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Kurdish rebels in Iraq accuse Iran of artillery attack

NATO soldier killed in Afghanistan
Kabul (AFP) May 16, 2010 - A NATO soldier fighting in Afghanistan to quell a Taliban-led insurgency was killed in clashes with insurgents in the south of the country Sunday, the military announced. The soldier was killed in an "insurgent attack," NATO's International Security Assistance Force said in a statement without elaborating. It did not give the soldier's nationality, in keeping with ISAF policy. The death brought to 197 the number of foreign troops to die this year in the Afghan war, which is in its ninth year, according to an AFP tally based on that kept by the independent website.

A total of 520 died in 2009. NATO and the United States are set to boost their overall number of troops in Afghanistan to 150,000 by August. Most of the new deployments are heading to the volatile south, where an operation against the Taliban in Kandahar province is building as part of plans to squeeze them out of their heartland. US General Stanley McChrystal, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, last week predicted "increased violence" but said that the strategy to surge troop numbers would succeed.
by Staff Writers
Sulaimaniyah, Iraq (AFP) May 16, 2010
Iranian artillery bombarded parts of Kurdistan in northern Iraq where Kurdish rebels opposed to Tehran are said to be holed up, a local official said on Sunday.

"From 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) Saturday until this morning, Iranians fired on the villages of Khanawa, Totma, Marado, Sourkan and Nalia Rach, causing extensive damage to agricultural land and losses of livestock," said Azad Oussou.

The alleged incident came three days after Iranian forces on the border with Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region mistook Iraqi guards for fighters from the anti-Tehran Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), resulting in armed clashes.

An Iraqi border guard officer was captured but later released.

According to Iran, PJAK rebels shelter in the mountainous border area.

The PJAK is closely allied with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which operates in Turkey and is listed as a "terrorist" group by Ankara and much of the international community.

earlier related report
Gun battles in Kyrgyzstan
Jalalabat, Kyrgyzstan (UPI) May 14, 2010 - At least one person died when supporters of Kyrgyzstan's ousted president clashed with rivals from the interim government.

An estimated 4,000 pro-government supporters Friday tried to win back control of an administrative building seized by supporters of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in the southern Kyrgyz town of Jalalabat, BBC News reports. The rival groups exchanged gunfire and battled with sticks and stones.

Jalalabat is considered a stronghold of Bakiyev, who was ousted in a bloody April 8 coup that left around 80 people dead.

Bakiyev supporters kidnapped the governor of the Jalalabat region and took control of government buildings in Osh and Batken. They also tried to seize an airport in Osh.

"The interim government views today's events in Osh ... as an attempt by former President Bakiyev's associates to regain power," government spokesman Farid Niyazov was quoted as saying by Russian news agency Interfax.

The interim government of Kyrgyzstan has had trouble containing the violence that spilled into the streets in the weeks since the coup.

Bakiyev also fueled tensions last month when he blasted the interim government, saying he is the true president of the Central Asian country.

Speaking from Belarus, where he has taken refuge since fleeing his home country after the coup, Bakiyev called the interim government of Roza Otunbayeva an "illegitimate gang."

"I, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, am the legally elected president of Kyrgyzstan and recognized by the international community," he said. "Nine months ago the people of Kyrgyzstan elected me their president and there is no power that can stop me. Only death can stop me."

Earlier in April, Bakiyev said he was ready to resign if the opposition guarantees his and his family's safety, an offer turned down by the interim government.

Otunbayeva wants Bakiyev to stand trial because of the bloody fighting that ousted him. More than 80 people died in the unrest.

The country's interim government is under pressure to contain violence that erupted over the past weeks, raising fears of a civil war.

A country of 5 million located in the mountains of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest countries of the former Soviet Union.

Unlike its neighbors, Kyrgyzstan has no significant natural resources; more than half of the adult population is unemployed; and its political system has been marred by instability and corruption.

Bakiyev rose to power on the wings of the 2005 Tulip Revolution, but hopes for more democracy and stability soon faded when he began cracking down on the opposition and amassing riches as his population suffered.

Kyrgyzstan is home to a key U.S. air base in Manas, which is used to fly troops and equipment in and out of Afghanistan.

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US will 'not destroy Kandahar' in order to save it: Clinton
Washington (AFP) May 13, 2010
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that the pivotal US-led military operation on the Taliban's southern Afghan stronghold will "not destroy Kandahar in the effort to save Kandahar." Seated next to Afghan President Hamid Karzai during his visit to Washington, Clinton said US commanders have learned the lessons of waging a counterinsurgency in Iraq and will seek to return a funct ... read more

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