Three men were arrested in Norway in connection with a planned terrorist attack. The three men were suspected members of al-Qaida and therefore had been under surveillance for almost a year. Officials claim that the unnamed men were planning an attack with powerful portable bombs. Similar bombs were used in the failed suicide attack last year on the New York Subway system.
The man who planned that attack is also said to be behind the Norway plan as well. Salah al-Somali was al-Qaida’s chief of external operations, a title which meant that he was in charge of planning attacks worldwide. Al-Somali perished last year, thanks to an airstrike by a CIA drone. So far police have not been able identify the intended targets of the Norwegian bombers. They only know that the three men were engaged in making Peroxide bombs. The same bombs were also used in the New York attack.
Al-Qaida’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri, has put Norway on the list of counties to be attacked. But so far no clear reason has emerged for Norway to be a target for al-Qaida. A terrorism expert from the Swedish Defense Research Agency, Magnus Norell, stated that the presence of Norwegian troops in Afghanistan could be one of the reasons. He also said that the controversy caused by a Danish newspaper in 2006 could be another reason. In that incident 12 cartoons were published depicting the Prophet Muhammed in ways that were offensive to the Islamic world. The cartoons were also reproduced in Norwegian newspapers.
The Afghan war has thus far claimed thousands of lives and the latest avoidable event has only added to the death toll. Five Afghan soldiers were killed yesterday, not by terrorists, but by NATO forces.
It was a case of mistaken identity, but it remains an incident which is embarrassing and tragic. Afghan troops were on the verge of launching an ambush on a group of insurgents, when they were fired upon. NATO aircraft took out five of the soldiers and injured two, in an attack that came without any warning. The friendly fire incident is certainly not the first of its kind, but hopefully will be the last. No details have been revealed as to why the airstrike was launched; instead the incident has been labeled a “Co-ordination issue” and left at that.
Co-ordination is a key word these days in the Afghan war. NATO forces are in the process of handing over more and more responsibility to Afghan security forces, which makes understanding and co-ordination vital for the continued success of all operations. As part of the Counterinsurgency Strategy, NATO wants to limit Afghan casualties to a minimum and hand over control of reclaimed areas to local security forces. However, yesterday’s attack has done nothing to help that plan.
The five Afghan troop deaths come on the back of NATO’s worst ever month since the war began. 103 troops lost their lives last month and 60 of them were U.S. soldiers.
A NATO helicopter was shot down on Wednesday that resulted in the death of four NATO soldiers. The helicopter, which was part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), was flying over the Taliban stronghold of Helmand when it came under fire. A Taliban spokesman confirmed their involvement and said that the helicopter was brought down by a rocket.
In another unrelated incident on the same day, a NATO soldier was killed due to a bomb blast. This took the total amount of NATO casualties to twenty three this week. This year NATO has lost 253 foreign soldiers in six months.
At the end of last year, the figure stood at 520. The number of casualties could go up in the coming months as the terrorists seem to be stepping up their offensives. This is probably in anticipation of the impending offensive that is to be launched by U.S. and NATO forces later this year.
It appears that the Taliban are taking the threat of the offensive very seriously. As part of its decision to increase its attack on foreign forces, diplomats and lawmakers, the Taliban launched a rocket attack on a meeting attended by the Afghan President Karzai in Kabul last week.
Troops, supplies and equipment have been pouring in, in the past few days in preparation for one of the biggest combined offensives in the Afghan war so far. If the operation by the U.S., NATO and Afghan troops is successful, the Taliban will be ousted from their stronghold of Kandahar City.
A transformer explosion in Najirabazar, Old Dhaka started a domino effect which ended in the deaths of 116 people. Over 100 people were also injured in what is being called the worst fire in recent Bangladeshi history.
The cause for the explosion has been traced back to the rainstorm that hit the city on Thursday night. The explosion triggered a fire in a nearby shop which stored flammable chemicals. The flames rapidly spread from there to more than six apartment buildings as well to almost 15 shops. Several of those shops are said to have been storage areas for old newspapers that were being sold for scrap. The blaze spread so rapidly and intensely that those living in that are found escape almost impossible. The problem was further compounded by the area being plunged into darkness due to the transformer explosion.
Firefighters could not get to the scene in time, as the roads in and around the area are extremely small. Because of this the fire trucks could not be brought close to the site. Further complications arose when the firemen could not find any viable water sources nearby to help them in their efforts to contain the blaze.
The Dhaka Medical College Hospital also found it difficult to handle the volume of patients being brought in. According to Shamanta Lal Sen, the Burn Unit chief, this was the worst disaster he had witnessed in his 40 year career.
The death toll could rise as more bodies are unearthed from the rubble.
A postal worker went on a shooting spree in China killing three people before he shot himself. The man had forced himself into a court office and proceeded to shoot and kill three judges as well as wounding three others.
The killer was identified as 46 year old Zhu Jun, who function as the head of security at a post office in the Lingling district. On the day of the shooting, he had informed a co-worker that was taking some firearms (an automatic and two pistols) to be inspected by City authorities. He then proceeded to the District People’s court where he carried out the heinous act.
According to a Communist Party propaganda department spokesman, the case under discussion by the judges had no connection to the shooter. The only theory that has emerged is that this revenge on court officials for an unfavorable ruling he received three years ago. Apparently Zhu Jun was not satisfied with the way the courts settled the property division in his divorce. The three Judges who were murdered were not connected to that case in any way, making this incident even more unfortunate.
Although privately owning a gun is not allowed in China, violent crimes have been on the rise in recent years. This has been mostly attributed to a slackening in social controls. Over the last few months schoolchildren have been the focus of attacks and stabbings, mainly by middle aged men. Women are not exempt to the madness either. On Monday, a 40 year old woman stabbed several passengers on an overnight train that was headed to the Hebei province.