Afghan leader predicts violence, NATO pledges troops
By Sayed Salahuddin
KABUL, June 15 (Reuters) - Afghanistan will face more violence ahead of September elections, President Hamid Karzai said on Wednesday as the NATO-led peacekeeping force announced plans for 2,000 extra troops to protect the polls.
"Until the elections, this country will have difficulties, attacks will increase on us, terrorism will rise ... conspiracy will increase against our country," he told a function in Kabul.
"But without any doubt, our nation will succeed, as it did during the presidential elections."
Karzai did not identify the threat, but when referring to terrorism, Afghan officials mean the Taliban guerrillas and their al Qaeda allies who have stepped up attacks in recent months.
Detailing plans for the additional troops, a spokeswoman for NATO's 8,300-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said a Dutch battalion would be stationed in Mazar-i-Sharif in the north, one from Romania in Kabul and another from Spain in the western city of Herat.
"Over two thousand additional ISAF troops will be brought in as Election Support Forces," Major Karen Tissot Van Patot told a news briefing.
More aircraft would also be sent to ensure that troops were able to respond quickly to any breaking situation.
She said the aim was to have the additional troops on the ground six to eight weeks before the Sept. 18 polls.
TALIBAN PLAN MORE ATTACKS
The separate 20,000-strong U.S.-led force pursuing Taliban and al Qaeda militants will have a battalion of 500-700 troops standing by outside Afghanistan and ready to be deployed if needed, spokeswoman Lieutenant Cindy Moore told the briefing.
The Taliban failed in their vow to derail the presidential polls, which were easily won by Karzai, but more than a dozen election workers were killed before the voting and the risks to the more complex parliamentary polls are substantially higher.
In an interview with Pakistan's Geo Television broadcast on Wednesday, Mullah Akhtar Usmani, a member of the Taliban's 10-man leadership council, said U.S.-led forces could expect more attacks this year.
Last week, the Taliban killed an election worker, and dozens of government troops, some aid workers and 13 U.S. soldiers have died in violence since March. More than 150 insurgents have been killed, according to government and U.S. military figures.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, U.S. and Afghan forces killed another nine Taliban fighters and detained 21 during operations in southern Afghanistan aimed at containing rising guerrilla violence, a senior Afghan army officer said.
Key to the success of the election will be Pakistan, which sealed off its border at the time of the presidential poll to prevent militants crossing into Afghanistan to launch attacks.
Pakistan has promised to take similar steps this year.
Regional military strongmen are also seen as a threat for the elections, which has been delayed several times and were supposed to have been held at the same time as the presidential polls.
2,000 extra peacekeepers to secure Afghan polls
Pajhwok Afghan News 06/15/2005
KABUL - The NATO-led international peacekeeping force announced on Wednesday that 2,000 more troops would be deployed in different cities of in Afghanistan to secure upcoming parliamentary polls.
A spokeswoman for the 8,300-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said a Dutch battalion would be stationed in Mazar-i-Sharif in the north, one from Romania in Kabul and another from Spain in the western city of Herat.
The first battalion will arrive in Afghanistan, where insurgents have lately stepped up attacks on government and foreign forces, by the end of the current month.
"Over two thousand additional ISAF troops will be brought in as an Election-Support Force," Major Karen Tissot Van Patot told a press conference here. The first post-Taliban parliamentary polls, twice delayed, are now slated for mid-September.
Meanwhile, the US-led coalition forces said they were also mulling deploying extra troops outside Afghanistan, if needed, to boost security for the elections opposed by Taliban.
The Afghan government and international troops are struggling to secure the September 18 legislative elections as members of the ousted Taliban regime have vowed to disrupt it.
Parliamentary polls and security measures
Excerpt from editorial in Pashto "Parliamentary polls and security measures", published by Afghan newspaper Hewad on 15 June
It has been anticipated in past that that the parliamentary elections will be held in a peaceful atmosphere, jut like the presidential elections. But now this prediction is becoming doubtful. Terrorist and guerrilla attacks have been increasing in several parts of the country in recent days. [passage omitted, on Kandahar suicide attack]
These incidents of unrest have increased doubts. Everybody knows that guerrilla attacks carried out by the terrorists are closely related to the forthcoming parliamentary and provincial council polls. They want to create an atmosphere of harassment among the people. They are threatening people to sabotage the election process. There is evidence that the terrorists and the enemies of the country have been uniting with the drug-Mafia, narcotics dealers, thieves and a number of warlords to undermine the security situation in the country.
Since the enemies of peace and stability in the country have been uniting, the supporters of peace and stability should also get united against these enemies. The government, the international community and the people of the country should exert efforts to foil their conspiracies and work for the establishment of security in the country, although officials of the Afghan National Army, the ISAF [International Security Assistance Force], police and the coalition forces have made pledges that security will be maintained in the parliamentary polls.
What we suggest is that the government should set up a useful and practical strategy and the people, in order to improve of security, should extend their full cooperation. It should be recognized that maintaining security is impossible without the cooperation of the people. But as to how people will be encouraged to extend their cooperation with the government depends on the skills and intelligence of officials. The process of disarmament should also be accelerated and if the disarmament process progresses, security and stability wills also be maintained in the country.
Australia considers sending troops to Afghanistan
CANBERRA, June 16 (Reuters) - Australia is considering sending troops back to Afghanistan by early next year to help stabilise the country and continue the war on terrorism, the Australian newspaper reported on Thursday.
The paper said the government was considering the new troop deployment, which could be a force of between 250 and 700, along with more civil aid for Afghanistan's reconstruction. A decision would be made in July.
Prime Minister John Howard's office had no comment on the report, but the centre-left Labor opposition party said it would support a new troop deployment.
"The opposition is prepared to engage in a discussion with the government on this matter, if the government wants to have it," Labor leader Kim Beazley told reporters.
Australia sent special forces troops and air support to the the U.S.-led war on terrorism in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, but withdrew them after the Afghan Taliban fell late that same year.
A new analysis of Australian views on international security, from the influential Australian Strategic Policy Institute, has found 58 percent of Australians supported military assistance to the war on terrorism, while only 14 percent disagreed.
The deployment would come at a busy time for Australia's defence forces, which have about 1,700 personnel deployed an overseas operations, including about 1,400 in and around Iraq.
The United States commands an 18,300-strong international force, most of whom are American, fighting Taliban and al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan and hunting their leaders, including al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks.
More than 70 U.S. soldiers have been killed in action and more than 400 wounded in Afghanistan since 2001, while U.S. and Afghan government figures show about 150 insurgents have been killed this year.
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, on an official visit to Australia, has said he expects the al Qaeda network to be dismantled and sustainable democracy achieved in Afghanistan within 10 years, allowing foreign troops to withdraw.
U.S.-backed Afghan President Hamid Karzai won a presidential election last October, and parliamentary elections are due to be held in the country on Sept. 18.
Kazakhstan ready to invest in Afghanistan - foreign minister
Kazakhstan Today news agency 06/15/2005
Kazakhstan is ready to invest in the Afghan economy, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev said at the international business conference in Almaty on 15 June, a Kazakhstan Today news agency correspondent has reported.
"The Kazakh government is ready to send commercial organizations to and invest in Afghanistan," he said.
"From the economic viewpoint, we are ready to contribute to the restoration of that state and we have certain capabilities to do this," Tokayev said. He said that Kazakhstan "has already submitted a list of its proposals to the Afghan government". "Thus Kazakhstan has expressed its readiness to work in Afghanistan," the Kazakh foreign minister said.
Tokayev thinks that in order to stop drug smuggling from Afghanistan "all Central Asian partners have to unite". "On the whole, Afghanistan is the main issue that greatly concerns all the Central Asian countries," the minister said. At the same time, Tokayev said he was sure that "stability in the Central Asian region and Afghanistan will be achieved".
Khalilzad assures Afghanistan of continued US help
KABUL, June 15 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Outgoing US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has assured American assistance to Afghanistan will remain unaffected by his departure for Iraq to take up his new diplomatic assignment there.
Khalilzad held out the assurance during a call on Afghan Supreme Court Chief Justice Fazal Hadi Shinwari at the latter's office here on Wednesday. The diplomat pledged continued American support to Afghanistan.
In an exclusive chat with Pajhwok Afghan News, senior Supreme Court official Dr. Abdul Malik Kamavi said the chief justice had invited Khalilzad, whose ambassadorial tenure formally came to an end on Wednesday, to a farewell party.
"The main objective behind the meeting was to seek unhindered US aid flows and support for the transfer of Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and release of those compatriots held in Iraq on charges of having links to the al-Qaeda network," Kamavi said.
On the occasion, President George Bush's special envoy - who also met Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak earlier in the day - reiterated America's all-out cooperation with the war-battered country would go on even after he left the country.
It will be pertinent to recall the Afghan chief justice, soon after news of the ambassador's transfer to Iraq broke some months back, wrote to President Bush a letter urging an extension of Khalilzad's stay in Kabul till parliamentary elections slated mid-September.
A number of Afghan prisoners have already been freed from US-controlled detention facilities in Afghanistan and Cuba in the wake of joint efforts by Zalmay Khalilzad and Fazal Hadi Shinwari.
An Afghan by origin who speaks fluent Arabic, Khalilzad was named as President Bush's special envoy to Afghanistan in September 2003.
G-8 help sought to disarm Afghans
The Japan Times: June 16, 2005
Japan plans to call on its Group of Eight partners to share the financial burden to proceed with a project aimed at helping paramilitary troops in Afghanistan to disarm and reintegrate into society, government sources said Wednesday.
Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura plans to make the call during a meeting with his counterparts from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United States and Russia planned for June 23 in London, the sources said.
The project is aimed at promoting disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of those soldiers not listed as members of armed factions in Afghanistan, according to the sources.
The Japanese government estimates that the project will cover 70,000 to 80,000 soldiers and cost nearly $100 million, they said.
During the talks, Machimura is expected to promote Japan's position that those unregistered soldiers need the support as their presence looms as a potential risk to efforts toward peace, the sources said.
The project to decommission unregistered soldiers comes after an international DDR project for about 60,000 armed faction elements in Afghanistan, the sources said.
Japan paid $90 million for that DDR project, the sources said.
Iranians residing in Kabul encouraged to vote
IRNA - In a communique issued by Iran's embassy in Kabul on Tuesday, the Iranians residing in Afghanistan are asked to take part in the upcoming election.
According to the communique, which was published in several Kabul-based dailies, the 9th presidential election will be held in Iran and throughout the world simultaneously on Friday June 17.
The embassy has declared that they may turn to balloting boxes in the premises of Iran's embassy in Kabul as well as Iranian consulates in the cities of Herat to the west, Mazari-Sharif to the north and Qandahar to the south of the country to cast their votes.
Meanwhile, the Iranians residing in Afghanistan are called on to take along their passports or identity cards while turning to voting centers between 08:00-18:00 hours local time on Friday.
'Osama Bin Laden alive and well'
BBC News / Wednesday, 15 June, 2005
A top Taleban commander has said in a television interview that Osama Bin Laden and Afghanistan's former Taleban leader Mullah Omar are alive and well.
"I am in contact with Mullah Omar and take directions from him," Mullah Akhtar Usmani told Pakistan's privately-run Geo television.
There is no way of independently verifying Mullah Usmani's claims.
The BBC's Rahimullah Yusufzai says that Mullah Usmani was a senior commander in the Taleban before its fall in 2001.
Our correspondent says he is since considered to be the operational head of the Taleban resistance.
The United States has offered bounties of $25m and $10m for the capture of Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar in connection with the 11 September attacks.
The comments come a day after Pakistan's President, Pervez Musharraf, said in Australia that he believed Osama Bin Laden was alive based on the information Pakistan had received from al-Qaeda members arrested by its security forces.
"Taleban are all over Afghanistan," Mullah Usmani said in his interview.
"They may be more in some provinces and less in the other, but their support is growing," he said, partly covering his face with a black scarf.
But he was not willing to say anything about their location.
"All I can tell you is that Osama Bin Laden is alive and well," he said.
He also said Mullah Omar was still in command of the Taleban forces.
"He is still our commander and issuing directions."
Osama Bin Laden is believed to be hiding in Pakistan's unruly tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
Pakistani observers are surprised at Geo TV's ability to interview a top Taleban commander at a time when members of the militia are targets of a massive manhunt by the US-led coalition as well as Pakistani forces.
The Taleban has been on the run ever since they were ousted three and a half years ago.
But there has been an increase in attacks in Afghanistan in recent months, attributed to militants owing allegiance to the Taleban and al-Qaeda, raising fears they may be regrouping.
Taliban commander Usmani in the limelight after Geo interview
By Rahimullah Yusufzai
PESHAWAR – The News Internatioanl: Mulla Akhtar Mohammad Usmani, who at one time headed the Taliban army, has suddenly gained prominence and attracted media limelight following his interview on Geo TV.
The international media picked up the story and sent it all over the world. The little known Usmani was soon the subject of animated discussion among people interested in developments concerning Afghanistan.
It was the first time that Usmani appeared on television after the fall of the Taliban regime in December 2001. His head and most of his face were covered with the distinctive Taliban black turban during the interview and an AK-47 (Kalashnikov) rifle was placed next to him. The Geo TV didn’t say as to where the interview was conducted. It did say that the interview was recorded last week.
Usmani had spoken to BBC Pashto Service several months ago in an audio interview via a satellite phone.
When the Taliban were in power, Usmani had granted an interview to BBC Television in Kandahar. On that occasion, he had arranged for his heavily armed soldiers to be filmed in his company at his army command centre. Those were the dying days of the Taliban and Usmani wanted to send across a message that he and his men would fight until the end if the US-led forces invaded Afghanistan.
About two years ago, Usmani was named by Mulla Omar on the 10-member "Rahbari Shura" (Leadership Council) that was assigned the task to organize Taliban resistance against US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. All 10 men on the council were former Taliban military commanders. One of them, Mulla Abdur Razzaq Nafiz, died fighting the US military in the southwestern Zabul province last year.
Others on the Leadership Council were former defence minister Mulla Obaidullah, ex-tribes and frontiers minister Mulla Jalaluddin Haqqani, former civil aviation minister Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, Kandahar intelligence chief Hafiz Abdul Majeed, former Nimruz province governor Mulla Mohammad Rasul and military commanders Saifur Rahman Mansoor, Mulla Biradar Akhund and Mulla Dadullah Akhund.
Usmani was close to Mulla Omar during Taliban rule and enjoyed his trust. It appears that he has retained the trust of the Taliban leader. Otherwise, he would not be on the Leadership Council made up of 10 former Taliban commanders.
In the interview, Usmani warned of an increase in attacks against US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. He claimed both Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mulla Mohammad Omar were alive and in good health. He said he was in touch with Mulla Omar and received instructions from him on the phone. However, he declined to answer a question about the whereabouts of bin Laden and Mulla Omar.
In his broken Urdu, Usmani claimed the Taliban enjoyed support of 80 per cent of the Afghan people. He said Mulla Omar was leading the Taliban fighters resisting the US and other foreign troops and their allies in Afghanistan.
Fighting in Afghanistan Leaves 14 Dead
By NOOR KHAN, Associated Press / Wed Jun 15, 6:30 AM ET
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Fighting between about 90 suspected Taliban rebels and hundreds of Afghan soldiers and U.S.-led coalition troops left seven insurgents dead and 10 wounded, while a rebel attack on a medical clinic killed a doctor and six others, officials said Wednesday.
The clash broke out on the border between Kandahar and Uruzgan, two southern provinces, on Tuesday after the rebels attacked a joint Afghan-coalition patrol, army commander Gen. Muslim Amid said.
Four Afghan soldiers were wounded in the fighting, which ended with the insurgents fleeing into nearby mountains, carrying their injured, he said. Two rebels were captured.
Troops pursued the rebels into the mountains and were still hunting them on Wednesday, Amid added.
U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara confirmed that coalition troops were involved in the fighting, but declined to comment on it, saying an assessment was still going on. He said there were no coalition casualties.
The attack on the independently run clinic occurred in Khost province, which is next to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, said Almar Gul Mungle, commander of a frontier security force. Suspected Taliban rebels broke into the building and shot the seven late Tuesday night, he said.
Mungle said the motive for the killing was not clear, though he suggested the insurgents may have murdered them because they thought they were working for the government.
Even though U.S. military commanders are upbeat about progress in making Afghanistan secure, there has been a sharp rise in violence since spring. President Hamid Karzai's administration has warned that Taliban-led rebels and al-Qaida militants are trying to subvert crucial legislative elections in September.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's Geo television broadcast an interview with a man it identified as Taliban military commander Mullah Akhtar Usmani, who said the group's fugitive chief Mullah Mohammed Omar and Osama bin Laden are alive and well.
With an AK-47 rifle next to him and a black turban on his head, which covered most of his face, the man said Omar was leading the rebellion in Afghanistan from a hideout. He said discipline among the rebels was strong and that they had regular meetings.
Asked to comment on whether bin Laden was hiding in Afghanistan, the man said "He is absolutely fine ... (but) I will not say where he is."
Geo said the interview was recorded last week, but declined to say where.
Seven Afghan medics gunned down in suspected Taliban attack
KABUL, June 15 (AFP) - Suspected Taliban militants killed a doctor and six medical attendants during a spate of violent incidents in southern Afghanistan that left a total of 18 people dead, officials said Wednesday.
The seven medics were shot dead in Moghgay Tana, close to the Pakistani border in Khost province, late on Tuesday, police told AFP.
"Doctor Abdul Hanan and his six colleagues were killed by armed men in Moghulgay clinic," said General Almat Gull Mangal, commander of Khost border forces.
"It is the work of Taliban and Al-Qaeda to kill doctors," he added.
A district official in Kandahar province was killed on Wednesday. Taliban spokesman Mullah Abdul Latif Hamiki said Waheed Khan, the father of the Daman district chief, was killed for cooperating with the government.
In a separate incident in the Sabari district of Khost Tuesday, a civilian station wagon hit a newly planted landmine, killing two people. "A vehicle ran over a landmine and two passengers were killed as a result," said Mangal.
The same day in neighbouring Paktia province, a police chief was attacked and his bodyguard killed by a bomb.
"The Jani Khalil district police chief was wounded with his driver and a bodyguard. His second bodyguard died when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle," Mangal said.
Afghanistan has been hit by a fresh wave of violence in recent weeks as militants increase their attacks on government and US targets in the lead up to the country's first post-Taliban parliamentary elections.
At least seven suspected Taliban militants were killed and 10 were injured in an operation by Afghan soldiers in the southern province of Kandahar on Tuesday.
On the same day, four US soldiers and their Afghan interpreter were wounded when a roadside bomb detonated near their Humvee vehicle in the southeastern province of Ghazni.
A day earlier a suicide car bomb packed with explosives rammed a US military convoy near Kandahar city, wounding another four American troops.
Three and a half years since the hardline Taliban regime was ousted by a US-led military campaign, there are over 18,000 US troops in Afghanistan hunting remnants of the regime and their Al-Qaeda allies.
Famous Taliban commander among six captured in Ghazni
Pajhwok Afghan News 06/15/2005
GHAZNI CITY - A famous Taliban commander was among militants arrested during an operation in Gillan district of the central Ghazni province on Wednesday.
Major Dost Mohammad, in charge of the operation conducted by the 24th Battalion of the Afghan National Army, said: "We have captured Commander Hazrat Ali, who was intelligence chief of the northern Jawzjan province during the Taliban rule."
Arrested along with Hazrat Ali in Shinaki village were five other fighters, the major told Pajhwok Afghan News. An insurgent was also killed in the weeklong operation focused on Gillan, Nawa and Muqur districts.
"Rebel activities have increased in the area, with Taliban roaming around freely. But the government doesn't have the will and determination to scare away the insurgents stalking the area," Gillan police official Sakhi Dad alleged.
However, Major Dost Mohammad repudiated the claim and insisted the army and police were conducting patrols even in remote villages, frisking suspected people and searching vehicles.
Noor Mohammad, a 35-year-old resident, confirmed security presence in the district to deal with anti-social elements. "They are keeping an eye on suspects," he said.
Six suspected Taliban to be released today
PESHAWAR – The News Internatioanl: Six out of the seven suspected Taliban, whose release orders were issued by the FCR tribunal on June 11, would be set free today (Thursday) as the political administration of Khyber Agency could not scrutinise their documents Wednesday.
The FCR tribunal had issued release orders of seven Afghan nationals arrested by the Political Administration of Khyber Agency in Bara tehsil on suspicions of being Taliban soon after 9/11incident. They were expected to be freed on Wednesday but due to some indispensable documentation, their release was delayed till today (Thursday), reliable sources in the political administration told this scribe.
The political administration released one Afghan national, Maulana Suleman, while the remaining suspected Taliban, Maulana Yahya, Farooq, Qari Bismillah, Mirza Muhammad Abdul Karim and Faizullah are expected to be set free today. Four of their associates had already been released by political administration some 10 days back as per the directions of the FCR tribunal. The released Taliban suspects were Abdul Wadood, Hameed, Qadeer while name of the fourth one could not be ascertained.
When contacted the political administration refused to expose the suspects to media. It strictly banned journalists to get access to them. A high-ranking official in the political administration told this correspondent that the administration was hesitating to give information to media men about the accused as it could project the issue, what he called in a ‘negative’ sense.
Former member of national assembly and leader of PML-N, Javed Ibrahim Paracha, who has been providing legal assistance to the suspects said that 11 Afghan nationals were arrested by political administration of Khyber Agency from Darul Uloom Bara about three years back. They were kept in the custody of secrete agencies for about one and a half years, he said adding a writ was filed in the Peshawar High Court for their recovery after which the political administration convicted them under Section 40 of the Frontier Crimes Regulations to three years imprisonment.
"An appeal was filed against their conviction with FCR tribunal which was allowed a few days ago," he said, adding the tribunal issued their release orders on bail against two surety bonds of Rs200,000 each.
Afghanistan suicide blasts rise
Detroit News 06/15/2005 By Lisa Hoffman
Three explosions since May after five in three years suggest the tactic was imported from Iraq
WASHINGTON - The suicide bomb blast that injured four U.S. troops this week is fueling worries about the spread of a deadly terror tactic that, until recently, had been little seen in Afghanistan.
A driver in a taxi stuffed with explosives rammed into a U.S. military vehicle about six miles west of the southern city of Kandahar, an unsettled area long a bastion of Taliban support.
The attack was at least the third suicide blast since May in a country that has largely been spared the kamikaze tactics used across Iraq against American soldiers and, increasingly, Iraqi civilians. Until May, just five suicide blasts had hit Afghanistan in the more than three years since U.S. forces ousted the Taliban from power. Four of those had targeted NATO-led forces.
The latest hit "suggests that an alarming development may be under way: the importation of insurgent techniques from Iraq to Afghanistan," Carl Robichaud, editor of Afghanistan Watch, wrote.
A U.N. engineer and an Afghan were killed May 7 when a suicide bomber struck an Internet cafe in the capital, Kabul. On June 1, a lone bomber blew himself up at the entrance to a Kandahar mosque where a funeral for a slain anti-Taliban critic was under way. At least 19 people were killed and 50 wounded in that attack.
Fighting in Paktika province, near the Pakistan border, has killed five American troops recently.
Largely out of the global limelight, Afghanistan has registered an uptick in violence in the past few months. Experts point to a stew of possible perpetrators: restive warlords, criminals, competing politicians, drug traffickers, as well as foreign Islamic terrorists.
U.S. and Afghan officials interpret the apparent trend as an effort to destabilize the country in advance of the September parliamentary elections.
Experts on Afghanistan say it is not yet clear if there is a concerted push by al-Qaida or Taliban terrorists to embrace suicide attacks in Afghanistan and use them against civilians, as well as soldiers.
"It is perhaps surprising that suicide bombs have been so rare in Afghanistan, since the tactic would seem well suited to the Taliban's relatively unskilled, but highly motivated insurgents," Robichaud wrote. "If Iraqi tactics are imported to Afghanistan it could ignite a bloody second front against an American army that is stretched perilously thin."
Men carrying posters of Osama detained in Afghanistan
KABUL, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Afghan police have arrested four people including two women on charge of carrying arms, pamphlets and posters of al-Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden and former Prime Minister Gulbudin Hekmatyar in Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar, a local newspaper reported Wednesday.
Police of Kandahar on Tuesday took into custody these four people, and discovered three Kalashnikoves, some letters and pictures of Bin Laden and Hekmatyar from their possession, daily Cheragh reported.
The arrest took place just one day after a powerful explosion in Kandahar city, the former stronghold of Taliban, in which, according to US military, four American soldiers got wounded.
Osama, the alleged mastermind of Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and Hekmatyar, the leader of his own radical group Hizb-e-Islami or Islamic party, both wanted by the United States, according to officials have been moving in border areas between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.
Both wanted men, and their ally, Taliban's chief Mullah Mohammad Omar, who has escaped the US man hunt, have been leading an insurgency against the US-dominated foreign troops in Afghanistan, the report said.
Bin Laden and his host Omar, according to a Taliban commander, are alive and conducting their activities in the region, according to Pakistan-based private television channel Geo report on Tuesday. Enditem
Afghan district police chief held over MSF killings
KABUL - An Afghan district police chief has been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the killing of five staff of Nobel prize-winning aid agency Medecins sans Frontieres last year, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.
MSF, called Doctors Without Borders in English, pulled out of Afghanistan last year after more than 20 years citing lack of progress in an investigation into the killing of the workers on a remote road in the northwestern province of Badghis last June.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said the police chief of Badghis's Qadis district was arrested last week on suspicion of involvement in the killings.
"He has been brought to Kabul for investigation. No concrete evidence against him has been found so far, but there is a suspicion he might have been behind the plot," he said.
Mashal declined to name the officer, but said his arrest was the result of information from some of the four or five other suspects arrested since the crime.
Three foreign MSF staff -- a woman from Belgium and men from Norway and Holland -- were killed in June along with two Afghan workers on a remote road in Badghis, which until then had been considered a relatively safe area.
Their vehicle was attacked by gunmen who also used grenades, and initial suspicions focused on the Taliban which has targeted aid groups in its insurgency.
Mashal said of the motive: "It looks like it was a criminal act, but it's still under investigation."
Dozens of aid workers, including foreigners, have been killed since U.S.-led forces overthrew the Taliban in late 2001 and the violence has greately curtailed humanitarian work in the provinces by international relief agencies.
Earlier this month, an Italian woman working for the Care International aid agency was released after being held hostage for more than three weeks by kidnappers in Kabul.
Her abduction was a further blow for Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his U.S.-backed government as it struggles to impose its authority while battling the Taliban as well as widespread crime and corruption.
Kidnappers of UN workers held in Afghanistan-TV
KABUL, June 15 (Reuters) - Four men accused of kidnapping three U.N. workers in Afghanistan last year have been arrested, state television said on Wednesday, the latest announcement of detentions of suspects in crimes against foreigners.
Kabul Television identified the men as Adyatullha, also known as Sharifullah; Omarha Khan, Mohammad Rafiq and Mohammad Nassir. It showed pictures of four bearded men in shackles dressed in traditional long-shirted shalwar kameez costumes.
It said the kidnappers had confessed to the Oct. 28 kidnapping in Kabul of Annetta Flanigan from Northern Ireland, Kosovan Shqipe Hebibi and Filipino diplomat Angelito Nayan. The three U.N. workers were freed unharmed on Nov. 23.
Kabul TV said the men had also given information about their relationship to the Taliban splinter group Jaish-e Muslimeen that officials believe paid for the kidnapping and with the intelligence agencies of a foreign country.
The report did not name the foreign country, but said the men were wanted for armed robbery in both Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan. It said the case against them would be completed very soon and they would appear in court.
Pakistani authorities arrested Syed Akbar Agha, the leader of the Taliban splinter faction, in December.
The government of Western-backed President Hamid Karzai, which is reliant on foreign aid, has announced a series of arrests this month of suspects accused of crimes against foreigners.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said earlier on Wednesday authorities were detaining six men in connection with the kidnapping of another foreign aid worker, Italian Clementina Cantoni, who was freed this month after being held for more than three weeks.
Officials have said this kidnapping also appeared to be the work of a criminal gang. Mashal said authorities were hunting for Timoor Shah, the leader of the gang.
Mashal also said that an Afghan district police chief had been arrested last week on suspicion of involvement in the killing of five staff of Nobel prize-winning aid agency Medecins sans Frontieres last June.
MSF, called Doctors Without Borders in English, pulled out of Afghanistan last year after more than 20 years citing lack of progress in an investigation into the killing of the workers, who included a Belgian woman and men from Norway and Holland, in the northwestern province of Badghis.
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