Tuesday, May 18, 2010

FP morning brief 5/18

Kabul car bombing kills at least 18, including 5 U.S. troops

In the worst attack in Kabul in recent weeks, a suicide bomber drove his car into a U.S. military convoy and detonated his payload on Tuesday morning. The attack killed at least 18 people -- twelve Afghans and six troops from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), including 5 American soldiers. The nationality of the sixth soldier has yet to be confirmed. The blast occurred on a crowded thoroughfare during rush-hour traffic. Many of the Afghan casualties occurred aboard a public bus caught in the blast. Approximately 50 people were also injured in the attack.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call with the Associated Press. He stated that the bomber had packed his car with 1,650 pounds of explosives, and had targeted the military convoy. Mujahid said the attack managed to "destroy five foreign vehicles and damage one more." The Taliban also confirmed that they were behind the attack with a posting on its website, which stated that the attacker was a Kabul resident named Nizamuddin.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C., referred to the attack as "heartbreaking" in a nationally televised news conference. "I hope Afghanistan will soon get out of this suffering, God willing," he said.

U.S. officials to Pakistan: National security team to Pakistan: U.S. President Barack Obama's national security advisor, Jim Jones, and CIA Director Leon Panetta were scheduled to travel to Pakistan on Monday night to discuss developments in the case of the failed Times Square bombing with Pakistani officials.

The Thai government turned down an offer for mediated talks with anti-government protestors.
23 people were killed in a region at the heart of India's Maoist insurgency when their passenger bus hit an explosive device.
A Chinese court convicted Huang Guangyu, once the country's richest man, of bribery and insider trading.
Greece received $136 billion in loans to overcome its debt crisis, the first tranche of the European Union's 110 billion euro bailout of the country.
EU High Representative Catherine Ashton will tour East Africa in an effort to coordinate a response to the threat of piracy.
Portugal's president is poised to sign a law legalizing same-sex marriage.
Middle East
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner denied that his country had cut a deal with Iran to secure the release of a French lecturer accused of espionage.
The Iraq de-Baathification commission announced that it would continue to attempt to disqualify candidates from last March's parliamentary elections.
Hamas executed three Palestinians convicted of murder.
An American missionary was convicted of attempting to smuggle 33 children out of Haiti in the aftermath of January's earthquake, and sentenced to time already served.
General Motors reported its first quarterly profit since 2007.
The European Union and the Central American states reached an agreement to liberalize trade.
A Yemeni court has sentenced six pirates to death, and jailed six others, for hijacking an oil tanker last year.
A court in Malawi has convicted two gay men of "unnatural acts." They could face 14 years in prison.
U.S. envoy Scott Gration stated that a scheduled referendum on South Sudan's independence is behind schedule, imperiling the country's fragile stability.
-David Kenner

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