The South Asia Channel

Taliban launch sophisticated attack on Peshawar airport

Complex attack

Taliban militants launched a multipronged attack on the airport in Peshawar on Saturday evening, beginning with rocket fire that blasted a hole in the perimeter wall, followed by the approach of a vehicle carrying armed militants, which exploded before it could breach the wall of the airport, killing all five militants inside (NYT, Reuters, AP, CNN, AJE, ET, Post). Finally, security guards at the airport engaged in a firefight with a second group of militants who had been hiding in a nearby building. Four civilians were also killed.

Peshawar police officers launched an operation in a nearby village on Sunday, and killed five more militants believed to have been involved in the airport attack the day before, while the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack (The News, ET, Tel, AJE).

A massive car bomb was detonated by remote control near government offices in the town of Jamrud in Khyber Agency on Monday, ripping through the women's waiting area of a bus stop and killing at least 17 people and wounding over 40 (NYT, BBC, Dawn).

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik arrived in India on Friday for a three-day visit, during which he reportedly offended his hosts multiple times; first, with the apparent comparison of the 1992 demolition of a mosque in India to the 2008 Mumbai attacks by Pakistani extremists, and later with the allegation that Abu Jundal, an Indian suspected of involvement in the Mumbai attacks, had links to the Indian intelligence services (WSJ, NDTV). But before those comments, Malik and his Indian counterpart Sushil Kumar Shinde signed an agreement on Friday to ease visa restrictions on Pakistanis traveling to India (Reuters, AP, AJE).

Deadly terrain

Nine young Afghan girls -- ages 9-11 years -- were killed in a landmine explosion while they were collecting firewood on Monday (Post, AP). Three other girls were seriously wounded in the explosion, which police said was likely caused by an old landmine that had been laid years ago. Also on Monday, a car bomb exploded in Kabul outside of a compound housing U.S. military contractor Contrack, wounding dozens of people (AP).

Afghan president Hamid Karzai reiterated a request he has made before on Saturday: that U.S. and NATO troops withdraw from Afghan villages and transfer security responsibility to local forces as soon as possible (AP).  The United States has said that in mid-2013 NATO forces would be operating from fewer bases and the withdrawal would accelerate, but Karzai appeared Saturday to say he wanted that process to happen sooner.

France withdrew the last of its combat troops from Afghanistan on Saturday, leaving about 1,500 French soldiers to finish transferring equipment and to train Afghan forces (CNN, AFP). French Defense Minister Thierry Burkhard said those troops would likely remain in Afghanistan for about six months.

U.S. commanders have been making positive assessments of NATO's progress in Afghanistan in 2012, referring to "astounding" progress in some areas of the country, and pointing to the Taliban's failure to successfully complete a series of high-level assassinations or regain territory lost in 2011 (AP).

Warm-up time

The Bangladesh cricket team has agreed in principle to tour Pakistan early next year, which would make them the first team to do so since a militant attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team bus in March 2009 left eight people dead (ET). The team agreed to a similar invitation last April but the Dhaka High Court prevented them from traveling because of security concerns.

-- Jennifer Rowland

A Majeed/AFP/GettyImages

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