Army prepares paras for tackling Taliban
Sun Nov 5, 4:33 AM ET
LONDON (AFP) - Defence chiefs have put a parachute regiment battalion on standby to jump into Afghanistan should fighting escalate with the Taliban.
It would be the first time that British paratroopers have jumped into action since the Suez conflict 50 years ago, said the Sunday Times newspaper.
Citing senior defence sources, the broadsheet said 600 troops from 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, were on standby to fly to Afghanistan within 12 hours and carry out an airborne landing within 24 hours.
Top British diplomats warned last week that a planned assault on opium producers was likely to result in heavy fighting, the newspaper said.
Therefore, military planners have drawn up a contingency plan in which a parachute battalion would jump from six Hercules C-130 transport aircraft to reinforce British Royal Marines in southern Afghanistan.
Britain has around 5,000 troops in the war-shattered central Asian country.
Commanders of NATO's International Security Assistance Force have said they are stretched in their fight against the resurgent militants and need more manpower and equipment to fight a stronger than expected campaign.
The violence has peaked this year: more than 3,000 people have been killed, most of them rebels said to be with the Taliban movement forced from government in late 2001 in a US-led invasion.
Rebels kill pro-government tribal leader in Pakistan
Sun Nov 5, 2:24 AM ET
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Suspected pro-Taliban militants shot dead a pro-government tribal leader in Pakistan's South Waziristan region, the latest killing in the lawless belt on the Afghan border, a security official said on Sunday.
The tribal elder, Zar Wali, was headed home when gunmen ambushed his car in Inzar area, 25 km (15 miles) north of Wana, the main town of South Waziristan, on Saturday.
"They killed him on the spot and left his body on the roadside," the security official, who requested not to be identified, told Reuters.
Such targeted killings are common in the North and South Waziristan region where Pakistan's government has struck deals with tribal leaders to end clashes between pro-Taliban militants and security forces.
On Friday, the headless body of a cleric was found in the Waziristan region with a note saying was a U.S. spy.
Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt is known as a haven for Islamist militants for decades and a large number of al Qaeda militants and their Taliban allies have taken refuge with their local sympathisers since fleeing the U.S.-led invasion in Afghanistan in late 2001.
Tensions have risen since Monday when Pakistan army helicopters attacked and destroyed an Islamist school or madrasa in Bajaur tribal region, killing around 80 suspected militants. The attack provoked angry protests from tribesmen who said the dead, mostly young men aged between 15 and 25, were students.
Hundreds of people have been killed in the rugged Waziristan during a series of battles between the security forces and militants since late 2003.
Pakistan's government signed a pact with tribal elders in North Waziristan on Sept 5. to end clashes between pro-Taliban militants and security forces.
Under the deal, the militants promised to stop attacks inside the region as well as across the border in Afghanistan in return for a halt in military operations against them.
10,000 condemn deadly Pakistan army raid
By HABIBULLAH KHAN, Associated Press Writer Sat Nov 4, 11:53 PM ET
KHAR, Pakistan - More than 10,000 protesters rallied in a remote northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border on Saturday to condemn a Pakistan army raid on a seminary that left 80 suspected militants dead.
Chanting slogans "God is great!" and "Down with America!" the protesters also briefly blocked a road in Salazai, a town in the Bajur tribal region, where army helicopter gunships on Monday fired on an Islamic school, destroying the alleged militant hideout.
Residents and Islamic parties claim the strike was launched by U.S. drones, a claim denied by the U.S. military and Pakistan's government. Lawmakers and local residents have also claimed that those killed in the attack were ordinary students and teachers.
On Saturday, Mohammed Sadiq, a member of parliament from Bajur, told demonstrators that the army had "killed innocent people to appease America" and that the school had no links with al-Qaida or any other terrorist group.
"If the government has any evidence to prove its charges, it should make it public," he said. Sadiq also urged the government to "admit its crime" and pay compensation to the families of those who perished in the raid.
The rally came two days after Pakistan state television broadcast an aerial surveillance video that the government claims showed dozens of men receiving militant training before the attack.
The footage showed people jogging in a circle and doing calisthenics.
No weapons were visible in the video. The government maintains they were removed after the air strike.
Pakistani officials also said that the targeted school had frequently been visited by al-Qaida's No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahri and other terror suspects.
Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in its war on terror, and it has deployed about 80,000 troops in the country's tribal regions in an effort to flush out remnants of Taliban and al-Qaida.
Angeline in capital, meets Afghan & Myanmarese refugees
New Kerala - Nov 04 9:26 AM
New Delhi, Nov 4: Giving papparazi the slip, Hollywood diva Angelina Jolie today spent some time with Sikh Afghan and Myanmarese refugees in the capital.
Accompanied by her five-year-old son Maddox, Jolie arrived in the capital just past noon and drove to the refugee camps run by the Khalsa Diwan Welfare Society and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Clad in a white T-shirt and blue jeans, Jolie, the UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and her son listened to Sikh children playing religious music at the Welfare Society run by Afghan refugees of the Sikh faith.
She chatted with the students among some 9,500 Afghan Sikh refugees under the direct care of UNHCR and was appreciative of their passion for learning English and computer skills.
The Hollywood star, in India for shooting a film "A Mighty Heart" on the life of slain Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl, also visited a woman refugee from Myanmar in her one-room home where she lives with her three children.
The woman, one of the 1,750 refugees from Myanmar, told Jolie that they fled after her husband was arrested by the military government in Myanmar, a press statement issued by UNHCR said.
"I am grateful to the refugee families who spent time with me today and shared their stories. They are remarkable, courageous people, it quoted Jolie as saying.
Jolie, on a two-day visit here, will be meeting Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma tomorrow.
Jolie will be accompanied by UN officials at the meeting with Sharma and the discussions are expected to centre around issues relating to refugees and children.
Panjwayee bombing: MPs visit Kandahar
KANDAHAR CITY, Nov 3 (Pajhwok Afghan News): The 12-member parliamentary delegation constituted to probe civilian casualties in NATO bombing Friday arrived in the southern Kandahar province and inquired after the injured at the Mirwais Hospital.
Headed by member of the Wolesi Jirga Abdul Jabbar Shalgari, the delegation met 38 injured at the hospital and gave 5,000 afghanis to each patient. Several civilians were wounded when NATO aircrafts pounded local population in Panjwayee and Chora districts of Kandahar and Uruzgan provinces about a fortnight back.
The Wolesi Jirga or lower house of parliament expressed shock and anger over the bombing of civilian areas and formed a delegation to probe the incident and presented its report to the parliament.
The injured from Panjwayee district said about 90 civilians had been killed in the NATO bombing. Dr Sharifa Siddiqi, head of the hospital, told Pajhwok Afghan News they had received 23 injured, including nine children and three women, only from Panjwayee district.
Abdul Karim, an elderly injured at the Mirwais Hospital, said he and his son were injured in the bombing. "As the foreign troops arrived, they shot dead my injured son on the spot," he disclosed.
Another wounded Abdul Ghafoor said his seven family members were killed in the air strike. They included his wife, four sons and two daughters, he added.
The parliamentary delegation will visit the affected areas in the Panjwayee district to get first-hand information about the losses suffered by civilians. The delegation will present its report to the parliament.
'Accountability Week' launched in Khost
KHOST CITY, Nov 3 (Pajhwok Afghan News): The first-ever 'Accountability Week' was launched in the southeastern Khost province on Friday.
During the week, all chiefs of departments will present their progress reports before the people and the government and will reply to questions from the concerned officials regarding their performance.
Provincial Governor Arsala Jamal said the step would help improved performance of governmental offices in the province. It would create the sense among departmental heads that they are accountable to the people.
On the first day, Director of the Water and Energy Department Abdul Marjan presented the progress report of his department and answer questions from the participants.
He criticised the ministry concerned of not helping them in starting new projects. He said the department had constructed several protective walls with the assistance of the PRT, World Bank and a number of other NGOs.
Director of the Women Affairs Department informed that they were going to launch a sewing and embroidery course for about 100 women. She complained that majority of families in Khost were not allowing their female members to take part in social works.
Speaking on the occasion, Governor Arsala Jamal asked the departmental heads to approach their concerned ministries for solution of problems faced by the people.
Six injured over land dispute in Baghlan
PUL-I-KHUMRI, Nov 3 (Pajhwok Afghan News): At least six people, including a woman, were wounded in a clash between people of two villages in the northern Baghlan province on Thursday.
Residents said land dispute between people of the Tromosh and Khailar villages of the Tala and Barfak districts of the province erupted caused the clash.
Zari Gul, a woman who suffered injuries in the clash, told Pajhwok Afghan News about 150 people from the Khailar village attacked the male members of their family when they were working on their farms.
She said the clash continued for about two hours. Six people were injured. One of them suffered bullet injuries while the other five people were hit with stones.
Baghlan police chief Mohammad Azim Jalal Hashmi said the clash was caused by some old dispute between the two sides. He said police and administrative chiefs of the concerned district had been asked to investigate the incident and arrest the responsible people.
Sher Mohammad Jahesh
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