- Obama ‘cavalier’ in hiding foreign aid order, judge rules
- Prince Charles: Muslims are driving Christians from Mideast through persecution
- Gitmo’s first commander: Close the prison down
- Google’s newest photography find: Just wink and shoot
- Detroit’s Heidelberg art project hit by 8 fires in 8 months
- Pa. police pull people over for random DNA tests for feds
- NASA pushing hard to get back into space game
- Harvard student to face federal charges for bomb hoax
- Ronnie Biggs of ‘Great Train Robbery’ fame dies, 84
- Pope Francis wins another ‘Person of the Year’ — from gay rights magazine
Grenades at Afghan mosque, bicycle bomb injure 23
The violence came a day after bomb blasts around Afghanistan killed at least 50 people in the deadliest day for civilians this year, as Taliban insurgents and other militants ramp up violence across the country.
Separately, NATO reported that one of its service members was killed Wednesday in an insurgent attack in the east. NATO did not disclose the nationality of the soldier or provide any more details. So far this year, 285 international troops have been killed in Afghanistan.
At least nine worshippers were wounded when the grenades exploded during morning prayers at a mosque in Baghi Sara area, Khost police Chief Sardar Mohammad Zazai said. One exploded inside the mosque, and the other went off in a courtyard outside. The third failed to detonate.
“This was the work of the enemy,” he said. “It cannot be a private dispute. Why would anyone be so angry to throw grenades in a mosque while people are praying?”
He said many of the worshippers were Afghans who work at the nearby U.S. post, Forward Operating Base Salerno.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid issued a statement that did not acknowledge the mosque attack but claimed that an insurgent suicide bomber had attacked a U.S. base in Khost, causing several American casualties.
A spokesman for the NATO military coalition said Wednesday that there was no attack on the Salerno base, which is close to the mosque in Baghi Sara. Lt. Col. Hagen Messer said that American personnel at the base reported hearing gunfire from the mosque but that Afghan police were investigating.
At least 14 people, including four women and a policeman, were injured when explosives set up on a bicycle exploded at a market in the city of Herat while people were shopping for an upcoming Muslim holiday, said Noor Khan Nekzad, a spokesman for the provincial police.
The latest violence follows a particularly bloody day for Afghanistan. Suicide bombers launched multiple attacks in remote Nimroz province in southwestern Afghanistan near the Iranian border on Tuesday, killing dozens of people, including shoppers buying sweets for a Muslim holiday. The bombings left charred and smoldering bits of cookies and dried fruit among the bodies on the ground.
A separate market bombing later Tuesday, this one in Kunduz in the north, killed 10 people, including five children.
And in the eastern province of Paktika, a car hit a roadside bomb. Four children died in the blast, provincial spokesman Mokhlis Afghan said, bringing Tuesday’s death toll to 50 — 11 police and 39 civilians. At least 110 people were wounded in all the attacks.
The attacks came as the Taliban and their allies step up their assaults in a display of force that often results in civilian carnage. Militants are especially trying to weaken the still-developing Afghan security forces, who are to assume control across their homeland in 28 months, when most foreign combat troops will have left.
The Taliban “want to expand their influence — show that they are everywhere,” said Afghan political analyst Jawid Kohistani. “They want to show that the Afghan police are not strong enough, so they are targeting the security forces and the government.”
“By targeting innocent civilians in populated areas, the insurgents have again shown they will kill noncombatants without hesitation to advance their backward-looking plans for Afghanistan,” Gen. Allen said in a statement. “Once again, I call on (Afghan Taliban leader) Mullah Omar to rein in his murderers. His intentions not to target civilians are hollow.”
In past statements, Mullah Omar has asked his fighters to avoid civilian casualties. In one message in 2010, for instance, he said, “Pay attention to the life and property of the civilians so that … your jihad activities will not become a cause for destruction of property and loss of life of people.”
The United Nations reported last week that civilian deaths were lower in the first six months of 2012 than in the first half of 2011, but that an onslaught of summer attacks from insurgents was threatening to reverse that trend.
In all, 1,145 civilians were killed in Afghanistan between January and June of this year, according to the U.N. report.
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
- U.S. Army mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson
- IRS pays tax cheats hundreds of millions of dollars
- HURT: D.C. gets the vapors, calls sequester too much
- Top Democrats reject court ruling over NSA spying on Americans
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- EDITORIAL: Al Gore, soothsayer
- Obama mocks Putin, picks gay athletes for Sochi delegation
- We told you so: Conservatives foresaw polygamy ruling
- Army to cut up to 4,000 captains and majors
- Senators in rush to pass budget vow to undo cut to military retirement pay
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
A libertarian look at breaking news and political trends by author Tom Mullen.
Southern Fried Politics from the Lens of a Persian-American Millennial
Wall Street news for retail investors who want to know what's going on.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow