The South Asia Channel

GTMO hunger strike appears to end as detainees start eating again

Strike ending?

The five-month-long hunger strike by more than 100 detainees at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba appeared to be ending last week as military officials reported several detainees had started eating again (NYT, Post).  According to Lt. Col. Samuel House, a spokesman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, 99 detainees had a hot meal last week, though they will still be considered to be on strike until they consume a minimum number of calories over several days; at least 45 hunger strikers are still being force-fed twice a day.  House said he wasn't sure what prompted the change, but that it follows the return of many detainees to communal areas - a move made at the start of Ramadan to allow them to pray together.   The hunger strike began in February as a protest to the legal limbo many detainees find themselves in.

Zakaria Kandahari, a former Afghan interpreter with U.S. Special Forces in Wardak province, arrested six weeks ago on accusations of torturing and killing Afghan civilians, told Afghan investigators that he was always acting on orders from the U.S. military (Reuters).  Kandahari specifically linked three U.S. soldiers by name to the killings.  U.S. military officials have consistently denied any involvement in the attacks, and have conducted several investigations into the Wardak disappearances.

At least 15 Afghan Taliban fighters were killed Tuesday night by a NATO airstrike in Logar province (Pajhwok).  According to the governor's spokesman, the group that was targeted had gathered to attack police posts in the region.  Elsewhere in Kunduz province, seven Taliban militants and one Afghan police officer were killed Tuesday night during a security operation led by the Afghan Local Police (Pajhwok).  Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, confirmed the attack but claimed three local police members were killed.

A dozen Afghan civilians were wounded in Paktia province on Wednesday when roadside bomb exploded near a bazaar around 10 a.m. (Pajhwok).  Col. Mohammad Zaman, the provincial deputy police chief, said the police are still trying to ascertain the target of the attack, and that an investigation into the incident has begun.

No Syrian training camps

The Pakistani Taliban rejected recent suggestions that they were sending fighters to Syria on Tuesday, saying that while some members have gone there independently, the group remains focused on Pakistan (AFP).  According to Taliban commanders, Arab and Central Asian fighters have gone to join the fight against President Bashar al-Assad, but they are not setting up camps.  Pakistani government officials released their own statements on Tuesday saying that intelligence reports have not confirmed that any Taliban fighters have left for Syria (VOA).

Police in Karachi arrested Bashir Leghari on Wednesday morning, the suspected mastermind behind a deadly bombing that killed nine people and injured Sindh High Court judge Maqbool Baqar in June (Dawn).  According to Dr. Ameer Sheikh, the local deputy inspector general, Leghari was captured in the Surjani Town area of the city with the help of intelligence officials.  While a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, Leghari is believed to be a member of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group.


Afghanistan's only Olympic medalist, 26-year-old taekwondo star Rohullah Nikpa, released a statement Tuesday saying that he will boycott international competition until reforms are made to end discrimination and mismanagement within the Afghanistan Taekwondo Federation (AFP).  The two-time bronze medalist, and member of the minority Hazara community, is seen as a unifying figure in the country and his decision is considered a step backwards for the country.

-- Bailey Cahall 



Joe Raedle/Getty Images


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