Wednesday, January 16, 2013

French troops fight Islamist rebels on the ground in Mali

French troops have engaged in close-quarter combat with Islamist fighters on Wednesday in the Malian town of Diabaly in the first ground clashes after days of air strikes, according to Malian security forces.
"The special forces are currently in Diabaly, in close-quarter combat with the Islamists. The Malian army is also in place," the Malian security source told news agency AFP on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, France’s army chief confirmed French troops have begun a ground offensive in Mali.

"The ground operation began several hours ago," Admiral Edouard Guillaud told Europe 1 radio on Wednesday morning.

French armoured units and Malian government forces set off towards the north from the capital Bamako, supporting airstrikes that began last week.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed that the troops, whose number is set to triple from 800 at present to 2,500 men, faced a long and tough battle against determined fighters whose number he estimated at up to 1,300.

"It's a little more difficult in the west, where we have the toughest, most fanatical and best-organised groups. It's under way there but it's difficult," he said.

A first contingent of 190 Nigerian troops was also due to arrive in Bamako on Wednesday as part of a regional force of over 3,000 soldiers from Benin, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Togo to support the French and Malian troops.

In addition, Germany announced today it would send two military transport planes to support the mission, with the planes mainly used to move African troops.

Belgium has offered two C-130 transport planes and two helicopters to back up
France's offensive, while Britain and Canada have offered troop transporters.

On the ground, a military source said the Islamists were some 80 kilometres north of Markala, putting them around 350 kilometres away from Bamako.

A convoy of armoured vehicles was also reported by a local government official to be heading to the town of Diabaly, which Al Qaeda-linked groups seized earlier this week.

The United Nations humanitarian agency said on Tuesday 144,500 refugees have fled the unrest to neighbouring Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Algeria, while another 230,000 were internally displaced.

France - Mali -
Article published the Wednesday 16 January 2013 - Latest update : Wednesday 16 January 2013

Enhanced by Zemanta

Jan. 16., 2013. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces detained 12 insurgents and cleared one improvised explosive device during operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, Jan. 15.

Khowst province
Afghan Border Police and coalition forces found and safely cleared one IED in Bak district.

Paktika province
Afghan National Security Forces detained four insurgents during an engagement in Yayah Khel district. The detained suspects were transferred to a base for questioning.

Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces detained five insurgents during an engagement in Omnah district. The detained suspects were transferred to a base for questioning.

Paktya province
Afghan Uniformed Police and coalition forces detained three insurgents during an engagement in Lajah Ahmadkhel district. The detained suspects were transferred to a base for questioning.

Operations in RC-East are ongoing.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Major Attack Launched Against NDS Office in Kabul

Six men launched an attack on the National Directorate of Security (NDS) facility in Kabul's Sedarat area at midday, detonating a car bomb at the gate before attempting to storm the facility.

All six men have been killed - one was driving the car when it exploded at the NDS main entrance and five more were shot in a subsequent gunfight with security guards, according to Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqi and Kabul police chief Gen. Ayub Salangi.

A second car rigged with explosives has been found in the same street and the bomb has been disabled, Sediqi told TOLOnews.

As many as 20 other people have been either killed or injured but exact numbers have not been confirmed, according to the chief of Kabul police criminial investigation unit Gen. Zahir Zahir.

The wounded have been taken to the nearby NDS hospital and emergency wards of other local hospitals, officials said.

The bomb blast blew out windows of printing shop fronts on the opposite side of the road and cars in the street were damaged, witnesses said.

The targeted NDS facility includes the site of the only NDS prison in Kabul.

NDS head Asadullah Khalid survived an assassination attempt last month carried out by a suicide bomber who entered the NDS facility in Kabul's Taimani area in a planned meeting with the intelligence chief.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013 13:06
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 14:04

Enhanced by Zemanta

Explosion rocks southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan

According to local authorities in southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan, a explosion took place in the central city of Tarinkowt on Wednesday afternoon.
An official speaking on the condition of anonymity said the blast took reportedly took place while Afghan security forces were looking to defuse a roadside improvised explosive device planted by militants.

He said at least two Afghan security personnel were killed and two others were injured following the blast.

The incident took placae in Sar-Shakhlo village.

No group including the Taliban militants has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

By Sayed Jawad - January 16 2013, 1:00 pm

Enhanced by Zemanta

17 killed, 133 wounded in bomb attacks in northern Iraq

BAGHDAD, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Up to 17 people were killed and 133 wounded in two bomb attacks targeting offices of Kurdish parties in northern Iraq on Wednesday, the police said.
In one of the attacks, a suicide bomber drove his explosive- laden truck into the entrance of the office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), headed by the regional Kurdish president Masoud Barzani, in Atlas Street in a commercial area in the city of Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The powerful blast killed up to 15 people and wounded more than 105, many of them were officials and security members at the Kurdish office, the source said.

The toll could rise as many of the victims were transported by ambulances and civilian cars to hospitals and medical centers in the city, the source added.

Earlier, the source put the toll at five killed and 90 wounded.

In a separate incident, at least two people were killed and 28 wounded in a car bomb explosion near the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), a Kurdish party headed by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, in the city of Tuz-Khurmato, some 200 km north of Baghdad, a local police source anonymously told Xinhua.

The ethnically mixed cities of Kirkuk and Tuz-Khurmato are part of disputed areas claimed both by the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan and Baghdad central government.

High-profile bomb attacks are still common in the Iraqi cities despite the dramatic decrease in violence since its peak in 2006 and 2007, when the country was engulfed in sectarian killings.

2013-01-16 16:17:26

Enhanced by Zemanta

Explosions kill 83 at Syrian university as exams begin

A handout picture released by the Syrian Observatory Human Rights allegedly shows the scene of an explosion outside Aleppo University, between the university dormitories and the architecture faculty, Jan. 15, 2013. 82 people were killed and 160 others injured when a big blast rocked a university in Syria's northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday. (Xinhua)
(Reuters) - Two explosions tore through one of Syria's biggest universities on the first day of student exams on Tuesday, killing 83 people and wounding dozens, a monitoring group said.

Bloodshed has disrupted civilian life across Syria since a violent government crackdown in early 2011 on peaceful demonstrations for democratic reform turned the unrest into an armed insurgency bent on overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad.

More than 50 countries asked the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to refer the crisis to the International Criminal Court, which prosecutes people for genocide and war crimes. But Russia - Assad's long-standing ally and arms supplier - blocked the initiative, calling it "ill-timed and counterproductive.

Each side in the 22-month-old conflict blamed the other for Tuesday's blasts at the University of Aleppo, located in a government-held area of Syria's most populous city.

Some activists in Aleppo said a government attack caused the explosions, while state television accused "terrorists" - a term they often use to describe the rebels - of firing two rockets at the school. A rebel fighter said the blasts appeared to have been caused by "ground-to-ground" missiles.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said 83 people were killed and dozens wounded, but it could not identify the source of the blasts.

"Dozens are in critical condition," the Observatory said in a statement, citing doctors and students.

State television showed a body lying on the street and several cars burning. One of the university buildings was damaged.

Video footage showed students carrying books out of the university after one of the explosions, walking quickly away from rising smoke. The camera then shakes to the sound of another explosion and people begin to run.

"A cowardly terrorist act targeted the students of Aleppo University as they sat for their mid-term examinations," Syria's United Nations ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, told the U.N. Security Council in New York. He said 82 students had died and 162 more were wounded.

If confirmed, the government's report of a rocket attack would suggest rebels in the area had been able to obtain and deploy more powerful weapons than previously used.

The nearest rebel-controlled area, Bustan al-Qasr, is more than a mile away from the university.

Activists rejected the suggestion that insurgents were behind the attack, however, and instead blamed the government.

"The warplanes of this criminal regime do not respect a mosque, a church or a university," said a student who gave his name as Abu Tayem.


The rebels have been trying to take Aleppo - once a thriving commercial hub - since the summer, but have been unable to uproot Assad's better-armed and more organised forces.

International efforts to find a political solution to Syria's civil war have similarly resulted in stalemate, even as the conflict's death toll surged above 60,000.

The crisis has driven hundreds of thousands of people to flee the country, many to neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, where a fire at a camp in the country's southeast killed a pregnant Syrian woman and her three children on Tuesday.

Inside Syria, neither the military nor the insurgents have been able to sustain clear momentum.

The rebels remain poorly equipped and disorganised compared with Assad's forces, despite winning support from some regional powers like Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The government also benefits from superior air power, used to pummel rebel-held areas around Damascus and elsewhere.

Rebel efforts to assault the capital also appear to have ground toward a stalemate. A witness in a rebel-controlled district of Damascus said on Tuesday the front line between the two sides was quiet.

The streets were still full of civilians, the witness said, despite the sound of shells hitting nearby buildings. He said people were walking around, buying sweets and sandwiches.

By Mariam Karouny
BEIRUT | Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:07am GMT
(Additional reporting by Oliver Holmes in Beirut and Steve Gutterman in Moscow; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Enhanced by Zemanta

Search this blog