Taleban execute 13 civilians in Afghanistan

Updated 31 August 2013
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Taleban execute 13 civilians in Afghanistan

HERAT, Afghanistan: The Afghan Taleban executed 13 Afghan workers in two provinces after accusing them of working for the government, officials said on Tuesday, the latest in a series of brutal attacks on civilians this year.
The Taleban are increasingly targeting civilians seen to be cooperating with the government, raising concerns about the prospects for peace after most foreign troops pull out next year.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the killings with a swipe at Pakistan, which he has been visiting for two days.
“The killing of innocent engineers and workers shows that the Taleban and their foreign masters want Afghanistan to be a impoverished and underdeveloped country forever,” he said in apparent reference to Islamabad, among others, which he has often accused of playing a double game in the 12-year-old war.
Karzai on Monday stressed the need for Pakistan’s help in arranging peace talks with the Taleban in a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
In Herat, one of Afghanistan’s most stable provinces whose small but promising private sector is driving the national economy, the Taleban kidnapped and killed four engineers and two workers on Sunday, Governor Fazlullah Wahidi said.
The men, four engineers and two trainers and all Afghan, worked for a World Bank-funded program created by the Karzai government that aims to improve local project management.
“We had gathered some elders to meet the Taleban to tell them that they ... worked for everyone in the country, but the Taleban killed them before they arrived for negotiations,” Wahidi said.
The killings came within hours of the discovery of the bodies of six Afghans in the restive eastern province of Paktia. The six, all drivers, were killed by Taleban because they were working with the government, deputy provincial governor Abdul Wali Sehee said.
Elections are expected to be held in Afghanistan in April to replace Karzai, who came to power in 2001 after US-led forces toppled the Taleban.
Taleban executions of workers associated with the Karzai administration or the international community are not rare, but recent attacks have typically occurred in the restive eastern and southern parts of the country.
About two weeks ago, eight people who worked for Afghan security forces were executed in violent Ghazni on their way to Kabul by bus.
Meanwhile, security officials say Pakistani Taleban fighters have attacked an army camp near the Afghan border, killing at least one soldier.
The officials said Tuesday that four militants tried to enter the camp in Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal area around midnight, triggering a shootout with soldiers. Three militants were shot and killed and the fourth, wearing an explosive-rigged vest, blew himself up.
There were conflicting reports about the death toll. One set of security officials said one soldier was killed, while another said two soldiers died and nine were wounded.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with military policy.
A Taleban spokesman, Asimullah Mehsud, claimed responsibility for the attack.


Philippine president bolsters security, defense ties with Malaysia

Updated 16 July 2018
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Philippine president bolsters security, defense ties with Malaysia

  • Both Southeast Asian leaders have a dented human rights reputation globally although Mahathir has softened his strongman outlook
  • Piracy and armed robbery against ships remains an ongoing issue for leaders in Southeast Asia as oil and supplies worth billions are lost at sea each year

KUALA LUMPUR: President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reaffirmed to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation when they met for the first time in Putrajaya on Monday.

The meeting took place at the Malaysian Prime Minister’s office, where both strongmen “renewed and reaffirmed the long-standing brotherhood and friendship between the Philippines and Malaysia.”

“President Duterte likewise renewed the commitment to further strengthen defense and security cooperation at the bilateral and regional level,” according to a statement from Duterte’s office.

The two neighbors have enjoyed a good relationship despite the change of government in Malaysia, as the over-60-year rule by the National Front coalition ended abruptly during Malaysia’s elections on May 9.

Both Southeast Asian leaders have a dented human rights reputation globally, although Mahathir has softened his strongman outlook since he was put in power for the second time in May.

The newly formed government led by the world’s oldest leader, Mahathir Mohamad, has vowed to restore the “rule of law” in Malaysia.

Duterte pointed out in his statement “the need to address terrorism and violent extremism in the region, as well as transnational crime such as piracy and armed robbery at sea and the illegal drug trade.”

Piracy and armed robbery against ships in the region remains an ongoing issue for leaders in Southeast Asia as oil and supplies worth billions are lost at sea each year.

Southeast Asia has become a hotbed for Daesh-inspired terrorist activities and threats, and Duterte and Mahathir reaffirmed the need to boost the security and defense ties of both nations in the Southeast Asia region.

Malaysia’s state of Sabah is facing kidnapping threats from the Mindanao-based Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.

In 2017, a large-scale kidnapping plan in Sabah and Central Philippines was uncovered by military intelligence.

The same year, Marawi was under siege from Daesh-inspired militants. The Philippines declared Marawi “liberated” from terrorism. The aftermath cost 1,000 lives with more than 350,000 people in the city displaced.

Meanwhile, Malaysia played an important role when it became the third-party broker of a long-awaited peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014.

“President Duterte expressed appreciation for Malaysia’s sustained support for the quest for the just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao,” his official statement said.

Both leaders stressed the need toward “working closely together bilaterally and at ASEAN” in a region of more than 500 million where “greater stability and security in the region” is of the utmost importance.

The two countries are quietly in a land-lock over an 1878 land lease agreement on Sabah since the Federation of Malaysia was officially formed in 1963. Nevertheless, the Philippines’ long-standing claims over Sabah were off the plate during the bilateral discussion between Duterte and Mahathir.

On Sunday night before the meeting, both strongmen enjoyed watching the fight between Philippines’ world-renowned boxer Manny Pacquiao and Argentina’s fighter Lucas Matthysse.