Posts tagged ‘militants’

June 30, 2011

US drone wounds top militants in Somalia: Report

Officials says militants were planning operations outside of Somalia. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

WASHINGTON: A US drone fired on two senior commanders of Somalia’s Shebab insurgency after they were found to have ties to al Qaeda, the Washington Post reported late Wednesday, citing US officials.

The strike last week is believed to have wounded the two leading militants and came amid increasing concern among US officials about growing ties between Shebab and the global terror network, the Post said.

“They (Shebab fighters) have become somewhat emboldened of late and, as a result, we have become more focused on inhibiting their activities,” it quoted an official as saying. “They were planning operations outside of Somalia.”

The Post said Somalia is now the sixth country in which the United States is reportedly using drone attacks to kill suspected militants, after Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq and Yemen.

The US military could not immediately be reached for comment.

The official quoted by the Post said the two commanders had “direct ties” to Anwar al-Awlaqi, a charismatic American-born preacher believed to be hiding in his family’s native Yemen.

US aircraft and special forces have carried out covert attacks in the past in Somalia, but last week’s incident appeared to be the first drone strike, the Post said.

Last Thursday residents reported huge explosions near Kismayo, a southern port town controlled by Shebab, followed by the sound of aircraft.

A Shebab official in the area said his men had reported an aerial bombing raid on a Shebab base.

“The military aircraft of the enemy carried out an aerial bombardment on a base where some mujahedeen fighters were staying. Initial reports indicate several mujahedeen fighters including muhajirs (foreigners) died,” the official said, refusing to be named.

“We believe the aircraft belonged to the US,” he added.

June 30, 2011

Core group talks: No let-up in shelling militants, says Pakistan

Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir listens to a question during a media briefing about the killing of Osama bin Laden at the foreign ministry in Islamabad on May 5, 2011. PHOTO: AFP


Islamabad has made it clear to Washington and Kabul that shelling on the Afghanistan-based militants from Pakistan would continue in the future, as it was necessary to counter terrorists who have been consistently attacking Pakistan’s security forces over the past weeks, Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq told The Express Tribune.

Pakistan took this position at a Core Group Meeting with US special envoy Marc Grossman and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Javed Ludin in Kabul on Tuesday.

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir explained during the meeting that the bombardment was not directed at Afghan civilians.

A similar meeting between the US, Afghan and Pakistan security officials also took place at the Army Headquarters in Peshawar the same day, highly placed sources told The Express Tribune.

The officials were to discuss cross border strikes by Afghan militants and Pakistan’s retaliation operations.

Shelling by Pakistan on Afghan militants during the week has so far claimed several civilian lives besides a large number of miscreants who crossed over to Pakistan to attack its security forces.

Ambassador Sadiq was summoned by the Afghan ministry of foreign affairs last week to receive a demarche over the shelling which, according to the Afghan media, led to the deaths of several civilians, forcing others to flee their houses in Kunar and adjoining areas.

The recent shelling on Afghan villages by Pakistan’s security forces was not an intentional act on the part of its forces, Sadiq told the Afghan foreign minister.

“Several hundred civilians and security personnel were killed by Afghan militants who crossed over into Dir and Bajaur during the last few weeks, Sadiq said, adding “the armed lashkars from across the border targeted Pakistan’s security forces six times during the last three months”.

US-Taliban contacts

Ambassador Sadiq confirmed that Washington was in contact with the Taliban for reconciliation. However, he said that at present there was no discussion between the US and Afghan Taliban on reconciliation and transition.

“Washington was in contact with former Taliban spokesman Syed Agha,” he said, adding that they had held three meetings in the past in Qatar, Kandahar and Germany.

Contact with Syed Agha was arranged by Germany which is pleading for a negotiated settlement of the Afghan crisis. “We have learnt that both sides have exchanged terms and conditions for the talks,” Sadiq explained.

Regarding reports of talks between the UK and the Afghan Taliban, Sadiq said there were no such negotiations between the two parties.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2011.