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Apr 6, 2014

Smooth Afghan election raises questions about Taliban’s strength

KABUL (Reuters) – A bigger-than-expected turnout in Afghanistan’s presidential election and the Taliban’s failure to significantly disrupt the vote has raised questions about the capacity of the insurgents to tip the country back into chaos as foreign troops head home.

The Taliban claimed that they staged more than 1,000 attacks and killed dozens during Saturday’s election, which they have branded a U.S.-backed deception of the Afghan people, though security officials said it was a gross exaggeration.

Apr 4, 2014

Amid spate of violence, Afghans vote to choose new leader

KABUL (Reuters) – From the rugged mountains bordering Pakistan to the windswept western plains, millions of Afghans vote on Saturday in an election for the first democratic transfer of power in the country’s tumultuous history.

The Taliban, hardline Islamists bent on toppling the government, have deployed fighters countrywide to disrupt an election they brand a U.S.-backed sham. Dozens of people have been killed in a spasm of violence leading up to the vote.

Apr 3, 2014

Risks of violence and fraud haunt landmark Afghan election

KABUL (Reuters) – Even if the Taliban fail to hobble the Afghan presidential election on Saturday, it could take months for a winner to be declared at a time when the country desperately needs a leader to stem rising violence as foreign troops prepare to leave.

Most people expect the election will be better run than the chaotic 2009 vote that handed President Hamid Karzai a second term amid massive fraud and ballot stuffing.

Mar 28, 2014

Escalating attacks jangle nerves ahead of crucial Afghan vote

KABUL (Reuters) – With a week to go before Afghanistan’s presidential election, escalating violence across the country risks undermining the credibility of a vote meant to mark the first democratic transfer of power in Afghan history.

The Taliban have declared war on the April 5 election, calling it a Western-backed sham and threatening to do everything in their power to derail the vote through a campaign of gun attacks, bombings and assassinations.

Mar 26, 2014

Afghan minister promises safe vote despite Taliban pressure

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan Interior Minister Umer Daudzai, the man in charge of security during next week’s presidential election, said on Wednesday the country was under pressure from an escalating Taliban insurgency but pledged to ensure a safe vote.

Afghanistan will choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai on April 5 in a crucial election which is designed to mark the first democratic transfer of power in its history.

Mar 25, 2014

Taliban gunmen storm election office near Afghan presidential candidate’s home

KABUL (Reuters) – Suicide bombers and gunmen in Afghanistan attacked an election commission office beside the home of presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday, rattling nerves in the Afghan capital less than two weeks before a crucial election.

Kabul is on high alert ahead of the April 5 presidential vote that Taliban insurgents have threatened to derail through a campaign of bombings and assassinations.

Mar 24, 2014

Afghanistan says Pakistan behind deadly Kabul hotel attack

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan accused Pakistan’s intelligence service on Monday of staging last week’s attack on a hotel in Kabul in which nine people including foreigners were shot dead by militants.

Afghanistan usually speaks of unnamed foreign powers when it wants to hint at a suspected Pakistani role in an incident, but the statement by Afghanistan’s NDS intelligence agency pointed its finger directly at Islamabad.

Mar 14, 2014

From his Pakistan hideout, Uighur leader vows revenge on China

DERA ISMAIL KHAN/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Entrenched in secret mountain bases on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, Uighur fighters are gearing up for retribution against China to avenge the deaths of comrades in Beijing’s crackdown on a separatist movement, their leader told Reuters.

China, Pakistan’s only major ally in the region, has long urged Islamabad to weed out what it says are militants from its western region of Xinjiang, who are holed up in a lawless tribal belt, home to a lethal mix of militant groups, including the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Mar 3, 2014

At least 11 killed in attack on Pakistani court

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Gunmen burst into a court in a busy shopping area in the heart of Pakistan’s capital on Monday, killing at least 11 people in a suicide-bomb and gun attack likely to shatter any prospect of meaningful peace talks with Taliban insurgents.

The Pakistani Taliban, who have declared a month-long ceasefire to pursue peace talks with the government, immediately distanced themselves from the attack as well as a separate blast on the Afghan border which killed two soldiers.

Mar 3, 2014

At least 11 killed in brazen attack on Pakistani court

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Gunmen burst into a court in a busy shopping area in the center of the Pakistani capital on Monday, killing at least 11 people in a brazen attack likely to shatter any prospect of meaningful peace negotiations with Taliban insurgents.

A loud explosion reverberated across central Islamabad just after 9 a.m., followed by bursts of gunfire. Police said at least 30 were wounded. A judge was among those killed.