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Jul 5, 2014

Afghan presidential candidate rules out coalition deal

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani ruled out a coalition government with his rival Abdullah Abdullah on Saturday, quashing hopes for a power-sharing deal to defuse tensions that have threatened to split Afghanistan along ethnic lines.

Ghani and Abdullah have locked horns since the June 14 second round run-off, accusing each other of trying to manipulate the vote and declaring victory in the contest to succeed Hamid Karzai as president.

Jul 3, 2014

EU monitors urge Afghanistan to widen election fraud probe

KABUL (Reuters) – European observers urged Afghanistan to deepen its investigation into vote-rigging on Thursday as candidates held closed-door meetings to try to resolve a deadlock threatening to split the country along ethnic lines.

Former resistance fighter Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani have locked horns over the outcome of the June 14 run-off election, with both claiming victory in the contest to succeed Hamid Karzai as president.

Jun 22, 2014

Prominent Pakistan cleric threatens to lead ‘revolution’

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A prominent Pakistani cleric, who is due to return to his homeland on Monday, has threatened to lead mass protests against the government as part of his plan to stage a peaceful “revolution” to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The preacher, Tahirul Qadri, is a divisive figure in Pakistan where he made headlines last year when he led mass rallies against the government. He is usually based in Canada.

Jun 17, 2014

Pakistan army in for long haul in offensive against Taliban

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – After months of dithering, Pakistan’s army has launched an offensive against Taliban insurgents near the border with Afghanistan but the tough terrain, a potentially hostile local population and the possibility of revenge attacks in heartland cities could be more difficult to conquer than the militants.

Pakistan announced on Sunday it was sending ground forces, artillery and helicopter gunships to the remote, mountainous tribal region of North Waziristan in a long-awaited military operation designed to eliminate the al Qaeda-linked insurgents.

Jun 13, 2014

Resurgent violence underscores morphing of al Qaeda threat

WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – – In Iraq, an al Qaeda splinter group is threatening Baghdad after seizing control of two cities. In Pakistan, the Taliban attacked a major airport twice in one week. And in Nigeria, the Islamist militant group Boko Haram was blamed for another mass kidnapping.

A cluster of militant attacks over the past week is a reminder of how the once-singular threat of al Qaeda has changed since the killing of Osama bin Laden, morphing or splintering into smaller, largely autonomous Islamist factions that in some cases are now overshadowing the parent group.

Jun 11, 2014

Feared Uzbek Jihadists behind deadly Pakistan airport attack

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – In a commando-style attack carried out with military precision, militants wearing Pakistani uniforms burst into the country’s busiest airport under cover of darkness in one of the most audacious attacks in Pakistan in years.

Pakistani military officials said the attackers were ethnic Uzbeks who operate under the wings of the Pakistani Taliban in bases dotted around the lawless areas straddling Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

Jun 10, 2014

Pakistani jets bomb militant hideouts after airport attack

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani fighter jets bombed Taliban positions on the Afghan border on Tuesday, two days after gunmen seized the country’s busiest airport and killed more than 30 people in an all-night battle.

Ten Taliban militants disguised as security force members and armed with rocket-propelled grenades stormed the airport in Karachi, a sprawling port city of 18 million, on Sunday night in an attack on one of Pakistan’s most high-profile targets.

Jun 3, 2014

Pakistan’s Karachi in lockdown after politician arrested in London

LONDON/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – One of the most divisive and feared figures in Pakistan was arrested in London on Tuesday, his party said, sparking fears of a violent backlash in Pakistan and sending the country’s biggest city into lockdown.

Altaf Hussain, who is wanted at home in relation to a murder case, has lived in London in self-imposed exile since the early 1990s.

Apr 9, 2014

Frontrunner in Afghan vote rules out coalition government

KABUL (Reuters) – A frontrunner to succeed Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan’s president voiced the possibility of teaming up with a rival on Wednesday but ruled out forming a coalition government in order to avoid a second-round runoff.

Afghanistan voted in a landmark presidential election last weekend which, if successful, will usher in the first democratic handover of power in the country’s history as Karzai prepares to step down after more than 12 years in office.

Apr 9, 2014

Afghan commander: cross-border Taliban alliance growing stronger

CAMP THUNDER, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Taliban militants in Pakistan have established an increasingly close relationship with insurgents from across the border in Afghanistan, supplying them with explosives and well-trained fighters, a senior Afghan army commander said on Wednesday.

The Taliban in Pakistan have always operated separately from their Afghan namesakes, fighting to topple the democratically elected government in Islamabad and establish a strict Islamic sharia state in the nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people.