Roadside Bomb Kills 11 Afghans Headed to Wedding in Logar

Killing at least 11 people, a suspected roadside detonated affecting a wedding convoy in eastern Afghanistan on Friday, an official said.

All 11 people belong to the same family, the local official said.

Five women, five children and a man in a vehicle were killed and one woman and two men were wounded in the blast in Logar province, just south of the capital of Kabul, said Mohammad Halim Fedayee, the provincial governor.

“All were members of one family,” he said. “They were going to attend a wedding ceremony.”

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the United Nations has criticized insurgent groups like the Taliban for using roadside bombs that often strike civilians.

The first four months of 2017 saw the highest recorded number of child casualties from the conflict in Afghanistan, the United Nations reported on Monday, with at least 283 killed and 704 wounded as of the end of April.

Last year, at least 3,498 civilians were killed and 7,920 were wounded, a combined increase of 3 percent over 2015, according to a U.N. report released in February.

Three Car Bombs Near Mosul Kill and Injure Dozens of People

The Iraqi army announced yesterday that 23 people, including eight policemen, were killed and dozens wounded after three car bombs targeting a popular market in Kokjali, an eastern suburb of Mosul, were detonated. ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombings.

A statement issued by the joint operations command said that 15 civilians and 8 policemen were killed when three car bombs exploded in a market in Kokjali, an eastern suburb of Mosul that Iraqi forces recaptured from ISIS at the beginning of November. Life was beginning to return to this town gradually and markets that brought goods from Erbil were teeming with shoppers coming from neighbourhoods under the control of government forces.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement that it posted on Twitter and confirmed that the operations were carried out by three suicide bombers. Twenty people were killed and ten Hummer vehicles and four 4×4 cars were destroyed in the attacks.

On its part, the United Nations said that four Iraqi aid workers and at least seven civilians were killed by mortar fire this week during an operation to distribute aid in Mosul as the campaign to retake the city from ISIS continued to make slow and punishing progress.

A statement issued by the United Nations said that two separate mortar attacks this week killed aid workers and wounded about 40 people. It also said that indiscriminate shelling violated international law.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande condemned the two attacks and considers them a violation of humanitarian principles. She said that “People waiting for aid are already vulnerable and need help. They should be protected, not attacked”. She continued by saying that “All parties to the conflict – all parties – have an obligation to uphold international humanitarian law and ensure that civilians survive and receive the assistance they need.”

Grande did not blame any party for the attacks but ISIS extremists retreating from the military offensive have repeatedly bombed areas after they were retaken by the army, killing or wounding scores of residents fleeing in the opposite direction.

The US backed assault on Mosul, the militants’ last major stronghold in Iraq, was launched by a 100,000-strong alliance of local forces on October 17. It has become the biggest military operation in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Authorities do not release figures for civilian or military casualties, but medical officials say dozens of people are wounded each day in the battle to liberate Mosul.

ISIS Suicide Bomb Kills Police Officers, Citizens in Turkey

ISIS

Riyadh, Ankara- “Saudi Arabia strongly condemns the terrorist bombing which took place in Turkey’s southeastern city of Gaziantep, that killed and wounded a number of people,” said an official from Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The source offered the Kingdom’s condolences to the families of the victims as well as the government and people of Turkey, wishing a speedy recovery to the wounded.

The official source also reaffirmed the Kingdom’s solidarity with Turkey.

Moreover, an official source at the Saudi Foreign Ministry expressed the Kingdom’s denunciation of the bombing that targeted a funeral in the Iraq capital of Baghdad causing tens of casualties.

The source reiterated Saudi Arabia’s rejection of all forms and manifestations of terrorism, offering condolences to the families of the victims and Iraq’s government and people, with wishes of a speedy recovery for the injured.

Three police officers have been killed and at least eight were injured, including four Syrian nationals in the explosion in Gaziantep during a police raid on a suspected ISIS safehouse.

Police pursued a vehicle believed to be carrying explosives to the house, where a group of Syrian nationals were thought to be sheltering, before raiding it, security sources said.

For his part, Gaziantep Governor Ali Yerlikaya said that security forces in the city received information on a possible suicide bomb attack on the Alawite Cultural Center in the city.

“Security forces located the ISIS safehouse while they were investigating this tip,” he said.

In a common matter, Turkish police detained 25 suspects over an explosion in the Mediterranean province of Antalya, police sources said on Saturday.

Police organized simultaneous operations throughout Turkey, including in the capital Ankara as well as Istanbul, to detain the suspects.

The 25 suspects were detained on the grounds that they were carrying out militia and terror activities.

Turkey has seen a spate of suicide bombings by militants suspected of links to ISIS. A suicide bomb killed more than 50 people, many of them children, at a Kurdish wedding in Gaziantep in August.

The Military Campaign in Idlib Intensifies

The Military campaign in Idlib and its countryside, north-west Syria, continues and this has led to the disruption of citizens’ daily lives. According to what an activist in the local council Abu Rabee told Asharq Al-Awsat, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has responded to this by bombing the towns of Fua and Kefraya, and has threatened to invade the two cities if the campaign is not stopped.

He explained that the bombing which targeted Kefraya and Fua is a warning against an escalation that would lead to the two towns being invaded in the event that the campaign targeting Idlib continues, and this would spell the end of the agreed upon truce.

Jaysh Al-Fateh and the regime’s forces reached an agreement for a cessation of hostilities between them in  September last year in the city of Zibdani, Damascus which the regime’s troops tried to invade by launching a large military campaign that lasted three months. This coincided with a similar truce in the towns of Kefraya and Fua which were blockaded by Jaysh Al-Fateh in an attempt to invade the two towns.

The opposition believes that the escalation of bombing to include civilian areas, markets, mosques and hospitals in Idlib aims to force civilians to flee and leave major cities in a bid to replicate what happened in the northern Aleppo countryside.

Two Terrorist Bombings in Mukalla Leave Dozens Dead and Wounded

11 people were killed and 37 others injured in two suicide attacks that took place yesterday morning in Mukalla, the capital of Hadramaut province. Two car bombs went off at two different checkpoints near the western entrance to the city.

A Department of Health official in Mukalla Riad Al-Jariri said 4 civilians were killed, including a woman, and that the rest were soldiers, according to Agence France-Presse.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the bombings and confirmed this via their Twitter accounts. The first explosion took place in Al-Ghaber area, and the second took place in Burum, southwest of Mukalla.

A military source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the explosions resulted in the deaths of five army soldiers including the commander of the Burum checkpoint Colonel Salih Saif. 37 others were injured, including seven citizens who were on board a minibus heading to the province Aden when the explosion took place. All those injured were taken to Ibn Sina General Hospital in Mukalla for treatment. The hospital is 20 kilometres away from the sites of the bombings.

The source added that it is thought that the two cars laden with explosives came from the Shabwa province, a large part of which is controlled by Al-Qaeda. The perpetrators intended to target crowds of civilians in Mukalla, but they were forced to detonate the bombs at the check points when they failed to cross the security barrier of Mukalla.

Istanbul Terror Attack Raises Question of Where Airport Screening Should Start

Istanbul terror attack again raises question of where airport screening should start. Getty Images

The Washington Post

Washington- Tuesday’s terrorist attack on Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul has again has renewed the debate among security experts about whether the United States should widen the security perimeter beyond the airport terminal.

As with the March 22 attack on Brussels’ airport, the Istanbul strike focused security officials on the daunting challenge of trying to secure transportation hubs and other public spaces without unduly impeding travel and business.

Some have suggested that the Transportation Security Administration should explore ways to screen passengers and luggage offsite, perhaps in satellite parking lots or access roads, as it’s done in Israel and some conflict zones, or at least at the entrance to the terminal.

“That’s one of the possibilities,” former TSA administrator John S. Pistole said. “There’s got to be a start to the outer limit of security, and wherever that it is, it’s the initial point of vulnerability.”

Others argue that layering on more security might just create more inconvenience than additional safety.

A wider perimeter requires additional resources to keep it secure, and a confrontation can only be pushed back so far and for so long: wherever there’s a checkpoint, there’s usually a crowded line, and nothing is as vulnerable to mass casualties as a crowd.

It turns out that Turkey was screening passengers at the entrances of its airport.

Pistole, a former FBI agent who was credited with transforming the TSA into an agency that took a more proactive role identifying terrorist threats, said under his tenure that the agency periodically reviewed the feasibility of screening beyond the

airport terminal, but that such a strategy also had to be weighed against budget constraints and creating additional obstacles for business and passengers.

“You can assume, in short, all possible options are being explored right now,” Pistole said.

A spokesman for the TSA referred questions to the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA.

The DHS, through a spokesman, wouldn’t discuss whether the agencies were considering additional screening before passengers enter terminals other than to say that the “DHS and our partners routinely adapt both seen and unseen security measures in order to counter evolving threats.”

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson on Thursday told a Senate panel that DHS has enhanced security at the nation’s airports since the Belgium attack.

The New York Times on Friday asked, “Does More Security at Airports Make Us Safer or Just Move the Targets?” The article noted that Istanbul’s airport had more layers of protection than U.S. airports, including metal detectors for luggage and passengers as they enter the terminal.

The paper, citing Turkish officials, reported that the attackers tried to enter the building but were turned away at the security screening.

They then retrieved firearms from their suitcases and returned; two of them then took advantage of the chaos to enter the terminal, the paper says.

In an interview on NPR’s “Here & Now,” former DHS security adviser Fran Townsend acknowledged that terrorists have demonstrated an ability to modify their tactics whenever new security measures are added. But she also suggested that identifying and engaging with attackers further from an enclosed space makes sense.

“So, in the example of Turkey, they do have a preliminary screening right as you come in through the main door. Every time you harden, and push out your preliminary screening point, they find other vulnerability,” Townsend said.

“The Turkish response, the law enforcement response there, was very quick. The numbers could have been much worse.”

Townsend also said the latest attack should prompt a reappraisal of security around “soft targets” such as shopping malls, perhaps by using metal detectors at the entrances, despite the potential risk of creating lines at those checkpoints that are vulnerable.

“The risk on the other side is you have them in an enclosed area where the blast effect of a bomb inside an enclosed area is more lethal. Thus, these are constant trade-offs,” she said.

She also called for a dose of realism: “You have to come to grips with the idea in a free and open society and public spaces, they’re never 100 percent secure. We can take measures to mitigate these risks, but you’re never going to get it to zero,” Townsend said in the radio interview.

There is one thing that will not make the airports safer, however.

That’s the suggestion by Donald Trump that if he were elected president he would consider ordering the removal of Muslim women who wear hijabs from the TSA.

That idea came from a Trump supporter during a New Hampshire campaign event, and the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee seemed to agree — and that’s just so wrong in so many ways that it doesn’t bear repeating further.

Terrorists Involved in Bombing Saudi Mosques Killed in Security Operation

The Saudi Ministry of Interior revealed yesterday that an operation carried out by security forces in the Makkah region resulted in two terrorists being killed and two others blowing themselves up. It has become clear that the four terrorists were part of a cell involved in the bombing of five mosques in eastern and southern Arabia.

Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour Al-Turki explained that the security services swooped on and besieged the terrorist cell’s hideout which was located in Wadi Noman between the holy city of Makkah and the city of Taif in the Makkah province. This led to two terrorists being killed and two others blowing themselves up with suicide belts. After searching the cell’s hideout, special security forces defused 15 explosive devices that were found there, and seized four guns, two pistols, safes and a wide range of ammunition.

Informed sources that Asharq Al-Awsat spoke to suggested that previous operations carried out by security forces revealed the existence of a cluster of cells that ISIS is preparing. This is contrary to the “lone wolves” who have previously operated in the region.

Meanwhile, the Makkah Region Police announced the “martyrdom” of one of its employees who used to work at the Al-Qaree police station in the province of Taif. Corporal Khalaf bin Lafi Al-Harithi was killed whilst he was working at the police station on Thursday night, and police said that he was shot at by an unknown source which resulted in his “martyrdom”. Police did not disclose whether the murder was a criminal act or a terrorist one that targeted security officials after they swooped on the terrorist cell hideout in Wadi Noman.

Bahrain Condemns a Five-Member Terrorist Ring for Trafficking Explosives

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa during the 31st GCC summit in Abu Dhabi, December 6, 2010.Reuters

Manama- Bahraini judiciary issued a life sentence, yesterday, for five Bahraini citizens who were convicted of forming a terrorist ring which works on trafficking explosive materials. One of the convicts is currently on the loose outside the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Acting public prosecution representative for crimes of terrorism Hamad al-Bouainain said that the fourth supreme criminal court has issued, yesterday, a life sentence concerning the five suspects for importing and possessing fireworks and for the conspiring to conduct a terrorist attack.

Details on exposing the terrorist ring reveal that a suitcase was confiscated containing explosive bomb-making material. A minor male was holding the suitcase while taking a tourist bus coming in from Iraq on the 15th of March 2015. He was later apprehended at the King Fahd Causeway.

After conducting intense investigations, the department of criminal investigation has arrived to a fifth suspect, who is now wanted for a number of suits on terrorist attacks, Al-Bouainain added. The fifth convict is on the run and currently resides in Iraq, he is also taking advantage of using his relatives for rustling explosive materials and high-end fireworks into Bahrain for terrorist attacks.

Al-Bouainain also said that the relatives were completely aware of the ongoing trafficking and were deliberately providing assistance with the process. After investigations were run by the first suspect, a driver of a touristic vehicle traveling back and forth to Iraq meeting with the fifth suspect, evidence show that the two had agreed on exploiting the minor suspect for smuggling in the explosive material inside his personal suitcase which was later apprehended. The two had depended on the minor’s young age as to avert any rising suspicions.

After safely arriving inside Bahrain the young male would then hand over the explosive material to other accomplices waiting on the other side.

Investigations reveal that the suspect number two in the trafficking suit has smuggled the material from Iraq into Bahrain during last December, using the same bus and handing over the material to suspect number four. Directions were being given by the suspect number five. As for suspect number three, he would also smuggle in the explosive material under the directions of suspect number five and would receive the illegal material from suspect number four.

Based on investigations, the department was capable of arresting the suspects, in addition to –using a search warrant- sweeping a private shop owned by suspect number three, Al-Bouainain said. Explosive material, bomb-making tools and Taser guns were found at the shop.

Indonesian Capital Rocked by Explosions

Indonesian Capital Rocked by Explosions
Indonesian Capital Rocked by Explosions

A series of explosions has rocked the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, with gun battles on the streets. Up to seven blasts and multiple gunfights hit the Indonesian capital Jakarta, today.

The blasts were centered on Thamrin Street, a major shopping and business district close to foreign embassies and the United Nations’ offices.

Details remain unclear, but at least one of the blasts hit a Starbucks cafe and a police security post.

Police said that suicide bombings resulted in the death of five attackers and two civilians, and twenty people were injured, including five police officers.

Police spokesman, Anton Charliyan, told journalists: “We have previously received a threat from Islamic State that Indonesia will be the spotlight”.

Moreover, ISIS said it carried out the attacks as an ISIS-linked news agency attributed to the terror group.

Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, described the attacks as an “act of terror”. “We all are grieving for the fallen victims of this incident, but we also condemn the act that has disturbed the security and peace and spread terror among our people,” he said.

He also said in a statement on television: “We shouldn’t be afraid; we shouldn’t be defeated by this act of terror.”