Yesterday’s State Department announcement that it is offering a $10 million bounty for the “capture” of Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the head of the banned Pakistani charity Jamaat-ud Dawa, took a new turn when the Pakistani Foreign Office rejected the bounty.
The State Department was quick to respond, saying that it does not have “concrete evidence” but that it is “trying to get information that can be used to put this gentleman behind bars.” Needless to say, that’s probably going to require some effort.
The fighting between the two towns, just 10 km from each other, is typical of the current situation in Libya, and is just the latest in a growing line of internal fighting that the NTC has struggled to tamp down in recent months.
The head of Libya’s interim government and revolutionary figure, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, said on Wednesday he would stand down if the country’s upcoming elections run off course.
In the wake of fresh unrest between former Libyan rebels, Jalil said in an interview with Al Arabiya that “strong force will be used against those who threaten the security of Libyans.” the elections fail,” the National Transitional Council chief added, revealing that the vote for a constituent assembly has been scheduled for June 19.
The remarks came at the close of a third day of clashes near the border of Tunisia which has claimed at least 26 lives, according to Al Arabiya.
“We will not allow Libyan blood to continue to be spilled,” Jalil said.
The fighting pitted armed Berber groups from Zwarah against gunmen from the neighboring Arab towns of Regdalin and Jamil.
The two camps fought on opposite sides during the 2011 conflict that toppled the regime of slain leader Muammar Qaddafi.
Libyan authorities warned on Wednesday that insecurity could cause a delay of elections for a constituent assembly and demanded an immediate halt to violence in the west of the country.
“Lack of stability could affect the decision of holding elections on time,” government spokesman Nasser al-Manaa told journalists in Tripoli.
He stressed that all government ministries were working towards holding the vote, but that continued violence could push the ruling National Transitional Council to push back the date.
Manaa urged Libyans not to resort to force to settle legitimate grievances and to leave matters of security and justice to the authorities.
“There are no winners -- everyone loses if clashes continue,” he said.
Army chief Yussef Mangush said during the same news conference that the army was ready to impose a ceasefire with force if needed.“The government demands an immediate ceasefire,” he said.
The flare-up in the west of the country comes hot at the heels of violent tribal clashes in the southern cities of Kufra and Sabha.
The interim government has struggled to impose its authority with several militias holding onto their arms and refusing to follow commands.
“Freedom does not have to mean chaos and rights should not be claimed by picking up arms,” Manaa stressed, urging all parties to act with restraint.
Suicide bomber kills 10, including 2 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan
A suicide bomber blew himself up at a park Wednesday in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 10 people, including two U.S. soldiers, officials said, the latest in a string of attacks as spring fighting season gets under way.
Afghan and NATO security forces have frequently been targeted in the surge of violence as militants fight to assert their power and undermine U.S. efforts to try to build up the Afghan military and leave combat responsibility to local forces by the end of 2014.
The bomber was riding a motorcycle when he detonated his explosives at the gate of the park in Maimanah, the capital of Faryab province, police spokesman Lal Mohammad Ahmad Zai said. It was not clear what was targeted, but he said four of those killed were police officers.
Associated Press video footage of the scene of the attack showed what appear to be dead Afghan civilians, police and foreign troops at the explosion site. Body parts were strewn around the gate and on the ground and blood was spattered everywhere.
In Kabul, NATO said three of its service members were killed in a bombing Wednesday in northern Afghanistan. It provided no other details about the attack or the nationalities of the three.
A senior U.S. defense official confirmed that two of them were Americans who were killed in the Faryab bombing but he had no information on the third slain NATO service member. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information for the record.
Germany and Norway, who have troops in the region, said none of their soldiers were involved. Germany commands alliance operations in the area. There are troops of various nationalities serving there, most at a Norwegian base that houses a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Maimahan. The joint international military-civilian units work on development and reconstruction projects.
Afghan officials said at least six Afghans, including four police officers, also were killed in the attack.
Faryab is relatively calm, but it is considered to be a stronghold of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, or IMU, an al-Qaeda affiliated group that has been most active in the northern provinces of Afghanistan.
On March 26, a joint Afghan and coalition force killed the group's leader in Afghanistan Makhdum Nusrat and detained two other insurgents. The coalition said Mr. Nusrat had been leading attacks against Afghan and coalition troops in the north for the past eight months and had been plotting the assassination of a member of parliament in Kabul.
The IMU was formed in 1991, originally aiming to set up an Islamic state in Uzbekistan, which borders Afghanistan. Later it expanded its goal to seeking an Islamic state across Central Asia.
Militants also have stepped up their attacks against international and Afghan troops nationwide in recent weeks. Nine Afghan policemen were killed and 11 abducted across the nation in the past three days.
Fighting in Afghanistan usually wanes during the winter months as Taliban fighters take a break because of winter weather, only to surge in the spring. Heavy snow covers many of the mountain passes used by the Taliban and other insurgent fighters to cross mainly into eastern Afghanistan from safe havens in neighbouring Pakistan.
Anger against foreign forces also has risen following a series of missteps, including the inadvertent burning of copies of the Muslim holy book and other religious materials in February and the massacre of 17 Afghan civilians allegedly by a rogue U.S. soldier. Foreign troops also have found themselves increasingly targeted.
There were conflicting accounts on the number of dead in Wednesday's attack, ranging from at least six to at least 10.
Mr. Zai said four of those killed were police officers and six were civilians, including two women and two children.
The director of Maimanah hospital, Abdul Ali Aleem, said six who died and 26 who were wounded in the suicide bombing were brought to his hospital.
Abdul Satar Barez, the deputy governor of Faryab, said the suicide attack occurred just before noon. He said it took place at a park and that foreign troops were involved.
So far this year, 97 NATO service members have been killed in Afghanistan, including at least 54 Americans.