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Dec 17, 2014

Afghan spy chief laments intelligence vacuum as foreign troops leave

KABUL (Reuters) – The departure of most foreign troops from Afghanistan has left an intelligence-gathering vacuum that facilitates Taliban attacks, the head of the Afghan spy agency said on Wednesday.

Summoned to parliament to explain a surge in suicide bombings and commando-style assaults across Afghanistan, including in the fortified capital Kabul, intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil blamed a loss of manpower and technology.

Dec 17, 2014

Pakistan seeks help from Afghans after school massacre

KABUL (Reuters) – Pakistan’s army chief and the head of its main intelligence agency flew to neighboring Afghanistan on Wednesday to seek help in battling the militants behind this week’s school massacre in Pakistan in which 145 people were killed.

“The time has arrived for Afghanistan and Pakistan to act together against terrorism and extremism with honesty and effectiveness,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement. Pakistan said it had shared intelligence with Ghani.

Dec 14, 2014

Angry Afghan president vows security shake-up after Taliban attacks surge

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s new President Ashraf Ghani vowed to shake up security in the capital Kabul in an angry speech on Sunday and denounced a recent surge in Taliban attacks on civilian and military targets as “un-Islamic”. In recent weeks, Afghanistan has seen waves of suicide bombings and commando-style assaults by the Islamist insurgents, who are seeking to make territorial gains and to spread uncertainty as most foreign troops withdraw this month.

“It is enough and it’s no longer acceptable,” Ghani yelled while on a visit to a school. He called on religious leaders to speak out against the Taliban.

Dec 11, 2014

Lawyer fears abuse of U.S. detainees transferred to Afghan custody

KABUL (Reuters) – The final few inmates of U.S.-run prisons near Kabul, scenes of abuse highlighted by a U.S. Senate report this week, are now in an Afghan detention system with its own grisly record of torture, their lawyer said on Thursday.

But the government in Kabul vowed they would be safe and not mistreated.

Afghan security forces, including the army that runs the detention facility where the foreign inmates are believed to be held, regularly engage in torture of conflict-related detainees, several reports by the United Nations and rights groups say.

Dec 11, 2014

U.S. closes Bagram prison, says no more detainees held in Afghanistan

KABUL (Reuters) – The United States said on Thursday it had shut its last detention facility in Afghanistan and no longer had custody of detainees there, closing a much-criticized chapter in Washington’s fight against Islamic extremism.

The U.S. Defense Department said it had recently transferred the last detainees from Bagram Airfield north of the capital, Kabul. It closed the prison there on Dec. 10, a day after a Senate report detailed abuse at a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan.

Dec 11, 2014

U.S. detainee named in Senate report moved from secret Afghan prison

KABUL (Reuters) – The United States has handed over to Afghanistan a suspected al Qaeda militant named in a U.S. Senate report as one of the first objects of harsh interrogation techniques in a CIA “dungeon” near Kabul, his lawyer told Reuters on Wednesday.

Redha al-Najar, a Tunisian who is one of the longest-serving detainees from the U.S. “war on terror”, was captured as a suspected bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden in May 2002.

Dec 11, 2014

U.S. detainee moved from secret Afghan prison after torture report

KABUL (Reuters) – The United States has handed over to Afghanistan a suspected al Qaeda militant named in a U.S. Senate report as one of the first objects of harsh interrogation techniques in a CIA “dungeon” near Kabul, his lawyer told Reuters on Wednesday.

Redha al-Najar, a Tunisian who is one of the longest-serving detainees from the U.S. “war on terror”, was captured as a suspected bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden in May 2002.

Dec 10, 2014

U.S. hands al Qaeda suspect named in Senate report into Afghan custody

KABUL (Reuters) – The United States has handed a suspected al Qaeda militant, named in a U.S. Senate report as one of the first objects of harsh CIA interrogation techniques, into Afghan custody, his lawyer told Reuters on Wednesday.

Tina Foster said the U.S. government had notified her that Ridha al-Najar, a Tunisian, had been transferred from the U.S.-run detention center at Bagram on Tuesday, the day the Senate report was published.

Dec 9, 2014

Afghanistan’s Bruce Lee ‘reincarnation’ becomes Web hit

KABUL (Reuters) – From the ruins of a bombed-out palace above Kabul, a young Afghan man bearing a striking resemblance to kung fu legend Bruce Lee is high-kicking his way to Internet fame, aiming to show another side to his war-weary nation.

Videos and photos of Abbas Alizada, 20, posted on the Facebook page “Bruce Hazara” show him performing back flips and striking Lee’s famous poses. They blazed through Afghanistan’s small Internet community this week, part of a publicity burst he hopes will catapult him to broader fame.

Dec 8, 2014

Afghan war rages as foreign forces go out the door

KABUL (Reuters) – An attack on a police headquarters and a drone strike that killed six Taliban fighters were sharp reminders of the problems facing Afghanistan’s fledgling military as the joint command of foreign forces disbanded on Monday.

The Afghan government and the departing NATO troops have tried to put a brave face on the security situation, despite the past 12 months having been the bloodiest since 2001, with thousands of Afghans dying in fighting.