Entries in Militants (16)


UN Reports May Was Deadliest Month in Iraq in Five Years

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As many had feared, May not only turned out to be the deadliest month in Iraq since American forces left the country a year-and-a-half ago but also the month with the most fatalities since June 2008.

According to statistics released last Saturday by the United Nations, at least 1,045 civilians and security personnel died in May due to violence, largely because of the rise in sectarian conflicts.

The greater Baghdad area alone accounted for more than half of those killed by insurgents and militants seeking to stir up simmering animosities between Sunnis and Shiites.

Car bombs and other types of explosives were the primary killing instruments used.

Calling May's death toll "a sad record," Martin Kobler, special representative of the UN secretary-general for Iraq, said, "Iraqi political leaders must act immediately to stop this intolerable bloodshed."

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has repeatedly urged calm, vowing to go after the perpetrators of violent acts.

Nonetheless, his requests for national unity seem to be falling on deaf ears with Sunni lawmakers and tribesmen blaming him for conditions leading to a revival of sectarian tensions.

The U.N.'s death toll may be called into dispute since Iraqi officials claim it's closer to 580. However, the international body claims its numbers are more accurate, saying they're based on direct investigation and credible outside sources.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Drone Strike Kills Four Suspected Militants in Pakistan

Erik Simonsen/Getty(ISLAMABAD) -- A drone attack in northwestern Pakistan killed four alleged militants on Friday.

The strike consisted of two missiles that were fired at a compound in the Shawal area of North Waziristan.

The identities of those killed were not immediately known.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rebels, Militants Take Credit for Attack on Syrian Military Headquarters

LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Two groups are each taking credit for Wednesday's suicide car bomb attack against the Syrian military headquarters in Damascus that left four guards dead and more than a dozen others wounded.

The Free Syrian Army, the main rebel group battling government forces, as well as the militant organization Ansar al-Islam claimed responsibility for the strike that is considered significant because it occurred at the staff command compound.

Witnesses said that a minibus carrying explosives detonated after it crashed into the building, literally shaking the area around it.

According to Syrian State TV, rebel forces and military guards engaged in a gun battle following the blast.

The attack came just a day after several bombs blew up inside a Damascus school that rebels claimed had been taken over by the military to be used as a security headquarters.

Wednesday’s attack occurred on the deadliest day thus far of the 19-month conflict, with 343 fatalities reported.  It’s estimated that 30,000 people have died because of the violence since March 2011 but there is no way to verify an exact figure.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pakistan Claims Soldiers Were Beheaded by Militants from Afghanistan

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- Pakistani authorities alleged on Monday that 13 of its soldiers were killed by militants who crossed over the northwestern border from Afghanistan.

The heads of seven soldiers among the dead were later found without their bodies, the Pakistanis said.

It's believed Islamabad will use this incident, in which 14 militants were also slain, to bolster its contention that Afghanistan also harbors members of al Qaeda and other extremists groups.

Pakistan has been under pressure by Washington and Kabul to go after the Taliban and its allies, who use the vast, untamed northwestern region to hide from government forces.

More times than not, Taliban and al Qaeda leaders operating in Pakistan are killed in missions by CIA unmanned drones rather than Pakistani troops.

Reacting to the latest assault on his troops, Pakistan's newly-chosen Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf told reporters in Karachi, "Pakistan has strongly protested with Afghanistan on the cross-border attacks and I will also take up this issue with [President Hamid] Karzai."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pakistani Troops Killed by Militants Near Afghan Border

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- Six Pakistani troops were killed on Sunday by militants near the country's northwest border with Afghanistan, according to a Pakistan military official.

The soldiers were patrolling the border in the Upper Dir district, across from Afghanistan's Kunar province, when they came under attack by militants from Afghanistan.  Eleven militants were also killed in the firefight.

Sunday's incident is the second attack in the same area in the past three days.  Such attacks have strained relations between both countries before and the current string of attacks has potential of doing the same.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Suspected Militants in Pakistan Killed in Drone Strike

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- At least 10 alleged militants were killed Thursday in a drone strike in northwest Pakistan, according to local officials.

Two missiles were fired on a compound in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan.

Thursday's attack comes one day after Pakistan sentenced Dr. Shakil Afridi to 33 years in prison for helping the CIA gather information on Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pakistani Extremist Group Says It Attacked Shiites in Afghanistan

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Dozens were killed in Afghanistan Tuesday during a series of coordinated attacks that targeted Shiite Muslims observing their holy day of Ashura.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni extremist group in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the bombings that left at least 63 dead in Kabul, Kandahar, and Mazar-i-Sharif.  One U.S. citizen was among those killed in the attacks, the American embassy in Kabul confirmed.  

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a statement, "Never in our history have there been such cruel attacks on religious observances.  The enemies of Afghanistan do not want us to live under one roof with peace and harmony."

It's believed that this unprecedented instance of sectarian violence in Afghanistan was designed to undermine Karzai's fragile government as well as send a message that other groups besides the Taliban oppose the country's attempt at establishing a Western-style democracy.

For its part, the Taliban denied it was behind the attacks, saying, "We strongly condemn this wild and inhuman act by our enemies, who are trying to blame us and trying to divide Afghans by doing such attacks on Muslims."

Still, there's suspicion that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has not operated in Afghanistan before, might be supported by the Taliban, al Qaeda and extremist militant groups in Pakistan.  The country's rogue spy agency, the ISI, may also have a role in the group's operations in order to spark a sectarian feud in Afghanistan between Shiites and Sunnis.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Dozens Killed, Injured in Attacks During Holy Holiday in Afghanistan

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty ImagesUPDATE: The Taliban has issued a statement denying any kind of involvement in Tuesday's attacks in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- For the first time, militants targeted Shiite mourners in Afghanistan on one of their holiest holidays Tuesday, setting off bombs in downtown Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, according to police officials.

In the most significant attack, at least 54 people were killed and 164 injured, according to the Afghan health ministry, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Abul Fazel Shrine in the middle of Kabul, not far from the ministry of defense and the presidential palace.  Reporters at the shrine described a horrific scene, with bodies of the dead and injured strewn across the entry of the shrine and the street outside.

Almost simultaneously, a bomb hidden in a bicycle exploded by a Shiite shrine in Mazar-e-Sharif, the largest city in northern Afghanistan, near the border with Uzbekistan.  Four were killed and 21 others were injured in that attack, according to police.

Tuesday is Ashurra, a national holiday in many Muslim countries that marks the death of the prophet’s grandson Hussein -- an event that helped cement the separation of Shia and Sunni Islam.  Shiites mark the day by mourning, often beating or cutting themselves to reenact the pain that Hussein suffered.

There has been horrible violence on Ashurra in Iraq over the years -- as well as in Pakistan -- but never in Afghanistan, which is why Tuesday's attack is troubling.  The Afghan Taliban is an almost entirely Sunni group, but there has not been major sectarian violence in Afghanistan since the initial U.S. invasion in 2001.  The worry is that this will set off more sectarian attacks and instability in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Drone Attack Kills at Least Six Afghan Militants in Pakistan

Stocktrek Images/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- A CIA drone attack, targeting Afghan militants killed at least six people and injured four others in northwest Pakistan Thursday.

The strike, the third in the same area in just the last few weeks, took place in Azam Warsak in the Birmal area of South Waziristan. Multiple missiles were fired at a vehicle, destroying it, and along with it, reportedly the brother of a top Taliban commander.

The attack was aimed at a group of Afghan militants who target U.S. troops from safehavens in Pakistan, and have an unwritten deal with the Pakistani military not to attack inside the country. 

The Afghan group is led by Maulvi Nazir, who has been the target of drone strikes before. Thursday's strike reportedly killed Nazir’s brother Hazrat Umar and one of his senior-most commanders, Khan Mohammad, according to a resident of the area.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hillary Clinton Pushes Pakistan to Crack Down on Militant Safe Havens

Win McNamee/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- In a press conference in Islamabad Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Pakistan that it had tolerated safe havens inside its borders for too long.

"If you have a snake in the backyard, you can't expect it to only bite the neighbors," Clinton said.  "It's eventually going to bite you."

The point of that story and her 24-hour trip to the country is clear: lead a high-level delegation along with the U.S.' top spy and top military official to collectively tell the Pakistanis that they need to make a choice -- either kill the Afghan Taliban that has safe havens in Pakistan, help the U.S. kill the Afghan Taliban, or bring the Afghan Taliban to the table.

The key event was Thursday night, when Clinton, CIA Director David Petraeus and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey met with Pakistan's army and ISI chiefs.

It is not yet known how the meeting went, but in the words of one senior U.S. official, it was "tough."

In Friday's press conference, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar admitted there were militant safe havens on the Pakistani side of the border, but insisted that it was time to "give peace a chance" -- code for political talks with the Afghan Taliban.

Clinton echoed Khar's remarks, saying that the goal of her trip wasn't only about attacking militant safe havens.

"The support from the Pakistanis on al Qaeda has been effective.  Now we have to turn our attention to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network," Clinton said.  "We have to get them to talk, and if that fails, then we need to deal with the threat."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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