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India extends curfew amid Kashmir tensions

Inquiry into Canada special forces in Afghanistan: report
Ottawa (AFP) Sept 14, 2010 - Canada's Defense Ministry is conducting a "major inquiry" into the conduct of its special forces in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2008, CBC public television reported Tuesday. Dubbed "Sand Trap 2," the investigation follows the narrower "Sand Trap 1" inquiry, which ended after several months but did not result in any charges being filed, Navy Captain David Scanlon told the station. Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Defense Minister Peter MacKay declined comment. Scanlon told CBC that Sand Trap 2 began in 2008 after a Canadian commando raised concerns about the behavior of his colleagues.

Scanlon declined to say what activities or actions were being investigated, but the forces under investigation were part of Joint Task Force Two, which is known to have been involved in operations targeting high-level Taliban and Al-Qaeda members. The first inquiry, Sand Trap 1, reportedly examined the transfer of detainees from Canadian forces to Afghan authorities, CBC said. During the period covered by the two investigations, the Joint Task Force was attached to a US special forces command in Kandahar, in south-east Afghanistan, where some 2,800 Canadian forces are deployed. Media reports and Canada's opposition have accused the Canadian military of handing over prisoners to Afghanistan's government without taking appropriate measures to ensure they would not face abuse or torture.

Scanlon told CBC the Sand Trap 2 inquiry is "distinct and broader." David McGuinty, head of the opposition Liberals in the House of Commons, called the allegations "serious." "I think it really underscores what we've been saying for some time -- that there's more here than meets the eye," McGuinty told reporters in Ottawa. "If these allegations prove true, my understanding is that this investigation was occurring at a time when our own minister (MacKay) was being asked repeatedly for any knowledge that he might have had about allegations of torture or ongoing investigations," McGuinty said.
by Staff Writers
New Delhi (UPI) Sep 14, 2010
A curfew has been extended to all major towns in India's troubled northeastern state of Kashmir after 17 people died in clashes with police.

Among the dead was a policeman. More than 50 people were injured in the violence in the Kashmir Valley area, in the northern part of the state.

A suspension of air services to and from the capital city Srinagar also has been put in place and will remain in place for at least three days, authorities said. Armed police are manning road blocks and patrolling streets.

Tensions remain high and police have used tear gas to disperse stone-throwing mobs that include many children. Several government buildings, a private school and police vehicles were set on fire.

In the latest violence, two protesters died in confrontations with police who were trying to stop them from setting fire to buildings.

The majority of Jammu and Kashmir state is Muslim and some of the violence was triggered by news reports that the Koran was being desecrated in United States, local media reported.

Violence erupted earlier in the week during a protest march in Srinagar by several of the small political parties affiliated to the pro-independence group All Parties Hurriyat Conference, formed in 1993.

APHC is an umbrella organization of more than 25 parties. Hurriyat means freedom in the Urdu language, spoken by many people in the state.

In the past 25 years or more many separatist demonstrations have turned violent. Hundreds have died in sporadic fighting with police and the military who have wide-ranging powers of search and arrest under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

But the latest unrest -- the worst in two years -- is a continuation of protests from last June when security forces killed a 17-year-old student allegedly when they fired into demonstrators.

Kashmir remains a disputed territory by Pakistan but, while many demonstrations have been for Pakistan to take control of the state, a growing majority would like to see independence from both India and Pakistan.

The future of Kashmir remains a sticking point between India and Pakistan as they try to reconcile their borders and fight insurgents on both sides of the frontier.

The Kashmir Valley -- 85 miles long and 20 miles wide -- in which Srinagar lies is a particularly restive area close to the border with Pakistan. Its population of 4 million is mainly Muslim.

In May India reacted with dismay at a Pakistani court ruling that an Islamic leader suspected of involvement in the deadly 2008 attacks in Mumbai couldn't be detained.

The Supreme Court in Pakistan ruled in favor of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the head of the charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa and also suspected a leader of Lashkar-e-Toiba, the militant group blamed for the attacks in which more than 170 people died.

To improve the security situation, the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan began formal meetings again in July, just after a Mumbai court found a Pakistani man, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, guilty of masterminding the attacks.

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