DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY September 27, 2009 ~ Six foreign troops killed in Afghanistan*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - September 27, 2009: A suicide car bomb explosion targeting Afghanistan's energy minister killed four civilians Sunday, while attacks and a violent storm killed six international troops, including three French and two American forces, officials said. Daily wages laborers stand near an election poster of Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, center, with first vice president Mohammad Qasim Fahim and second vice president Mohammad Karim Khalili, right, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009. The U.N. is warning that violence in Afghanistan could increase after the results from the country's disputed presidential election are finally tallied and disclosed. Preliminary results from the Aug. 20 vote show President Hamid Karzai with 54.6 percent.
Taliban assassination attempts against Afghan officials have intensified this year, with more than 100 officials and pro-government tribal elders attacked, half of them fatally.
The convoy carrying Energy Minister Ismail Khan, a powerbroker in the western region of Herat, was headed to the airport when a suicide car bomb exploded outside a high school, said Raouf Ahmadi, a police spokesman.
Ahmadi said four civilians died and 17 people were wounded, including four of Khan's bodyguards. He said Khan escaped unharmed and arrived safely at the airport.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility and said the explosion targeted Khan, who was once governor of Herat, a western province bordering Iran.
The Taliban assassination campaign is a strong sign of deteriorating security in the country, where a record number of US and NATO troops have also died this year.
The Obama administration is now debating whether to send more American troops to Afghanistan as its government faces allegations of widespread fraud from the disputed Aug. 20 presidential election.
Two US service members died Saturday in the country's south, one from a roadside bomb explosion and the other from an insurgent attack, the NATO-led force said.
A British soldier died Sunday from a bomb explosion while patrolling in southern Afghanistan, Britain's Defense Ministry said.
Elsewhere, three French soldiers died in a violent storm in northeastern Afghanistan late Saturday. One soldier was struck by lightning while two were swept away by a rain-swollen river during an operation in Kapisa province, said military spokesman Christophe Prazuck.
This year has been the deadliest of the eight-year war for US and NATO troops. The latest six deaths bring to 64 the number of NATO troops killed this month.
Elsewhere in western Afghanistan, three Afghan civilians died when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Farah province. Gen. Mohammad Faqir Askir, Farah's police chief, said the vehicle had just turned off the main highway toward a village when the bomb exploded.
Afghanistan's Interior Ministry said seven Taliban militants were killed in a gunbattle Saturday with police in Kunduz province, once a relatively peaceful region in the north of the country that has recently seen more violence as militants try to expand control.-
DTN News: Iran Test-Fires Missiles Amid Nuclear Tension*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info)TEHRAN, Iran - September 27, 2009: Iran test-fired short-range missiles as its elite Revolutionary Guards began war games on Sunday aimed at boosting the Islamic Republic's deterrent capabilities, official media reported. In this photo released by the Iranian semi-official Mehr News Agency, Revolutionary Guard's Zelzal missile is launched in a drill, Sunday Sept. 27, 2009, near the city of Qom, 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Tehran, Iran. Iran said it successfully test-fired short-range missiles during military drills Sunday by the elite Revolutionary Guard, a show of force days after the U.S. warned Tehran over a newly revealed underground nuclear facility it was secretly constructing.*
The missile maneuvers coincide with increased tension in Iran's nuclear dispute with the West, after last week's disclosure by Tehran that it is building a second uranium enrichment plant.
State radio said the Guards on Monday would test-fire the Shahab 3 missile, which Iranian officials say has a range of around 2,000 km, potentially putting Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf within reach. It has been tested several times before.
Iran's English-language Press TV said two short-range missiles as well as a multiple missile launcher were tested on the exercise's first day.
It showed footage of a missile launch in desert-like terrain, leaving a vapor trail.
"Iran tests two short-range missiles," it said in a scrolling headline, naming them as the ground-to-ground Fateh (Victorious) missile and the Tondar (Thunder) naval missile.
The Revolutionary Guards said "the drill aims to maintain and boost the country's armed forces deterrent capabilities," Press TV said.
The United States, which suspects Iran is seeking to build nuclear bombs, has previously expressed concern about Tehran's missile programme. Iran says its nuclear work is for peaceful power generation purposes.
Iran often conducts war games or tests weapons to show its determination to counter any attack by foes such as Israel or the United States.
"FABRICATED WESTERN CLAMOUR"
Neither the United States nor its ally Israel have ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the nuclear row.
Iran has said it would respond to any attack by targeting U.S. interests in the region and Israel, as well as closing the Strait of Hormuz, a vital route for world oil supplies.
Iran acknowledged the existence of the enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom for the first time on Monday in a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
U.S. officials said the disclosure was designed to pre-empt an announcement by Western governments, which were aware of the site, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the plant was legal and open for inspection by the IAEA.
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Saturday the discovery of a secret nuclear plant showed a "disturbing pattern" of evasion by Iran which added urgency to its talks with six world powers in Geneva on Thursday.
An Iranian official warned that "fabricated Western clamour" over the new enrichment plant would negatively affect the talks, state radio said on Sunday.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's IAEA envoy, said, referring to the six powers: "This Western approach will have a negative impact on Iran's negotiations with the 5+1 countries."
Earlier this month, Obama scrapped a Bush-era plan to deploy missiles in Poland that had been proposed amid concerns Iran was trying to develop nuclear warheads it could mount on long-range missiles.