History > 2017 > USA > International > Global terrorism (I)
Militants Kill 305 at Sufi Mosque
in Egypt’s Deadliest Terrorist Attack
NOV. 24, 2017
The New York Times
By DECLAN WALSH
and NOUR YOUSSEF
CAIRO — Militants detonated a bomb inside a crowded mosque in the
Sinai Peninsula on Friday and then sprayed gunfire on panicked worshipers as
they fled, killing at least 305 people and wounding at least 128 others.
Officials called it the deadliest terrorist attack in Egypt’s modern history.
The scale and ruthlessness of the assault, in an area racked by an Islamist
insurgency, sent shock waves across the nation — not just for the number of
deaths but also for the choice of target. Attacks on mosques are rare in Egypt,
where the Islamic State has targeted Coptic Christian churches and pilgrims but
avoided Muslim places of worship.
The attack injected a new element into Egypt’s struggle with militants because
most of the victims were Sufi Muslims, who practice a mystical form of Islam
that the Islamic State and other Sunni extremist groups deem heretical. And it
underscored the failure of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has justified his
harsh crackdown on political freedom in the name of crushing Islamic militancy,
to deliver on his promises of security.
“The scene was horrific,” said Ibrahim Sheteewi, a resident of Bir al-Abed, the
small north Sinai town where the attack took place. “The bodies were scattered
on the ground outside the mosque. I hope God punishes them for this.”
Hours later, the Egyptian military carried out several airstrikes near Bir
al-Abed targeting militants fleeing in four-wheel-drive vehicles, an Egyptian
military official said.
On Saturday, Egypt’s top prosecutor, Nabil Sadek, said in a
statement that the death toll had risen and included at least 27 children. A
witness said he had helped gather the bodies of 25 of them.
Between 25 and 30 militants carried out the attack, the statement said. They
barged in carrying automatic weapons and the Islamic State flag.
“The perpetrators of the terrorist attack posted themselves in front of the door
of the mosque and its 12 windows,” the statement said.
World leaders condemned the mosque attack, with President Trump denouncing it as
“horrible and cowardly.” He said later that it explained why the United States
needed a border wall with Mexico and restrictions on immigration, which he
referred to as “the ban.”
Mr. Sisi has struggled to impose his authority over Sinai since he came to power
in a military takeover in 2013. Islamist militants who had found a safe haven in
Sinai for attacks on Israel then turned their guns on the Egyptian armed forces.
But even by recent standards in Egypt, where militants have blown up Christian
worshipers as they knelt at church pews and gunned down pilgrims in buses, the
attack on Friday was unusually ruthless.
“I can’t believe they attacked a mosque,” a Muslim cleric in Bir al-Abed said by
phone, requesting anonymity for fear he could also be attacked.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but in the past year a local
affiliate of the Islamic State has killed a number of Sufis in the area and
singled out the district where the attack took place as a potential target.
The attack started midday during Friday Prayers when a bomb — probably set off
by a suicide bomber, security officials said — ripped through Al Rawda mosque in
Bir al-Abed, 125 miles northeast of Cairo. As worshipers fled, they were
confronted by masked gunmen who, witnesses said, had pulled up outside in five
The gunmen set fire to cars parked outside the mosque to hinder escape, and
opened fire on ambulances as they arrived on the scene, a government official
said on state television.
Mayna Nasser, 40, who was shot twice in the shoulder, drifted in and out of
consciousness as he was rushed to a hospital. “My children were there; my
children were there,” he said, according to Samy, a volunteer emergency worker
who drove him there and who declined to give his last name.
Local emergency services were so overwhelmed that some of the wounded had to be
transported to the hospital in the back of a cattle truck, he said.
Many were taken to the general hospital in the main northern Sinai town of El
Arish, where medics described chaotic scenes as staff struggled to deal with a
flood of dead and wounded, many with extensive burns or severed limbs.
“We are swamped,” said one medical official, speaking by phone on condition of
anonymity. “We don’t know what to say. This is insane.”
Other victims, like Mohammed Abdel Salam, a 22-year-old construction worker,
ended up in a hospital in the nearby city of Ismailia. “I wish I never stopped
to pray,” he said. “I’m not even a Sufi. I was just there by accident.”
Most worshipers at the mosque were Sufi Muslims, who practice a mystical form of
Islam that some extremists consider heretical. Credit European Pressphoto Agency
Mr. Sisi convened an emergency meeting of top security officials, including the
interior minister, spy chief and defense minister. “The military and the police
will take revenge,” he said in a televised speech.
Until a spate of attacks on Christian churches this year, Egyptian militants had
avoided large-scale assaults on Egyptian civilians, perhaps because such attacks
tend to backfire. After a massacre in Luxor that killed 62 people, mostly
tourists, in 1997, President Hosni Mubarak began a sweeping crackdown that
crushed an Islamist insurgency centered in southern Egypt.
When a new insurgency flared in north Sinai after the military takeover in 2013,
its leaders were careful to focus their attacks on uniformed security forces.
But as those militants embraced the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL,
they have gradually set aside that lesson.
An Islamist militia in Sinai, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, pledged allegiance to the
Islamic State in 2014 and has since proved to be one of its most effective local
affiliates. The group’s deadliest attack targeted a Russian jetliner that
crashed shortly after takeoff from Sharm el Sheikh in 2015, killing all 224
people on board.
In an interview published in an Islamic State magazine last January, a commander
in Sinai outlined the group’s hatred for Sufis and their practices, including
the veneration of tombs, the sacrificial slaughter of animals and what he termed
“sorcery and soothsaying.”
The interview, in English, identifies Rawda, the district where Friday’s attack
occurred, as one of three areas where Sufis live in Sinai that the group
intended to “eradicate.”
It featured a photograph of a black hooded figure brandishing a sword over the
kneeling figure of an elderly Sufi cleric, Sulayman Abu Hiraz, who was executed
in Sinai in late 2016. The Islamic State said the cleric, said to be 100 years
old, had been killed for practicing witchcraft.
Many residents of Bir al-Abed, on the main road through northern Sinai, are
Bedouins from the Abu Greir tribe, which is predominantly Sufi. Residents said
that despite recent Islamic State threats, the town had been largely peaceful.
The Islamic State, a Sunni movement, has long considered Sufis, along with
Shiite Muslims, apostates, and has a history of attacking their mosques in other
countries. Sufis may be Sunni or Shiite but most are Sunni.
Since 2016, when the militant group released a video describing Sufism as a
“disease,” it has claimed attacks that have killed at least 130 worshipers at
Sufi shrines, most of them in Pakistan. Elsewhere, the Islamic State has made a
spectacle of bulldozing Sufi shrines, describing their removal as a form of
purifying the faith.
Egyptian security forces have closely monitored Islamic State fighters returning
from Syria and Iraq, amid worries that an influx of battle-hardened jihadis
could insert a volatile new element into Egypt’s militant mix.
In October, Mr. Sisi ordered a major reshuffle of his security team after an
ambush in the desert left at least 16 Egyptian security officials dead. That
attack was later claimed by a previously unknown group called Ansar al-Islam,
which is believed to have links to Al Qaeda.
Friday’s attack was a blow to Egypt’s hopes that it could stem the tide of
Islamist violence in Sinai through the government’s sponsorship of a Palestinian
peace initiative involving Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza.
Islamic State militants have previously used tunnels into Gaza to obtain weapons
and get medical treatment for wounded fighters. One benefit for Egypt of the
peace initiative, which Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate has mediated,
is greater control over those tunnels.
In a statement, Hamas denounced the attack as a “criminal explosion” that
“violates all heavenly commandments and human values” because it attacked a
mosque. “It is a grave challenge to Muslims worldwide,” the group said.
Follow Declan Walsh on Twitter: @declanwalsh.
Declan Walsh reported from Cairo, and Nour Youssef from Ismailia, Egypt. David
D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting from London, Rukmini Callimachi from New
York, and David M. Halbfinger from Jerusalem.
A version of this article appears in print on November 25, 2017, on Page A1 of
the New York edition with the headline: Militants Attack Mosque in Egypt,
Leaving 235 Dead.
Militants Kill 305 at Sufi Mosque in Egypt’s Deadliest Terrorist
November 24, 2017,
Terror Attack Kills 8
and Injures 11 in Manhattan
OCT. 31, 2017
The New York Times
By BENJAMIN MUELLER,
WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM
and AL BAKER
A driver plowed a pickup truck down a crowded bike path along the
Hudson River in Manhattan on Tuesday, killing eight people and injuring 11
before being shot by a police officer in what officials are calling the
deadliest terrorist attack on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.
The rampage ended when the motorist — whom the police identified as Sayfullo
Saipov, 29 — smashed into a school bus, jumped out of his truck and ran up and
down the highway waving a pellet gun and paintball gun and shouting “Allahu
akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” before he was shot in the abdomen by the
officer. He remained in critical condition on Tuesday evening.
Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the rampage a terrorist attack and federal law
enforcement authorities were leading the investigation. Investigators discovered
handwritten notes in Arabic near the truck that indicated allegiance to the
Islamic State, two law enforcement officials said. But investigators had not
uncovered evidence of any direct or enabling ties between Mr. Saipov and ISIS
and were treating the episode as a case of an “inspired” attacker, two
counterterrorism officials said.
Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference, “Based on information we have at this
moment, this was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror
aimed at innocent civilians.”
Five of the people killed were Argentine tourists who traveled to New York for a
30-year high school reunion celebration, said a senior official in Santa Fe
Province, where they were from. The Argentine authorities said they were Hernán
Mendoza, Diego Angelini, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernán Ferruchi.
Martín Ludovico Marro, a sixth member of the group, was wounded. Belgian
officials said one of those killed and three of the injured were from Belgium.
Mr. Saipov came to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010, and had a green
card that allowed permanent legal residence. He had apparently lived in
Paterson, N.J., and Tampa, Fla. An official said Mr. Saipov rented a truck from
a Home Depot in Passaic, N.J., where a white Toyota minivan believed to be his
was found parked.
The truck came crashing to a stop near the corner of Chambers and West Streets
by Stuyvesant High School. Sirus Minovi, 14, a freshman there who was hanging
out with friends, said people scattered.
“We heard people screaming, ‘gun’ ‘shooter’ and ‘run away,’” Sirus said. “We
thought it was a Halloween prank.”
He realized it was not a joke when he saw the man staggering through the
intersection, waving guns and screaming words he could not make out. A passer-by
approached the attacker, apparently trying to calm him, Sirus said, until the
man realized the attacker had a gun. The man “put his hands up and was backing
away,” Sirus said.
Almost immediately, as investigators began to look into Mr. Saipov’s history, it
became clear that he had been on the radar of federal authorities. Three
officials said he had come to the federal authorities’ attention as a result of
an unrelated investigation, but it was not clear whether that was because he was
a friend, an associate or a family member of someone under scrutiny or because
he himself had been the focus of an investigation.
Over the last two years, a terrorism investigation by the F.B.I., the Department
of Homeland Security, the New York Police Department and federal prosecutors in
Brooklyn resulted in charges against five men from Uzbekistan and one from
Kazakhstan of providing material support to ISIS. Several of the men have
pleaded guilty. It is unclear whether Mr. Saipov was connected with that
Martin Feely, a spokesman for the New York F.B.I. office, declined to comment on
whether Mr. Saipov was known to the bureau.
F.B.I. agents were expected to search Mr. Saipov’s home in Paterson, N.J., and
his car on Tuesday night, a law enforcement official said. A phone, which was
recovered at the scene of the attack, also would be searched, another official
The attack unfolded as nearby schools were letting out on a Halloween afternoon.
It ended five blocks north of the World Trade Center. The driver left a roughly
mile-long crime scene: a tree-lined bike path strewn with bodies, mangled
bicycles and bicycle parts, from wheels twisted like pretzels to a dislodged
Mr. Saipov, a slim, bearded man, was seen in videos running through traffic
after the attack with a paintball gun in one hand and a pellet gun in the other.
Six people died at the scene and two others died at a hospital, officials said.
The authorities credited the officer who shot him with saving lives.
“He was Johnny-on-the-spot and he takes the guy down,” a city official said.
Coming five months after a car rammed into pedestrians in Times Square, killing
one, Tuesday’s attack again highlighted the danger of a vehicle attack on busy
city streets. The Times Square attack was not an act of terrorism. But both
events brought to mind the terrorist attack last year in Nice, France, in which
a cargo truck killed scores of people celebrating Bastille Day.
The episodes also evoked calls from terrorist magazines, including in an edition
of Rumiyah, a magazine used by ISIS, for attackers to mow down pedestrians with
trucks, continue the attacks with a knife or a gun and claim responsibility by
shouting or leaving leaflets.
Students in Halloween costumes streamed out of nearby schools after lockdowns
were lifted and huddled with parents. Their faces, once painted for the holiday,
were streaked with tears.
Emily, 12, a seventh-grader at I.S. 289 whose father asked that her last name
not be used, had been walking on her usual route home when other students turned
and ran in the other direction.
“All the kids were screaming, ‘Run!’, ‘Gun!’ ‘Run inside,’” she said, still
wearing cat ears. She said mothers pushing strollers and children in costumes
ran in a herd back toward the school.
President Trump responded to the attack on Twitter: “In NYC, looks like another
attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this
closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo cautioned at a news conference, “There’s no evidence that
suggests a wider plot or a wider scheme.” In the aftermath, city and state law
enforcement agencies increased security at high-profile locations.
Terrorism analysts noted that on Monday a French pro-ISIS media unit, known as
the Centre Mediatique An-Nur, put out a specific threat for Halloween,
mentioning the date on a banner spread on the encrypted app Telegram and on
ISIS-affiliated Twitter accounts.
Mr. Saipov wove a deadly path on a stretch usually bustling with commuters,
runners and cyclists, drawn by the downtown offices nearby or the shimmering
He turned onto the bike path alongside the West Side Highway at Houston Street
just after 3 p.m. and sped south, striking numerous pedestrians and cyclists,
many of them in the back, the authorities said. People scattered and dived to
The truck, labeled with a sign saying, “Rent me starting at $19,” rammed into
the bus near Chambers Street. The bus serves two schools in Lower Manhattan and
transports students with special needs. Two adults and two children on the bus
were injured, the authorities said.
Reporting was contributed by Rukmini Callimachi, Jim Dwyer, Luis
A. Ferré-Sadurní, J. David Goodman, Adam Goldman, Alexandra S. Levine, Daniel
Politi and Eric Schmitt.
A version of this article appears in print on November 1, 2017, on Page A1 of
the New York edition with the headline: Mile-Long Manhattan Truck Attack Kills
Terror Attack Kills 8 and Injures 11 in Manhattan,
Oct. 31, 2017,
Twin Mosque Attacks
in One of Afghanistan’s
OCT. 20, 2017
The New York Times
By JAWAD SUKHANYAR
and MUJIB MASHAL
KABUL, Afghanistan — Just like any other day, Zareen Gul, 60,
held the hand of her grandson, Ali Seyar Nazari, 10, and left home to attend the
early evening prayer in their neighborhood mosque in the west of Kabul.
This time, however, they did not return home. Their family found their remains,
barely identifiable from the clothes they wore, at a hospital after an Islamic
State suicide bomber targeted the prayer.
Ms. Gul and young Seyar became the latest victims of what has been one of
Afghanistan’s deadliest weeks. The death toll from twin attacks on mosques late
on Friday, just hours apart, was raised on Saturday to at least 67 people killed
and dozens wounded. As many as 88 may have died in the two attacks.
More than 200 people, both civilians and security personnel, have been killed
this week in Afghanistan in six attacks. A precise casualty total is hard to
get, as varying levels of violence rage in more than half the country’s
“This week alone, hundreds of Afghan civilians going about their daily lives,
including practicing their religious faith, have fallen victims to brutal acts
of violence,” António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said in a
statement. “The cycle of violence must end and dialogue commence.”
Late Saturday afternoon, another suicide bombing was carried out in Kabul,
targeting a minibus carrying students from the city’s military academy.
“Fourteen officers were killed. We don’t have information on the number of
wounded,” said Gen. Mohammad Radmanish, a spokesman for the Afghan defense
The country’s security forces have suffered heavy casualties this week, with at
least 89 killed in three Taliban attacks nationwide.
Ms. Gul and Seyar were among the 58 killed when a suicide bomber detonated
explosives in the Imam Zaman Shiite mosque in the west of Kabul.
The other mosque attack happened in Dolaina district, in the western province of
Ghor, and the exact casualty toll was contested. Two senior security officials
put the death toll at 21, while the district’s governor told local Afghan media
that 30 people had been killed. However, Bismillah Khan, the head of criminal
investigations at the district’s police force, insisted only 9 people had died.
While no group claimed responsibility for the Ghor attack, the Islamic State, in
a statement, said that one of its fighters in what it called Khorasan Province,
an ancient name for the region that includes Afghanistan, had detonated an
explosive vest inside the mosque in Western Kabul.
“There were about 300 worshipers inside the mosque, with women on one side,”
said Mohammed Ibrahim, a neighborhood leader who was surveying the destruction
on Saturday. The pulpit, the walls, as well as much of the carpet in the front
of the hall was covered in blood.
“The figure I got from the security forces today is that 58 people are killed
and 64 wounded in last night’s suicide attack,” Mr. Ibrahim said. “Among those
killed were 6 children underage 12 and four women.”
Sayed Nazer, a witness, said he was in front of the mosque arriving for prayer
when the explosion knocked him to the ground.
“When I stood up, some people were rushing inside the mosque and some running
outside. I saw three police pickup trucks full of bodies taken away, before even
The number of attacks this year against the places of worship of the Shiite
minority have alarmed many Afghans. The United Nations, before Friday’s attack,
said at least 84 Shiites have been killed and nearly 200 injured in attacks on
mosques this year.
While the Islamic State has claimed most of the attacks targeting Shiites in
Afghanistan, both Western and Afghan officials still have doubts about the
group’s role in Afghanistan. They question whether there is coordination with
Iraq and Syria, or if the group claiming affiliation with the Islamic State
overlaps with some of the more extreme elements of the Pakistani and Afghan
In August, Islamic State suicide bombers stormed a mosque in north Kabul during
Friday prayers, leaving at least 40 worshipers dead. Weeks earlier, an attack on
another mosque in the western city of Herat killed scores.
After the explosion at Imam Zaman mosque, emotions ran high outside. Many people
had escaped the mosque in Kabul barefoot, and some protested what they saw as
the government’s perceived inability to protect the country’s Shiites, chanting,
“Death to Ashraf Ghani,” Afghanistan’s president.
On Saturday, relatives prepared for burial the bodies of Ms. Gul and Seyar at
another mosque nearby. The two were to be buried in their family cemetery in the
west of the city this afternoon.
“Seyar was a smart kid, and he would often ask: ‘Why is there a war going on,
what are they fighting for?’ ” Khalilullah Amini, a member of the family, said.
“He went to pray, and this is what happened,” his distraught uncle, Asadullah
Nazari, said. “He wanted to become an engineer in the future. His books, his
pens, his bag is left at home.”
Fatima Faizi contributed reporting.
Twin Mosque Attacks Kill Scores
in One of Afghanistan’s Deadliest Weeks,
Oct. 30, 2017,
Mogadishu Truck Bombings
Are Deadliest Attack in Decades
OCT. 15, 2017
The New York Times
By HUSSEIN MOHAMED,
and MOHAMED IBRAHIM
MOGADISHU, Somalia — When a double truck bombing shattered the
night in Mogadishu on Saturday, rescue workers began the grim search for
survivors that has become all too common as Somalia battles an Islamist
insurgency. They picked through burned-out cars and hunted as best they could in
a collapsed hotel.
But it was only on Sunday, as emergency workers pulled body after body from the
rubble of a nearly leveled downtown street, that the magnitude of the latest
attack came into focus. The numbers of dead surged from 20 on Saturday night to
more than 270 and counting, according to government officials. More than 300
people were injured.
“This is the deadliest incident I ever remember” since the 1990s, when the
government collapsed, a shaken Senator Abshir Ahmed said in a Facebook posting.
The attack came as the United States under President Trump has made a renewed
push to defeat the Shabab, Somali-based militants who have terrorized the
country and East Africa for years, killing civilians across borders, worsening
famine and destabilizing a broad stretch of the region. While no one had yet
claimed responsibility for the bombings, suspicion immediately fell on the
group, which frequently targets the capital, Mogadishu.
The Shabab — which once controlled most of the city — have lost much of their
territory in recent years, the result of attacks by African Union forces, a
fitfully strengthening Somali Army and increasing American air power. But the
group remains a potent killing force, despite years of American counterterrorism
Some of the militants have proclaimed allegiance to Al Qaeda, while others
support the Islamic State.
As the death toll grew Sunday, the Somali president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed,
declared three days of national mourning. He donated blood for the victims and
asked his fellow citizens to do the same.
“Today’s horrific attack proves our enemy would stop nothing to cause our people
pain and suffering. Let’s unite against terror,” Mr. Mohamed said on Twitter.
“Time to unite and pray together. Terror won’t win.”
On Sunday, fires were still burning at the scene of the bombings. Senator Ahmed,
deputy speaker of the upper house of Parliament, wrote on his Facebook page that
the director of one hospital had told him at least 130 bodies there were burned
Witnesses said the attack was made even worse by the number of cars stuck on the
road where one of the bombs exploded.
“There was a traffic jam, and the road was packed with bystanders and cars,” a
waiter at a nearby restaurant said. “It’s a disaster.”
Doctors at hospitals in Mogadishu struggled to save the wounded on Sunday. The
Associated Press quoted one nurse as saying staff members had seen “unspeakable
horrors” in a hospital where the smell of blood was strong. The news agency
reported that exhausted doctors fought to keep their eyes open even as the
screams of victims echoed through the halls.
Hopes for Somalia tend to ebb and flow after more than 25 years of chaos since
its central government collapsed. In recent years, there has been a bit more
optimism with a new government in power. Still, in the fragile world of Somali
politics, the threat of the Shabab never went away. Hundreds of people have been
killed or wounded in attacks on the capital this year alone.
Analysts thought the latest attack might have been in retaliation both for the
loss of territory and for increasing American drone attacks since Mr. Trump
loosened restrictions meant to strictly limit civilian casualties.
United States Special Operations forces have launched 15 airstrikes against
Shabab leaders, fighters and training camps since the beginning of the year,
including five strikes last month, according to The Long War Journal, which
tracks American strikes against militants in Africa.
One of the strikes, on July 30, killed Ali Jabal, a Shabab commander who led
forces and conducted attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere in Somalia. After he was
killed, the Pentagon’s Africa Command said his removal from the battlefield
would significantly degrade the Shabab’s ability to coordinate attacks in the
capital and in southern Somalia.
Counterterrorism specialists said the size of the bombings Saturday, which were
well beyond what the Shabab have conducted before, suggested that the group
might have received help from operatives with the Qaeda arm in Yemen, Al Qaeda
in the Arabian Peninsula, which is renowned for its prowess with explosives.
Africa specialists said the attack could backfire on the Shabab — and that may
be one reason the group has not claimed responsibility, at least so far.
“When the group feels under pressure, it lashes out with more significant
attacks,” said Tricia Bacon, a Somali specialist at American University in
Washington and a former State Department counterterrorism analyst. She called
the attack “a bad miscalculation” by the Shabab that will likely shore up public
resolve for the government’s commitment to fighting the militants.
Some analysts also suggest that the Shabab may have been trying to take
advantage of Somalia’s most recent political instability; the federal and
regional governments have disagreed over which side to support in a political
standoff between Qatar and a group of countries led by Saudi Arabia. One of
those countries, the United Arab Emirates, supplied weapons to some of the
regional governments in 2015.
American officials condemned the Mogadishu bombings, calling them “cowardly
attacks” that “reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our
Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.”
Previous attacks on the capital this year have killed or wounded at least 771
people, according to data compiled by the Long War Journal. The operations
included remotely detonated vehicles, suicide car bombings and suicide assaults.
At least 11 of these attacks have been assassination attempts against Somali
military, intelligence, and government personnel, as well as Somali journalists.
The blast occurred two days after the head of the United States Africa Command
was in Mogadishu to meet with Somalia’s president, and after the country’s
defense minister and army chief resigned for undisclosed reasons.
About 200 to 300 members of American Special Operations forces work with
soldiers from Somalia and other African nations like Kenya and Uganda to carry
out more than a half-dozen raids per month, according to senior American
military officials. The operations are a combination of ground raids and drone
A member of the United States Navy SEALs was killed and two troops were wounded
in May during a raid on one of the Shabab’s compounds. It appeared to be the
first American combat death in Somalia since the 1993 “Black Hawk Down”
Hussein Mohamed reported from Mogadishu, Somalia, Eric Schmitt from Washington,
and Mohamed Ibrahim from Helsinki, Finland.
A version of this article appears in print on October 16, 2017, on Page A1 of
the New York edition with the headline: Nearly 300 Die In Truck Blasts In
Mogadishu Truck Bombings Are Deadliest Attack in Decades,
0CT. 15, 2017,
Police See Wider Plot in Spain
and Say Carnage Could Have Been Worse
AUG. 18, 2017
The New York Times
By ALISSA J. RUBIN,
and PALKO KARASZ
BARCELONA, Spain — When an earthshaking explosion on Wednesday
blew apart a house outside Alcanar, a town surrounded by olive groves and
holiday homes overlooking the Mediterranean, the police first blamed it on a gas
“Nothing ever happens here,” Mayor Alfons Monserrat said.
The Spanish police now believe that tiny Alcanar may have been the incubator for
a conspiracy far more ambitious than even the van attacks in Catalonia that
killed 14 people and injured more than 80. All but one of the casualties
occurred Thursday afternoon on the Ramblas, Barcelona’s colorful central
thoroughfare. It was Spain’s worst terrorist attack in more than a decade, and
the Islamic State has claimed responsibility.
The Alcanar blast, they suspect, was a mistake by the plotters, who had intended
to make a powerful bomb, place it in a van and detonate it in the crowded center
of Barcelona. That plan disintegrated along with at least 12 butane gas
canisters that were discovered in the ruins of the house in Alcanar on Wednesday
Four men have been detained in the case, and three more who have been identified
remain at large, according to Maj. Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police official
in Spain’s Catalonia region. Investigators are still trying to determine the
full extent of the network. Five of the suspects are dead, at least three of
them appearing to be so young that they could not have grown beards. They were
killed by the police during a second attack, in the seaside holiday town of
Cambrils early Friday.
While some of the other recent European terrorist attacks have been
opportunistic hit and runs by individuals acting on their own, this was a
comparatively complicated plot that the police say involved at least two cells
working in several different locations across Catalonia.
The story also unfolded in Ripoll, hometown of one of the young men who was
killed in Cambrils. His brother was arrested after his identity documents were
found to have been used to rent the van used to carry out the attack on Las
Ramblas. At least one other person from Ripoll has been detained.
There were few indications that the two brothers, Driss Oukabir, 28, and Moussa
Oukabir, 17, had come under the influence of radical Islam. Ripoll is a mountain
town northwest of Barcelona of about 10,000 people, and Moussa and Driss
Oukabir, both of Moroccan descent, lived there with their mother.
Among neighbors, friends, former employers and the local mosque, no one saw any
outward sign of budding extremism. The elder brother, Driss, spoke perfect
Catalan as well as Spanish and was not religious, according to a childhood
friend, Raimon Sánchez, 27. He was known as a small-time marijuana dealer, but
“We went to school together; after that everyone went his own direction, but
when we saw each other, we would say hello, smoke a joint together,” Mr. Sánchez
said. “He was in my home when he was a child — how can a person change that
Moussa was well liked by everyone. He also spoke perfect Catalan, said a
neighbor. His sisters, Hafida and Hanane, described him to their former employer
at Les Graelles, a local restaurant, as polite, “having really good marks in
school” and eager to study. “He didn’t go to parties,” said the restaurant’s
manager, Rosa, who said she was afraid to give her last name.
There was no sign that the family was particularly religious, she added. Neither
sister wore a head scarf except when they were coming from the mosque and never
when they were working.
The family lived in a nondescript apartment building near the southern edge of
town that serves as social housing for lower-income people.
There were three Spanish-Moroccan families in the building, and Moussa, the
youngest of the Oukabir children, was good friends with them as well as other
children who lived there, neighbors said. A 15-year-old Catalan boy in the
building said that he used to go swimming with Moussa and played with him by the
river that runs through town, and that they rode their bikes together.
“Moussa never spoke about religion,” said the boy’s mother, Marche, who lived in
the apartment directly next door. “He was a good kid, just like you or me.”
She said that Moussa and Driss’s parents had recently separated, but that she
was shocked when masked police officers burst into the building at 7 a.m. on
Friday and broke into the Oukabir apartment. She did not know if they had found
From the open door, it appeared to be a modest apartment with three small
bedrooms, two of them with just enough room for a single bed and a flimsy
wardrobe. Clothes were strewn all over the floor from the raid. It was not clear
whether anyone was present when the police burst in.
At the mosque closest to the family’s home, Ali Yassini, who works with the
mosque’s Islamic Council, said he had barely any contact with the brothers. “We
don’t know them; we saw them maybe once a year,” he said, adding that among
Muslim youth in Ripoll there is a generational divide. “The young ones want to
party; these kids, 24 years and younger, they feel they are in jail here.”
On Thursday afternoon, one of the attackers arrived at a branch of Telefurgo, a
car rental firm, some 15 miles north of Barcelona. Using the identity documents
of Driss Oukabir, he paid 59.90 euros (about $70), on top of a 150-euro deposit,
to hire a white Fiat Talento, the firm told Spanish journalists.
Chander Gurnani, 34, who runs a souvenir shop in central Barcelona, first saw
that white Fiat Talento at around 5 p.m. on Thursday as it plowed into a young
woman, sending her flying through the air. Then it mowed down an old man whose
head began to gush blood. Rushing from his shop, Mr. Gurnani, an Indian
immigrant, said that he took the man in his arms — before realizing some 30
seconds later that he was already dead.
Demonstrators on Las Ramblas on Friday shouted “No tinc por!” (“I am not
afraid!” in Catalan, the regional language.) Credit Samuel Aranda for The New
So began Thursday’s attack on Las Ramblas, the long boulevard that connects the
city’s port with its most central districts. The van veered south from Plaça de
Catalunya, the city’s most recognizable square, zigzagging from side to side to
hit as many people as possible.
After mowing down at least a dozen people across a stretch of some 1,600 feet
and slamming into dozens more, it crashed into displays of cheap souvenirs —
phone covers, bracelets, drawings and even oven gloves — skidding to a halt on a
public artwork by Joan Miró, the Catalan artist.
The driver quickly melted into the crowds.
A waiter at a nearby restaurant had no idea why so many people were rushing
inside. Nobody explained what was going on, remembered Guldeep Singh, 30, who
was back at work less than a day after the attack.
“They were screaming,” Mr. Singh said. “They were in shock. They didn’t have
For Mr. Singh, the penny dropped when he looked outside to see two people
prostrate on the street. By the time an ambulance arrived 20 minutes later, one
of them was dead.
Those stuck in the shops and bars of Las Ramblas had little idea about the
events that had led them to flee there.
Outside, however, a picture of a complex operation was beginning to emerge. A
second van was discovered in Vic, north of Barcelona; the police now think the
assailants used it to flee central Barcelona after the attack.
Photographs of Driss Oukabir, whom police had quickly linked to the van hire,
began to circulate, prompting him to turn himself in at a police station in
Ripoll. He claimed his documents had been stolen and that he was not the man who
hired the van.
Down in Alcanar, another man was arrested in connection to the attack. Then, the
Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, claimed responsibility for the
events, in a statement issued through its news agency.
For many survivors, shock and fear now began to give way to relief. A Spanish
tour guide, Laia Escribano, had unwittingly taken a group of tourists to the
street just minutes afterward and gradually realized how narrow her escape had
“I am lucky to be alive,” said Ms. Escribano, 31. “If the attack was 10 minutes
later, I would have been right there with the students on the tour.”
But as Thursday rolled into Friday, relief gave way to renewed terror. In
Cambrils, a small seaside resort town about 50 miles south of Barcelona, another
car attack was unfolding.
At 1 a.m., five assailants in an Audi A3 hit a group of civilians before police
officers fatally shot five of them, among them Moussa Oukabir. A pedestrian
later died after being hit by the car, and the police have confirmed that the
Cambrils attack was committed by the same network that sent a van to Barcelona.
In a night of strange developments, however, the oddest of all was perhaps the
news from Alcanar. Twenty-four hours after the authorities considered the
explosion there a gas leak, the story came full circle.
Alcanar, the police now suggest, was not just a sleepy holiday town. It may have
been a place where the attacks were planned — news that shocked local residents.
“You might think all sorts of things,” said Nuria Gil, 50, one of the few locals
who lives here year-round, “but not that you have terrorists as neighbors.”
Alissa J. Rubin reported from Barcelona and Ripoll, Spain;
Patrick Kingsley from Barcelona; and Palko Karasz from Alcanar, Spain. Reporting
was contributed by Silvia Taulés, Germán Aranda, Raphael Minder and Yaiza Saiz
from Barcelona; Rukmini Callimachi from Erbil, Iraq; Benoît Morenne from Paris;
Melissa Eddy from Berlin; and Michael Wolgelenter, Declan Walsh, Stephen Castle,
Anne-Sophie Bolon, Claire Barthelemy, Thomas Furse and Mark Walsh from London.
A version of this article appears in print on August 19, 2017,
on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Attack in Spain Fits
Police See Wider Plot in Spain
and Say Carnage Could Have Been Worse,
Aug. 18, 2017,
Fighting, While Funding, Extremists
JUNE 19, 2017
The New York Times
The Opinion Pages | Editorial
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Even sophisticated observers admit to confusion and consternation
about the Middle East, where rivalries and jealousies among nations have reached
new levels of complication. Saudi Arabia and some of its neighbors decide to
punish Qatar and some of its citizens, ostensibly for fostering and financing
Islamist terrorism. But Saudi Arabia itself has been accused of underwriting
extremists. No matter: President Trump, captivated by Saudi royalty, sides with
the Saudis — even though the United States has two important bases in Qatar.
Baffling, right? But here is one clear bottom line: The biggest loser in all
this may turn out to be the fight against the Islamic State. Nobody likes ISIS.
Yet the idea of a united front among Gulf states against the terrorist group has
all but evaporated, and hypocrisies and contradictions abound. Here’s a primer
on some of the main players.
QATAR This tiny but exceedingly wealthy country definitely has a
mixed record. But is it a colossal threat? Last week, the United States agreed
to sell it $12 billion worth of F-15 jets and two Navy vessels arrived there for
joint military exercises. If Qatar were seen as a serious terrorism threat, that
wouldn’t be happening.
True, Qatar has long been accused of funneling money to the Muslim Brotherhood,
a loose and influential political network. The Brotherhood has officially
forsworn violence. Yet Saudi Arabia, whose royal rulers fear Islamist populism,
still brands it a terrorist outfit.
Qatar has also supported radicals in Syria — like the Qaeda offshoot Al Nusra —
and groups in Libya and other Arab nations. But the Saudis have long aided
competing rebel groups in those countries, including extremists. Aiming to play
a regional mediating role, Qatar has also angered the Saudis by fostering ties
with other hostile groups, including the Afghan Taliban, Hezbollah in Lebanon
and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, giving the leaders of some of them airtime on its
freewheeling TV network, Al Jazeera.
The Saudis are also annoyed that Qatar talks to Iran, their chief
rival, but it’s hardly surprising since the two nations jointly manage a major
offshore natural gas reserve.
American judgments about Qatar’s activities have been as mixed as Qatar’s
record. In 2014 the State Department branded Qatar a “permissive jurisdiction”
for terrorist financing, but has since praised its efforts to prevent such
financing and to stop terrorists from crossing its borders as evidence of a
“strong partnership.” In February, Daniel Glaser, a former Treasury official,
praised Qatar for a “good job” in trying to prevent terrorist financing through
controls on its financial sector and local charities and in prosecuting people
for illegal transactions. Even so, he complained that terrorist financiers are
“operating openly and notoriously” in Qatar and Kuwait, and he urged the two
governments to shut down such activities.
SAUDI ARABIA Since the Sept 11 attacks, staged mainly by
Saudi-born hijackers, and a series of attacks by Al Qaeda and ISIS against the
kingdom, Saudi Arabia has become more serious about extremism; some experts
regard it as the top counterterrorism partner in the region. It has taken a
zero-tolerance approach to ISIS and joined the American-led coalition fighting
the group. Even so, American government reports say financial support for
terrorism from Saudis “remains a threat to the kingdom and the international
community.” And while this has been ignored by Mr. Trump, Saudi Arabia
undermines whatever good work it does by continuing to spend billions of dollars
spreading Wahhabism, its ultraconservative brand of Islam — which in turn
inspires ISIS, Al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists — through a network of imans
and mosques in countries like Kosovo, Indonesia and Pakistan.
Dependent on the Wahhabi clerics for legitimacy, the royal family has been slow
to reform a religion that teaches that nonbelievers and wayward Muslims should
be shunned or fought if they reject its strict message. Experts say some Saudi
school texts seem to make a virtue of hating others. The Saudis, aided by
American intelligence and arms, may also be creating extremists with their
brutal war in Yemen.
IRAN Unlike Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Iran is a Shiite nation. It
is thus a natural enemy of Sunni terrorist groups like ISIS, which it is
fighting in Iraq. Iran has been the target of two recent devastating attacks on
Tehran for which ISIS has claimed credit. At the same time, if other terrorist
groups are counted, Iran is a bad actor. It was designated a state sponsor of
terrorism by the State Department in 1984, five years after the Iranian
revolution, and is one of three countries, along with Sudan and Syria, still on
American experts say that whatever Saudi Arabia or Qatar’s failings, Iran’s are
worse because its involvement with extremist groups is sponsored by the
government. According to State Department reports, Iran finances, trains and
arms Hezbollah and other Shiite forces in Syria who have committed human rights
abuses in the fight to prop up Syria’s notorious butcher, President Bashar
al-Assad; anti-Israeli Hezbollah forces in Lebanon; and Shiite militants in
Bahrain. Historically, Iran has also provided weapons, training and funding to
Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups.
Significantly, the Americans are not accusing Russia, Iran’s ally, of terrorism
for using its firepower to keep the Assad government in power; no Iranians were
named as responsible when the administration in February published a list of 78
major terrorist attacks. And some of Iran’s activities, particularly its war on
ISIS, dovetail with Western ambitions.
Each of these three main players has a role to play in the larger effort to
defeat and defund terrorists. But there needs to be clarity and honesty about
the various sources of the problem, and the various contributions each nation
can make to the struggle. Exaggerating or misrepresenting the misdeeds of Qatar
and Iran, while giving the Saudis a free pass, will only benefit Saudi Arabia’s
efforts to expand its regional influence.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter
(@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.
A version of this editorial appears in print on June 19, 2017, on Page A18 of
the New York edition with the headline: Fighting, While Funding, Extremists.
Fighting, While Funding, Extremists,
June 19, 2017,
Another Terrorist Attack
Strikes the Heart of London
JUNE 3, 2017
The New YorkTimes
By STEVEN ERLANGER
LONDON — Another night of terrorism unfolded in Britain on
Saturday with two attacks that killed six civilians in the center of the
capital, London police said.
At least one of the dead was killed when a van careered onto the sidewalk along
London Bridge, mowing down pedestrians.
The London Ambulance Service said it had brought 48 injured to five hospitals.
The police said they killed three attackers, which they believed to be the total
number of assailants.
Witnesses reported that at least one man jumped out of the van wielding a large
knife and ran into the nearby Borough Market, a popular spot for pubs and
restaurants on the southern side of the Thames.
Heavily armed police responded to the bridge attack, which took place just after
10 p.m., and more officers rushed to investigate reports of stabbings at the
market. The police shot and killed three attackers there, within eight minutes
of receiving the first emergency call, they said.
Though no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, they hit a nation
still reeling from the shock of the bombing in Manchester almost two weeks ago
when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the doors of an Ariana Grande
concert. Twenty-two people were killed, including many children.
Saturday’s attack was reminiscent of another on Westminster Bridge on March 22,
when Khalid Masood, 52, drove a car into pedestrians, killing four people. He
then stabbed a police officer to death before being shot and killed near
Parliament. The police treated that attack, in which 50 were injured, as
And now, as Britain prepares for national elections in less than a week, it must
cope with more attacks in the most ordinary of places, London Bridge on a
Saturday night, as people walked about enjoying the spring evening.
The mood in London was shock and anger, with the center of the city saturated
all night with the sound of sirens. People were told to run, or hide and silence
their cellphones as the police searched for assailants.
There was panic that a third stabbing in the Vauxhall area at about the same
time as the assaults near the bridge might have been part of a coordinated
attack, but the police later declared that incident unrelated.
The attacks came a few days before a snap election that has major implications
for the country’s future outside the European Union. Across London, and Britain,
there was a sense of fear that a way of life was under attack, but also a
determination to carry on.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, called it a “deliberate and cowardly attack on
innocent Londoners,” and it was also condemned by the leader of the main
opposition party, Jeremy Corbyn.
The office of Theresa May, the prime minister, announced that she will chair a
meeting of the government emergency response committee, known as Cobra, on
A White House spokesman said President Trump was briefed by his national
security aides on the unfolding events in London.
He spoke with Mrs. May, offering his condolences for the attacks and praising
the response of the police, White House officials said. He offered the full
support of the United States government in investigating the attacks.
No motive has been ascribed to the attackers, but on the messaging app Telegram,
members and supporters of the Islamic State shared a poster that calls for
supporters to attack people with guns, knives and trucks during the month of
Ramadan, which began last weekend.
On Saturday night ambulances rushed to the scene, people fled in panic,
restaurants and hotels were evacuated, and helicopters flew overhead.
Witnesses described horrible scenes.
Holly Jones, a BBC reporter who was on the bridge when the van crashed, said it
was driven by a man and was “probably traveling at about 50 miles an hour.” She
said that at least five people were being treated for injuries after the vehicle
drove on the sidewalk and hit them.
“He swerved right round me and then hit about five or six people,” Ms. Jones
said. “He hit about two people in front of me and then three behind.”
A witness, who identified himself as Andrew, said he was in the area at a bar,
heard “a massive bang” and saw a van hitting the rail of the road.
“Next 10 seconds later, there was a guy with a big knife, I mean, a big knife,”
he told LBC Radio.
Andrew said he jumped over a fence, got to a footpath and there was “a dead guy
lying on the floor.” He hid for a few seconds in bushes nearby, then, he said,
“I ran for my life.”
At the market, Ben, who did not give his last name, told the BBC that he and his
wife, Natalie, saw someone being stabbed.
“I saw a man in red with quite a large blade — I don’t know the measurement, I
guess maybe 10 inches,” Ben said. “He was stabbing a man. He stabbed him about
three times fairly calmly.”
Ben added, “He was being stabbed quite coldly and he slumped to the ground.”
He then said someone threw a table and a bottle at the man with the knife, but
“then we heard three gunshots and we ran.”
A man named Gerard told the BBC that he saw men stabbing everyone they could and
shouting “this is for Allah.”
He saw three men with knives “and they stabbed a girl,” he said. “So I follow
them, toward Borough Market, they were running into the pubs and bars and
stabbing everyone. They were running up, saying this is for Allah, and they run
up and stabbed this girl 10, maybe 15 times.”
Lorna Murray, 44, said she was about to drive over London Bridge when traffic
stopped and people ran toward her car. “We ducked down in our car, assuming
there was a stabbing,” she said. “Then this young couple started banging on the
doors trying to get into our car for safety. We took them in but couldn’t let
anyone else in because we had a baby in the back.”
The police told everyone to leave their cars and get away. “When I got out the
car everything was a blur, but I saw a woman with blood all over her face,” she
Tim Hodge, 37, a security officer at a nearby office building on the south side
of the bridge, described “huge crowds” running and screaming. “There was so much
panic and so many of the people were drunk, which made them more hysterical,” he
Alex Shellum was in the Mudlark pub, underneath London Bridge, with his
girlfriend. He told the BBC about an injured woman who came into the pub: “She
was bleeding heavily from the neck. It appeared that her throat had been cut.”
Gabriele Sciotto, a photographer returning from a bar, saw the police
confronting three men outside the Wheatsheaf bar on Stoney Street and ordering
them to get down. Two of the men were shot by police, he said.
“They looked like they had some explosive belts,” Mr. Sciotto said. “The police
didn’t know what was going on honestly. They shouted at them to go down, to stop
moving. It was very chaotic.”
The police said the suspects were wearing what looked like explosive vests but
they were later established to be hoaxes.
Mr. Sciotto took a photograph, which he later posted to Instagram, that appeared
to show at least two men on the ground.
“At the moment these people were shot it was just me, the men and the police,”
Mr. Sciotto said.
Correction: June 3, 2017
An earlier version of this article misstated when a van drove into pedestrians
on London Bridge. It was Saturday, not Sunday.
Reporting was contributed by Stephen Castle, Stephen Farrell,
Ceylan Yeginsu and Jim Yardley from London; Eric Schmitt from Washington; and
Rukmini Callimachi, Liam Stack, Megan Specia and Matt Stevens from New York.
A version of this article appears in print on June 4, 2017, on Page A1 of the
New York edition with the headline: 2 Attacks in London as a Reeling Nation
Faces More Terror.
Another Terrorist Attack Strikes the Heart of London,
JUNE 3, 2017,
Deadly Bombing in Kabul
Is One of the Afghan War’s
MAY 31, 2017
The New York Times
By MUJIB MASHAL,
and JAWAD SUKHANYAR
KABUL, Afghanistan — A truck bomb devastated a central area of
Kabul near the presidential palace and foreign embassies on Wednesday, one of
the deadliest strikes in the long Afghan war and a reminder of how the capital
itself has become a lethal battlefield.
In one moment, more than 80 lives ended, hundreds of people were wounded and
many more were traumatized, in the heart of a city defined by constant
checkpoints and the densest concentration of Afghan and international forces.
President Ashraf Ghani, whose palace windows were shattered in the blast just as
he had finished his morning briefing, called it “a crime against humanity.”
President Trump called him to offer condolences.
The bombing happened just as the United States is weighing sending more troops,
deepening its entanglement, to try to slow or reverse government losses to the
Taliban insurgency this year.
“The attack demonstrates a complete disregard for civilians and reveals the
barbaric nature of the enemy faced by the Afghan people,” Gen. John W. Nicholson
Jr., the commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said in a
He applauded the Afghan security forces for having prevented the truck from
entering the Green Zone, the area that houses the headquarters of the coalition
forces as well as several foreign embassies.
But Kabul’s vulnerability to such an attack spoke volumes to the frustrations of
stabilizing the country despite 15 years of American-led military intervention
to thwart the Taliban, coupled with hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign
aid to a population that for the most part has known only war.
Security has steadily worsened since 2014 and the end of the main NATO combat
mission, which at its peak featured more than 100,000 American troops and tens
of thousands more from alliance partners like Britain. The current international
force in Afghanistan numbers about 13,000 — about 8,400 of them are American —
mostly tasked with training and advising the Afghan forces.
The Trump administration and military commanders are debating whether to send up
to 5,000 more troops to stem the government’s losses.
Although the main Taliban spokesman claimed the group had nothing to do with the
Kabul bomb, the Afghan intelligence agency, the National Directorate of
Security, blamed the Haqqani wing of the organization. Over the years, the
Haqqanis have made an industry of large-scale attacks on the capital, and the
militant cell has become integrated in the central leadership of the Taliban.
The deputy interior minister, Gen. Murad Ali Murad, said that besides the more
than 80 people killed, with the death toll sure to rise, at least 463 had been
wounded. Still, the general said the attacker had actually failed to get all the
way to his most likely target: Security cameras showed the truck stopped by
police officers who guarded the entrance to the street housing the German and
Indian Embassies, as well as compounds for the coalition forces.
But for an explosion that shattered windows within a mile, a few steps off
target made little difference.
With most of the city fasting to observe the holy month of Ramadan, residents
urgently took up what has become a routine: sweeping broken glass, calling loved
ones and calling others in search of news.
In different corners of the city, workers and relatives dug graves for the ones
who, with life having become a game of chance, just were not lucky. Parents
arrived to escort panicking children home from school, holding their hands and
cautiously walking close to walls — as if walls could protect against such
For more than two hours, smoke rose from the blast site, a 13-foot crater
centered on a vast circle of destruction. The German Embassy, where officials
said employees had retreated deeper into the compound after an earlier warning
of a threat against them, was extensively damaged, with dozens of windows blown
“There was a big tremble, and then we heard a massive explosion,” Ramin Sangar,
a cameraman at a television channel near the bombing site, said as he was loaded
into an ambulance. “All the windows are broken. Our studios collapsed.”
As security forces established a wide cordon and ambulances whizzed between
hospitals and the street, dozens of people gathered on each side of the cordon,
inching closer in hopes of hearing any good news at all about their missing.
There was a heavy security presence, including forces from the United States-led
coalition, and helicopters circled overhead. Emotions were running high, as the
Afghan security forces and emergency medical workers, too, were working while
Intelligence officers closely checked the paperwork of emergency workers,
fearing that they might have been infiltrated by militants planning a follow-up
attack. At one point, after a senior police official tried to pass the cordon
with a large entourage of guards, a scuffle broke out, and the police and
intelligence officers faced off with their weapons ready. But the situation was
For the residents, much of the search for their loved ones then shifted to the
hospitals, and crowds began to grow around the city’s treatment centers.
More than 300 people anxiously waited outside the Emergency Hospital, one of the
main trauma centers in the city. Some were weeping and wailing, while others
were trying to look up names of loved ones on the lists that employees handed
out. Inside the hospital, where the windows had also been shattered by the force
of the blast, doctors were attending to dozens of wounded.
Outside Wazir Akbar Khan hospital, the main government hospital, a white-bearded
man in his 60s named Azizullah searched for news of his 22-year-old son,
Abdullah, who worked at a telecommunications company near the site of the blast.
“I searched all hospitals. He is nowhere,” said Mr. Azizullah, who would crouch
and then get up to pace. “Abdullah has two children, a wife and an old mother.
What will I tell them?”
Mr. Azizullah received a call from someone who appeared to be inside the
hospital, telling him about unrecognizable bodies.
“Can you search the person whose body is cut up?” he asked the caller. “He may
be my son. Try to find his documents.”
By the morgue in the hospital, a group of men tried to figure out whether the
badly burned body in the back of an ambulance was their friend Ahmad Reshad, an
employee of a telecom company in his 30s. One of the men was on the phone with
Mr. Reshad’s wife, as others searched the body to try to make out details that
could identify him: How much money was carrying? What color tie did he have on?
The body had pills in one of his pockets — was Mr. Reshad carrying pills?
They could not identify the body, so it was shipped off for a forensic
examination. The men continued their search at another hospital.
In a televised address as the city was preparing to go to sleep, President Ghani
came out with a resolute message, calling for unity in the face of attackers who
he said were receiving help from outside intelligence forces — frequent
shorthand here for Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services
Intelligence, which has long maintained ties with the Haqqani network.
The year’s traumatic news began piling up even before the spring fighting season
took off: massacres at a fortified army hospital and then an even more heavily
fortified army base, another district fallen to the Taliban as stretched
security forces collapsed, a city overrun two times on verge of falling again,
more civilians killed.
In Germany, the Kabul blast was sure to fuel a debate over the government’s
efforts to repatriate Afghans whose applications for asylum had been rejected.
German officials have been at pains to insist that parts of Afghanistan are
safe, despite the deteriorating security of the countryside. But hours after the
blast, the government in Berlin said that a flight carrying deportees bound for
Afghanistan scheduled for Wednesday had been postponed.
About 1,000 German soldiers are stationed in Afghanistan as part of the NATO
force, and Germany has invested billions in the military and aid to stabilize
The sheer force of the blast on Wednesday was staggering, though it was not
unprecedented. In 2015, a similar truck bombing in the Shah Shaheed neighborhood
of the city also caused hundreds of casualties and left a strip of shops leveled
and houses damaged in a wide radius. Other large truck bombings have targeted
the offices of an elite force that provides security to senior government
officials, as well as a compound for Western contractors.
Most of the victims appeared to be civilians on their way to work during the
morning rush hour. Among those killed were a BBC driver, Mohammed Nazir, and an
information technology worker for the Afghan television channel ToloNews, Aziz
Lotfullah Najafizada, the director of ToloNews, described a painful search for
his colleague’s remains. He and his co-workers examined seven mostly
unrecognizable bodies at the military hospital before heading over to the
civilian side, where the 44th body had just arrived.
“We found Aziz in a large, dirt-colored sack, and his relatives were trying to
transport him home,” Mr. Najafizada wrote on Facebook. “The ambulances were
busy, and Aziz waited in the hall of the hospital for his final trip home.”
As such routines usually wrap up in Kabul, funeral processions made it to the
different corners of the city. In the Karte Naw neighborhood, the body of Mr.
Nazir was lifted from his modest two-story home, its outside walls freshly
plastered, as women wailed inside. More than 500 people packed into the small
yard of the orange mosque for a final prayer half a mile from his home, and then
he was driven up the hill for his burial.
Mr. Nazir’s oldest son, Mohammed, 9, was accompanied by a weeping relative.
Mohammed, wearing turquoise shorts, did not quite grasp what was happening.
In the northeast of the city, in the sprawling Panjsad family cemetery, Tawab
Temuri, a 25-year-old travel agent, was the third victim to be buried on
A fourth grave was dug, and about 60 men waited just below Mr. Temuri’s grave
for the body to arrive.
Melissa Eddy contributed reporting from Berlin.
A version of this article appears in print on June 1, 2017,
on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline:
Deadly Bombing Is Among Worst Of Afghan War.
Deadly Bombing in Kabul Is One of the Afghan War’s Worst Strikes,
May 31, 2017,
Terror Alert in Britain
Is Raised to Maximum
as ISIS Claims Manchester Attack
MAY 23, 2017
The New York Times
By KATRIN BENNHOLD,
and CEYLAN YEGINSU
MANCHESTER, England — Britain’s prime minister put the nation on
its highest level of alert on Tuesday and deployed the military to work with the
police over fears that another terrorist attack was imminent.
The announcement came as the police continued to investigate whether the Monday
night bombing at a pop music concert in Manchester that killed 22 people,
including children, was part of a broader conspiracy.
“It is a possibility we cannot ignore that there is a wider group
of individuals linked to this attack,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in
Manchester after a meeting of her top security officials.
Earlier in the day, the police raided the home of Salman Abedi, the man they
identified as the bomber; he died in the blast. Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of
the Greater Manchester Police said that the investigation was focusing on
determining “whether Mr. Abedi was acting alone or as part of a network.”
A senior United States official said on Tuesday night that Mr. Abedi had
traveled multiple times to Libya, where his parents immigrated from, but did not
know the timing of his last trip. The official was not authorized to discuss the
information publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
By raising the national threat level from severe to critical, Ms. May suggested
“not only that an attack remains highly likely, but that a further attack may be
The government’s actions on Tuesday night came hours after the authorities began
the gruesome task of identifying the dead. An 8-year-old girl who had attended
the Ariana Grande concert with her mother and older sister and a college student
who chronicled on Instagram her encounters with her pop-music idols like Ms.
Grande were among those killed.
As the authorities bolstered the nation’s defenses, investigators set out to
learn as much as they could about Mr. Abedi, 22, who lived with his family only
a few miles from where he detonated a homemade bomb on a public concourse
crowded with Ms. Grande’s adoring teenage fans leaving the arena.
Rescue workers sifting through the carnage outside the arena on
Monday night discovered Mr. Abedi’s identification card. That clue led the
police to the home he shared with his family on Elsmore Road, in the Fallowfield
district. The police blew the house’s door off its frame, to safeguard against
booby traps, as shocked neighbors watched.
“We’ve been watching this kind of attack happen in Paris,” said a neighbor,
Thomas Coull, 17. “We didn’t expect it to happen on our doorstep, literally.”
Mr. Abedi was born in 1994 in Britain, according to a law enforcement official
speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was still
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in one post on
social media that “one of the soldiers of the caliphate was able to place an
explosive device within a gathering of the crusaders in the city of Manchester.”
It was one of several Islamic State statements, some contradictory, posted on
different social media accounts.
A neighbor of the Abedi family in the Fallowfield district, southwest of the
Manchester city center, said the family “didn’t really speak to anyone.” The
neighbor, Lina Ahmed, added, “They were nice people if you walked past.” She
said the family occasionally displayed a Libyan flag outside the home.
Another neighbor, Farzana Kosur, said that the mother, who taught the Quran, had
been abroad for about two months. A trustee of the Manchester Islamic Center
said Mr. Abedi’s father and his brother Ismael attended the mosque, but the
trustee, Fawzi Haffar, did not know if Mr. Abedi worshiped there.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the deadly explosion at an arena in
Manchester, England, where the American pop singer Ariana Grande had been
performing on Monday night. By ROBIN LINDSAY, MALACHY BROWNE, MARK SCHEFFLER and
ELSA BUTLER on Publish Date May 22, 2017. Photo by Rex Features, via Associated
Press. Watch in Times Video »
A senior member of the Muslim community in Manchester and a law enforcement
official who requested anonymity said Mr. Abedi had been barred from the mosque
in 2015 for expressing his support for the Islamic State, and he came to the
attention of intelligence agencies at the time as “a person of interest.”
In raising the threat level, Mrs. May cited information gathered Tuesday in the
investigation into the Manchester bombing and said the Joint Terrorism Analysis
Center, the body responsible for setting the level, would continue to review the
“The change in the threat level means that there will be additional resources
and support made available to the police as they work to keep us all safe,” Mrs.
“I do not want the public to feel unduly alarmed,” she said. “We have faced a
serious terrorist threat in our country for many years, and the operational
response I have just outlined is a proportionate and sensible response to the
threat that our security experts judge we face.”
It was only the third time that Britain had raised the threat level to critical.
The first was on Aug. 10, 2006, after the government foiled a plot to blow up
trans-Atlantic airliners with liquid bombs. The second was on June 30, 2007,
after two men slammed an S.U.V. into entrance doors at Glasgow Airport and
turned the vehicle into a potentially lethal fireball.
After the prime minister’s announcement, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the
head of National Counter Terrorism Policing, said in a statement that “we are
flexing our resources to increase police presence at key sites, such as
transport and other crowded places, and we are reviewing key events over the
“I have asked for support from the military to be deployed alongside the
police,” Commissioner Rowley added. “This will free up armed officers from
certain guarding duties to release our officers to support the wider response.”
As part of their investigation into the Manchester bombing, the police arrested
a 23-year-old man outside a supermarket near Mr. Abedi’s home, but it was not
immediately clear if that man was connected in some way to the attack.
The terrorist attack was the worst in the history of Manchester, a city of a
half-million people, and the worst in Britain since July 7, 2005, when 52 people
died, along with four assailants, in coordinated attacks on London’s transit
Security experts suggested that the use of an improvised explosive device in
Manchester displayed a level of sophistication that implied collaborators — and
the possibility that other bombs had been made at the same time.
Chris Phillips, a former leader of the National Counter Terrorism Security
Office in Britain, told the BBC: “It has involved a lot of planning — it’s a bit
of a step up. This is a much more professional-style attack.”
The Islamic State also claimed responsibility for the March 22 attack near
Parliament in which a British man fatally struck four pedestrians on Westminster
Bridge before killing a police officer. British authorities say they have also
broken up terrorist cells operating in the country.
But investigators fear the Manchester attack indicates a higher level of
sophistication, requiring more planning and the possibility of more attacks,
prompting the national threat level to be raised.
The bombing came in the final stretch of campaigning before a general election
on June 8 in Britain, and the country’s political parties agreed on Tuesday to
suspend campaigning. Opposition politicians — Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party,
Tim Farron of the Liberal Democrats and Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National
Party — joined Mrs. May in expressing their grief and condolences.
It was unclear what effect the attack might have on the election. Some political
experts suggested it would help Mrs. May, who, in her previous role as home
secretary, was in charge of Britain’s domestic security and is generally
perceived as a tough leader. But difficult questions are already being asked
about what security gaps might have abetted the assault, and what could have
been done to prevent it.
Katrin Bennhold and Ceylan Yeginsu reported from Manchester, and Steven Erlanger
from London. Reporting was contributed by Stephen Castle from Manchester, Dan
Bilefsky, Sewell Chan and Michael Wolgelenter from London, Rukmini Callimachi
from New York, and Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger from Washington.
A version of this article appears in print on May 24, 2017, on
Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Britain on Edge As Terror
Alert Hits Top Level.
Terror Alert in Britain Is Raised to Maximum
as ISIS Claims Manchester Attack,
MAY 23, 2017,
on Pakistan Lawmaker’s Convoy
MAY 12, 2017
The New York Times
By SALMAN MASOOD
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — At least 25 people were killed and 30
others were wounded when the convoy of a senior Pakistani politician was hit by
a bomb in southwestern Pakistan on Friday, officials said.
The politician, Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, the deputy chairman of the Senate,
survived with minor injuries. But his driver and an aide were killed in the
explosion, in Mastung, a remote district in Baluchistan Province. Mr. Haideri
told Reuters soon after the explosion that he believed he was the target of the
Police officials said it was not immediately clear whether the blast was the
work of a suicide bomber or the result of a timed device planted by the road.
Through its Syria-based Amaq news agency, the Islamic State claimed
responsibility for the attack. But Pakistani officials have generally been
skeptical, saying that local militant cells who swear allegiance to the Islamic
State but have little or no operational link to the main group have been behind
most of the attacks.
Amir Rana, a security analyst who is the director of Pak Institute for Peace
Studies, an Islamabad-based think tank, also took a skeptical view of the
Islamic State’s claim of responsibility.
“It could be that they want to increase their impact in the region and make such
claims,” Mr. Rana said in an interview. He said that a breakaway faction of
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned extremist Sunni group, was inspired by the Islamic
State and had been active in the area, and speculated that those militants might
have been involved.
Mr. Haideri, who is from Baluchistan, belongs to Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, a Sunni
Islamist political party that is part of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s coalition
government. Since 2015, he has also served as the deputy chairman of the upper
house of Parliament. This is the first attack believed to have targeted him, but
the party’s leader, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, has survived at least three
assassination attempts, most recently in 2014 in Quetta, the provincial capital.
Mr. Haideri’s convoy was hit after Friday Prayer, and television news networks
broadcast images of his white sport utility vehicle charred and mangled from the
force of the explosion. Speaking to local news outlets after the attack, Mr.
Haideri said he had suffered minor injuries.
“I am alive. God has saved my life,” he was quoted by the private television
news network Samaa as saying. “It was all very sudden. Broken pieces of the
windscreen hit me. I am injured but safe.”
Most of the wounded were taken to the district hospital, while those in critical
condition were transported to Quetta.
Baluchistan has been the site of a simmering insurgency for decades, with Baluch
separatists demanding greater autonomy and a larger share of mineral and natural
gas riches there. But the province also has a large Taliban presence, especially
in areas inhabited by the Pashtun population near the border with Afghanistan.
A version of this article appears in print on May 13, 2017, on
Page A7 of the New York edition with the headline: Pakistanis Killed as Bomb
Strikes Politician’s Convoy.
Bomb Attack on Pakistan Lawmaker’s Convoy Kills Dozens,
May 12, 2017,
Near U.K. Parliament;
Car Plows Victims
on Westminster Bridge
MARCH 22, 2017
The New York Times
By KATRIN BENNHOLD
and STEPHEN CASTLE
LONDON — A knife-wielding assailant driving a sport utility
vehicle mowed down panicked pedestrians and stabbed a police officer outside
Parliament on Wednesday in a deadly assault, prompting the hasty evacuation of
the prime minister and punctuating the threat of terrorism in Europe.
At least four people, including the assailant, were killed and at least 40
others injured in the confusing swirl of violence, which the police said they
assumed had been “inspired by international terrorism.” It appeared to be the
most serious such assault in London since the deadly subway bombings more than a
Throughout a turbulent afternoon, ambulances, emergency vehicles and heavily
armed security officers thronged the area outside Parliament, as one of the
busiest sections of London was cordoned off and evacuated.
Prime Minister Theresa May was rushed into a vehicle and spirited back to her
office. She held a meeting of the government’s emergency committee and issued a
statement on Wednesday night from her 10 Downing Street residence denouncing
“the sick and depraved terrorist attack on the streets of our Capital this
Mrs. May also said that “the full details of exactly what happened are still
emerging,” but she confirmed that the attack had been carried out by a lone male
assailant. As of late Wednesday, his identity had not been released, but
Scotland Yard officials said they believed they knew who he was.
The attack unfolded around 2:40 p.m., Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said at
a news conference.
Driving a sport utility vehicle, the assailant slammed into pedestrians on
Westminster Bridge near Parliament, killing two people and injuring many others,
before crashing into a railing.
After the crash, the driver left the vehicle and approached Parliament, where he
stabbed an unarmed police officer to death and was fatally shot by the police.
The dead officer was identified as Keith Palmer, 48, a member of the
Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command with 15 years of experience.
“This is the day we have planned for but we hoped would never happen,” Mr.
Rowley said. “Sadly, it’s now a reality.”
The attack came on the anniversary of suicide bombings in Brussels that killed
32 people, along with three bombers.
It confirmed fears among counterterrorism officials that London, which had
largely escaped recent terrorist attacks in Europe, would join cities like
Paris, Brussels and Berlin as targets of mass violence.
“Terrorism affects us all, and France knows the pain the British people are
enduring today,” President François Hollande of France said at a news conference
in Villepinte, near Paris.
Mrs. May, who spoke with Mr. Hollande and President Trump, said in her statement
that Parliament would meet as normal on Thursday. She vowed to never permit “the
voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.”
Cmdr. B. J. Harrington of the Metropolitan Police said at a brief news
conference earlier Wednesday that a “full counterterrorism investigation is
underway.” He asked members of the public to report any suspicious activity and
to share any images or video of the violence.
Commander Harrington said that the acting police commissioner, Craig Mackey, had
been at the scene of the attack and was not injured, but was “being treated as a
At least three police officers were among those injured on the bridge. Also
among the injured were three 10th-grade boys from a group of visiting students
from the Brittany region of France, and a woman who fell or plunged into the
Mr. Hollande’s government said it had chartered a plane to London with families
of the French victims.
Tobias Ellwood, a minister in the Foreign Office, tried to save the life of the
fatally stabbed police officer by giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
The number of injured apparently included five South Korean tourists who were
overwhelmed by a crowd fleeing the scene, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said
Thursday morning. Three men suffered fractures, and a woman had surgery for a
head injury, the ministry said.
For more than two hours, astonished lawmakers inside the House of Commons, some
of whom had ducked for cover, were told to stay in place as officers searched
the premises office by office.
“At the moment, the very clear advice from the police and the director of
security in the house is that we should remain under suspension, and that the
chamber should remain in lockdown until we’ve received advice that it is safe to
go back to normal procedures,” David Lidington, the leader of the House of
Commons, or lower house of Parliament, told lawmakers in remarks broadcast live
on the BBC.
Olly Grender, a member of the House of Lords, said that lawmakers were staying
put. “We were in a meeting, I heard shouting through the window,” she said,
adding that a colleague came in to tell them that a serious episode had taken
Jayne Wilkinson, 59, from Birmingham, was near the statue of Winston Churchill
in Parliament Square with her partner, David Turner, 56, when they saw people
suddenly running from Parliament.
The couple said they had seen a middle-aged man holding a knife. He ignored
warnings from the police, running though the gates into the Parliament compound,
she said. “They were shouting to warn him,” Ms. Wilkinson said. Soon after, she
and her partner heard three gunshots and saw the man on the ground.
Three construction workers inside the grounds of Westminster Palace said they
had heard shots fired in rapid succession before they were escorted off the
premises. “It was bang-bang-bang,” one said.
Reuben Saunders, an American student at Cambridge University who was visiting
Parliament, said he had been leaving the building when he saw a police officer
accosted by an assailant armed with two knives or similar weapons.
“He was at the gate, I heard screaming,” Mr. Saunders said. “I saw the man on
the ground being repeatedly stabbed, or pummeled.”
Mr. Saunders said two or three other police officers arrived, and “there were
two or three gunshots.”
Corinne Desray, a teacher who was outside Parliament with 39 teenage students on
a three-day school trip from northern France, said they had heard three shots.
“My colleague saw bodies lying on the floor and someone said a policeman has
been knived,” she said. “I told the kids to leave quickly, we’re heading back to
Kirsten Hurrell, 70, who owns a newsstand opposite Big Ben, said she had seen a
car swerve across a bicycle lane and into a fence around Parliament. She saw a
body lying on the ground and called emergency services. “At first I thought it
was an accident, but then I was told the car had already mowed down quite a
number of people on Westminster Bridge,” she said, adding: “Now that it is a
terrorist incident, it is a bit more daunting.”
Robert Vaudry, 52, a fund manager from Stratford-upon-Avon, said he had emerged
from the Westminster subway station around 2:40 p.m. for a meeting with a
lawmaker when he realized that something was amiss.
“I came out of the Tube and there were two armed policemen,” he said in an
interview. “One grabbed my arm, pushed me to the left and said, ‘Get out of
here,’” he said. “They were shouting at everyone to get away.” As he spoke,
police officers were cordoning off the area. One officer shouted, “We need
everyone to move back past Downing Street.”
Radoslaw Sikorski, a former foreign minister of Poland who was in the area, was
in a taxi on Westminster Bridge when the pedestrians were hit by the other
vehicle. “I didn’t see the impact, I heard it — it sounded like a car hitting a
sheet of metal,” he said. “I saw these people lying on the tarmac, on the
pavement. I saw five people down, one unconscious and one bleeding heavily from
his head. He was not moving. The taxi driver rang the emergency services, and
people rushed to help.”
Andrew Bone, the executive director of the Responsible Jewellery Council, an
industry standards group, was on a bus heading toward Victoria Station when it
was stopped at the edge of Parliament Square. Seeing the commotion, he initially
thought an action movie was being shot, but quickly discerned the gravity of the
situation as the bus was evacuated and he saw the vehicle that had crashed into
“We had a front-row seat as the first responders arrived,” Mr. Bone said. “I am
of the generation who remembers I.R.A. bombs in London during the Troubles,” he
said, referring to the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. “We are not
indifferent, but police have reacted with calm. I saw no panic.”
Britain has not suffered a large-scale terrorist attack since July 7, 2005, when
bomb attacks on subway trains and on a bus killed more than 50 people. Political
violence is relatively rare in Britain, where gun ownership is stringently
Jo Cox, a Labour member of Parliament, was assassinated in her constituency in
northern England on June 16, a week before the contentious referendum on whether
Britain should leave the European Union.
In 1979, a lawmaker was assassinated near the Parliament building. Airey Neave,
a Conservative Party member, was killed when his car was blown up.
Jeremy Shapiro, a former State Department official now at the European Council
on Foreign Relations, said that the London attack was consistent with the recent
pattern of attacks in which a vehicle was used to kill people, citing assaults
in France, Germany and Israel.
“We’ve seen a gradual movement away from terrorist attacks on the West to
attacks on softer and softer targets with more improvised weapons,” he said. “In
a way, it’s a sign of desperation and a demonstration of the effectiveness of
counterterrorism in the West. It’s spectacularly easy to kill a bunch of people
with a car or a truck if you don’t care who they are.”
Correction: March 29, 2017
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article referred
incorrectly to Keith Palmer, the police officer who was stabbed to death. He was
unarmed. Also because of an editing error, the article referred incorrectly to
the sport utility vehicle driven by the assailant. It was a compact model (a
Hyundai Tucson), not a large one.
Follow Katrin Bennhold @kbennhold and Stephen Castle @_StephenCastle on Twitter.
Reporting was contributed by Claire Barthelemy, Dan Bilefsky, Anne-Sophie Bolon,
Adrienne Carter, Sewell Chan, Lillie Dremeaux, Stephen Farrell, Yonette Joseph,
Iliana Magra, Hannah Olivennes, Prashant S. Rao, Amie Tsang and Michael
Wolgelenter from London; Benoît Morenne from Paris; Steven Erlanger from
Budapest; Rick Gladstone and Russell Goldman from New York; Gardiner Harris from
Washington; and Choe Sang-Hun from Seoul, South Korea.
A version of this article appears in print on March 23, 2017, on Page A1 of the
New York edition with the headline: Deadly Rampage in Heart of London.
Deadly Attack Near U.K. Parliament;
Car Plows Victims on Westminster Bridge,
March 22, 2017,
2 Taliban Bombings
Kill 23 People in Kabul
MARCH 1, 2017
The New York Times
By ROD NORDLAND
and ZAHRA NADER
KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban set off two explosions in quick
succession in the capital on Wednesday, killing 23 people and wounding 106,
according to Afghan officials.
Three of the dead were security force members, but most of the rest were
believed to be civilians.
Officials said a bomb first went off at a neighborhood police headquarters in
the southwestern part of the city. A short time later, a second explosion was
heard in the eastern side of the city, near offices of the National Directorate
of Security, the Afghan intelligence agency.
Faraidoon Obaidi, head of the Kabul police criminal investigations division,
said two attackers had entered the police headquarters, while another pair
assaulted a nearby recruitment center for the Afghan National Army. The later
strike also used two attackers.
After the explosions, the attackers apparently fought with the authorities. An
exchange of small-arms fire was heard in both areas for five hours. The
attackers were presumably killed.
A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, emailed and posted social media
messages claiming responsibility for the bombings soon after they took place.
Officials originally said 12 people died, but Qamaruddin Sediqi, a spokesman for
the Afghan Health Ministry, revised the death count to 23 and the number of
injured to 106, up from 50, after receiving more complete information from
The attack on the security office involved a suicide bomber, but it was unclear
what sort of detonation took place at police headquarters. It was the first
insurgent bombing in Kabul since Feb. 7, when a suicide bomber killed more than
a dozen people outside the Supreme Court offices.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan on Wednesday, a district in the northern province of
Baghlan fell to the Taliban on Wednesday, according to Faizullah Amiri, the
governor of Tala Wa Barfak district. It was believed to be the first time in
recent years that a district in Baghlan, normally a government stronghold, had
fallen to the insurgents.
“We were under siege for four days,” Mr. Amiri said. “Our supply routes from
Bamian were blocked and the route to Baghlan was also blocked and eventually the
district collapsed to the Taliban.”
He said three security force members and seven Taliban militants had died in the
Fahim Abed contributed reporting from Kabul,
and Najim Rahim from Kunduz, Afghanistan.
2 Taliban Bombings Kill 23 People in Kabul,
MARCH 1, 2017,
Pakistan Shrine Bombing
Kills Scores in Worst Attack
FEB. 16, 2017
The New York Times
By SALMAN MASOOD
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A suicide bomber turned a spiritual dance
celebration at a revered religious shrine into a slaughterhouse on Thursday,
killing at least 70 people and wounding more than 250 in the worst act of
terrorism to hit Pakistan in months.
At least 50 of the wounded were critically hurt in the explosion at the Sufi
shrine in a remote part of southern Pakistan, officials said. Many of the
victims were women.
The Islamic State, the extreme Sunni militant organization based in Syria and
Iraq, announced that its branch in the region had carried out the attack.
The Islamic State, which regards members of other Muslim groups as nonbelievers
deserving death, also claimed responsibility for an attack on a Sufi shrine in
southwestern Pakistan in November. Sufism, popular in Pakistan, is regarded as a
relatively tolerant branch of Islam.
The shrine assault on Thursday was by far the worst in a wave of militant
attacks that have shaken Pakistan this week, most claimed by the Taliban. The
attacks were the catalyst for a decision on Thursday by the armed forces to
close the border with Afghanistan, where Pakistani officials claim that many
such attacks are coordinated and plotted.
A spokesman for the armed forces, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, announced on Twitter
that the border closing was effective immediately.
Pakistan-Afghanistan Border closed with immediate effects till further orders
due to security reasons.
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) Feb. 16, 2017
While Pakistani officials have voiced skepticism about the presence of the
Islamic State in the country, they have acknowledged that some local militant
groups have expressed support for it.
The attacks have underscored the challenges faced by the civil and military
leadership to counter extremist violence.
On Wednesday, seven people were killed in northwestern Pakistan in two suicide
bombings, one targeting judges in Peshawar, the provincial capital of the
northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. On Monday, at least 13 people were
killed in Lahore, in the east, when militants targeted a protest.
The bombing Thursday evening targeted the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, a
popular Sufi saint, in Sehwan, a city in Jamshoro district of the southern Sindh
Province. A large number of people had been performing a spiritual, devotional
dance when the bomber struck in the courtyard, officials said, turning a place
of spiritual reverie into a spectacle of blood and body parts.
The remoteness of the region added to the difficulties faced by the survivors
and emergency responders. The nearest big city was about 90 miles away.
Khadim Hussain Rind, a senior provincial police officer, said that more than two
dozen police officials had been deputized for security at the event and that
closed-circuit cameras had been installed for surveillance of the shrine.
“However, it is very difficult to stop a suicide bomber in a big crowd,” Mr.
Rind told the local news media.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the bombing as an assault on a
“progressive inclusive future of Pakistan.”
Sufi shrines and mosques have been targeted in the past by Taliban militants,
who view Sufi Islam as contrary to their beliefs.
“The past few days have been hard, and my heart is with the victims,” the prime
minister said in the statement. “But we can’t let these events divide us, or
scare us. We must stand united in this struggle for the Pakistani identity and
The sudden spike in terrorist violence has shocked and surprised the country.
“Pakistan is under attack. The terrorists are creating a climate of fear,
intimidation and uncertainty. No institution and no aspect of society is
seemingly secure,” Syeda Sughra Imam, a former senator, said in an interview.
“Sehwan is synonymous with Pakistan’s Sufi culture and tradition, which has been
dealt a devastating blow today.”
The Pakistani military had proudly claimed last year, under the leadership of
the then army chief, that the military operations in the tribal regions,
especially the one in North Waziristan, and intelligence operations in different
cities had largely defeated the militant groups that had carried out many
But the violence has cast doubt on the military’s claims.
Imran Khan, the prominent opposition politician, blamed the federal government
for what he called its failure to follow through after the military’s offensives
against militants. “We need a coherent national security policy,” Mr. Khan said
in an interview.
“I do think complacency has set in,” Mr. Khan said.
A version of this article appears in print on February 17, 2017, on Page A5 of
the New York edition with the headline:
At Least 70 Are Killed in Pakistan
Pakistan Shrine Bombing Kills Scores in Worst Attack in Months,
FEB. 16, 2017,