The South Asia Channel

17 Afghan civilians killed in Taliban attack on Supreme Court

Brazen attack

At least 17 Afghan civilians, including six judges, were killed and more than 40 were wounded Tuesday afternoon when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside of Kabul's Supreme Court (BBC, Pajhwok, Post, NYT).  The powerful explosion, which occurred hours after the top U.N. official in Afghanistan said the Taliban had "signaled a willingness" to talk about reducing civilian casualties, targeted several buses of court workers who were headed home for the evening. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said the court employees had been targeted for "legalizing the infidels" and "cruel" behavior against Afghans.  The attack was strongly condemned by Canada, NATO, the United States, and President Karzai who said civilian killings had no justification in Islam or Afghan culture (Pajhwok). 

At least 60 non-Afghan detainees - mostly Kuwaitis, Pakistanis, and Saudis - remain imprisoned in a small portion of Afghanistan's Bagram jail that is still controlled by U.S. forces, according to a new report by Agence France Presse (AFP).  While the U.S. handed control of the prison to the Karzai government three months ago, these prisoners are still considered enemy combatants and are denied access to lawyers, despite having not been charged with any crimes.  The situation has prompted comparisons to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, especially as at least one U.S. official has said the detainees will remain imprisoned as long as U.S. forces are in Afghanistan.

Bomb attacks across Afghanistan killed twelve Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and four civilians on Wednesday, according to government officials (Pajhwok).  Eleven soldiers were killed and six were wounded by roadside bomb explosions in Kandahar and Badghis provinces, while a twelfth soldier died when a remote-controlled motorcycle bomb was detonated in Helmand province. Although ANA soldiers were the targets of the attacks, civilians in the area were also killed and wounded by the bombs. 

Ten militants who were planting roadside bombs in Paktika province were killed in a government airstrike on Wednesday, while an additional six insurgent fighters were killed by security forces in Ghazni province (Pajhwok). 

Re-election

One month after Pakistan's historic national elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) declared the results of the national election in Punjab's Hafizabad district void on Wednesday (Dawn). In response to a complaint by Shahid Hussain Bhatti, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader who lost to independent candidate Liaquat Hussain Bhatti, the ECP requested a vote recount on May 18. In the wake of large-scale vote rigging reports, however, it decided to hold a re-election instead. No date has been set for the re-election.

Police officials from Quetta arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday to arrest former president Pervez Musharraf in the Akbar Bugti murder case (Dawn).  Bugti, a former Minister of State for the Interior and Governor of Balochistan, was killed in 2006 during a military crackdown ordered by then-President Musharraf.  This new arrest, ordered to occur by June 24, will bring the number of cases against the former leader to four.  

Anger over Pakistan's electricity shortage continued in Faisalabad on Tuesday when a large number of villagers attacked an electric company's grid station and offices, and blocked traffic on a nearby road for about 10 hours (Dawn).  The protestors pelted police and vehicles with stones, causing injuries to four officers.  Police chased the protestors away and arrested 10.  Similar protests, which lasted only five hours, occurred in the same area on June 3.  There were a number of other energy-related protests across Pakistan Tuesday, but those were largely peaceful.   

Hacked

U.S. intelligence operatives covertly sabotaged al Qaeda's English-language online magazine, Inspire, last month in an attempt to sow confusion among the group's followers (Post).  The hacked magazine, which appeared online May 14, showed garbled text on the second page and 20 blank pages.  It was quickly removed but a new issue, dedicated to the Boston Marathon bombing, appeared May 30. 

-- Jennifer Rowland and Bailey Cahall 

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

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