Afghanistan: Policewoman who killed American is Iranian

Updated 26 December 2012
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Afghanistan: Policewoman who killed American is Iranian

KABUL, Afghanistan: The policewoman who killed an American contractor in Kabul is a native Iranian who came to Afghanistan and displayed “unstable behavior” but no known links to militants, an Interior Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.
The policewoman, identified as Sgt. Nargas, shot 49-year-old Joseph Griffin, of Mansfield, Georgia, on Monday, in the first such shooting by a woman in a spate of insider attacks by Afghans against their foreign allies. Nargas walked into a heavily-guarded compound in the heart of Kabul, confronted Griffin and gunned him down with a single pistol bullet.
The US-based security firm DynCorp. International said on its website that Griffin was a US military veteran who earlier worked with law enforcement agencies in the United States. In Kabul, he was under contract to the NATO military command to advise the Afghan police force.
Insider killings have eroded the trust between the foreign contingent and the Afghan government, just a year before most NATO troops are set to withdraw and turn security responsibility over to local forces.
The ministry spokesman, Sediq Sediqi, told a news conference that Nargas, who uses one name like many in the country, was born in Tehran, where she married an Afghan. She moved to the country 10 years ago after her husband obtained fake documents enabling her to live and work there.
A mother of four in her early 30s, she joined the police five years ago, held various positions and had a clean record, he said. Sediqi produced an Iranian passport which he said was found at her home.
“Her mental condition is not good,” he said, describing her behavior as “unstable.” He said that after she attended a recent training course in Egypt a “foreign government” — a clear reference to Egypt — informed Afghan authorities that she did not appear to be “normal.”
On Monday, senior Afghan officials said the policewoman was licensed to carry the weapon into the compound and was well known there. On Tuesday, however, the chief investigator, Gen. Mohammad Zahir, told reporters that she was not authorized to carry weapons into the compound but managed to pass through security checks with a hidden pistol. Zahir said the lapse of security was also being investigated, as well as whether she had connections with foreign or local militant groups.
No militant group has claimed responsibility for the killing.
Zahir said that during interrogation, the policewoman said she had plans to kill either the Kabul governor, city police chief or Zahir himself, but when she realized that penetrating the last security cordons to reach them would be too difficult, she saw “a foreigner” and turned her weapon on him.
On Monday, NATO said that “some temporary, prudent measures” might be put into place to lessen exposure of NATO personnel to insider attacks, but the training of Afghan police would not be stopped. The NATO command had no additional comment on the case Tuesday.
There have been 60 insider attacks this year against foreign military and civilian personnel, compared to 21 in 2011. This surge presents another looming security issue as NATO prepares to pull out almost all of its forces by 2014, turning the war against the Taleban and other militant groups largely in the hands of the Afghans.
More than 50 Afghan members of the government’s security forces also have died this year in attacks by their own colleagues. The Taleban claims such incidents reflect a growing popular opposition to the foreign military presence and the Kabul government.


Former guerilla set to be sworn in as East Timor leader

Updated 22 June 2018
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Former guerilla set to be sworn in as East Timor leader

DILI, East Timor: East Timor will swear in a new government led by former guerilla fighter Taur Matan Ruak Friday following a protracted political crisis that has paralyzed the tiny Southeast Asian nation.
Ruak will head the second government in less than a year in the impoverished half-island nation that won independence in 2002 after a brutal 24-year occupation by neighboring Indonesia.
Born Jose Maria Vasconcelos but universally known by his nom de guerre Taur Matan Ruak — which means “Two sharp eyes” — was a commander in the East Timorese resistance before becoming chief of the newly independent nation’s army.
He also served in the largely ceremonial role of president between 2012 and 2017.
Parliament was dissolved in January amid tensions between former prime minister Mari Alkatiri’s minority government and an opposition centered around independence hero Xanana Gusmao.
An alliance led by Gusmao clinched an absolute majority in elections held in May.
Ruak’s new government includes members of Gusmao’s National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction, the People’s Liberation Party and the youth-based Khunto.
The incoming administration will face big challenges, especially as the clock is ticking fast on East Timor’s disappearing oil and gas reserves.
The resources pay for the bulk of government spending but oil revenues are in steep decline and the country has few other productive economic sectors.
About 60 percent of East Timor’s population is under 25, according to the World Bank, while some 40 percent of its people live in poverty.
Providing jobs for young people and reining in public spending — especially on large infrastructure projects — will be key tasks for the new government, analysts say.