A suicide bomber detonated his explosives in central Khost City on Monday as NATO and Afghan troops conducted a joint foot patrol, killing three foreign service members and at least ten Afghan police and civilians (NYT, AP, Tel, BBC, Post, CNN, AJE). The bomber was reportedly dressed in an Afghan police uniform, and had attached his explosives to a motorcycle in a crowded area outside of a bank. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Two Americans and three Afghans were reportedly killed Saturday in a firefight between the two allied forces, which broke out after an argument at an Afghan National Army checkpoint in the Said Abad district of Wardak Province, just west of the capital city of Kabul (NYT, Post). The apparent insider attack came just two days after the U.S. military said joint operations in which NATO troops fight alongside Afghan troops were on the rise again, having been suspended briefly a week earlier.
As U.S. Marines transition out of the southern Afghan province of Helmand, they leave the region's future up to several tribal elders, some of whom NATO has convinced to support the Afghan government, and others who worry that the government won't be able to keep Helmand secure, and choose to throw in their lot with the Taliban instead (Post).
Severe flooding due to torrential monsoon rains has taken 440 lives in Pakistan this year, and affected 4.8 million people in 20 districts, according to the country's National Disaster Management Authority (ET, AFP, BBC, The News, CNN). In addition, more than a million acres of crops have been destroyed in the floods, and around 8,000 cattle died.
Thousands of Karachiites rallied against the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims on Saturday, some shouting "hang the American filmmaker!" and other anti-American slogans (AFP, VOA, AP). A senior police official estimated that 15,000 people participated in the rally, many of them activists for Pakistan's most conservative Islamist groups. And on Sunday, a smaller crowd of 5,000 turned out to protest the film again in Karachi (AP, The News).
A Pakistani-British man was killed in Rawalpindi on Friday in the lead-up to a trial where he planned to testify against a gang that kidnapped him and held him for ransom for 20 days last September (BBC, Guardian, ET, AP). At least three people died in a U.S. drone strike on a vehicle in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal agency on Monday (The News, AP, AFP). Meanwhile, security forces in Upper Orakzai killed seven militants on Monday (The News).
Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws may be used to prosecute a group of Muslims who attacked a Hindu temple on September 21, the day that saw massive protests against the anti-Islam film turn violent across the country (AP). The attackers allegedly stormed a temple on the outskirts of Karachi, destroyed religious statues and books, and beat the temple caretaker.
Despite the ravages of the decade-long war, Kabul's teenagers are no different than teens in other parts of the world when it comes to the desire to sport the latest fashion trend (Post). In the trailer for a new Bollywood movie, the famed actor Salman Khan goes through a dizzying array of thin, brightly colored scarves as he performs a song called "Mashallah." The scarves have since become wildly popular amongst the Afghan youth.
-- Jennifer Rowland