Taleban suicide bomber targets Kabul army bus
Taleban suicide bomber targets Kabul army bus
The bomber struck on a main street in the heavily secured Afghan capital, where the Taleban have already claimed responsibility for suicide attacks on the intelligence and traffic police headquarters this year.
Western officials say the trend reflects a shift in strategy, away from focusing on the US-led NATO combat mission which is due to withdraw next year to targeting Afghan forces preparing to take over.
“At around 7:10 a.m. (0240 GMT), a suicide attacker on foot detonated himself next to a military bus in third district of Kabul city, injuring six. They are members of the defense ministry and one civilian,” said police spokesman Hashmatullah Stanikzai.
A witness told the TOLO television channel that the bomber was carrying an umbrella to shield himself from snow.
“I was standing across the street when I saw a man holding an umbrella approach the army bus. He then slid under the bus. I thought he was the driver, but moments later the explosion happened,” he said.
A spokesman for the Taleban, which is leading an 11-year fight against the Western-backed government, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP that 17 personnel were killed and 17 or more seriously injured. The Taleban routinely exaggerate the death tolls from attacks they claim.
Among the nine attacks recorded by AFP in Afghanistan so far this year, only one of them, on January 25, targeted NATO troops, in the troubled eastern province of Kapisa. Five civilians were killed in that attack.
All the other attacks have targeted tribal elders, police or Afghan intelligence agents.
“Since the start of the year, the objective has mainly been Afghans, even if NATO remains a target,” a Western security official told AFP.
The Pentagon admitted Tuesday that NATO’s International Security Assistance Force had wrongly reported a seven percent decline in Taleban attacks last year, saying that the number was in fact roughly the same as in 2011.
“This is a regrettable error in our database systems that was discovered during a routine quality check. We are making the appropriate adjustments,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said.
The US government and NATO have repeatedly touted a purported drop in insurgent attacks as proof that the Taleban are on the retreat. The error raised questions about how governments and commanders are portraying the war effort.
The accurate number for insurgent attacks in 2012 showed the assaults had remained at the same level as in 2011, at more than 3,000, a US defense official said.
The United States and NATO have around 100,000 troops in Afghanistan but the vast majority will leave next year, with an estimated 352,000 NATO-trained Afghan police and soldiers taking over.
Rights court dismisses Breivik’s complaint about jail conditions
- Norwegian officials have repeatedly rejected allegations that Breivik is isolated, arguing that he is treated as a “VIP prisoner” and has regular contact with prison staff, his lawyer and visitors
- Breivik has the use of three cells, each measuring more than 10 square meters and equipped with a television, computer, DVD player and gym gear
STRASBOURG: The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday dismissed a complaint by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik over his prison conditions, ending a long-running saga that kept him in the public eye, tormenting his victims.
Breivik is serving a 21-year sentence for the July 2011 massacre of 77 people, most of them teenagers gunned down while attending a Labour Party youth camp on the small island of Utoeya.
The far-right, anti-Islam extremist took his case to the ECHR after Norway’s Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal last year against a ruling that his near-isolation in a three-room cell respected his human rights.
His lawyer argued that the prison conditions breached articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights: the former prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment, the latter guarantees a right to privacy and family life.
“His state (of mind) is deteriorating,” his lawyer Oystein Storrvik told AFP. “He is no longer able to study for example.”
But the court based in Strasbourg said that “its examination of the case did not reveal any violations of the Convention, and rejected the application as inadmissible for being manifestly ill-founded.”
Norwegian officials have repeatedly rejected allegations that Breivik is isolated, arguing that he is treated as a “VIP prisoner” and has regular contact with prison staff, his lawyer and visitors.
He has the use of three cells, each measuring more than 10 square meters and equipped with a television, computer, DVD player and gym gear. He has no Internet connection, however.
Survivors of the Utoeya massacre expressed satisfaction at the ruling.
“It’s a relief. We’re hoping not to hear his name again for many years to come,” Lisbeth Kristine Royneland, the head of a victims’ support group whose 18-year-old daughter was killed by Breivik, told AFP.
Writing on Twitter, a survivor of the massacre, Tore Remi Christensen, wrote: “The Breivik case is rejected in Strasbourg. Delighted. May he and all those who share his shitty message rot in hell.”
Breivik’s killing spree began on July 22, 2011, when he set off a bomb outside a government building in Oslo, killing eight people.
Disguised as a police officer and armed with a semi-automatic rifle and pistol, he then went to Utoya where the Labour Party was holding a youth camp, killing 69.
During his trial the extremist, who has changed his name to Fjotolf Hansen, repeatedly addressed the courts with Nazi salutes and complained about the cold coffee and frozen meals served in prison, among other things.
His sentence can be extended indefinitely if judges determine he remains a threat to society.