Success American style. Taliban attacking US bases and injuring 77 soldiers. Suicide bombers killing dozens in Iraq every week. The beloved Libyan rebels are just about to get Gahddafi for the 50th day in a row. But don’t despair. Just turn on Fox News and they’ll tell you we are WINNING. Of course, you’ll have to wait for their 15th special with Dick Cheney to be over. But trust me we are WINNING the WAR ON TERROR. The Taliban are on their heels. Iraq is stable. The Libyan Rebels are patriots. Charlie Sheen is in control.
NATO: 77 U.S. troops injured after Taliban hit Afghan coalition base
All 77 NATO service members wounded in a Saturday attack against a coalition base in Afghanistan are U.S. troops, a spokeswoman for the International Security Assistance Force said Sunday.
Two Afghan civilians were killed and 25 others also were wounded in the attack, which occurred on the eve of the 10th anniversary of al Qaeda’s attack on the United States on 9/11, U.S. Army Sgt. Lindsey Kibler said.
None of the injuries is life-threatening, ISAF said, and those wounded are expected to return to duties “shortly.”
Suicide attack kills at least 24 at Baghdad mosque
The bomber wearing a cast on his arm blew himself up in the main hall of the Umm al-Qura mosque, an important Sunni religious site in Baghdad and one frequented by top Iraqi Sunni leaders in the capital’s western Ghazaliya district.
Attacks on Sunni and Shi’ite mosques are especially sensitive in Iraq where a power-sharing government still struggles to overcome the sectarian slaughter that dragged Iraq to the edge of civil war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
“The suicide bomber entered pretending he was hurt. He entered the main prayer area. We started to get suspicious. But when the prayers finished, he blew himself up,” said Ahmed Abdul Razaq, who was at the mosque.
Violence in Iraq has dropped sharply since the height of sectarian bloodletting four years ago, but both Sunni Islamists linked to al-Qaeda and Shi’ite militias still carry out almost daily attacks as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw at year end.
At Umm al-Qura, the bomber’s dismembered remains stayed in the main prayer area and bloody spatters trailed across the mosque carpet where blast victims had been carried outside, a Reuters witness at the site said.
An official at Yarmouk Hospital said at least 24 bodies had been brought there as well as 30 wounded while an interior ministry source put the toll at 28.
A Baghdad security spokesman earlier said at least six people were killed and 12 more were wounded. Iraqi officials often give conflicting estimates of initial bombing death tolls.
AL QAEDA REVIVIAL?
None of Iraq’s armed groups immediately claimed responsibility, but suicide bombings are usually employed by the local al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq or ISI who officials accuse of trying to foment sectarian tensions to destabilize the government.
Ahmed Adbul Ghafour al-Samarrai, head of the Sunni Endowment which runs Sunni religious sites, told local television from hospital the bomber had been waiting for him. He was slightly wounded.
Iraqi officials say al Qaeda has resurfaced in former strongholds and is still capable of carrying out bolder attacks despite losing top leaders and its geographical reach across Iraq.
Sunday’s bombing was the most serious attack since August 15 when a series of suicide bombings, car-bombs and roadside explosives killed at least 70 people across the country. Officials blamed local Iraqi al-Qaeda affiliates.
U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Iraq at the end of the year, and insurgents and militias are increasing targeting local government buildings and Iraqi security forces in an attempt to destabilise the government.
Washington and Baghdad are currently engaged in talks about whether some U.S. soldiers should stay behind as trainers to help local Iraqi forces build conventional warfare capabilities, especially to defend their borders.
Forces stalled near Gadhafi stronghold amid reports of in-fighting
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — Libya’s new leaders are moving to unite fractious, heavily armed bands of fighters under a singular control, even as the forces struggled Monday to take control of Moammar Gadhafi’s last bastions of support.
The announcement Sunday by the head of the National Transitional Council followed reports of in-fighting and arguments among bands of fighters stalled outside the town of Bani Walid after encountering stiff resistance during an assault.
Bani Walid, home to a powerful tribe loyal to Gadhafi, is one of three major towns still in the hands of those loyal to the ousted leader.
A large convoy of troops left the front after arguing with another group of fighters from Bani Walid, who insisted they alone take the lead in fighting to take the town, witnesses told CNN’s Ben Wedeman.
Pushing and shoving also broke out among the fighters, some of whom wanted the media to leave the area.
Similar incidents have been reported during the months-long war, raising concerns about a lack of discipline and leadership among the ragtag group of fighters and the possible threat that could pose to the country’s stability.
Negotiations are under way with bands of fighters to bring them under the control of the council, said Mahmoud Jibril, chairman of the National Transitional Council.
Jibril called the move a strategic measure that would restate the legitimacy of the NTC, and it would “hone in all the brigades and revolutionaries under the umbrella of the NTC.”
But Anees al-Sharif, a spokesman of the new Tripoli military council, said the plan was “unacceptable.”
“We will not accept Jibril’s authority over us,” he told CNN.
Some residents of the town, meanwhile, were fleeing. One man, who identified himself as Abu Farook but did not want to provide his last name for fear of retribution, arrived at a checkpoint about 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside Bani Walid on Monday, accompanied by his wife and children.
“There are around 700 Gadhafi forces scattered around Bani Walid and another 150 in the center of the city,” he said. “Most of them have sniper rifles and other heavy artillery positioned between houses in residential areas. These forces are the ones who fled from Tripoli the last days of the fall of Tripoli and have blood on their hands.”
In addition, Abu Farook said, there are African mercenaries inside Bani Walid. He said there are no communications, no electricity and no running water. Food is running out for residents, he said.
He said NTC fighters are not inside Bani Walid, but on its northwest outskirts in the Manasla and Douwara neighborhoods, still about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the city center.
Abu Farook said firing and explosions have taken place for 10 days but he could not flee until Monday. He said his nephew was killed by a sniper bullet on Sunday while standing near him.
The man’s 7-year-old son, in the car, said he was scared by all the fighting and loud explosions.
Jibril also announced that a transitional, governing executive committee will be created within 10 days and will include representatives from across Libya, including areas of the country still under siege.
“A transitional government will be formed once all of Libya is liberated,” Jibril said.
The creation of the executive committee comes as Jibril said Libya has begun producing oil again.
Jibril said oil production began Saturday, though he would not disclose the location because of security concerns. He said additional production was expected in other areas.
“Soon, we will begin the production of oil and gas in the western area,” he said.
Forces loyal to Gadhafi attacked an industrial complex housing an oil refinery at Ras Lanouf on Monday, according to NTC spokesman Jalal el Gallal. The loyalists did not enter the refinery itself, as a battle ensued and NTC fighters prevented them from gaining further access to the complex, he said.
There were NTC casualties from the fighting, Gallal said, but he did not immediately know how many. He could not confirm whether there were any pro-Gadhafi casualties.
The oil production news was tempered, though, by word that one of Gadhafi’s sons, Saadi, escaped Libya to Niger.
The son was accompanied by eight ex-Libyan officials, “of minor importance compared to Saadi,” said Niger’s Justice Minister Marou Amadou.
“As usual, Niger accepted them on (a) humanitarian basis,” he said.
Moammar Gadhafi’s wife, two of his sons and other relatives fled recently to Algeria, which also said it had acted on humanitarian grounds by accepting them.
Earlier this month, Saadi Gadhafi told CNN he was “a little bit outside” of Bani Walid, southeast of Tripoli, but had been moving around.
He said then that he had not seen his father or brother, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, for two months. He said he is “neutral” and not on his father’s side or that of the rebels, but remains “ready to help negotiate a cease-fire.”
At least three Libyan convoys have entered Niger recently, carrying generals, family members and low-ranking Gadhafi regime personnel, according to officials in Niger. Initial speculation suggested that Moammar Gadhafi had been in one of those groups, but that no longer appears to be the case.
The whereabouts of the ousted Libyan leader are not known.
Asked whether Saif al-Islam was thought to be inside Bani Walid, Abu Farook said, “We don’t know for sure.” However, he said, Gadhafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim was thought to be in the town, staying in a house near the city center that is surrounded by snipers on top of buildings.
Gadhafi’s former spy chief, Bouzaid Dorda, was been arrested in Tripoli, Adel al-Zintani, a spokesman for the National Transitional Council, told CNN late Sunday.