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Kabul, Wednesday 1, February

(BNA)  The Obama administration asked intelligence agencies for additional assessments of the risks of transferring five senior Taliban detainees to a third country as part of efforts to broker peace with Afghan militants, U.S. spy chiefs told Congress on Tuesday.

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence committee, the intelligence officials did not specify which country might be involved. But Reuters and other news agencies have reported that the detainees could be sent to the Gulf state of Qatar, which is acting as an intermediary in peace negotiations.

CIA Director David Petraeus said that analysts from his agency had provided the Obama administration officials with a more recent assessment - the last was done in 2009 - of the security risks of transferring the five Taliban leaders from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

If transferred, the five supposedly would still be subjected to detention or at least heavy surveillance.


"In fact, our analysts did provide assessments of the five and the risks presented by various scenarios by which they could be sent somewhere -- not back to Afghanistan or Pakistan -- and then based on the various mitigating measures that could be implemented to ensure that they cannot return to militant activity," he said.

Petraeus' statement came in response to questions from the committee's vice chairman and ranking Republican, Senator Saxby Chambliss, who has emerged as a leading Capitol Hill critic of the proposed transfer.

Chambliss said that any move to transfer the five specific Taliban detainees who are the focus of discussions within the Obama administration is likely to meet with opposition on Capitol Hill.

 

Kabul, Wednesday 1, February

(BNA)  The Pakistani security services are secretly helping Afghanistan's Taliban, who assume their victory is inevitable once Western troops leave, a secret Nato document says, according to reports Wednesday.

The leaked "State of the Taliban" report -- seen by the BBC and The Times newspaper -- was compiled from information gleaned from insurgent detainees and was given to Nato commanders in Afghanistan last month, the media reports said.

It claims that Pakistan and its ISI intelligence agency are aware of the locations of senior Taliban leaders.

The BBC said the report was based on material from 27,000 interrogations of more than 4,000 captured Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives, plus other foreign fighters and civilians.

"Pakistan's manipulation of the Taliban senior leadership continues unabatedly," the report was quoted as saying.

"ISI officers tout the need for continued jihad and expulsion of foreign invaders from Afghanistan."

The Times quoted the report as saying the Taliban's "strength, motivation, funding and tactical proficiency remains intact", despite setbacks in 2011.

"Many Afghans are already bracing themselves for an eventual return of the Taliban," it said.

"Once (Nato force) ISAF is no longer a factor, Taliban consider their victory inevitable."

Kabul, which accuses Islamabad of supporting the 10-year Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, put relations on ice after the September murder of its peace envoy Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, which one Afghan minister blamed on Pakistani spies.

The US Department of Defense said it could not comment on the report but set out its fears about Pakistan and its influence in Afghanistan.

"We have not seen the report, and therefore cannot offer comment on it specifically," Pentagon spokesman George Little told AFP.

"We have long been concerned about ties between elements of the ISI and some extremist networks."

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta "has also been clear that he believes that the safe havens in Pakistan remain a serious problem and need to be addressed by Pakistani authorities."

In its conclusion, the report said there had been unprecedented interest in joining the Taliban cause in 2011 -- even from members of the Afghan government.


The Times, in an editorial, said Pakistan was "actively hindering reconciliation" between the Taliban and Kabul.

"Islamabad appears to be engaged in a systematic effort to destabilise the Kabul government of (President) Hamid Karzai prior to the withdrawal of Western forces, and to assist those attacking and killing those forces.

"The ISI emerges from this document looking considerably more villainous, even, than the Taliban itself.

"The picture that is painted is very much one of a force that both expects, and is widely expected, to have a big stake in controlling the Afghanistan of the future

Kabul, Wednesday 1, February

(BNA)  Pakistani warplanes pounded militants’ hideouts in the northwestern tribal area before dawn on Wednesday, killing at least 20 Taliban insurgents, security officials said.

The jets targeted hideouts in the tribal Orakzai district and at least four compounds were hit, they said, in the latest surge of fighting between security forces and militants in the Afghan border areas.

Local intelligence officials confirmed the air strikes killing at least 20 Taliban militants in the bombing.

The hideouts belonged to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commanders Mulla Tufan and Commander Moheyuddin, a security official said. There are reports that Moheyuddin may have been killed in the bombing, he said.

A military official in Peshawar said "four hideouts have been destroyed and the death toll may go up

Kabul

Tuesday 31 January 2012(BNA)

 

Ten Pak security officials and forty militants were killed during clashes in the Kurrum agency.

According to official sources, thirty two security officials were also injured during the clashes which continue in the Kurrum agency.

 Helicopter gunships were mobilised when the fighting broke out in the same Jogi area as clashes that killed six soldiers on January 25 in the district of Kurram, part of Pakistan's lawless tribal belt along the Afghan border.

At the time, security forces claimed to have taken control of Jogi, which is strategically located near Orakzai district.

A senior military official told reporters  that "more than 300 Taliban attacked" the checkpost at around midnight in central Kurram, which is on the Taliban route into North Waziristan and onto the Afghan border.