Taleban attack on Afghan NATO base kills 5

Updated 03 December 2012
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Taleban attack on Afghan NATO base kills 5

JALALABAD, Afghanistan: Taleban suicide attackers struck at a NATO base on an Afghan city airport at dawn yesterday, killing five people and wounding several foreign troops in a two-hour battle, officials said.
NATO helicopters went into action, firing on the insurgents as they tried to storm the base after two suicide car bombs hit the perimeter gate of the Jalalabad airport near the Pakistan border.
A total of eight attackers armed with rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons were killed, Afghan officials said.
The assault came as the usual summer fighting season should be drawing to a close, indicating that the insurgency remains resilient after surviving the biggest onslaught US-led forces will throw against them.
The last of the extra 33,000 soldiers President Barack Obama deployed in a “surge” nearly three years ago left in September, and the vast majority of the remaining NATO force of more than 100,000 will follow by the end of 2014.
One of the aims of the surge was to put so much pressure on the Taleban that they would come to the negotiating table, but the insurgents called off early contacts in March.
The hard-line Islamists have waged an 11-year insurgency against the Afghan government since being overthrown in a US-led invasion for harboring Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
The Taleban claimed its militants had managed to enter the base and caused heavy casualties but this was denied by NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
“Insurgents including suicide bombers attacked the perimeter of the Jalalabad air base this morning,” a spokesman said. “None of the attackers succeeded breaching the perimeter.
“I can confirm that there were helicopters involved in the coalition response to the attack.
“A number of ISAF forces were wounded,” he added, noting that it was ISAF policy not to disclose the toll of those injured.
The airport complex has multiple layers of security, with the NATO base set well back from the first entrance, which an Afghan official said had been breached.
Three Afghan guards were killed and 14 wounded, while two civilians also died and four others were injured, police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal said.
“First there was a car bombing next to the entrance followed by gun attack by the insurgents,” a senior Afghan security official said. “They couldn’t reach NATO forces and they were killed in the area between the first and second gates.” The Taleban claimed their militants had entered the airport and caused heavy casualties.
“First a fedayee (suicide bomber) mujahid... detonated a car bomb causing the enemy heavy casualties and losses and removed all the barriers,” the Taleban said on their website.
“After the attack other fedayee mujahids entered the base... and started attacking the invading forces in the base.” The interior ministry said in a statement that, “suicide attacks are an indication of weakness of the Taleban terrorists.

“These enemies of peace and stability must understand that such cowardly, un-Islamic and inhuman attacks can not deter Afghan security forces from serving the suffering Afghan nation.” The Jalalabad airport has come under attack on two previous occasions this year.
But the biggest attack on a coalition base this year came in September, when insurgents stormed Camp Bastion in the south, destroying six fighter aircraft in the largest single loss of air assets for the United States since the Vietnam War.


Turkish president Erdogan holds controversial election rally in Bosnia

Updated 18 min 59 sec ago
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Turkish president Erdogan holds controversial election rally in Bosnia

SARAJEVO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday addressed thousands of expatriate Turks in Sarajevo at his only election rally outside Turkey after other European countries banned such events.
The Bosnian capital was chosen for the event — ahead of Ankara’s presidential and parliamentary elections next month — after European Union states such as Germany, Austria and the Netherlands barred Turkish politicians from electioneering in their countries, stoking tensions between Ankara and Brussels.
Turkey is scheduled to go the polls on June 24, with three million expatriate Turks allowed to vote, including 1.4 million in Germany.
Several thousand people, according to an AFP reporter, converged on Sarajevo’s largest sports venue, Zetra, where the rally was held.
Many of the participants, who arrived from several European countries, including Germany, Austria, Denmark and France, were wearing scarves and banners carrying pictures of the Turkish leader, and waving Turkish flags.
Giant billboards welcomed Erdogan in Turkish and Bosnian.
Security for the event, the only one Erdogan will attend outside Turkey, was tight.
Despite the ban in other European countries, Bosnia had not been expected to stop Turkish politicians campaigning on its soil, given the close ties between Bosnian Muslim leader Bakir Izetbegovic and his SDA party and Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
According to Bosnian media, the AKP is also planning to open a representative office in Bosnia soon.
“Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) and “Sultan Erdogan” the crowd chanted as Erdogan arrived accompanied by Izetbegovic.
Erdogan urged Turkish diaspora to get involved in the politics of their adopted countries and take citizenship.
“I have one request from you, take an active role in the political parties in the countries you live (in),” he told the crowd during a nearly hour-long speech.
“You should take a place in those parliaments....”
Host Izetbegovic, who is also the Muslim member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, urged the crowd to vote for Erdogan labelling him a “man God sent to you.”
Nevertheless, Erdogan’s visit stirred controversy in Bosnia and support for it was not unanimous.
“Why hold a rally in Bosnia rather than in Turkey. Of course, I mind,” pensioner Spomenka Beus, 74, told AFP.
However, Muhamed Yanik, a 20-year-old student, said he had traveled 28 hours by bus from Germany to see Erdogan.
“If he says so, we will die for him,” Yanik said.
But others, such as theater director Dino Mustafic, felt Erdogan’s visit harked back to the colonial times of the Ottoman Empire, when the Balkans, notably Bosnia, were ruled by the Ottomans for more than four centuries until 1878.
The event would be an occasion for “poor local people to euphorically applaud their sultan,” he tweeted.
Bosnian Serb leader Milord Dodik accused the Turkish leader of “interfering” in Bosnia’s affairs.
But Erdogan said Turkey had “no hidden agenda.”
Turkey has excellent relations with Bosnia and Turkish companies have played a major role in the country’s reconstruction following its 1990s inter-ethnic war.
Erdogan has called snap presidential and parliamentary elections for June 24, bringing the polls forward by a year-and a half.
Half of Bosnia’s 3.5 million citizens are Muslims, a third are Serbs, while Croats make some 15 percent of the population.
The expatriate European vote is generally a source of support for Erdogan’s AKP and officials are keen to rouse a strong turnout in Europe.
The early election in Turkey is set to accelerate its transition to the new presidential system with full executive powers which critics fear will lead to a one-man rule.