The South Asia Channel

Insurgents poison, kill 17 in eastern Afghanistan

Planned attack

Taliban militants poisoned and shot to death 17 Afghans at a checkpoint manned by an anti-Taliban militia in the eastern province of Ghazni on Tuesday night (AP, CNN, AJE, BBC, NYT). Ten of those killed were members of the Afghan Local Police, and seven were friends and relatives who were spending the night there. On Wednesday morning, a suicide bomber attacked a bus carrying Afghan National Army troops in a western district of Kabul Province, wounding six soldiers and one civilian (LAT, RFERL, AFP).

NATO officials said on Tuesday that a previous announcement that "enemy-initiated attacks" in Afghanistan had dropped from 2011 to 2012 was based on incorrect numbers resulting from "clerical errors" (NYT, AP). The U.S.-led coalition had touted the drop as a sign that the Taliban was weakening, but the corrected report shows that insurgent attacks stayed the same over the past two years.

Deadliest jobs

A prominent Pakistani correspondent for both The News and Geo TV, Malik Mumtaz, was shot dead in his home in Peshawar on Wednesday by unidentified gunmen (Dawn, ET). Mumtaz's last few reports were related to the polio vaccination campaign in the region, which militants have targeted for attack, and military operations against local insurgents.

Pakistani Defense Secretary Lt. Gen. Asif Yaseen Malik on Wednesday denied Pakistani media reports that the United States has been granted permission to build a compound with special interrogation cells at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport (ET). On Monday, Dawn Newspaper quoted "documents released by US Army Corps of Engineer" saying that the compound would facilitate the exchange of information about drug smuggling in and around Karachi (Dawn).

A video began circulating online on Tuesday of newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, in which he says, "India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan" in Afghanistan (Dawn, TOI). Hagel made the comment in a 2011 speech to Cameron University in Oklahoma, and its reappearance has sparked backlash from conservatives who opposed his nomination, as well as from India.

And the AFP reports that the United States is seriously considering shifting control of some of its drone attacks to the military, but that this move would likely not apply to the CIA's drone campaign in Pakistan (AFP).

-- Jennifer Rowland

Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images