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Explosion Near US Embassy and NATO HQ in Kabul

Diplomatic Security SitRep:02/24/2018

At least two people were killed and seven wounded Saturday in an attack in Afghanistan’s capital for which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

A suicide bomber struck in the diplomatic area of Kabul near NATO headquarters and the U.S. Embassy, Afghanistan Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said, adding that the casualty count could rise.

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Meanwhile, at least 18 soldiers died in an attack on a checkpoint in western Afghanistan. That attack was linked to Taliban insurgents, said Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry. He said two other soldiers were wounded in the attack in the Bala Buluk district.

Kabul Bombing 2

Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.

ISIS, in a statement posted Saturday by its Aamaq news agency, said the Kabul attack was carried out by a bomber with an explosive vest and targeted the gate of the headquarters of the Afghan intelligence service.

Kabul Bombing

The resurgent Taliban and the newer ISIS affiliate have been blamed for increased violence in Afghanistan after U.S. and NATO forces concluded combat missions in 2014 that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S.

Last month, President Donald Trump issued a stinging statement deploring a Taliban-orchestrated suicide car bombing that killed at least 95 people and wounded 158 others in Kabul.

 

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The latest incident comes shortly after the U.S. Embassy in the Balkan state of Montenegro was attacked Thursday by an individual armed with a hand grenade, who hurled the explosive at the compound before blowing himself up.

That attacker reportedly resented NATO and posted pro-Marxist memes online.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.\

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Pakistani Ex-Diplomat Charged with Plotting Consulate Attacks on US and Israeli Consulates.

Diplomatic Security SitRep:02/23/2018

cropped-diplomatic-security-situation-report.jpgCHENNAI: Former Pakistani diplomat Amir Zubair Siddiqui plotted to attack the US Consulate in Chennai, Israeli Consulate in Bengaluru, Eastern Naval Command HQ in Visakhapatnam and ports across the country, according to a charge-sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Poonamallee Special Court on Thursday.

The chargesheet named Amir Zubair Siddiqui, who was then visa counsellor at the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo.

Interestingly, Siddiqui was arrested for allegedly conspiring to attack vital establishments in India and was quietly withdrawn even before the NIA’s request under Mutual Assistance Legal Treaty (MLAT) reached Colombo.

The NIA filed supplementary charge-sheet against Amir Zubair Siddiqui and his aides Balasubramanian and Noorudeen under various sections of the Unlawful Activity Act 1967 and IPC for their involvement in conspiracy for waging war against the Government of India, causing explosion in the US Consulate in Chennai and at various places in South India, said the official statement.

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The 4,000-page supplementary charge-sheet filed in the Special Court for Terror Cases at Poonamallee near here said that the terror plot came to light after the NIA police personnel arrested an ISI agent Mohammed Zakir Hussain (37) through the ‘Q’ Branch of the Tamil Nadu police in 2013. The reason was that he was gathering details about vital installations in Tamil Nadu and sent photographs to Siddique.
Hussain used his counterparts Sivabalan and Mohammad Salim to circulate fake currency in the state. During questioning, Hussain also confessed that he had also used Rafeeque (29) to pump in fake Indian currency in the state.

NIA sources said, “Hussain had met Siddiqui in Colombo on a few occasions and was instructed to collect information about defence establishments, movement of arms and ammunition to the Indian Army and arrange fake passports and visa for two Pakistan nationals to enter India” “Siddiqui was not named in the charge-sheet initially because we did not have proper evidences before. Now that we have strong evidence to prove his involvement in the terror plot, a supplementary charge-sheet was filed,” the police said.

Gathering details and photographs
The 4,000-page supplementary charge-sheet filed in the Special Court for Terror Cases at Poonamallee near here said that the terror plot came to light after the NIA police personnel arrested an ISI agent Mohammed Zakir Hussain (37) through the ‘Q’ Branch of the Tamil Nadu police in 2013. The reason was that he was gathering details about vital installations in Tamil Nadu and sent photographs to Siddique.

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Former Ambassador recalls attack on U.S. Consulate in Jeddah

A former U.S. ambassador spoke about the ethical challenges of serving in the U.S. Foreign Service at the Elliott School of International Affairs Tuesday.

Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, who is also a GW alumna, served as the U.S. Ambassador to Malta from 2012 to 2016. The event was hosted by the Elliott School’s new Leadership, Ethics and Practice Initiative, which delves into issues of ethics on an international level.

During her time with the foreign service, Abercrombie-Winstanley was stationed at posts in Iraq, Indonesia, Egypt and Israel. She later served as Consul General in Saudi Arabia, before her appointment as ambassador during the former President Barack Obama’s administration. She shared stories from her experiences abroad with students in the Elliott School.

Here are some highlights from the event:

1. Ethical decision-making

Abercrombie-Winstanley discussed five anecdotes from her career when ethics played a big role in her decision-making process, ranging from rules regarding expensive gifts to reporting affairs between an ambassador and one of his subordinates.

But she said the toughest call to make was when her regional security officer suggested that staff and workers coming from Jordan, Pakistan, India and the Philippines not be allowed to come into the building without first passing through a metal detector.

Abercrombie-Winstanley said she was hesitant to divide the consulate staff because Americans wouldn’t have to go through the same security checks.

“The local staff, most of them had been with the consulate for 20, 30 years,” she said. “All of us were under threat. All of us were in danger as we came through that gate.”

To solve the dilemma, Abercrombie-Winstanley said she came up with a compromise that everyone would walk through the metal detector.

2. Handling an attack on the U.S. Consulate General

Islamist militants attacked the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah in 2004, killing nine people during Abercrombie-Winstanley’s tenure as the Consul General. She said she faced many challenges as a leader both during and after the attack.

During the four hours the consulate was under attack, Abercrombie-Winstanley said her priorities were to account for staff and try to get help from Saudi officials. Despite sharing a wall with the Saudi National Guard, she said it took security forces an “inordinate” amount of time to arrive at the consulate to deal with the situation.

“The worst part of that day was then going to the widows and extending condolences. And, of course, I had to do it,” she said. “The ambassador went with me for a couple, but most of them I did on my own.”

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3. Sexual harassment in the field of diplomacy

The former ambassador also spoke about her personal experiences with sexual assault and harassment during her long career in the foreign service.

She discussed how it can feel “demoralizing” when someone in power makes advances and the intense psychological impact that sexual harassment can have on a person’s self-confidence.

She talked about harassment she faced during a trip to Ireland when she was serving as the Director for Legislative Affairs at the National Security Council.

“It was the head of the delegation that I was talking about the peace process with,” she said. “We’d agreed to have dinner and, in short, he’s trying to kiss me.”

Abercrombie-Winstanley said it was during this time that the Monica Lewinsky scandal was all over the news and she was among a generation of women who still felt like they were living in a “man’s world.”

“It didn’t occur to me to accept or do anything I didn’t want to do, but it also didn’t occur to me to tell someone looking for redress,” she said. “I did not think that was possible.”

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Malaysian police in Kuala Lumpur foil ISIS-linked plot to attack embassies.

2 Iraqis detained, attack on Saudi and Qatar missions planned for tomorrow .
2 Iraqis detained, attack on Saudi and Qatar missions planned for tomorrow .

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian police have foiled an attempt by a terror cell of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to attack the Saudi Arabia and Qatar embassies in Kuala Lumpur with the arrest of two Iraqi nationals. Sources said the two men were detained by intelligence officials at a shopping mall last Thursday. “They were planning to attack the embassies on March 31 at the behest of IS,” a source told The Star last Saturday, using another name of ISIS. “They threatened two officials from the embassies to meet their demands or suffer the consequences of an attack,” the source added.

Intelligence sources did not disclose what the demands were, but said the threat of an attack on the embassies was still being investigated. The Counter-Terrorism Division had been monitoring the duo since March 10. Another source said that the two suspects were staying at a few places in Selangor and Johor. It is believed that the first suspect, a 39-year-old man, entered Malaysia early last month while the second suspect, aged 42, had overstayed in the country. “Investigations are still under way to track down and identify two other members of the terror cell,” said one source. Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed the arrest of the two suspects. Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigation Department chief Zainuddin Ahmad said initial investigations revealed that the suspects had issued the threats to embassy officials. “They even demanded RM6,000 (S$2,200) if the officials wanted more information on the attack,” Senior Assistant Commissioner Zainuddin said when contacted. This is the second time the Saudi embassy had received threats from ISIS. The first time was about two months ago. Thousands of fighters from across the globe, including some from South-east Asia, have flocked to join the militant group which has taken over parts of Iraq and Syria and declared an Islamic caliphate in the middle of last year. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK –

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Motorcycle Gunmen Attack Israeli Embassy in Athens.

Israeli embassy in Athens Attacked by gunmen.
Israeli embassy in Athens Attacked by gunmen.

Greek authorities are said to be investigating a gunfire attack on the Israeli embassy in Athens, which took place in the wee hours of Friday.

Police have cordoned off a major road outside the Athens embassy, while forensic experts in white protective clothes were searching the area, reports AP. No one has been reported injured or dead so far.

Shots were reportedly fired from a motorcycle passing in front of the embassy, which is located on the corner of a busy highway, according to the police.

Moments later, two other persons on a second motorcycle reportedly participated in the attack that took place at 3:20 am local time.

The AFP reports that early evidence suggested a Kalashnikov assault rifle was used. Greece’s anti-terrorist squad will examine the bullet casings found in the scene to assess if the pre-dawn attack had any resemblance to other terrorist attacks in the past.

Friday’s attack comes just two days after a Palestinian official died in the West Bank after a confrontation with Israeli soldiers.

It can be noted that Greece has strongly been condemning Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza and many protests have been held in Athens in support of the Palestinians. In recent years, far-left groups in the county have targeted vehicles of embassy officials.

In 2007, a rocket was fired at the US embassy in Athens while the residence of the German ambassador in Athens has been attacked twice with assault rifles in 2013 and 1999.

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http://www.ibtimes.co.in/israeli-embassy-greece-attacked-men-motorcycle-fire-shots-pre-dawn-ambush-616940

Unknown Group Attacks Turkish Consulate with Molotov Cocktails.

A group of masked assailants threw Molotov cocktails at the Turkish Consulate in the Greek city of Thessaloniki on Sunday.

The group ran away from the scene of the incident after throwing at least five Molotov cocktails at a police bus and a police booth located in front of the consulate building.

The attack came at a time when the Turkish and Greek foreign ministers were holding bilateral meetings over the weekend.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is expected to join the Turkey-Greece High-Level Cooperation Council meeting on Dec. 5-6 in Athens, under the co-chairmanship of Davutoğlu and his Greek counterpart, Antonis Samaras.

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US Embassy in Sanaa Bombed on Thanksgiving.

On Nov. 28, a Twitter account linked to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed credit for bombing the US Embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa during the evening of Nov. 27, coinciding with Thanksgiving, using two improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The last time AQAP has claimed credit for directly targeting the US Embassy in Sanaa was in late September, after fighters from the terrorist group launched rockets that reportedly fell about 100 meters away from the embassy.

In the statement regarding the latest embassy attack, AQAP claims that its fighters managed to plant two IEDs at the northern gate of the US Embassy in Sana’a. The statement notes that one of these explosives contained shrapnel, a common terrorist practice used to increase potential injuries from the explosion. According to AQAP, the explosives were detonated at precisely 7:51 p.m. on Nov. 27 and resulted in a number of casualties among the ranks of the embassy security guards.

However, the AQAP narrative on the attack is at odds with other reports on the incident. Arabic media reports and Yemeni security sources claimed that assailants riding a motorbike who were “believed to be from al Qaeda” opened fire at the embassy security guards. Those reports also state that two individuals were killed in the course of the “clashes,” including one of the assailants.

The AQAP statement recognizes this disparity and denies the media reports’ claims. “Our correspondent denied the veracity of this matter,” the AQAP statement reads, “confirming that the attack was carried out by detonating the two IEDs remotely and not by using firearms, as was stated by the media.”

This latest attack comes just weeks after AQAP claimed to have targeted US Ambassador to Yemen Matthew H. Tueller. On Nov. 8, AQAP stated that two IEDs planted by its fighters in front of the residence of the Yemeni president in Sana’a were intended to be detonated as Tueller left a meeting inside the house. Tueller met with President Hadi on Nov. 8 in his Sana’a home for over an hour, and the AQAP statement claimed that the explosives were found just minutes before the ambassador exited the Yemeni president’s house.

If AQAP’s claims are true, this would be yet another indication that AQAP has successfully exploited Yemen’s current unstable political and security situation to its benefit. Just this month, AQAP has claimed to have planted explosives in front of the residences of both the current and former Yemeni presidents, attempted to assassinate the US ambassador, and tried to attack the US Embassy. These alleged attacks have come amid almost daily AQAP operations against Yemeni military positions, particularly in the southern and eastern provinces, as well as targeting the advance of Shiite Houthi rebels in central Yemen.

AQAP claims responsibility for US Embassy Bombing.
AQAP claims responsibility for US Embassy Bombing.

Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2014/11/aqap_claims_credit_for_ied_att.php#ixzz3KV84aX00

Two killed in suicide attack outside Iranian consulate in Pakistan

Two security guards wee killed in an attack on the Iranian consulate.
Two security guards wee killed in an attack on the Iranian consulate.

 PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Two security guards were killed and more than a dozen people wounded on Monday in a suicide bombing outside the Iranian consulate in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan, police said.

 The attack was in an area housing offices of foreign diplomatic missions and non-governmental organizations in the sprawling city on the Afghan border.

“It was a suicide blast. A man walked up to the checkpost outside the foreign mission after parking his car nearby. The man blew himself up when he was stopped by security men,” a local police officer told Reuters.
 
 The wounded were taken to hospital where the condition of five was serious.
 
A spokesman for Pakistani jihadist Mast Gul, once acclaimed in Pakistan for his role fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, claimed responsibility. The group is affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban, who are fighting to topple the government.
              “We sent a suicide bomber to target the Iranian consulate and Iranians inside the building,” the spokesman said.
              “They unfortunately remained safe.
              “We will continue to target Iranian installations and the Shi’a community everywhere,” he added.
              Iran is Pakistan’s predominantly Shi’ite Muslim neighbor to the west. Radical Sunni militants frequently attacks Shi’ite targets   and mosques in Pakistan, describing minority Shi’ites as infidels to be exterminated.
             
Shi’ite Pakistani pilgrims are often attacked as they travel across the country to visit holy Shi’ite sites in Iran.
             
The attack on the Iranian consulate came as the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tries to engage the Taliban in peace talks. Negotiations broke down this month after a string of attacks and counter-attacks by both sides.
 (Reporting by Jibran Ahmed; Writing by Syed Raza Hassan; Editing by Maria Golovnina and Andrew Roche)
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Motar Fire and Car Bomb Reported Near French Embassy in Yemen.

Yemen_embassy

SANAA — A mortar shell was fired overnight in the direction of the French embassy in Yemen, while a car bomb exploded metres away in Sanaa’s diplomatic quarter, a police source said Monday.

“The two attacks happened after midnight. There were no victims,” the source said.

The shell fell by a concrete block, installed for security reasons on a road leading to the embassy, he added.

That blast came shortly after a car exploded on the nearby main road.

“The shell landed about thirty metres (yards) from the wall of the French embassy,” while the car “was parked halfway between the embassy and the residence of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in the capital?s diplomatic district of Hadda, the same source said.

Those explosions came shortly after two devices went off in a minibus parked in the centre of Sanaa not far from the defence ministry, also causing no casualties, a military source said.

Such violent acts have increased in Yemen where Shiite Huthi rebels have been pushing out from the mountains of the far north to areas closer to Sanaa to expand their hoped-for autonomous unit in a promised federal Yemen.

That prospect of a federal Yemen was originally mooted as a way to address grievances of the formerly independent south, where tensions are high as secessionist violence rises.

Al-Qaeda militants have also seized foreigners in the poor country which is undergoing a difficult transition since nationwide Arab Spring protests that forced Saleh to step down in February 2012 after 33 years in power.

Trackback: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=63983

Car Bomb Targets French Embassy in Tripoli

The French Embassy in Libya was attacked and two embassy guards injured.
The French Embassy in Libya was attacked and two embassy guards injured.

TRIPOLI, Libya — A car bomb targeted the French Embassy in the Libyan capital Tuesday, wounding two French guards and a Libyan teenager and underscoring the central government’s inability to stop the oil-rich North African nation’s slide toward deepening lawlessness.

There have been several attacks on diplomatic missions in Benghazi, but Tuesday’s was the first in Tripoli since the civil war ended with Moammar Gadhafi’s death. On Sept. 11, four Americans — including the U.S. Ambassador in Libya Chris Stevens — were killed when militants attacked the U.S. diplomatic mission in the eastern city.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack on the French Embassy in Tripoli, but many blamed either Islamic extremists avenging France’s military intervention in Mali or militias seeking to send a message that they’re winning the struggle for control and that cracking down on them only backfires.

French President Francois Hollande denounced the attack as an assault not only on France but all countries engaged in the fight against terrorism.

“France expects the Libyan authorities to shed the fullest light on this unacceptable act, so that the perpetrators are identified and brought to justice,” Hollande said in a statement from Paris.

Two years after the country’s civil war, Libya is struggling to maintain security, build a unified army and rein in militias, which include rebels who fought to oust Gadhafi in 2011 and have refused to lay down their arms.

Prime Minister Ali Zidan and his defense and interior ministers have been increasingly cracking down on some militias in the capital. Zidan also has reached out to France and other countries for training and technical aid in building the country’s security forces from scratch.

On the one hand, the Libyan government heavily depends on security provided by commanders of powerful militias, with top Libyan leaders dubbing some “legitimate” forces while others like Ansar al-Shariah are labeled as outlaws.

However, both categories of militias often act with impunity, running their own prison cells, making arrests and taking confessions in total absence of state control and oversight. They at the same time enjoy steady and lavish salaries and rewards.

“The Number One party benefiting from these attacks is the militias and the extremists. Whenever we take a step forward, an attack by these groups drags us back,” said lawmaker Tawfiq Breik, from the liberal-leaning National Forces Alliance bloc in parliament.

“The message to the outside world is that Libya is slipping into terrorism. The goal is to empty the capital of foreign and diplomatic missions like Benghazi. The big loser is the Libya people, if no decisive measures are taken.”

Libyans have been staging protests and sit-ins demanding that authorities label all militias illegal. The protesters want militia commanders and their fighters to integrate into the Libyan army as individuals. If they integrate into the army as groups, they say the fighters will maintain their loyalty to their militia commanders.

The assault will increase pressure already mounting on the country’s top army chief Maj. Gen. Youssef al-Mangoush who is blamed for Libya’s failure to take any concrete steps to build its army, allowing the militias to expand.

France is a major ally of the Libyan government and the assault on the embassy in Tripoli was seen to many Libyans as equal in its impact as the killing of Stevens, who aided Libyans during the war.

French officials, meanwhile, have expressed concerns about the possibility of greater instability in Libya, where they believe at least some rebel fighters from Mali fled following France’s military onslaught to dislodge al-Qaida-linked militants who controlled the vast north of the West African country for months.

Last week, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, threatened to seek revenge against all countries taking part in the war in Mali, warning that no one who “participated in this ferocious attack” will be safe. It called on “all Muslims to target France and its interests and subjects inside and outside France until it withdraws the last soldier from the land of the Muslims and lifts its support of rulers of the region.” That threat came as part of a question and answer session on AQIM’s new Twitter account.

Several diplomats, relief agencies and churches have come under attack and scores of Libyan security officials have been assassinated in the post-Gadhafi turmoil. In most cases, the government fails to nail down culprits or make arrests, either because of fear of counterattacks or the lack of capabilities to carry out a proper investigation.

The lawlessness has prompted the U.S., Britain and other Western countries to close their missions in Benghazi and call on their nationals to evacuate the city.

In the latest attack, the explosives-laden car was detonated just outside the embassy building in Tripoli’s upscale al-Andalus neighborhood early in the morning, before any of the embassy staff had arrived inside the diplomatic mission, two Libyan security officials said.

The strong explosion wounded two French guards and set a fire at the embassy entrance that engulfed some of the offices inside, the officials said. A Libyan girl, who was having breakfast in a nearby house, was also hurt from the blast, Deputy Prime Minister Awad al-Barassi said on his official Facebook page.

Two cars parked outside the embassy caught fire and two other nearby buildings were also damaged, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Firefighters rushed to the scene of the attack as smoke billowed into the sky. Video from the scene showed charred walls on surrounding houses.

The officials said the motives for the attack were not immediately clear. The Libyan government condemned the attack and said in a statement posted on its official website that it “rejects such actions, which are directly targeting Libya’s security and stability.”

At Hollande’s request, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was to travel to Tripoli later Tuesday to assess the situation and bring home the two wounded French guards.

Ahead of his flight, Fabius said “this bombing was intended to kill, but France will not bend.” He added that France was reinforcing security throughout the Mideast and the Sahel region of Africa.

French institutions in Tripoli, including schools and cultural centers, were ordered to immediately suspend their activities.

France, along with Britain, took a leading role in the NATO-led air campaign against Gadhafi’s forces.

Hollande’s predecessor, President Nicolas Sarkozy, was hailed by many in Libya for France’s role, and Paris has sought to maintain close economic and political contacts with the new leadership in Tripoli.

The attack site was later cordoned off, with heavy national guard and army units with armored vehicles surrounding the area. Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Awad al-Barassi and Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz visited the site.

Libyan Saqr al-Qarifi, whose house is adjacent to the French Embassy, said the explosion woke him up around 7 a.m.

“I heard a loud boom and immediately after that, windows were shattered and parts of my house were damaged,” he said.

US Embassy in Kabul Attacked on Christmas.

The US Embassy in Afghanistan was attacked on Christmas day.
The US Embassy in Afghanistan was attacked on Christmas day.

A Taliban attack Christmas Day struck the United States Embassy in Kabul early Wednesday morning, forcing embassy workers and American diplomats to underground bunkers to shield themselves from the blast. The pair of rockets that were fired at the embassy were accompanied by two other rockets that hit other parts of Kabul. No casualties were reported, but three Afghan police officers were wounded when they attempted to defuse one of the rockets after it failed to detonate on impact.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, quickly made a statement on behalf of the group, saying that the Taliban attack was coordinated against the U.S. embassy. The Taliban, on Mujahid’s Twitter feed, claimed that the four rockets fired at various parts of the city “inflicted heavy casualties.” Official reports claim otherwise, with no deaths and only a few wounded.

Shortly afterwards Mujahid retracted his statement, saying “The magnitude of the (Taliban) attack and the scope of the losses have yet to be determined,” a serious contrast between his confident statement hours earlier.

While at first glance it seems as though the Taliban attack on Christmas Day holds some sort of significance, observers say that the holiday is hardly recognized in Afghanistan, where there are little to no Christians. Often the Taliban use prominent Islamic holidays to set off large scale attacks to grab headlines across the Middle East.

Officials are looking now to assess damage to the Embassy, and it is unclear whether or not there is a breach in any of the fortified walls. Embassy workers were cleared to leave their bunkers only two hours after the early morning attack to return to their stations.

Rocket attacks in Afghanistan have been relatively rare in recent years, and often they are random and misguided. Such an attack aimed at the presidential palace in 2009 was meant to disrupt the presidential election held in Afghanistan. Instead, the rockets landed in the “general vicinity” of the presidential palace, causing little damage or harm.

“Sneak” bombs have usually been the Taliban’s M.O., inflicting more damage and causing bodily harm. Such an attack on Wednesday targeted a group of police officers in Pul-i-Alam, the capital of Logar Province, south of Kabul. Six policemen were killed in the attack, the first attack in the area in a month and a half.

This attack follows the recent death of a prominent Taliban leader in Kandahar province by the Afghan National Army. The senior Taliban leader, Mullah Noor Mohammad, was said to be the target of an ambush by Afghan forces.

In the ambush Afghan forces were able to seize valuable information from the compound where Mohammad has been hiding out, as well as ammunition, weapons, and communication devices.

Recent in-fighting in the Taliban over leadership has also marred the worldwide terrorist organization. Following a drone strike that killed Hakimullah Meshud, a beloved figure in the Taliban, talks have been growing between rivaling factions for control over the group.

The Christmas Day Taliban attack on the Embassy may have gone without any casualties or serious damage, but officials are saying security will be increased in light of the events.

By John Amaruso Sources: New York Times Indian Express Khaama

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23 Killed in Attack Against Iranian Embassy in Beirut.

Civil Defence personnel extinguish a fire on cars at the site of the explosions near the Iranian embassy in Beirut

BEIRUT (Alliance News) – Twenty-four people were killed Tuesday in a twin suicide bombing on the Iranian embassy in Beirut that an al-Qaeda-linked group said was carried out in retaliation for the Lebanese Hezbollah militia’s involvement in Syria’s civil war.

The attack by bombers on a motorcycle and in a car occurred in a largely Shiite area in southern Beirut that is home to Hezbollah members and Iranian diplomats. More than 146 people were injured.

The toll was expected to rise because many of the wounded were in critical condition, Lebanese Health Minister Ali Hassan al-Khalil said.

“The assault on the Iranian embassy in Beirut was a double martyrdom operation carried out by two heroes of the Sunni people in Lebanon,” said a Twitter post by Sheikh Sirajeddine Zuraiqat, a spiritual leader of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades, which claimed responsibility for the attack.

Zuraiqat, who was jailed in Lebanon over his links to al-Qaeda and was released a year ago, said attacks would continue until the withdrawal from Syria of Iran-backed Hezbollah fighters supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against largely Sunni rebels.

He also demanded the release of the group’s prisoners from Lebanese prisons.

The first of Tuesday’s two blasts occurred when an embassy guard shot a motorcyclist wearing an explosives belt who tried to force his way into the embassy compound, a Lebanese security officer said.

The second blast took place 40 meters away from the embassy entrance, said the official, who asked not to be named.

Video footage posted on Lebanese news websites showed charred cars and bloodied bodies on the main street outside the embassy. Several buildings were damaged, and the street was covered with glass and debris.

Among the dead was cultural envoy Ibrahim Ansari, Iranian Ambassador Ghazanfar Roknabadi told Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television.

Sources close to the Iranian embassy also said Iranian security guards were among the dead and wounded.

The bombing was the third this year in areas of Beirut controlled by Hezbollah, whose decision to send militiamen to Syria to fight against Sunni rebels armed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states has prompted sectarian bloodshed in Lebanon.

A bombing in southern Beirut in August killed 22 people while a July blast there injured 53.

Supporters and opponents of al-Assad have fought deadly street clashes, mainly in the northern city of Tripoli, where a twin bombing in a largely Sunni area in August killed about 43 people.

Hezbollah admitted this year that it had sent fighters to Syria, and the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, vowed this month to keep them there as long as needed.

Tuesday’s attack was the latest sign that Syria’s civil war, which started in early 2011 with peaceful street protests, could spark a wider conflict in the Middle East, where Iran and Saudi Arabia compete for influence.

Lebanon has been without a government since caretaker premier Najib Mikati resigned in March because of deepening divisions on several domestic issues and the crisis in Syria.

Tuesday’s bombing was “strongly” condemned by the UN Security Council, which called it a “heinous crime” against the people and government of Iran.

The Iranian embassy said it would receive condolences for the Lebanese and Iranian victims of the bombing on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Nigerian Embassy in Guinea-Bissau Attacked by Armed Groups

Nigerian embassy attacked amid rising tensions in Guinea Bissau.
Nigerian embassy attacked amid rising tensions in Guinea Bissau.

Armed groups Tuesday attacked the Nigerian embassy in Bissau, capital of Guinea-Bissau, a country of about 1.7 million people. The reason for the action is not yet known.

The event is happening just as the country is preparing for its general elections slated for next month.

Guinea-Bissau currently has an Interim President, Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, who emerged in May 2012 to head a transitional government following the sacking of the country’s democratically-elected government by a military coup.

According to The Guardian sources, armed personnel and militias stormed the Nigerian embassy in a commando style, attacking everyone in sight and eventually causing the closure of the Nigerian sovereign outpost.

As at press time, members of staff of the embassy, including the Nigerian envoy to that country, Ambassador Ahmed Adams, were said to be taking refuge in a police station. No casualty has so far been reported.

All efforts by The Guardian to reach the Nigerian envoy to the country failed. Although his telephone rang, he did not pick.

Although the Federal Government was yet to officially react to the development yesterday, it was learnt that the supervisory Minister of Foreign Affairs 11, Ambassador Nurudeen Mohammed, rushed to the Presidential Villa yesterday ostensibly, among other things, to brief President Goodluck Jonathan. All efforts to reach the minister yesterday on the matter failed.

Events in Guinea-Bissau took a dangerous turn on April 12, 2012, when the army arrested Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior who was about to be elected president. A military junta accused him of conspiring with Angola to curtail the military’s power and quickly installed transitional authorities, before officially stepping aside on May 22. International condemnation was swift, but differences developed between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP).

The country was actually in the process of conducting elections when the military overthrew the constitutional order on April 12, 2012. This incident resulted in the suspension of the country from all international organisations. However, following the country’s inability to form a government well over a month after the coup, Nigeria, in close collaboration with ECOWAS, assisted in negotiations that resulted in the transitional government led by President Manuel Nhamadjo. Since then, Nigeria has provided various forms of assistance to Guinea- Bissau to the value of $50 million.

The Guardian learnt Tuesday that some high grade pick-up vans meant to be donated next week to Guinea-Bissau for the upcoming elections have now been put on hold following yesterday’s ugly development.

Author of this article: From Oghogho Obayuwana, Foreign Affairs
Editor

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German Embassy Guard shot Dead in Yemen

Embassy Guard Killed in Yemen

(Reuters) – Gunmen shot dead a German security guard employed by the German embassy in Yemen’s capital on Sunday as he was leaving a supermarket, Yemeni security officials said, in an attack they said bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda.

The man was gunned down in Sanaa’s Hadda district, where the embassy is located. It was the latest in a series of attacks on foreign and local officials in the U.S.-allied state, which is battling one of the most active branches of al Qaeda.

“We believe that al Qaeda was behind the killing,” a Yemeni police source said. Another source said that the guard was killed as he was leaving the store to go to his car.

Pan-Arab news channel al-Arabiya reported that the guard had been shot dead as the assailants tried to kidnap the German ambassador Carola Mueller-Holtkemper, who escaped.

Two Yemeni officials said they were unable to confirm the report of the attempted kidnap. Embassy employees in Sanaa and the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin declined to comment.

Mueller-Holtkemper had only recently arrived in Yemen and presented her credentials to Yemeni authorities less than a week ago, a statement on the embassy’s website showed.

In a separate attack on Sunday, kidnappers seized an African employee of the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF as he was travelling from the Sanaa to the Red Sea coastal town of Hudaidah, a UNICEF official in Sanaa said.

Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has attacked several Western targets, including airliners, and is believed to have been behind a series of killings of foreign and local officials in the country since 2011.

In November last year gunmen shot dead a Saudi diplomat and his Yemeni bodyguard in Sanaa in an attack believed to be the work of the group. A month earlier, masked gunmen shot dead a Yemeni man who worked in the security office of the U.S. Embassy.

Germany was one of several Western countries which shut their Yemen embassies in early August after a U.S. warning of a possible major militant attack in the Middle East. The mission reopened after a two-week closure.

The U.S. embassy in Yemen was attacked in September 2012 by demonstrators angry at a film they said was blasphemous to Islam. Hundreds of Yemenis broke through the main gate of the heavily fortified compound, smashed windows of security offices outside the embassy and burned cars.

On Sunday AQAP said in a statement it was behind an attack on an army base in the southeast of the country last week in protest at the army’s cooperation with the United States and vowed to continue its “holy war” against Yemeni forces.

Militants took advantage of political chaos in Yemen during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011 to seize control of some towns and surrounding areas in the south of the country.

They were beaten back by Yemeni forces with assistance from the United States and dispersed into smaller groups spread across the south of the country.

(Additional reporting by Boris Berner in Berlin, Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by William Maclean and Andrew Roche)

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