Tag Archives: interior minister

White House declines to confirm death of Taliban chief in Pakistan

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File photo of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud in 2004. The United States declined on Friday to confirm reports that Baitullah Mehsud, Taliban chief in Pakistan, has likely been killed along with his wife and bodyguards in a drone strike, Aug. 7, 2009.

White House declines to confirm death of Taliban chief in Pakistan

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) — The United States declined on Friday to confirm reports that Baitullah Mehsud, Taliban chief in Pakistan, has likely been killed along with his wife and bodyguards in a drone strike.

“The United States cannot confirm that he has been killed in a drone attack, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

However, the spokesman said that “There seems to be a growing consensus among credible observers that he is indeed dead.”


1bFile photo of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud in 2004. The United States declined on Friday to confirm reports that Baitullah Mehsud, Taliban chief in Pakistan, has likely been killed along with his wife and bodyguards in a drone strike, Aug. 7, 2009.

“Baitullah Mehsud is somebody who has well earned his label as a murderous thug. … He has killed scores of innocent men, women and children and is supposed to have plotted the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. If he is dead, without a doubt, the people of Pakistan will be safer as a result,” Gibbs said.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said in Islamabad on Thursday that the Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mahsud was killed in the missile attack on Wednesday. He said “We have some information, but they don’t have material evidence to confirm it.”

Mehsud has been the leader since 2007 of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, a coalition of Taliban factions loyal to Afghanistan’s Taliban leader, Mohammad Omar. An ally of al-Qaida, Mehsud commands as many as 20,000 fighters in Pakistan’s rugged northwestern frontier region and has directed or supported numerous suicide bombings in Pakistan, including a deadly attack in 2008 on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

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Baghdad – Gunmen kill 8 in Baghdad bank robbery, police say

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Baghdad – Gunmen kill 8 in Baghdad bank robbery, police say

Baghdad,  Gunmen killed eight security guards and made off with nearly $7 million during a brazen bank robbery Tuesday in central Baghdad in the second such assault in a week. While overall violence is down in Iraq, ordinary crime has emerged as an increasing threat to the country’s stability.

Police said the robberies appeared to be the work of militants seeking money for operations after their funding was severely curtailed in U.S.-Iraqi military crackdowns.

The retaliatory sectarian violence that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war has declined dramatically over the past two years. But armed robberies targeting jewelry stores, currency exchanges and pawn shops appear to be on the rise.

Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said he had ordered an investigations and called for increased security measures for banks.

“There should be some warning system within banks, and the bank safe should not be easily opened,” he told The Associated Press. “These gangs have shifted from kidnapping into bank robberies to finance terrorist operations.”

Authorities were particularly alarmed that the two robberies this week occurred in the bustling commercial district of Karradah, a mainly Shiite area that houses many prominent people.

“This crime constitutes a challenge as the district is located in a well-protected area,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

The gunmen broke into the state-run Rafidain Bank at about 4 a.m., killing three on-duty guards and five others on the premises who were either on a break or asleep, according to Iraqi police. They seized 8 billion Iraqi Dinars ($6.9 million), the Interior Ministry said.

It was not immediately known how many gunmen were involved or how the money was secured in the bank at the time of he robbery.

Iraqi and U.S. officials blamed the attacks on militants trying to raise funds for operations, although they did not elaborate on the reason for that conclusion or which side they believed was responsible.

The U.S. military and the Iraqi government have pressed neighboring states to crack down on the smuggling of money to al-Qaida in Iraq and other Sunni insurgents in the country. Iran also has been accused of funneling money and arms to Shiite militias in the wartorn country.


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Iran opposition leaders request OK to commemorate dead

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Iran opposition leaders request OK to commemorate dead

Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi and a fellow presidential candidate are requesting a permit to hold a commemoration ceremony for those killed in the fallout after the June 12 elections, according to a post on Moussavi’s Web site Sunday.

At least 20 protesters were killed and more than 1,000 were arrested in Tehran in the first few days after the election, according to human rights groups.

Moussavi, a reformist and chief rival to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and fellow candidate Mehdi Karrubi sent the letter requesting a permit for the ceremony to the Islamic republic’s interior minister, according to Moussavi’s Ghalam News Web site.

The candidates want to hold the ceremony on Thursday at the site for Friday prayers, saying the date would signify the 40th day after the chaotic street demonstrations. For Iranians, a predominantly Shiite Muslim population, the 40th day marks the last official day of mourning in the immediate aftermath of a death.

The letter indicates that there will be no speeches at the proposed ceremony — only recitations from the Quran. Those who attend would be asked to pay their respects to the dead protesters by remaining silent, the letter says

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