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Taliban Militants

May 24, 2011 | By Alex Rodriguez and Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times
The team of Islamist militants knew exactly where the naval base's weak spot was. Dressed in black and armed with AK-47 rifles, grenades and rocket launchers, they crept up to the back wall of Mehran Naval Station in Karachi, keeping clear of security cameras. Then, with just a pair of ladders, they clambered over the wall, cutting through barbed wire at the top, to launch a 17-hour siege that would renew disturbing questions about the Pakistani military's ability to defend sensitive installations, including its nuclear arsenal.
May 19, 2011 | By Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times
A car bomb blast targeted two U.S. consulate vehicles in the northwest city of Peshawar on Friday, killing a Pakistani bystander and slightly injuring Americans inside the cars. Pakistani police officials said the car, a parked Suzuki filled with 110 pounds of explosives, was detonated by remote control. U.S. Embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez said the explosion damaged one of the two armored vehicles. The two-car convoy, headed from Peshawar's University Town neighborhood to the consulate, was not carrying any high-ranking officials.
April 14, 2011 | By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times
In three separate attacks Thursday, suicide bombers targeted Afghan police and government officials, killing three Afghan police and injuring a half dozen bystanders. Several would-be suicide bombers teamed up to attack an Afghan police training center Thursday morning in Aryub Jaji, a border town in eastern Paktia province, according to spokesmen for NATO forces and the Paktia governor's office. After the attackers exchanged fire with Afghan forces at the center, some fled, one was shot before he could enter the training compound and another detonated a bomb at the center's front gate, according to Rohullah Samoon, a spokesman for the Paktia governor.
March 15, 2011 | By Ken Dilanian, Washington Bureau
The U.S. has stopped the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan, the general leading that war told Congress on Tuesday morning, and key senators agreed that the goal of handing off security responsibilities to Afghan forces by 2014 is achievable. "The past eight months have seen important but hard-fought progress in Afghanistan," Gen. David H. Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee as he testified alongside Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of Defense for policy. "Key insurgent save havens have been taken away from the Taliban, numerous insurgent leaders have been killed or captured, and hundreds of reconcilable midlevel leaders and fighters have been reintegrated into Afghan society.
March 14, 2011 | By Ken Dilanian, Washington Bureau
When Gen. David H. Petraeus appears before Congress on Tuesday to tout progress in Afghanistan, he will face a series of pessimistic assessments about the state of the war, including the intelligence community's conclusion that tactical gains achieved by a U.S. troop surge have failed to fundamentally weaken the Taliban. A year after the launch of a revamped counterinsurgency strategy, several major obstacles persist: The government of President Hamid Karzai is viewed as corrupt and ineffective, the Taliban exhibits a fierce will to fight, and the enemy enjoys safe havens in the tribal areas of Pakistan that drone strikes can disrupt but not eliminate, according to public U.S. intelligence assessments.
March 12, 2011 | By David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Friday warned allies against "ill-timed, precipitous or uncoordinated" drawdowns of their troops from Afghanistan that could harm gains made against Taliban militants. Gates aimed to discourage allies in Europe from using the Obama administration's plans to withdraw some troops beginning in July as a pretext to bring out large numbers of their own forces. The planned withdrawals are expected to be a small percentage of the overall U.S. force, but if allies with only a few thousand soldiers or fewer bring out similar numbers it could cause problems, officials said.
February 26, 2011 | By Alex Rodriguez and Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times
American and Pakistani intelligence services have become deeply estranged in recent weeks after several high-profile disputes, though senior officials from both countries say they continue to cooperate against Al Qaeda militants. The disclosure this week that Raymond Davis, the 36-year-old American who shot dead two Pakistani men in Lahore last month, was a CIA contractor working under cover was the latest episode to exacerbate mistrust between the two countries' spy agencies. In December, the CIA station chief in Pakistan had to leave the country after his identity became public.
January 25, 2011 | By Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times
A retired Pakistani intelligence agent regarded as an architect behind the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan died after being held hostage by militants for 10 months, though officials in northwestern Pakistan said they had yet to determine whether his captors killed him or he died of natural causes. Sultan Amir Tarar, known throughout Pakistan as Colonel Imam, was kidnapped by militants last spring along with another former Pakistani spy, Khalid Khawaja, and a British television journalist.
November 6, 2010 | By Zulfiqar Ali and Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times
At least 65 people were killed Friday afternoon in a suicide bombing at a mosque in northwestern Pakistan filled with worshipers, the latest major terrorist strike on houses of worship in the country. Pakistani television reported that militants also carried out a grenade attack on a mosque in the Badhber area outside Peshawar. According to initial reports, three worshipers were killed and 15 were injured in that attack Friday evening. The first blast occurred in Darra Adam Khel, a town just outside Pakistan's largely lawless tribal belt, where Taliban and Al Qaeda militants have strongholds.
October 5, 2010 | By Laura King, Los Angeles Times
On a recent bell-clear autumn afternoon a few miles outside Afghanistan's second-largest city, villagers listened courteously as a U.S. military officer, speaking through an interpreter whose grasp of the local language seemed shaky, exhorted them to let Afghan police or American soldiers know if the Taliban came to town. Nodding in agreement amid the group were three men in beards, turbans and sandals who looked, dressed and talked like the other villagers. They were Taliban. "They were standing right there with us, and everyone was too scared to say anything," a farmer named Farid, who grows pomegranates in the Arghandab district, northwest of Kandahar, said as he described the encounter last month.
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