Posts Tagged ‘attack’

US Drone Strike Kills Eight Civilians in South Waziristan

April 20, 2009
Women, Children Killed in Series of Explosions Set Off by Air Strike

by Jason Ditz | Antiwar.com,  April 19, 2009

This morning, a US drone attacked an apparent militant hideout in Pakistan’s South Waziristan Agency, triggering a massive series of explosions which local residents eight civilians, including women and children, and injuring at least two others.

Reports on the attack are still not totally clear, with local police insisting first that no one was killed at all in the attack, which evidently started a fire which spread to two explosive-laden vehicles.  Militants cordoned off the area, but it does not appear that any of them were present at the time of the attack.

The attack came just one day after the local Ahmedzai Wazir tribe managed to negotiate a ceasefire across the troubled agency. The Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the government forces in the agency agreed to stop attacks, and certain demands of the TTP, including the removal of checkpoints, were reportedly being considered. It is unclear what impact the US attack will have on this deal.

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Israeli Voices for Peace

January 8, 2009

Amy Goodman | Truthdig – Reports, January 6, 2008

Israel’s assault on Gaza, by air, sea and now land, has killed (at the time of this writing) more than 600 Palestinians, with more than 2,700 injured. Ten Israelis have been killed, three of them Israeli soldiers killed by friendly fire. Beyond the deaths and injuries, the people of Gaza are suffering a dire humanitarian crisis that is dismissed by the Israeli government. There is, however, Israeli opposition to the military assault.

Israeli professor Neve Gordon is chair of the department of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in southern Israel, the region most impacted by the Hamas rockets.

Speaking over the phone from Beersheba, Gordon said: “We just had a rocket about an hour ago not far from our house. My two children have been sleeping in a bomb shelter for the past week. And yet, I think what Israel is doing is outrageous. … The problem is that most Israelis say Israel left the Gaza Strip three years ago and Hamas is still shooting rockets at us. They forget the details. The detail is that Israel maintains sovereignty. The detail is that the Palestinians live in a cage. The detail is that they don’t get basic foodstuff, that they don’t get electricity, that they don’t get water. And when you forget those kinds of details, all you say is, ‘Why are they still shooting at us?’ That’s what the media here has been pumping them with, then you think this war is rational. If you look at what’s been going on in the Gaza Strip in the past three years and you see what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians, you would think that the Palestinian resistance is rational. And that’s what’s missing in the mainstream media here.”

Gordon attended a large peace march last weekend in Tel Aviv with more than 10,000 other Israelis. Longtime Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery was there. He called the invasion “a criminal war, because, on top of everything else it is openly and shamelessly part of Ehud Barak’s and Tzipi Livni’s election campaign. I accuse Ehud Barak of exploiting the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers in order to get more Knesset seats. I accuse Tzipi Livni of advocating mutual slaughter in order to become prime minister.” Israel’s elections will be in February.

The assault strengthens right-wing Likud Party leader and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a foremost hawk and leading candidate for prime minister. While Netanyahu fully supports the attack on Gaza, his nephew, Jonathan Ben-Artzi, is an Israeli conscientious objector who was court-martialed and imprisoned for a year and a half. He spoke to me from Providence, R.I., where he is a student at Brown University.

“I’m speaking … not as anyone’s nephew but … as an Israeli, trying to speak out to Americans to tell them you don’t have to support Israel blindly. Not everything that Israel does is holy … sometimes you have to speak firmly to Israel and tell us, tell our government, stop doing this.”

Gideon Levy is a Jewish journalist with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. He told me: “I think that Israel had this legitimacy to protect its citizens in the southern part of Israel … but this doing something does not mean this brutal and violent operation. … I believe we could have got to a new truce without this bloodshed. Immediately to send dozens of jets to bomb a total helpless civilian society with hundreds of bombs—just today, they were burying five sisters. I mean, this is unheard of. This cannot go on like this.”

But it is. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, in Gaza opened up schools to provide shelter, since Gazans, trapped in this narrow strip of land, have no place to flee. Christopher Gunness of UNRWA told me that the agency provided the coordinates of the schools to the Israeli military. Nevertheless, at least two schools have been hit by Israeli strikes in the past 24 hours. Three people were killed at the Asma elementary school. More than 30 are reported dead and more than 55 injured at the al-Fakhura school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza.

While Israeli planes drop pamphlets urging Palestinians to leave, the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip, perhaps the most densely populated place on Earth, have no place to run, no place to hide. Calls for an immediate cease-fire are ignored by Israel and blocked by the U.S. government. It is not clear what the Obama administration will do—but the people of Gaza can’t wait until the inauguration. There must be a cease-fire now. And that’s just the beginning.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

© 2009 Amy Goodman

Israeli academic injured in bomb blast

September 27, 2008

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

The Independent, Thursday, 25 September 2008

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One of Israel’s leading centre-left academics was injured early today when a pipe bomb blew up outside his home in an attack which police suspect was the work of Jewish extreme right-wing extremists.

The victim of the attack was Professor Zeev Sternhell, a Holocaust survivor and recent winner of the prestigious Israel prize, who has long opposed Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories.

Police said they had found fliers in the area of the attack offering 1.1m shekels (£173,000) to anyone who kills a member of the long established organisation Peace Now, of which Mr Sternhell is a veteran member.

The professor was in hospital tonight with minor shrapnel wounds in one of his legs. Police said that the explosive had been planted on the doorstep of his Jerusalem home and was detonated when he opened the door.

Tzipi Livni, foreign minister and the prospective Prime Minister, said that the attack was “intolerable” and could not be glossed over. Ehud Barak, the Labour leader and Defence Minister also strongly condemned the attack “from a dark corner” of Israeli society against a “very gifted person who never shies away from expressing his opinion.”

In a statement which coupled condemnation of the attack on Professor Sternhell with a reference to the apparently growing instances of settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, Peace Now said: “Those who don’t enforce the law on violent settlers… will find himself with a Jewish terror organization in the heart of Israel.”

In contrast with the West Bank, political violence by right wing extremists inside Israel has been relatively rare-with the notable exception of the assassination of the then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv in 1995. Another extremist killed a member of Peace Now with a grenade at a 1983 peace protest.

US attack inside Pakistan threatens dangerous new war

September 6, 2008

Global Research, September 5, 2008

A ground assault by US Special Forces troops on a Pakistani village on Wednesday threatens to expand the escalating Afghanistan war into its neighbour. Pakistan is already confronting a virtual civil war in its tribal border regions as the country’s military, under pressure from Washington, seeks to crush Islamist militias supporting the anti-occupation insurgency inside Afghanistan.

The attack, which left up to 20 civilians dead, marks a definite escalation of US operations inside Pakistan. While US Predator drones and war planes have been used previously to bomb targets, Wednesday’s raid was the first clear case of an assault by American ground troops inside Pakistani territory. The White House and Pentagon have refused to comment on the incident but various unnamed US officials have acknowledged to the media that the raid took place and indicated that there could be more to come.

The attack was unprovoked. US troops landed by helicopter in the village of Jalal Khei in South Waziristan at around 3 a.m. and immediately targetted three houses. The engagement lasted for about 30 minutes and left between 15 and 20 people dead, including women and children.

A US official acknowledged to CNN that there may have been women and children in the immediate vicinity but when the mission began “everyone came out firing from the compound”. Even this flimsy justification for a naked act of aggression is probably a lie. “It was very terrible as all of the residents were killed while asleep,” a villager Din Mohammad told the Pakistan-based International News.

The newspaper provided details of the dead and injured: nine family members of Faujan Wazir, including four women, two children and three men; Faiz Mohammad Wazir, his wife and two other family members; and Nazar Jan and his mother. Two other members of Nazar Jan’s family were seriously wounded.

The US and international media have described the Angoor Adda area around the village as “a known stronghold of the Taliban and Al Qaeda” but offered no evidence to support the claim. A villager, Jabbar Wazir, told the International News: “All of those killed were poor farmers and had nothing to do with the Taliban.”

In comments to the International Herald Tribune, a senior Pakistani official branded the raid a “cowboy action” that had failed to capture or kill any senior Al Qaeda or Taliban leader. “If they had gotten anyone big, they would be bragging about it,” he commented.

The attack has provoked outrage in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement branding the attack as “a gross violation of Pakistan territory” and summoned US ambassador Anne Patterson to provide an explanation. North West Frontier Province (NWFP) governor Owais Ahmed Ghani declared that “the people expect that the armed forces of Pakistan would rise to defend the sovereignty of the country”. He put the number killed at 20.

Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said the raid was “completely counterproductive” and risked provoking an uprising even among those tribesmen who have previously supported the army’s operations in the border areas.

The International News reported: “Angry villagers later blocked the main road between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Angoor Adda by placing the bodies of their slain tribesmen on the road. They chanted slogans against the US and NATO military authorities for crossing the border without any provocation and killing innocent people.”

The US raid has compounded the political crisis inside Pakistan, where the selection of a new president is due to take place tomorrow. The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has been engaged in a delicate balancing act—continuing to support US demands for a crackdown by the Pakistani military along the border with Afghanistan, while trying to defuse widespread anger and fend off accusations that it is a US puppet.

Reaffirming his support for the Bush administration’s bogus “war on terror”, PPP presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari declared in a column in yesterday’s Washington Post: “We stand with the United States, Britain, Spain and others who have been attacked.” Zardari went on to promise that he would ensure that Pakistani territory would not be used to launch raids on US and NATO forces inside Afghanistan.

However, as PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar explained, the US attack was politically compromising. “We have been very clear that any action on this side of the border must be taken by Pakistani forces themselves,” he told the Associated Press. “It is very embarrassing for the government. The people will start blaming the government of Pakistan.”

An expanded war

The decision to launch Wednesday’s attack was undoubtedly taken at the top levels of the White House and Pentagon. As the New York Times reported in articles earlier this year, a high-level debate has been taking place in Washington over the use of US Special Forces inside Pakistan as well as the intensification of existing CIA operations, which include Predator missile strikes.

A meeting in early January involved Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and top national security and intelligence officials advisers. According to the New York Times on January 6, options discussed included “loosening restrictions on the CIA to strike selected targets in Pakistan” and operations involving US Special Operations forces, such as the Navy Seals.

The Times reported on January 27 that then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf rejected proposals put by US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael Hayden for an expanded American combat presence in Pakistan, either through covert CIA missions or joint operations with Pakistani security forces. While apparently accepting the refusal, the US intensified pressure on Pakistan to bring its border areas under control.

As the anti-occupation insurgency has expanded in Afghanistan, claiming a growing number of US and NATO casualties, Pakistan has become a convenient scapegoat. Washington has repeatedly accused the Pakistani military of failing to suppress Islamist militia and alleged that Pakistani military intelligence is actively supporting anti-US guerrillas inside Afghanistan.

Admiral Mullen has held five meetings since February with his Pakistani counterpart, army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to press for tougher action. The most recent took place last weekend aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, stationed in the Arabian Sea. In comments to CNN, a US official “declined to say” whether there were any new agreements for US troops to operate inside Pakistani airspace or on the ground to attack Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Whether the Pakistani military quietly approved Wednesday’s attack or not, the Bush administration is making clear that it intends to extend the war into Pakistan. Citing top American officials, the New York Times reported on Wednesday that the raid “could be the opening salvo in a much broader campaign by Special Operations forces against the Taliban and Al Qaeda inside Pakistan, a secret plan that Defence Secretary Robert Gates has been advocating for months within President George W. Bush’s war council”.

This utterly reckless policy, which risks the eruption of a US war against Pakistan, is bipartisan in character. In fact, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has repeatedly declared his support for broadening the “war on terror” through unilateral US attacks on insurgents based inside Pakistan. His candidacy has been strongly backed by sections of the US establishment that have been critical of the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq for undermining US interests. Far from opposing aggressive US military action, Obama has become the political vehicle for shifting its focus to Afghanistan and Pakistan as the means of advancing US strategic interests in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

The US attack on the village of Jalal Khei is another demonstration that the shift in policy, with all its potentially catastrophic consequences, is already underway.


Peter Symonds is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
Global Research Articles by Peter Symonds


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