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April 30, 2010

Pakistani peace mediator killed in tribal area

Pakistani peace mediator killed in tribal area

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Friday, April 30, 2010

Noted for his controversial attempts to foster peace deals with the Taliban, Pakistani NGO leader Khalid Khawaja was killed early today morning, a week after being kidnapped in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas while helping a British filmmaker. He was shot twice, in the head and chest, and his body was dumped near Miran Shah.

A former member of the Pakistani ISI and associate of Osama bin Laden, Khawaja fought against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and was an outspoken critic of the American-led invasion. The leader of the Defence of Human Rights NGO, Khawaja was often accused of being an apologist for Islamist militants due to his stringent demands for better treatment and legal rights for prisoners captured by both the American and Pakistani forces.

Khawaja had travelled into North Waziristan along with former ISI colleague Colonel Imam, to help British cameraman Ased Qureshi meet with Sirajuddin Haqqani and Wali-ur-Rehman as he sought to film a documentary about the rise of Islamic militancy in the region. The three were kidnapped, and their captors demanded the release of ten imprisoned militants, including Mullah Baradar, Mullah Mansoor Dadullah and Maulvi Kabir, as well as $10 million for the release of the two former ISI officers. Pakistani officials anonymously confirmed the money would likely be paid, but the insurgent leaders were unlikely to be released.

Khawaja had most recently landed on the legal defence team of five Americans arrested by Pakistan who were accused of membership in Jaish-e-Mohammed. Immediate reports suggest that a note was pinned to his body, claiming responsibility for his death in the name of the Asian Tigers which some have ironically theorised could be a splinter group of the militant organisation. The note also accused him of spying for the United States, and having taken the government’s side in the 2007 Siege of Lal Masjid. The note blamed the government for refusing to negotiate on the desired release of the jailed Pakistani militants.

The Taliban condemned those responsible for the kidnapping of the three men, noting that targeting retired officers was “an act of cowardly people”.

Unrelated to the death of Khawaja, and intending to honour the memory of those “who embraced martyrdom in the continuing war on terror”, the Pakistani government announced they were declaring April 30 Yaum e Shuhada, or “Day of the Martyrs”. Khawaja’s son Omar told the New York Times that his father “was fond of martyrdom […] and now he is lucky because he has it”.



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September 26, 2006

Kashmiri militant sentenced to death over 2001 attack on Indian Parliament

Filed under: Archived,Asia,Crime and law,India,Jaish-e-Mohammed,New Delhi — admin @ 5:00 am

Kashmiri militant sentenced to death over 2001 attack on Indian Parliament

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Kaur confirmed today that Mohammed Afzal, a militant attached to the Pakistan-based outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, would be executed on 20 October for his role in the attempted attack on the Indian Parliament building in 2002.

On 13 December 2001, at 11:45 a.m. local time(UTC+5:30), just as the MPs were preparing to leave the House, militants armed with AK-47s and hand-grenades breached the security at Gate No.12 of the Parliament Building and opened indiscriminate fire, killing six policemen and one Parliament employee. The Army, along with police and NSG “Black Cats” sealed the area and killed all five gunmen in a “lock-down mop-up” operation.

The attack increased tensions between India and Pakistan, which was accused by India of providing support to the Kashmiri militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, involved in the attack.

A special court had earlier sentenced Delhi University lecturer S. Geelani, Afzal and Shaukat Hussain Guru to death under Section 3(2) of POTA (indulging in terrorist acts leading to deaths) and Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (murder). The court also fined Shaukat Hussain’s wife, Afsan Guru Rs. 10,000 and sentenced her to five years rigorous imprisonment for concealing details of the plot. A Delhi High court ruling, however, later acquitted Afsana Guru and Geelani.

On 4 August 2005, a Supreme Court bench including Justice P V Reddy and Justice P V Neolkar confirmed the death penalty for Mohammed Afzal and sentenced Shaukat Hussain Guru to 10 years rigorous imprisonment for concealing details of the conspiracy, thereby sparing him the gallows. Although the Supreme Court upheld Geelani’s acquittal, it observed that his actions were not above suspicion and seemed to have supported the attack.

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July 13, 2006

Investigation into Mumbai train bombings begins

Investigation into Mumbai train bombings begins

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

The toll in yesterday’s serial bombings on Mumbai’s commuter trains has risen to 200 killed, with 714 people injured, according to the official estimate released by the Police. 127 victims have been identified and a further 56 remain unidentified, the estimate said. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks. Indian authorities have said that the Kashmiri militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) may be involved. An LeT spokesman has denied any involvement.

The day after the blast, schools, colleges and offices functioned normally in Mumbai and the commuter train service targeted in the bombings was operational. Many commuters rode the trains to work, though their numbers were smaller than usual. The Bombay Stock Exchange, located in the city shrugged off the bombings, with the BSE SENSEX gaining 3 percent on opening, calming fears that economic confidence will be undermined by the blasts.

Investigation underway

The Maharashtra state government has announced a reward of Rs. 25,000,000 (about US $55,000) for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators. A number of people, reported to be 350[1] have been detained for interrogation, but no arrests have been made. Police are working on preparing sketches of possible suspects, news reports say.

The Times of India newspaper reported that Indian intelligence officials believe that Lashkar-e-Toiba and the banned Students Islamic Movement of India were behind the blasts. The Home Ministry confirmed the involvement of Students Islamic Movement of India[2]. The Chief Secretary to the Maharashtra state government, D K Shankaran told Reuters news agency “So far it looks like there was a substantial involvement of Lashkar-e-Toiba with local support,”[3].

P.S. Pasricha, director-general of police in Maharashtra, speaking to reporters, said that while it was too early to say who is responsible for the attacks, the coordinated explosions were in the style of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), which has been blamed for carrying out similar attacks before. Indian authorities have accused Kashmiri militant groups such as the Lashkar, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen of attacks on civilians before. The Mumbai underworld is another potential suspect – a series of bombings in Mumbai in 1993 which killed 250 people are believed to have been planned by a Mafia don Dawood Ibrahim. India alleges that Ibrahim lives in Pakistan and has long maintained that Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed have been trained and supported by Pakistan in the past.

Spokesmen for the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen have denied any role in the attacks. The LeT spokesman said that LeT could “feel the pain of the victims” of the attacks as the people of Kashmir have been suffering “the same pain for the last 17 years at the hands of the Indian security forces”, adding that an “independent investigation should be carried out… so that the people behind the attack can be exposed”.

“Attacks on civilians are not part of our manifesto. We never carried out such attacks nor will allow anyone to do so,” said Ehsan Elahi, spokesman for the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.

International condemnation

The attacks have been condemned by a number of countries around the world. India’s neighbours Pakistan, and Afghanistan; the UK, France, Italy and the EU; Spain, which witnessed a similar attack in 2004; South Africa, the United States, Australia and the UN Secretary General amongst others have spoken out against the attacks.

A statement released by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the attacks, saying “Terrorism is a bane of our times and it must be condemned, rejected and countered effectively and comprehensively.”

India faults Pakistan Foreign Secretary statement

The Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, after condemning the attack, noted that not much progress has been made on Kashmir problem, he said, “incremental approach is good but now we must tackle real issues. And this is the best way of tackling extremism in South Asia”.

India took exception to this remark. External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna described the statement as ‘appalling’, saying Mr Kasuri’s “remarks appear to suggest that Pakistan will cooperate with India against the scourge of cross-border terrorism and terrorist violence only if such so-called disputes are resolved,”.

He urged Pakistan to “dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism” on territory under its control and act in the spirit of the joint statement reached between the two countries on January 6, 2004.

Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran told a news channel on Wednesday that India may review some of the confidence building measures it is jointly developing with Pakistan, following the attacks. A meeting between Mr. Saran and his Pakistani counterpart, scheduled to take place on July 20-21, is also under question, with the External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna failing to make any announcement regarding the date.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry rejected these accusations in a statement, saying Mr Kasuri’s remarks had been misreported and denying he had drawn a link between the bombings and the Kashmir dispute. and said that Pakistan was “in the forefront of international efforts to fight [the] menace” of terrorism.

Prime Minister addresses nation

In an address to the nation, the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed his condolences to the victims of the attacks and to their families, saying that India stands by the people of Mumbai and Srinagar (where 8 people were killed in a grenade attack yesterday) “in this hour of grief”. “My heart goes out to those who have lost their loved ones”, he said.

He acknowledged the “courage and humanism” shown in the response to the attacks and the efforts of the emergency and service personnel and the public in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Saying that Mumbai is the symbol of a united, inclusive India, he said that India will “continue to walk tall, and with confidence despite the attack”.

The Union Home minister Shivraj Patil, the Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi and Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav visited Matunga Road railway station late yesterday. Mr Patil appealed for unity and restraint in responding to the attack. Mr Yadav has announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 5,00,000 (US $11,000) to the families of the dead and promised jobs in the railways for the families who have lost earning members in the bombings.

Opposition BJP calls for tougher anti-terrorism measures

The Leader of the Opposition L K Advani and President of the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party Rajnath Singh, who visited the blast sites and the met with the injured, called the bombings “an attack on India”.

A resolution adopted by the BJP office-bearers criticised the central UPA government, charging that it was sending “consistent signals that the initiative against terrorism can be traded for votes”. However, Mr. Advani said that “it was not the time for criticising the government”. He said that the blasts showed up the need for a stringent anti-terrorism law and that the authorities must not give an impression that they are willing to compromise national security.

In 2004, The UPA government had repealed such a law, the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act enacted by the previous BJP-led government.

Related news

  • “Several blasts rock Mumbai commuter trains” — Wikinews, July 11, 2006

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