Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Anti-Taliban Afghan tribal leader shot dead; Voice of America journalist shot dead by Taliban; Suicide car bomber slams into NATO military base

From the AP:
Assailants gunned down a prominent anti-Taliban tribal leader as he was praying in a mosque Tuesday in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, authorities said, the latest in a steady campaign of assassinations of pro-government officials.

Armed insurgents entered the mosque Tuesday morning and shot Mohammad Nahim Agha Mama... A Pashtun tribal leader and local council member of the province's Dand district, Nahim was well known in the province for urging his followers not to join the Taliban.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Taliban have killed hundreds of Afghan government officials and pro-government tribal leaders in recent years as part of wave of assassinations seeking to weaken confidence in President Hamid Karzai's administration.

The campaign has also targeted senior figures, including former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was killed in September by a suicide attacker with a bomb hidden in his turban.
Reuters reported on Rabban's assassination in September:
A Taliban suicide bomber on Tuesday killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, former Afghan president and head of a council tasked with trying to negotiate a political end to the war, in what analysts called a blow to [so-called] peace efforts...

"A Taliban member who went to Rabbani's house (in the heavily guarded diplomatic enclave) for peace talks detonated a bomb hidden in his turban," a statement by the Kabul police chief's office said...

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility, saying that the killer had gone to Rabbani's home for talks.

"As soon as Rabbani came three steps forward to hug Mohammad Masoom, he triggered his explosive-filled jacket killing Rabbani...," Mujahid said.
Regarding the latest assassination of Mohammad Nahim Agha Mama, the governor's office [said] in a statement that [Nahim] "was doing his best to bring peace and stability, and that's why the enemies are killing those people."

Also Tuesday, the AP reported that 'a suicide car bomber slammed into the entrance of a military base jointly run by NATO and Afghan troops in eastern Afghanistan, wounding three Afghan private security guards.'

In a related development, a Voice of America journalist was shot dead by the Taliban on Tuesday:
Islamist militants on Tuesday killed a Pakistan journalist who was working for an American government funded broadcasting service, according to police, a militant spokesman and a colleague.

Mukarram Khan Atif was shot in the head while praying in a mosque close to the city of Peshawar...

Atif was a reporter for Voice of America's Pashtu language Deewa radio station...

A spokesman for the Taliban called an Associated Press reporter to claim responsibility for the killing.

The spokesman said that militants had warned Atif a "number of times to stop anti-Taliban reporting, but he didn't do so. He finally met his fate."
Reporters working for VOA's Deewa and Mashaal services say the Pakistani Taliban have publicly threatened them for working for an American organization.