Monday, September 25, 2006
L'Est Republicain which reported his 'death'
There has been a surge of speculation as to the fate of America’s most wanted this weekend after the publication of an article in a French newspaper. The article published in L'Est Republicain reported that the head of al-Qaeda was dead. Usama bin Laden, Osama bin Laden or Oussama bin Laden [there is no definitive spelling of his name (أسامة بن لادن) in the west] had, according to the article, succumb to a water-born disease, namely typhoid. The paper cited “Usually reliable sources” which indicated the Saudi security services had spotted the militant Islamist leader in Pakistan on 23rd August 2006. The report went on to say that bin Laden was suffering “partial paralysis of his lower limbs” and that the situation was such that “medical care would be impossible”.
Confirmation of his death
However there is still uncertainty as to whether the fugitive is dead or alive. The “usually reliable source” said that the Saudi security services received a report of his death on the 4th September 2006, but were awaiting further details before announcing the death officially. The collected intelligence by the French Secret Service [DGSE] was, according to L’Est Republicain, reported to the highest French authorities. The US has refused to make any official comment on the reports, Condoleezza Rice saying only, “No comment, and no knowledge”. And the French Prime Minister, Jacques Chirac, was seemingly more incensed by the leak of information and called for an immediate inquiry. CNN could only add to the rumours and speculation by quoting an un-named Saudi security source which indicated that they were aware that bin Laden had a ‘water-born disease’ but could no say whether he had died. But the BBC reported the Saudi authorities as saying they had no evidence of the terrorist’s demise. "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has no evidence to support recent media reports that Osama Bin Laden is dead," the Saudi government said. And Pakistan's ambassador to the US, Mahmud Ali Durrani told BBC News 24 that he doubted the claims were true. "It would be very nice to confirm that he is dead - in Pakistan, Afghanistan, New York or wherever, but I think such claims are unsubstantiated." Whether or not Osama bin Laden is dead, the War on Terror continues, as does the ‘global jihadism’ which according to one report in the New York Times suggested that the War in Iraq had exacerbated. The report said, “The Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse.” At least 9 died in the most recent bombings in Baghdad [CNN], and recent UN figures showed more than 6,000 had died in terror attacks in July and August. Coalition losses also continue to rise with total losses now hitting 2,937. Afghanistan fairs little better with increased attacks on coalition forces, civilians and Afghan officials. On Monday a top Afghan official was killed by gunmen [BBC] and last week 19 construction workers were killed in a bomb blast [BBC]. At least 35 coalition troops have died in September thus far, six more for the whole of August. It brings the total losses to 483 since 2001.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Opposing views - UN General Assembly, a war of words
Three days of speeches have made interesting viewing as world leaders and their representatives have attacked each other. Day one started with a speech from US President George W Bush [BBC]. His speech was filled with his continued attacks on Iran and a defence on the continued War on Terror. "A world beyond terror where the extremists are marginalised by the peaceful majority" is in reach the President said. Of Iran he said that they “must abandon its nuclear weapons policy.”
And today the president declared he would send troops into Pakistan to catch bin Laden [CNN]. with or without permission from Gen Pervez Musharraf , the Pakistani leader. Musharraf responded by saying he would not be happy at such a decision, "We wouldn't like to allow that at all. We will do it ourselves." Meanwhile the events on the ground continue to become more deadly for civilians and coalition troops alike. Over 6,500 have died in July and August, 5,000 in Iraq alone [Source: UN]. And while neither Afghanistan nor Iraq shows any sign of calming, guns are poised and aimed at the next country on the list in what has been described as the Axis of Evil. But whilst Bush continues to criticize Iran’s nuclear policy, he refuses to meet with his Iranian counterpart. Bush said the United States has agreed to talks with Iran "only if they verifiably suspended their enrichment program.” Bush addressed the Iranian people directly during his speech, telling them that Americans "respect" their country and that they "deserve an opportunity to determine your own future.
The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic ties since 1979, when Iranian militants, who had overthrown the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammed Palavi, seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held American diplomats hostage for more than a year. Bush labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil" in 2002, along with Iraq -- which the United States invaded the following year -- and North Korea.
Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was the next high profile leader to take the rostrum. Throughout his lengthy speech Ahmadinejad criticized what he called the "abuse" of the Security Council by "hegemonic powers." He mentioned the United States by name only once during his speech, but criticized major powers he said "seek to rule the world relying on weapons and threats.”
Then it was Hugo Chavez’ turn to pour scorn on the US [CNN]. And he certainly took the prize for the most colourful of speeches as he launched a personal attack on the US president. “Yesterday the devil was right here”, he said. “Right here, the devil himself, and I can still smell the sulphur” he added. His attack didn’t stop there. As he continued he said the US president, “Spoke as though he owned the world” and accused him of trying to be a ‘world dictator’. "As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world. An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: 'The Devil's Recipe.' " He criticized the ineffectiveness of the UN saying that the General Assembly was "merely a deliberative organ" that meets once a year. “We come here and make speeches” he said, but "We have no power, no power to make any impact on the terrible situation in the world."
Emile Lahoud speaking Thursday described the “barbarous aggression” against his country by Israel which “all but destroyed Lebanon’s hope for being a viable state.“ The Lebanese president then asked, “How many children are going to die before the world community stands in defence of the rightful cause?” And he poured scorn at Israel. “It is time to ask Israel to abide by UN resolutions,” he said.
As the leaders attempted to sort out political strife in the General Assembly, two countries are gripped by political scandals. In Hungary riots and protest are continuing for the third day after revelations that the Prime Minister had ‘lied to the people’ [BBC]. Meanwhile Thailand’s political future appears from certain after the leader of the coup, Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, declared that free elections may not be held for up to 2 years. Restrictions have also been placed on any form of political protest and the forming of any opposition parties. There are also a number of reporting restrictions put in place [BBC].
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Tanks and troops are on the streets of Thailand’s capital Bangkok after the military launched a coup against the beleaguered Shinawatra government. The situation seems to be ‘well ordered and calm’ according to Sky Correspondent William Owen who reported live from Bangkok. Outside Bangkok it is difficult to gauge the situation and CNN and the BBC as well as other networks have been shutdown. The Party of Democratic Reform is said to be behind the coup and a state of Martial Law and a suspension of the constitution has been declared. Meanwhile Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai Prime Minister is in New York, attending a UN conference. He has said he still considers himself Prime Minister, but it is not known when or if he may return. The Military Coup comes only three days after Thailand was rocked but a series of bombings by Islamic fundamentalists. The 7 bombs killed four and injured up to seventy.
The Australian government has said their citizens should rethink their plans if travelling to the country. The British Government has issued no advice and say they are ‘monitoring the situation closely’. The coup has affected many stocks around the world and European markets were down nearly 1% at the close.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Islamic terrorism has hit Thailand in attacks which are sure to rock the country’s tourist industry. The attacks came in a series of bomb blasts on Saturday night as people were drinking and eating in bars and restaurants in the tourist centre of Hat Yai. It is the furthest north that Islamic terrorism has hit in the country and will come as an unsettling move for the Shinawatra government.
The first reports filtered through at around 15:00 GMT with CNN breaking the news to international viewers. Other broadcasters including the BBC brought little coverage of the bombings which killed at least 4 and injured many more.
Speaking exclusively to tvnewswatch, tourist Robin Chakrabarti described what happened immediately after the blasts. “I was in the Swan Bar at the time of the first blast – which occurred around 100 metres away at a place called the Big Wonder Bar which is part of the Odeon Shopping Centre. And there was another blast in a Tuc Tuc which was parked outside. And the third bomb was almost half way between The Swan and the Odeon and I was almost level with it when it went off.”
He then went on to describe the moments after the blast. “When I heard the first one, it was like a dull thud, and I thought, ‘That sounded like a bomb’, and I looked out the door and saw smoke coming out of the building down the road and heard a Thai guy shouting, ‘It’s a bomb’ in English, and then myself and two other guys jumped over the wall in front of the restaurant, ran down the street about a hundred metres to see if we could help. And we could see smoke and fire coming out of the Big Wonder Bar where later we heard that two people had been killed. But we couldn’t get close because then there was another explosion when this Tuc Tuc, a mini-bus thing, blew up. So I said, ‘Let’s get out of here there might be bombs all over the place.’ And as we made our way back there was the third explosion. And I was on the phone to my girl friend at the time and I said, ‘Did you hear that? That was another one’. That was a motorbike bomb which went off just across the street from me and blew shrapnel everywhere.”
The British tourist, from London, said the bombs weren’t powerful enough to blow buildings up but did blow out the front of the nearby shops. He spoke too of the how fortuitous he was not to have been injured. “I was lucky really that these cars were in the way else I’d have got my legs blown off probably. I got one guy into an ambulance with a gash to his leg. But the police and emergency services were on the scene very quickly.”
After making his way back to the Swan bar he found a number of tourists cowering at the back. “I tried to persuade them to leave and one Welsh girl said to me, ‘Do you think it’s safe outside?’, and I said, “No, but I don’t think it’s safe anywhere, three bombs have gone off already, and this is the third most popular part in the street, there might be one in here for all we know. There’s some parked cars outside and I don’t know who owns them. Who knows, let’s get out of here”. We went out quite quickly and the Welsh girl and a guy from Northern-Ireland, they didn’t know the town, so I said, “You can come with me and take some backstreets where there were no people and no traffic”. So we took the back streets to their hotel to avoid the streets where the bombs had gone off, and we got back alright.”
“One American guy I was with that night is now too scared to go to his hotel after receiving a shrapnel wound the night before. He has been bussed back to Bangkok with the help of the authorities. He was going to get a job here, but now he says he is too afraid.”
Many of the tourists have also fled the area following the blasts. “Many of the Singapore and Malaysian tourists have already left”, he said.
In all there were seven bombs. The two outside the Odeon shopping centre and one outside the Brown Sugar bar. The four others were up to two kilometres away at Lee Gardens, the Big C and the Diana, all shopping centres, and at a railway station in Hat Yai.
Of those killed, one was a Canadian; the first Westerner to be killed by terrorists in Thailand . He was an English teacher who had worked at Pholwittaya School, a 35 year old named as Jesse Lee Daniel. At least 70 people were injured in the attacks. The blasts were the latest in a string of violent incidents in the restive south, where more than 1,500 people have been killed since January 2004.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Further threats come from al-Qaeda on fifth anniversary of 9/11
Saturation coverage of the events surrounding America’s worst terrorist attack has begun. CNNi began the day with Remembering 9/11, an hour long special looking back at the attacks, the tributes, and statements from world leaders.
Business International continued with an overview of today’s events and a look back at the attacks which killed 2,973 [The death toll from the twin towers was estimated at 2,749, including the 87 passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 and the 60 on United Airlines Flight 175. Among the dead were 60 police officers and 343 firefighters who responded to the scene. Another 125 died at the Pentagon with a further 59 perishing on flight 77. Flight 93 which crashed in Pennsylvania took with it 40 lives. The 19 hijackers are not included in these figures - source].
Sky News broke their continued coverage to bring viewers a Live broadcast from Lebanon where Prime Minister Blair is continuing his Middle East tour. He has already met with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, over the weekend. Today, in his address, he said Britain was committed to bringing about a lasting peace in the Middle East. His speech was briefly interrupted by a female protester who unfurled a banner reading “Boycott Israeli Apartheid”. As the protester was led away Siniora said, “It’s alright, we live in a democracy, and we are willing to listen to all views”. Siniora then read a statement in Arabic. There is a lot of anger in Lebanon towards Blair for his not having called for a ceasefire during the month long conflict. Prime Minister Blair said he was aware of the hostility towards him, but added that he wanted to meet the Lebanese president “face to face” and to understand the views of the government. Of the criticism that Blair had not been more forceful in trying to stop the violence he said, “There never was going to be a cessation unless there was a UN resolution … but my view was to get the UN resolution … and the best chance for Lebanon is resolution 1701”. The conference was not covered by any of the main broadcasters in its entirety. CNN cut away shortly after the brief protest, Sky News cut away for a commercial break, and the BBC broke for headlines at the top of the hour.
And headlines are dominated by the events of five years ago. One difference of this year’s broadcasts is that video of the plane hitting the towers is far more prominent. This will be unsettling for many that lost loved ones in the attacks. The scars have not healed for many Americans, and more especially for New Yorkers. Thousands of people are still affected by the atrocities. Many physically, from the smoke that enveloped much of Manhattan when the towers collapsed. Others still suffer the mental and emotional scars from that day. And it is far from normal in the Big Apple where five years on a large empty space still remains where the World Trade Centers once stood.
The war continues too, both in Afghanistan and Iraq. Today a suicide bomber killed at least 10 Iraqi army recruits in Baghdad, CNN has reported. And a US soldier was killed on Sunday by small arms fire in the north of the capital. Throughout July alone Iraqi government figures put the civilian death toll at 3, 438.
Afghanistan is still a battleground and there has been continued battles with the Taleban over the weekend leaving 150 insurgents dead according to official sources. Today also brought another message from Al-Qaeda’s second in command Ayman al-Zawahiri [CNN]. In a lengthy statement the al-Qaeda leader said that “new events” would be coming soon. Of 9/11 he said, "Your leaders are hiding from you the true extent of the disaster … and the days are pregnant and giving birth to new events, with Allah's permission and guidance." And in a statement targeted at the United State’s closest ally he said, "I want to bring to the attention of the British people that Dr. Brydon won't be returning to India this time." The comment is a reference to the sole survivor of a British army massacred in Afghanistan in 1842. The rhetoric continued in the 75 minute tape with more threats and promises. "We tell you not to concern yourselves with the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, these are doomed," he said. "You should worry about your presence in the Gulf and the second place they should worry about, is in Israel."
Another videotape aired last week by Arabic-language network Al-Jazeera showed what was described as a meeting between bin Laden and Ramzi Binalshibh, a key plotter in the September 11 attacks. The video was said to have been made in 2001 and shows Hamza Alghamdi and Wail Alshehri who were two of the hijackers who died in the 9/11 suicide attacks.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Space shuttle Atlantis has lifted off safely from Cape Canaveral in Florida. STS-115, commanded by Brent W Jett, lifted off at 15:15 GMT and is the first mission for Atlantis since 2002. It will dock with the International Space Station and NASA is set to continue building the Station, marking the first time in almost four years that a space station component has been added to the orbiting outpost. During their three spacewalks, crew members of Atlantis will install the P3/P4 integrated truss and a second set of solar arrays on the space station, doubling the station’s current ability to generate power from sunlight and adding 17.5 tonnes to its mass. [NASA]
Friday, September 08, 2006
Besides President Bush’s declaration that the War on Terror was making headway, the bombing against coalition forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq continue [BBC].
A British soldier has died from wounds received in an attack in Iraq on Tuesday [BBC]. In Afghanistan today a suicide bomber killed 2 US soldier and injured two others. Many civilians were also killed in the blast near a military base in Kabul. The BBC reported at least 16 dead whilst CNN reported around 13 dead in the blasts, though this was later increased. Earlier this week a British soldier was killed by a suicide bomber on the outskirts of the capital. As attacks increase, calls for increased troop numbers have been approved at a NATO meeting in Warsaw, Poland. The number of troops is likely to be in the region of 2,500. It is not clear from which countries the troops will be sent. The number of attacks in the country has risen dramatically over the last few months with at least 90 killed since January.
But it is Iraq which sees the worst violence, death and bloodshed. Bomb attacks occur almost daily and there seems to be no end in sight to the violence. This week also saw an almost symbolic handover of control to the Iraqi forces from the US and other coalition forces based in the country. But they are still small in number and ill equipped to deal with the rise of insurgency they face. The future looks far from certain and William Patey, the outgoing British Ambassador, told the BBC that he was pessimistic for the Iraqi people who themselves had no confidence in their own security services. And today a report revealed that the CIA found there was no link between Al Qaeda’s attacks on September 11th 2001 and Saddam Hussein. CNN reported tonight that there was also no evidence that showed any connection between Al Qaeda in Iraq, and its leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, and the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. This counters consistent claims by the White House over the past five years.
The dark day in American history which sparked off these continuing conflicts is commemorated this coming Monday. The events of 9/11 have been the subject of a number of documentaries and extensive 9/11 coverage on many networks.
And amidst the saturation coverage controversy surrounds The Path to 9/11, an ABC docu-drama which is set to air on the 10th and 11th of September. A former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger , former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former President Bill Clinton have all criticised their depiction within the programme. ABC claim their programme was as accurate as they could make it but would look into allegations made. One ‘inaccuracy’ in the $40 million drama suggests Bill Clinton was too busy with the Monica Lewinsky scandal to fight terrorism. Former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean, who headed the 9/11 commission and was a paid consultant on the mini-series, said some controversial scenes in The Path to 9/11 were being removed or changed. [The Australian / BBC / CNN]
The 9/11 commemorations will culminate with a speech from President Bush who will speak to the nation on Tuesday 12th September at 01:00 GMT.
Few in China would proclaim the sentiments of this
poster which reads "Mao is the red sun in our heart"
Today is the 30th anniversary of Mao's death [09/09/1976] . But even in death, Mao looms large in China, but mostly as a tourist attraction as thousands visit the mausoleum, in which his body lies, daily. There will be be no commemorations for the former leader, however. China is trying to forget much of Mao’s legacy, and much of his life is being written out of the history books, according to a report today on CNN. The BBC also looks back on the legacy of the former leader and how China has moved on. According to the BBC report, the Communist party has banned open conversation of his life, an indictment to the man that changed the face of China so significantly.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Whilst Tony Blair made speeches confirming his mission to continue his term in office, his key ally George W Bush was making a keynote speech in Atlanta, Georgia.
In a previous speech he has admitted that interrogation techniques employed on terror suspects had resulted in significant leads in the fight against terrorism and that CIA camps around the world did exist [BBC]. However, British viewers have seen little of the Presidents latest series of speeches. BBC showed nothing from today’s speech Live and Sky News also failed to bring viewers any coverage. Even their Sky active service had no link to the Live broadcast. CNN showed a short clip but soon cut back to the studio after a few short minutes. CNNs pipeline service gave only 3 minutes FREE viewing. During part of his ongoing speech, the President said, “We need to do everything we can to stop the next attack”. He added that there had been continued successes in the global War on Terror. “We have killed Zarqawi in Iraq … and we have over 90 nations fighting with us in the War on Terror including the democratically elected governments of Afghanistan and Iraq”. [BBC]
The speculation and debate over the future for Britain’s Prime Minister is set to continue after he made a brief statement to the media in which he set he would not put a timetable on his leaving office. After a short visit to a school in north London he said, “As I’ve said before, the next party conference will be my last party conference, my next TUC conference will be my last TUC, probably to the relief of both of us” and added, “I’m not going to set a precise date now, I don’t think that’s right. I will do that at a future date, and I will do it in the interests of the country and depending on the circumstances of the time… it’s important for the Labour party to understand that it’s the public that comes first … and we have to get on with business…” [Sky News]
A court has remanded two more suspects connected with the alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic planes [BBC]. The two men, Don Stewart Whyte and Mohammed Usman Saddique, were arrested on the 10th August along with 22 others in police raids in London, High Wycombe and Birmingham. Whyte, 20, from High Wycombe, and Saddique, 24, from Walthamstow in London, are both charged with preparing acts of terrorism. Whyte also faces charges of possessing a Baikal 9mm pistol as well as a magazine clip, ammunition and a silencer. Both will reappear at the Old Bailey on the 18th September. Three other suspects held since the 10th August have now been released.
[Charges in Full]
Under pressure to resign: Blair's future remains uncertain
After two days of speculation and calls for the Prime Minister’s resignation, Tony Blair is expected to make a statement Thursday afternoon as regards his position. A week ago the Prime Minister said he would not lay out a time table. But he has been under pressure from a number of back bench MPs to go sooner rather than later. Wednesday’s Sun newspaper ran with a front page lead insisting the PM would leave office in May 2007. However No. 10 has denied this. The media frenzy surrounding the Prime Minister’s future has resulted in many arguably more important stories being buried [BBC]. The so called back stabbing within the Labour party has precipitated resignations [BBC] and created divisions in the party which will no doubt be exploited by the opposition in the months to come. Besides a relatively strong economy, a lowering of unemployment figures and the implementation of minimum wages, the Blair government has been highly criticised over its foreign policy. Alignment with the US in the continued War on Terror, and specifically the war in Iraq, is believed by many to be a serious mistake. The gradual decline in standards within the National Health Service has also been seen as a failure over Labour’s 10 years in power. Labour’s popularity stands as 32% compared to 35% for the Conservative party, this according to a poll shown on CNN. The US broadcaster has given some airtime to the story, but BBC 24 and Sky News are covering little else. Helicopter shots of Tony Blair leaving Downing Street, arriving at a school, leaving a school and continuing commentary from ‘experts’ is filling much of the broadcasting today. And all wait with baited breath for the Prime Minister’s statement. All the uncertainty in the meantime is creating a wavering financial market. There are no changes in interest rates but the Pound has fallen along with the FTSE 100 in the wake of the speculation over the Prime Minister’s future. However, the general view is that any losses will be minimal and the financial impact will be short-lived [Reuters].
Monday, September 04, 2006
China is suffering the worst drought in decades. Reservoirs are at 33% capacity and 17 million people are without regular drinking water. The economic losses could exceed 6.5 billion yuan ($817 million) according to state news agency, Xinhua. Chongqing is one province hardest hit, but other neighbouring provinces of Guizhou, eastern provinces of Zhejiang, Anhui and Jiangxi and central provinces of Hunan and Hubei have been severely affected [Reuters]. The drought is the worst since 1891 when meteorological records began and baking temperatures of 40C are common place throughout the region [BBC].
The situation is in stark contrast with the floods which hit many parts of south-east China in the last two months which displaced thousands and killed hundreds. In August typhoon Saomai hit China and swept through Zhejiang, Fujian and Jiangxi [BBC]. More than one million people had been evacuated prior to Saomai’s landfall, but over 50,000 houses were destroyed and 104 died in the storms wake. In July up to 75 people were killed when typhoon Kaemi swept through Fujian province [BBC]. And also in July tropical storm Bilis killed 500 people, although official figures initially put the death toll at 188 people bringing with it accusations of a cover-up [BBC]. June’s monthly death toll was also high with at least 349 dying in storms. Seasonal heavy rains and typhoons cause hundreds of deaths in China every year. But meteorologists predicted 2006 would be particularly bad, with warm Pacific currents causing more typhoons than usual.
China’s battle with aberrant weather highlights what many have said are the symptoms of ‘global warming’. And today a report was published calling on greater action to tackle the ‘inevitable’. At this year’s annual meeting for the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA), Frances Cairncross said, "[Climate change] is undoubtedly going to happen on the basis of all we know at the moment” and she urged for immediate action. One of the most thorough reports was done by the International Energy Agency in the summer, and that suggested that even if we threw at climate change all we had at the moment, even if we put it all in place, we would still see a rise in the concentration of emissions … [So] although we've got to continue taking steps to slow it down, we've also got to realise we're going to live in a warmer world." [BBC]. According to the IPCC [International Panel on Climate Change]. The world has warmed by about 0.6 degrees this last century, and the 1990s were the warmest decade on record. Scientists say average global temperatures have varied by less than one degree since the dawn of human civilisation, although they fluctuated much more before that. The IPCC predicts a global rise of between 1.4C and 5.8C by the year 2100. Rising temperatures are thought to cause sea levels to rise as the oceans expand and polar ice melts. The IPCC says sea levels rose between 10 and 20cm worldwide during the 20th Century. And it predicts a further rise of between 9cm and 88cm by 2100. Most mainstream scientists believe that increased emissions of greenhouse cases, particularly carbon dioxide, are contributing to the warming of the planet. CO2 has risen from 290 ppm to more than 370 ppm since 1870 according to UNEP [United Nations Environmental Programme].
Terror attacks today against British troops and civilians have left four dead and 7 injured.
Two British soldiers have been killed in Iraq and one has been killed in Afghanistan. It comes two days after 14 British service personnel died when their plane, a Nimrod MR2, came down near Kandahar, Afghanistan. In the Iraqi incident a patrol in the southern city of Basra came under small arms fire and an IED attack according to MoD sources [BBC]. In another incident, a base came under attack from mortar rounds. Two other soldiers were also injured in the attack on the patrol. It brings the British casualty numbers to 117 since Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced in March 2003. The coalition body-count now stands at 2,879.
In Afghanistan a bomb attack in Kabul killed four Afghan civilians as well as one British soldier [BBC]. It brings the British death toll to 37 since Operation Enduring Freedom started in 2001 . The total casualty list for all countries involved in the fight against the Taleban is now 468, the majority of which are US troops who have lost 333.
Civilians too have been the target of terrorist attacks. In Amman, the Jordanian capital, a British civilian was amongst a number of people shot by a lone gunman today. According to eyewitnesses the gunman shouted ‘Allahu akbar’ [الله أكبر] God is great, before firing into a crowd of tourists. A British man was killed in the attack, and 5 others were injured; two British women, a New Zealander, a Netherlander and an Australian [BBC]. The city was also the target of a number of bomb attacks in November 2005. Those attacks on three hotels killed sixty. The Foreign Office has warned tourists not to travel to the area warning of a “high threat to terrorism”.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
A Nimrod similar to the one that crashed
Fourteen British service personnel have died after their aircraft crashed in Afghanistan. Twelve RAF personnel, a Royal Marine and an Army soldier were on board the RAF Nimrod MR2 which came down in the southern province of Kandahar. The reconnaissance plane, based at RAF Kinloss in Scotland, belonged to the Nato-led force battling the Taleban. UK Defence Secretary Des Browne described the incident as "dreadful and shocking" news and said the indications were it was a "terrible accident". It is not clear what the cause of the crash was and officials said the incident appeared to be an accident. Tony Blair said the incident would "distress the whole country". A total of 36 British service personnel have died in Afghanistan since 2001. [BBC/Sky News/CNN]