El Universal article a Tamaulipas state deputy, Francisco Elizondo Salazar, lamented that since elements of the Policia Federal had been redeployed to Michoacan, "insecurity permeated the streets" of the state.
Two days later, at least some Policia Federal units returned to the state to begin new operations.
Deputy Francisco Salazar also repeated a warning that travel in Tamaulipas at night should be discouraged.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com and Borderlandbeat.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Two individuals were shot to death and another was wounded in three separate shooting incidents in southern Chihuahua state municipalities.
According to a news account which appeared in El Monitor de Parral news daily, Marco Antonio Sanchez Zavala was shot to death at the Cantina Foreing Bar on Avenida Ortiz Mena at around 1740 hrs Wednesday evening in Parral.
According to the report, a number of armed suspects entered the bar after dismounting from at least one sedan, then started firing. Sanchez Zavala was originally from Ciudad Juarez, where he had been working in a factory only two weeks before.
Meanwhile in Carichi municipality, an American national was found shot to death in her vehicle was parked near a medical clinic Tuesday afternoon.
According to a news report which appeared in El Diario de Chihuahua news daily, Kathelyn Nicole Lambert Koegler, 20, was shot in the chest and left to die in her Jeep Cherokee. Lambert Koegler had been resident of Carichi municipality since childhood.
On Wednesday night a man in his 20s was shot and wounded in Parral, according to a news report which appeared in the online edition of El Sol de Parral news daily.
Jesus Anselmo Bustillos Bustillos, 25, was wounded by a number of armed suspects who were aboard a black sedan at around 2040 hrs. The incident took place at the victim's residence on Calle Maria Herrera Quiñones in PRI colony. At least three shots were fired at the victim.
An anonymous writer for El Monitor de Parral wrote that a shouting match occurred between elements of the Chihuahua state police and elements of the Mexican Army who were on the scene. The shouting was about ministerial agents at the scene contaminating the crime scene, an accusation advanced by the military site commander.
The shouting ended as prosecutors arrived on the scene to conduct their investigation.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com and Borderlandbeat.com. He can be reached at email@example.com
[An Nahar] A dozen bombings in central Iraq and two shootings in the north killed 22 people Thursday, officials and doctors said, as the country suffers its worst violence in years.
Iraq has been hit by a year-long surge in bloodshed that has reached levels not seen since 2008, driven by widespread discontent among its Sunni Arab minority and by the civil war in neighboring Syria.
On Thursday evening, four boom-mobiles went kaboom! in Storied Baghdad, killing at least 11 people and wounding 47, officials said.
The bombings targeted a cafe, a market, a main street and an area of car dealerships.
Militants frequently attack places where crowds gather, such as cafes, markets, football fields and mosques, in an effort to maximize casualties.
The Storied Baghdad blasts followed a boom-mobileing near a checkpoint north of the capital that killed two people and maimed 15, and four others in areas south of Storied Baghdad that killed two people and maimed eight.
North of the capital, a bomb went kaboom! in a cafe in a town near Baquba, killing four people and wounding seven, while two more blasts in the city itself killed one and maimed three.
And two shootings in the northern city of djinn-infested Mosul ... the home of a particularly ferocious and hairy djinn... killed two coppers.
The violence came after 10 bombings and three shootings in and around Storied Baghdad killed at least 21 people Wednesday.
Storied Baghdad is one of the most frequently-targeted cities in the country and is hit by near-daily bombings and shootings.
The government also faces a more than two-month crisis in Anbar province, west of Storied Baghdad, where it has lost the city of Fallujah as well as shifting parts of quiet provincial capital Ramadi to anti-government krazed killers.
It is the first time anti-government forces have exercised such open control in major cities since the peak of the deadly violence that followed the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.
More than 370,000 people may have been displaced by the violence in Anbar during the latest crisis, according to the United Nations ...boodling on the grand scale... .
Violence in Iraq has killed more than 1,800 people since January 1, according to Agence La Belle France Presse figures based on security and medical sources.
[JP] At any given time, Israel's defense establishment is monitoring Iranian arms-smuggling and terror-financing networks, a security source revealed on Thursday.
This comment came a day after the Israel Navy intercepted an Iranian attempt to smuggle powerful rockets to the Gaza Strip on a commercial ship off the coast of Sudan.
Currently, IDF Military Intelligence is managing investigations "no less significant" than the Iranian attempt to bring Syrian-made M-302 rockets to Gaza, the source said, describing the covert investigations as part of a far wider "war between wars."
Not a week passes by without Israel blocking or thwarting an Iranian attempt to transmit arms to terrorist entities threatening Israeli national security. All of Israel's intelligence agencies are involved in this effort, the source said, including Military Intelligence's various units, the Mossad and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). Excellent! Keep up the great work.
[Al Ahram] At least 15 people were killed and 12 others maimed in a boom-mobile blast in the central Syrian city of Homs on Thursday, an NGO said.
"At least 15 people were killed and 12 others injured in the Armenian district, which is home to mostly Christians and Alawites," said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Syria's Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Lord of the Baath... comes from the Alawite community, a religious minority that stems from Shiite Islam.
Syria's state news agency SANA reported a "terrorist attack" on the main street of the district, "which caused deaths, injuries and damage."
The neighbourhood, in the east of Homs, is under government control.
Homs, once dubbed the "capital" of Syria's revolution for its prominent, well-attended anti-government protests, has been the scene of fierce fighting between the regime and rebels.
Part of its Old City under rebel control has been subjected to a tight government siege that has left several thousand civilians trapped.
In recent weeks, UN and Red Islamic Thingy teams were able to evacuate some civilians and distribute food and medicine to those remaining in the besieged neighbourhoods, but the operations have halted.
[An Nahar] Hizbullah ...Party of God, a Leb militia inspired, founded, funded and directed by Iran. Hizbullah refers to itself as The Resistance and purports to defend Leb against Israel, with whom it has started and lost one disastrous war to date, though it did claim victory... had recently established a small military airport in the Bekaa city of Baalbek and is operating Iranian-made drones, the Saudi al-Watan daily reported on Thursday.
According to the daily, Hizbullah also created high-security secret tunnels and depots, that were dug under Iranian supervision.
The Iranian drones were identified as Mirsad-1 and Mirsad-2.
A Lebanese observer Georges Shahin said in comments published in the Saudi newspaper that the Islamic Theocratic Republic of Iran had provided its staunch ally Hizbullah with 14 Iranian-made drones.
"It's not unlikely for Hizbullah to set a new airport," Shahin said.
In January, senior commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that Hizbullah has dramatically improved its missile capabilities and can now pinpoint targets anywhere in Israel.
Hajizadeh didn't say how Hizbullah's missile capability had improved, but The Wall Street Journal has reported that the group has been moving parts of advanced guided-missile systems to Leb from bases where it had stored them inside Syria.
[An Nahar] Two mortar shells were found Thursday in the southern town of al-Majadel and a Syrian man was locked away Drop the rod and step away witcher hands up! in connection with the incident.
"An (Internal Security Forces) Intelligence Bureau patrol found two functional 60 mm mortar shells in an agricultural field in the town of al-Majadel, southeast of the city of Tyre," state-run National News Agency reported.
The patrol removed the mortars from the site and delivered them to the Jwayya cop shoppe, NNA said.
"It also arrested Syrian national Mohammed Sawad, who lives in a house near the location where the two shells were discovered," the agency added.
In August 2013, several rockets and shells left over from the 2006 war with Israel were found in the al-Nsar-Deir Qanoun Ras al-Ain area east of Tyre.
[An Nahar] The United States is restricting the movement of Syria's U.N. ambassador, limiting him to a 25-mile radius around New York City, the State Department said Wednesday.
Officials gave no explanation for the move against Bashar Jaafari but US relations have deteriorated sharply with Damascus since Syrian Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad One of the last of the old-fashioned hereditary iron-fisted fascist dictators... led a crackdown against a pro-democracy uprising in 2011.
"We have delivered a diplomatic note to the permanent representative of the Syrian mission to the United Nations ...a lucrative dumping ground for the relatives of dictators and party hacks... in New York informing him that he is restricted to a 25-mile (40 kilometer) travel radius," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
The note was delivered at the end of February, she told news hounds.
Some other countries' U.N. envoys face similar restrictions, she said. Envoys from Iran and North Korea are among them.
"So this is not something that is out of the realm of what we've done before," Psaki said.
The Coalition for a Democratic Syria, an association of Syrian-American groups, welcomed the announcement, accusing the diplomat of trying to fuel sectarian divisions among Syrians in his public appearances in the United States.
"This development has been a long-standing objective that the Syrian-American community has been trying to achieve for the past five months," said Chad Brand, a front man for the coalition.
For the past six months, Jaafari "has been conducting a series of propaganda tours across the United States to mislead Americans and sow sectarian discord among Syrian-Americans," he said.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.