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Operation in Afghanistan seizes terror leader, NATO says

AFGHANISTAN

SENIOR terror leader SEIZED, nato says

A man believed to be a senior leader of the terrorist group the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan was captured in Afghanistan this week during a joint Afghan and coalition operation in Kunduz province, NATO officials said Friday. The raid was the latest in a series conducted by coalition forces against the movement's leaders in Afghanistan. The group, which is closely tied to al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban, has played a role in the revitalized insurgency in northern Afghanistan, where it is believed to be responsible for multiple attacks on Afghan and coalition forces. NATO does not release the names of captured insurgents. But in a statement, the alliance described the man as the movement's top leader in Afghanistan. He was taken during a raid on Wednesday along with two associates in the Khanabad district of Kunduz province. No shots were fired in the operation, NATO said. Military officials called the man a central conduit between the movement and senior Taliban leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They said he assisted both groups by coordinating suicide and mortar attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in northern Afghanistan and helped coordinate insurgent training in both countries. He escaped from a Pakistani prison in 2010, officials said, and he is believed to have paid bribes to secure the release of other prisoners.

RUSSIA

U.S. spacecraft draws opposition

Russian news agencies are quoting a top space official as saying Russia won't permit a U.S. commercial spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station until it is satisfied the ship conforms to safety standards. The California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has asked NASA for permission to send an unmanned cargo capsule to the space station this year. The hookup would need Russian clearance. Alexei Krasnov, supervisor of manned missions at the Russian Space Agency, was quoted as saying Friday that safety concerns first need to be addressed. SpaceX's Dragon capsule made the world's first private trip to and from orbit in December. It blasted off from Cape Canaveral atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket.

IVORY COAST

Renegade warlord told to disarm

President Alassane Ouattara on Friday ordered a renegade warlord who led two coups in the Ivory Coast to lay down his arms or be forcibly disarmed. In a hard-hitting statement in his role as commander in chief of the armed forces, Ouattara sought Friday to resolve the biggest challenge to confront his fledgling government since the April 11 arrest of the West African nation's disgraced former strongman. He also said all combat units "must get back to their barracks" — the former rebel forces who installed him in power to their stronghold in the central city of Bouake and troops who fought for former President Laurent Gbagbo to their old military camps. All groups in a bloody four-month electoral conflict are accused of killing civilians, looting, burning homes and extorting money. Ouattara spoke at a meeting with commanders of the former rebel forces and generals of the defeated army, which are to be trained to form a united national army. It was unclear whether the renegade warlord, Gen. Ibrahim "IB" Coulibaly, who began the battle against Gbagbo's troops and militia in Abidjan, would be invited to join the army, though he has said that is his wish.

Times wires

Operation in Afghanistan seizes terror leader, NATO says

04/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 22, 2011 10:31pm]
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