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September 29, 2014

New Afghan President Ashraf Ghani sworn in

New Afghan President Ashraf Ghani sworn in

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Monday, September 29, 2014

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Today Ashraf Ghani, a former Afghan finance minister and World Bank official, was sworn in as President of Afghanistan following a months-long dispute over election results.

Ashraf Ghani in July 2011
Image: US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The transfer of power from former President Hamid Karzai marks the first democratic leadership transition in Afghanistan’s history, and follows a power sharing agreement with Ghani’s fellow Presidential candidate, Abdullah Abdullah. Both men had previously claimed victory in the election last June, with the United Nations overseeing a recount of the ballot.

As part of the agreement between the two sides, Ghani’s first presidential act was to create the position of chief executive, filled by Abdullah, with Prime Minster-like powers.

The new Government already faces many challenges, made worse by the months of political uncertainty.

Afghanistan has already requested $537 million from international donors to help pay the country’s bills to year’s end, with an official of the Finance Ministry admitting October civil service salary payments have had to be delayed.

The government also have to deal with the security threat posed by the Taliban and Hezb-i-Islami, two loosely allied Islamist factions. Most international troops, present in the country since 2001, are expected to leave by year’s end, with Karzai previously unwilling to sign security agreements allowing others to stay. The government is to sign one such agreement with representatives from the United States embassy tomorrow, US officials said.



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August 22, 2014

Taliban attacks in numbers amidst Afghani political stalemate

Taliban attacks in numbers amidst Afghani political stalemate

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Friday, August 22, 2014

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As a recount of the Afghan June run of presidential election continues, the Taliban have been launching attacks in greater numbers in an attempt to gain and hold territory.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Image: Staff Sgt Keith Thompson.

On Tuesday President Hamid Karzai called for an end of a two month election dispute that has seen the two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, both claim to have won the election. Inter Press Service reported the turn out of eight million was at odds with the widespread lack of activity reported in polling stations during the vote. Each of these votes is now being individually checked in a process involving international observers in a full audit of the ballot papers. This process started in mid-July, with a target late this month for completion, allowing time for the new president to attend security talks with NATO.

A spokesman for President Karzai indicated, according to Reuters, the political stalemate has had a detrimental effect on the security situation in the country, with a corresponding increase in Taliban activity. NATO forces are expected to leave the country, subject to the security talks, and outgoing President Karzai has declined to sign a security deal with the United States which would keep a small number of US troops in the country until 2016, leaving the Afghan forces without support in their struggle against the Taliban.

The spokesman said the Taliban were acting more as a battalion, citing foreign reinforcements as the source of their apparent new-found strength. The militants are reported to be attempting to take and hold ground, targeting key areas to secure opium export, the source of much of the insurgency’s funding.

Recent examples of the Taliban’s new tactics include an attack from a group of 700 Taliban, in Logar Province near the capital, Kabul, the governor of the province told Reuters. An Afghan general, quoted by Reuters, said, “Airpower by the foreign troops is the key component to this battle and we have lost many men simply because we couldn’t ask our foreign partners for air strikes”. In the past similar group attacks have been fended off with the support of air power provided by the International Security Assistance Force, with minimal casualties to Afghan security forces.



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February 27, 2014

Wikinews Shorts: February 27, 2014

Wikinews Shorts: February 27, 2014 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: February 27, 2014

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A compilation of brief news reports for Thursday, February 27, 2014.

Asiana Airlines fined US$500K for not helping families after crash

Smoke billows from the wreckage after the crash last year.
Image: Jkhoo.

South Korea-based Asiana Airlines was fined US$500,000 on Tuesday by the United States Department of Transportation for failing to provide support for victims’ families after Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed at San Francisco airport in July 2013. Foreign airlines are to abide by a federal law called the “family assistance plan”. The law states an airline must promptly assist and provide a toll-free number for calls from the passengers’ families. It took the airline five days to contact the 291 families of the passengers aboard.

Of 307 on board, three Chinese teens died and over 200 people were injured. The jet hit a seawall on approach, tearing the rear of the plane off, and throwing three flight attendants onto the runway.

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US prepares to withdrawal troops from Afghanistan

United States President Barack Obama has ordered the Pentagon to make plans to pull all the nation’s troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The Obama administration notified Afghan president Hamid Karzai that it would prefer to keep a residual military presence in Afghanistan for training and counterterrorism missions, but Karzai is refusing to sign the agreement for some US forces to remain. Once NATO ends hostilities in November, a contingency plan for a full departure will begin.

US-Afghan relations have worsened over the past few months. Obama told Karzai the US will move forward with additional contingency planning if the bilateral agreement to maintain a US presence is not signed.

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Killers of UK soldier sentenced

Drummer Lee Rigby, from an official portrait.
Image: UK Ministry of Defence.

After an attack in the London streets last year on British soldier Lee Rigby, two men were sentenced on Wednesday. The leader of the attack, Michael Adebolajo, was sentenced to life behind bars. Michael Adebowale was given a life sentence, but with the possibility of parole after serving a minimum of 45 years. In court, the two Islamic converts indicated the killing was for Allah.

Bystanders watched Adebolajo and Adebowale hit Rigby with a car then butcher him with a meat cleaver and knives. The attack was recorded on closed-circuit TV and by bystanders. Both men were convicted of murder in December 2013.

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January 28, 2012

Wikinews Shorts: January 28, 2012

Wikinews Shorts: January 28, 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: January 28, 2012

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A compilation of brief news reports for Saturday, January 28, 2012.

If you believe any of these stories deserves more in-depth coverage, feel free to write a full article on the issues raised.

EU official resigns over anti-piracy treaty

Rapporteur to the European Parliament Kader Arif has resigned yesterday in protest over the signing of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) by 22 members of the European Union on Thursday. He said “I will not participate in this masquerade.”

Reaction to the signing treaty, which has still to be ratified, was strong in Poland; thousands protested in Poznan and Lublin, and in the Polish Parliament members of the Palikot’s Movement donned Guy Fawkes masks in protest.

The European Commission website maintains that “Anything you can do legally today is still legal after the ratification of ACTA.”



French troops to end Afghan combat role a year early in 2013

Speaking yesterday after a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced France will end its Afghan combat missions in 2013 — a year earlier than planned.

Following the death of four French soldiers at the hands of an Afghan soldier last week, Sarkozy had threatened early withdrawal of French troops.



United States and Philippines discuss enhanced defense cooperation

The United States and the Philippines are discussing the possibility of enhanced defense cooperation, according to officials of both countries. However, there are no plans for bases along the lines of the former United States bases at Subic Bay and Clark Air Base.

The talks come in the context of a shift of United States strategic focus toward Asia, and Chinese claims in the South China Sea.





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July 12, 2011

Ahmad Wali Karzai, brother of Afghan President, shot dead in Kandahar

Ahmad Wali Karzai, brother of Afghan President, shot dead in Kandahar

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Afghanistan
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  • 18 December 2014: Nation mourns, world condemns Taliban attack on Pakistan army school
  • 29 September 2014: New Afghan President Ashraf Ghani sworn in
  • 6 September 2014: NATO leaders meet for two day summit in Wales
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Wali Karzai speaking to media in 2010
Image: ISAF Headquarters Public Affairs Office.

Ahmad Wali Karzai, the half-brother of the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, has been shot dead in Kandahar. Wali Karzai was head of the Kandahar Provincial Council at the time of his assassination. The perpetrator was Sardar Mohammed, the head of security in charge of protecting Karzai. Mohammed was killed instantly after the assassination.

President Karzai released a statement after the killing of his brother. He said “This is the way of life for the people of Afghanistan. The homes of all Afghans feel this pain. Our hope is this (violence) will come to an end and peace and happiness come to our homes and will come to rule in our country.”

The motive as to why Mohammed would have killed Karzai remain unclear, but the Taliban have claimed responsibility for the assassination. Local politician Khaled Pashtun said he was sceptical about the Taliban’s involvement. The group has claimed responsibility for several attacks and killings without evidence of their involvement.

Karzai had survived several assassination attempts before. He escaped uninjured after a fuel tanker filled with bombs exploded near a building where he was hosting a meeting in 2008, and again in 2009 when his convoy was attacked by machine guns and rocket attacks.

General David Petraeus, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force, said “President Karzai is working to create a stronger, more secure Afghanistan, and for such a tragic event to happen to someone within his own family is unfathomable.” Another US offical told the BBC, “[Ahmad Wali Karzai] had his unsavoury side, but he was someone we could work with and he kept a lid on things in Kandahar.”



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May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden killed in U.S. operation in Pakistan, White House says

Osama bin Laden killed in U.S. operation in Pakistan, White House says

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Monday, May 2, 2011

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  • 10 December 2014: Senate publish report on CIA torture and misinformation
  • 15 June 2014: Abbott open to possible Australian assistance in Iraq
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File photograph of Osama bin Laden.
Image: FBI.

U.S. officials last night said Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader and orchestrator of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and embassy bombings in 1998, had been killed by U.S. special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan near the capital Islamabad.

White House officials say that four others were killed in the forty-minute raid that began at 2000 UTC yesterday—including a woman said to have been used as a human shield. One of those shot is thought to be bin Laden’s son. An American helicopter was lost due to mechanical failure, but no U.S. forces or civilians were killed.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced the news in a statement late last night. “I can report to the American people and to the world, that the U.S. has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden,” Obama said. He confirmed he had been told in August of a lead to the location of bin Laden, and approved the operation last week. The operation involved a “small team of Americans”, Obama said.

The operation, led by the CIA, occurred nearly ten years after the 9/11 attacks. CIA director Leon Panetta notified U.S. legislators Sunday about the news. His body was verified using several methods, including DNA testing with DNA from a dead sister’s body, stored in a Boston, Massachusetts hospital, as well as facial recognition. However, staff at the hospital in question—Massachusetts General Hospital—have not been able to “find any evidence” of the body ever being stored there. U.S. officials said his body was then buried at sea at around 0600 UTC today, “in accordance with Islamic law and traditions” and because of the difficulty of finding a country that would accept the remains of the world’s most wanted man. Saudi Arabia, the country in which Osama bin Laden was born, refused a U.S. offer to take the body.

Celebrations in U.S.; European Parliament says world is ‘safer’

Following the President’s announcement, people started gathering in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., Times Square and Ground Zero—the site of the World Trade Center—in New York, to celebrate; singing the national anthem. Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, said he hoped the death of bin Laden would “bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001”.

The U.S. government is reportedly expecting al-Qaeda to soon release what they are likely to call a “martyr tape”—an audio recording made by bin Laden to be broadcast after his death.

Although the death of the 54-year-old bin Laden, who was the most wanted person in the world, was greeted with celebration in the U.S., analysts have warned that al-Qaeda will “undoubtedly” launch a retaliatory attack. “I think the significance of what has happened cannot really be overstated,” John Gearson, director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College London, said.

President Obama’s announcement of the news.

“There will be concerns that there could be some sort of retaliation, that al-Qaeda may well want to demonstrate that they are still strong and still in the game.” He warned that U.S. officials may “lose their focus” after such a major victory, “and that will provide an opportunity for the remnants of al-Qaeda to reform and grow stronger.”

Cquote1.svg I can report to the American people and to the world, that the U.S. has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden. Cquote2.svg

—Barack Obama

Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, appealed to Islamic militant fighters to use the opportunity of bin Laden’s death to abandon their groups. “Our message to the Taliban remains the same, but today it may have even greater resonance: you cannot wait us out,” she said. “You cannot defeat us. But you can make the choice to abandon Al Qaeda and cooperate in a peaceful political process.”

The president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, said that “we have waken up in a safer world”, with the news bringing “safety to millions of people”, whilst U.S. senator John McCain sought to remind the American people to “be mindful that al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies are still lethal and determined enemies”. The Kremlin reiterated that “revenge is inescapable for all terrorists”, and that “only a joint struggle against global terrorism can bring a result”.

The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, sought to remind people bin Laden was “the world’s most prominent leader”, going on to say that “it was of great importance that he was still alive and active, and it is unequivocally a good thing that he is no longer able to pursue terror, murder and mayhem in the world”. Mentioning that security at British embassies worldwide have been increased in the wake of the news, he reiterated that the death of the al-Qaeda leader was a “serious blow”, and that, “like any organisation that has suffered a serious blow, they will want to show in some way that they are still able to operate”.

Americans gather at Ground Zero—the site of the World Trade Center—in New York to celebrate the death of bin Laden.
Image: rxb.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, welcomed the news, along with many other European countries. He praised the “tenacity” of the U.S. attack, congratulating the “major blow” the move dealt to al-Qaeda. Eight French citizens were killed last week in a bomb blast in Marrakesh, and, although no group has yet claimed responsibility, it is speculated that al-Qaeda were behind the attack. Sarkozy paid homage to them, as well as other around the world, saying the “victims received justice today and France has thoughts for them and their families”.

Cquote1.svg It is unequivocally a good thing that he is no longer able to pursue terror, murder and mayhem in the world. Cquote2.svg

—William Hague, British Foreign Secretary

Pakistani involvement

Pakistani officials were not informed of the planned raid, with the White House saying this was “essential to the security of the operation and our personnel”. However Obama emphasised that cooperation with Pakistan had helped in finding bin Laden. The operation, described by one senior White House official as “a surgical raid by a small team designed to minimise collateral damage”, was not intended to take bin Laden alive. “It was a kill mission”, said one security official. Bin Laden died after being shot in the head.

Witnesses in Abbottabad have described how the U.S. forces carried out the raid on the compound, which had significant security features, including walls up to 18-foot high topped with barbed wire. “We saw four helicopters at around 2am. We were told to switch off lights of our homes and stay inside,” one witness, who lives in the town of Bilal in Abbottabad, said. The man confirmed he had seen the wreckage of the U.S. military helicopter which crashed after experiencing mechanical difficulties.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the U.S. “operation was conducted [by] U.S. forces in accordance with declared U.S. policy that Osama bin Laden will be eliminated in a direct action by the U.S. forces, wherever found in the world”, noting that almost “30,000 Pakistani civilians” had been killed in terrorist attacks in recent years, with the “nation fully united in [its] resolve to eliminate terrorism”.

Cquote1.svg We saw four helicopters at around 2am. We were told to switch off lights of our homes and stay inside. Cquote2.svg

—Witness in Abbottabad, Pakistan

However, Pervez Musharraf, a former president of Pakistan, criticised the U.S. involvement, describing the operation as a “violation of [Pakistani] sovereignty,” and saying the raid was a “a failure of both Pakistani and U.S. intelligence”; he stressed it would have been “far better” if the Pakistani Special Services Group had carried out the attack. Musharraf went on to say he was “surprised” bin Laden was found in Abbottabad, but added the terrorist leader “had declared war against Pakistan”, and that the news came as a “victory for the people of Pakistan and all the peace loving people of the world”.

The news that bin Laden was hiding just a few hundred metres from Pakistan Military Academy, a similar institution to the U.S. West Point Academy or the UK Sandhurst, has been met with embarrassment on behalf of the Pakistani government, and scepticism from others. “This is a serious blow to the credibility of Pakistan”, according to one Pakistani security analyst. Earlier today, Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai maintained he knew bin Laden was in Pakistan: “For 10 years we told NATO and the world community but for ten years they didn’t listen to our voice. They burned Afghanistan for ten years but Osama was in Islamabad.”

Photograph of Obama and his national security team awaiting updates on the strike mission, yesterday.
Image: The White House.

Whilst many governments worldwide welcomed the death of bin Laden, more than 800 people marched in the Pakistani city of Quetta, paying homage to bin Laden and burning a U.S. flag. According to the organizer, “Bin Laden was the hero of the Muslim world and after his martyrdom he has won the title of great mujahed“. At the march, pro-Taliban and anti-United States sentiments were chanted, before the protesters dispersed peacefully.

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan have denied that bin Laden has been killed, although in a conference call to several Pakistani media outlets, a rebel spoksperson threatened to seek revenge: “If Bin Laden attained martyrdom, then we will avenge his death and we will attack the governments of Pakistan and the United States and their security forces”.

Although no images of bin Laden’s body have been released, the Obama administration is, according to ABC News, in possession of gruesome photographs: a “massive head wound” where he took a bullet, with “blood and brains clearly visible”.

The price of oil has dropped following the announcement after speculation that the death of bin Laden will lower the risk of supply disruption in the Middle East, with a barrel of crude oil for June delivery falling by $1.92.



Related news

  • “”Osama to Obama”: Bin Laden addresses US President” — Wikinews, January 25, 2010
  • “Pakistani prime minister says Osama Bin Laden not in the country” — Wikinews, December 3, 2009

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April 28, 2011

Afghan pilot kills nine Americans

Afghan pilot kills nine Americans – Wikinews, the free news source

Afghan pilot kills nine Americans

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

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  • 29 September 2014: New Afghan President Ashraf Ghani sworn in
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Eight American troops and one contractor were shot and killed by an Afghan National Army Air Force pilot Wednesday. Five Afghan soldiers were also wounded in the attack, for which the Taliban has claimed responsibility.

The incident, which began around 10 a.m. Afghan time (0530 UTC), occurred in the operations room of the Afghan Air Force in Kabul International Airport. The shooter, Ahmad Gul Sahebi, was killed by NATO forces.

“Suddenly, in the middle of the meeting, shooting started,” said Afghan Air Corps spokesman Colonel Bahader. “After the shooting started, we saw a number of Afghan army officers and soldiers running out of the building. Some were even throwing themselves out of the windows to get away.”

The shooter’s brother, Hassan Sahebi, said, “My brother was a little depressed recently, but he had served with Afghanistan’s national army for 20 years. He loved his country and his people. He was a good man.” He also said that his brother was facing financial troubles, but was not connected with the Taliban. A spokesman for the militia group, however, described Ahmad Gul Sahebi as an informant and sleeper agent who began planning the shooting five months ago.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai quickly condemned the attack and offered condolence to the victims and their families. He also said that the police and military would investigate the matter. Wednesday’s incident is the seventh this year in which NATO or Afghan forces have been killed by rogue Afghan troops or insurgents dressed as troops.


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March 11, 2011

Relative of Afghan president Hamid Karzai shot dead by NATO troops

Relative of Afghan president Hamid Karzai shot dead by NATO troops

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Friday, March 11, 2011

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Hamid Karzai was said to be “extremely sad” over the shooting

A relative of the Afghan president Hamid Karzai has been mistakenly shot dead by NATO troops, according to officials. Yar Mohammad Khan, who was in his 60s was killed during a night raid in the Dand district. Khan, who also possibly used the surname of Karzai, was believed to have been a cousin of either the president or a cousin of the president’s father.

The president’s brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, released a statement over the shooting. He said, “It was a mistake. The forces conducted an operation, he was at his home, he came out and was shot. It was a mistake. What can you do about it?” Several officials have apologised for the incident including United States president Barack Obama, US defence secretary Robert Gates, and commander of international troops in Afghanistan General Petraeus.

Khan’s death come only days after President Karzai called the killing of civilians unacceptable. The president urged the United Nations to pressure NATO to take more care during operations when searching for insurgents. Karzai rejected a previous apology from General Petraeus over the killing of nine boys during an air strike.



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October 9, 2010

Afghan provincial governor killed in mosque bomb attack

Afghan provincial governor killed in mosque bomb attack

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

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The location of Kunduz in Afghanistan, where Mr Omar was killed. The Taliban began attacking NATO troops in the area in 2007.

A governor of the German-garrisoned province of Kunduz, Afghanistan was killed by a bomb attack in a mosque while attending Friday prayers in Taloqan. Faiz Mohammad Tauhidi, a spokesman for the governor of Takhar, confirmed that Mohammad Omar was killed by the blast along with twenty others. Up to thirty five may have been hurt in the attack, but the number of injuries is not yet clear. A Taliban spokesperson confirmed that the group was responsible for the bombing.

Mr Omar was killed by a bomb as he was leaving the Shirkat Mosque. He was born in Takhar province, and as a politician had close relationships with the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. Abdul Jabar Taqwa, governor of Takhar, said he was upset by the attack. “He was the target, and the terrorists were able to kill him,” he said. “This is a big loss for us because Mohammad Omar was a very brave and good governor.” Three attempts have previously been made on his life, and his brother was assassinated last year by the Taliban.

Last week Mr Omar announced plans to increase efforts to stop the Taliban, who started attacking NATO troops in Kunduz three years ago. Since the invasion, attacks have been frequent. Mr Omar had previously served as the mayor of Taloqan between 1991 and 1992. During the civil war, he was a member of the Islamic Dawah Organisation of Afghanistan for a short period of time, before he was appointed as the governor of Baghlan Province, a position he served between 2001 and 2003.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said they were aware of the attack, but did not comment further. Provincial Security chief Shah Jahan Noori agreed that the governor was the main target of the attack. It has not yet been confirmed whether the bomb was planted near the mosque beforehand, or whether Mr Omar was killed by a suicide bomber. “The situation is chaos, we do not know whether it was a suicide attack or whether the bomb was already planted in the mosque,” Noori said.



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August 3, 2010

Suicide bomber kills five Afghan children

Suicide bomber kills five Afghan children

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Five children were killed by a suicide car bomb in the Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan on Monday.

Officials say the suicide bomber was trying to attack the governor of the Dand district, Ahmadullah Nazak. Nazak was unharmed.

“I dropped down. Then I heard a second explosion. It hit our car, but it didn’t injure me,” Nazak later recalled.

There have not been any claims of responsibility for this bombing. Assassinations and attempts have become more common this year in Kandahar, and between January and April, at least 27 government officials or foreign contractors have been killed.

In other areas of Afghanistan there have been similar incidents. A blast in Nangarhar province hit the car of a senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai. Six people, including Wahidullah Sabawoon, the adviser, were injured in the blast. Sabawoon’s injuries were “not critical”, according to spokesperson Ahmad Zia Abdulzai.



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