Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

Plane Crashes in Afghanistan with 43 on Board

May 17, 2010

17/05/2010 An Afghan passenger plane carrying 43 people in an internal flight between Kunduz and Kabul has crashed Monday in bad weather in mountainous area of northern Afghanistan. It was not immediately clear whether there were any survivors.

The government said the aircraft lost radio contact in the Hindu Kush mountains about 30 kilometers from the capital. It was carrying 38 passengers and five crew, said interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary. Six passengers were foreigners.

“I can confirm that a Pamir Airways plane has crashed over the Salang mountains with 38 passengers and five crew members on board,” Bashary said.
The Antonov 24, which is a Soviet-made turboprop plane, crashed because of bad weather, said Yalda Natiq, director of communications at the Afghan transport ministry.

According to a passenger list obtained by AFP from the Pamir Airways office in Kunduz, six foreigners, including a woman, boarded the plane. There were 35 men and three women, according to the name list.
The Afghan authorities said the nationalities of the foreigners were unclear. The US embassy was “investigating” their identities, a spokesman said.
The Afghan government dispatched a team to the mountains to find the wreckage and search for survivors.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it was assisting, but that poor weather made the search difficult.
“A manned ISAF fixed-wing aircraft has been dispatched to the last known position of the missing plane. However, the poor weather conditions in the area are hampering the aerial search,” the military said.
“Two ISAF helicopters are en route to the area. Other ISAF helicopters are also on standby… to assist in any rescue effort,” it said.

Source: www.almanar.com

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Blast hits Iraq football match

May 15, 2010

Aljazeera.net

May 14, 2010

Suicide bombers have struck a football match in northern Iraq, leaving at least 25 people dead and many more wounded.

The blast targeted a game taking place in the town of Tal Afar, around 60km west of the city of Mosul.

A local police official said a car bomb exploded at about 6pm local time (1500GMT) near a crowd of spectators.

As people fled the scene of the first blast, two more bombers activated explosive belts in the crowd, other sources said.

Local hospital officials put the number of injured at 125.

“Many people were gathered to watch the match,” Hussein Nashad, who witnessed the attack, told the AFP news agency. “We heard a loud explosion and the people behind me shielded me from the shrapnel.

“I ran away, but then I heard someone shout ‘Allahu-akbar’ (God is greatest), and then there was another explosion,” he said, speaking from hospital where he was being treated for shock.

‘Dark days’

Many of the wounded were taken by ambulance to Dahuk, 95km away, because local hospitals were unable to cope with the influx of wounded spectators.

Tal Afar is a predominantly Shia Turkomen town and has been a regular target for suicide bombers in the past.

Speaking from Baghdad, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr said that the area is a former al-Qaeda stronghold. “There was no claim of responsibility for the Tal Afar attack but authorities are pointing the finger at al-Qaeda,” she said.

Friday’s attacks follow blasts in the city last October and July that left dozens of people dead. In March 2007, 152 people were killed when truck bombs targeted markets in the town.

The violence came as the new leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq said that a campaign of attacks against the country’s Shia community was under way, warning the community that “dark days soaked with blood” lay ahead.

Al-Nasser Lideen Allah Abu Suleiman was named as the group’s new ‘minister of war’ earlier on Friday.

The bombing comes as Iraq reels from a series of co-ordinated attacks carried out in 10 cities on Monday which left 119 people dead.

There are fears that the political deadlock following Iraq’s inconclusive election two months ago is fuelling a new wave of sectarian violence.


:: Article nr. 65994 sent on 15-may-2010 00:03 ECT
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Link: english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/05/2010514161932327374.html

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Afghan civilian shot dead during protest against NATO over killing civilians

May 15, 2010

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Afghans said between nine and 15 civilians had been killed in the overnight raid [Reuters]

Afghans angry at ‘civilian deaths’

May 14, 2010

One person has been shot dead by police as hundreds of protesters took to the streets in eastern Afghanistan, accusing Nato-led forces of killing civilians during an overnight raid near the city of Jalalabad.

Angry Afghans set fire to tyres and blocked roads in the Surkh Road district of Nangahar province on Friday, demanding an explanation for the deaths.

Witnesses told Al Jazeera that between nine and 15 civilians had been killed in the Nato attack. Mohammed Arish, a government administrator in Surkh Rod, said a father and his four sons and four members of another family were among the dead.

“They are farmers. They are innocent. They are not insurgents or militants,” Arish told The Associated Press by phone.

Arish said the protesters had tried to march toward the provincial capital of Jalalabad before being turned back by police.

The Nangahar governor’s office said at least three people were injured during a clash with police.

‘Taliban firefight’

A Nato spokesman confirmed foreign and Afghan forces had conducted some operations in the area but said he was not aware of any civilian deaths and the alliance was checking the incident.

“Nato and Isaf said they were targeting Taliban sub-commanders and some fighters which their intelligence said were hiding in a compound outside a village”

Hoda Abdel Hamid, Al Jazeera correspondent

Colonel Wayne Shanks said eight Taliban fighters were killed in a firefight, adding that fighters fired rocket-propelled grenades at Nato forces.

Two other people were captured during the operation, and weapons and communications gear were confiscated at the targeted compound, Shanks said.

Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel Hamid reporting from Kabul said international forces and Afghan troops were flown to the area by helicopters overnight and carried out the raid.

“According to a Nato and Isaf [International Security Assistance Force] statement they were targeting Taliban sub-commanders and some fighters which their intelligence said were hiding in a compound outside a village.

“But the villagers said none of those killed had anything to do with the Taliban, that all of them were innocent civilians and members of two different families.”

Sensitive issue

Civilian deaths at the hands of US and Nato forces are a highly sensitive issue in Afghanistan.

Last year public outrage over such deaths led General Stanley McChrystal, the Nato commander, to tighten the rules on combat if civilians are at risk.

He also ordered allied forces to avoid night raids when possible and bring Afghan troops with them if they do enter homes after dark.

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, discussed the issue in meetings with US officials in Washington this week. He has previously sought a complete ban on night raids.

“Civilian casualties is not only a political problem … I don’t want civilian casualties,” Barack Obama, the US president, said on Wednesday after meeting Karzai.

“I take no pleasure in reading a report where there is a civilian casualty. That’s not why I am president, that’s not why I am commander in chief.”

Last year was the deadliest for Afghan civilians since the war started in 2001, according to the United Nations.

Afghan officials say about 170 Afghan civilians were killed between the months of March and April this year alone, an increase of 33 per cent compared to the same period last year.



:: Article nr. 65996 sent on 15-may-2010 00:26 ECT
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Link: english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/05/201051473815983930.html

Aljazeera.net

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