Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Al-Qaeda 'Afghan number two' Abdul Ghani killed - Nato

US marines in Helmand province on April 25, 2011 Nato says more than 100 al-Qaeda members are still in Afghanistan
International forces in Afghanistan say they have killed their number two insurgent target in the country - senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Ghani.
The Saudi citizen died in an air strike almost two weeks ago in Kunar province, near Pakistan, Nato-led forces said.
Abdul Ghani, also known as Abu Hafs al-Najdi, ran training camps and planned attacks on tribal leaders and foreigners, the Nato statement said.
Nato estimates some 100 al-Qaeda members still operate in Afghanistan.
The alliance says it has killed more than 25 al-Qaeda leaders and fighters in the past month. There is no independent confirmation of the claim.
Abdul Ghani has been blamed for a number of high-profile attacks - including the death of Malik Zarin, a tribal leader in the east who was a close ally of President Hamid Karzai.
Mr Zarin and nine other people were killed in a suicide attack on the morning of the militant leader's own death.
Abdul Ghani is also accused of mounting attacks against foreigners, including US officials.
The International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said Abdul Ghani controlled a network of insurgents that targeted security forces outposts throughout Kunar province.
"Abdul Ghani commonly instructed subordinate leaders to conduct kidnapping operations against foreigners... and he was responsible for directing suicide bomb attacks targeting US government officials," Isaf's statement said.
Nato has been pursuing him since 2007. He is also number 23 on a Saudi list of most wanted militants.
Huge manhunt

Afghan prison escapes

  • June 2008: More than 900 prisoners escape from Sarposa prison in Kandahar after a suicide bomber blasted open the gates
  • July 2010: 19 prisoners escape after a blast at a prison in Farah province
  • November 2009: 12 prisoners escape after tunnelling out of a jail from their cells in Farah
Separately, Afghan officials say they have recaptured 65 of the more than 470 prisoners who escaped from Kandahar prison on Sunday night. Most were Taliban fighters.
The authorities in Kandahar said a massive manhunt was launched by Isaf and Afghan security forces immediately after the escape, which had "massive civilian support and positive results".
However, the BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Kabul says the escape is a further setback for security in the area, and for the fight against the insurgency.
A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai described the escape as a "disaster" which should never have happened.
Nato forces are preparing for the long process of withdrawal from Afghanistan. The first stage of that process is the transfer of security powers to local forces from July.

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