Panetta Backs Plan to Extend Troop Stay in Iraq, 23 Dead in Pakistan Attack
U.S. troops in Iraq. File photo by Ahmad Al-Rubaye /AFP/Getty Images.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta voiced support for a plan that would retain as many as 4,000 U.S. troops in Iraq past the year-end deadline for withdrawal. The plan outlines a training role for Iraqi security forces.
The plan would signify a departure from President Obama’s goal of getting all U.S. troops out of Iraq by Dec. 31.
The proposal for a smaller force — if approved by the White House and the Iraqi government, which is not yet certain — reflected the shifting political realities in both countries.
It also reflected the tension between Mr. Obama’s promise to bring all American forces home and the widely held view among commanders that Iraq is not yet able to provide for its own security. And it reflected the mounting pressures to reduce the costs of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, both wars that have become increasingly unpopular as the 10th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, approaches.
Since President Obama took office, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq has declined from 140,000 to less than 50,000. While the security situation has improved in recent years, there is still concern about the ability of insurgents to continue launching attacks.
Suicide Bombings Kill 23 in Southwest Pakistan
Two suicide bombers blew themselves up at a Frontiers Corps station in Quetta in southwest Pakistan Wednesday, killing 23 people and wounding at least 30 more. Two children, who had been in a nearby rickshaw, were among the dead.
[T]he first attacker detonated his vehicle next to a group of Frontier Corps officers close to Shahzad’s house. Hurling grenades, the second attacker than stormed the house and blew himself up inside it, police officer Naseer Ahmed Kurd said.
The bombing comes just days after the arrest of several suspected al-Qaida militants in Quetta, including Younis al-Mauritani, a senior figure. The United States had publicly applauded the operation that detained him.
The Taliban claimed responsibility, though authorities have not confirmed who carried out the attacks.
Bombing Kills 11 in India
An explosion at a security checkpoint at the Indian High Court killed 11 people and wounded at least 61 others Wednesday. Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami (Huji), an extremist group with links to al-Qaida and that has operated in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, claimed responsibility for the attack.
In an email to authorities, Huji suggested the attack was in retaliation for the hanging of a man accused of being part of an attack on parliament 10 years ago.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the bombing as a “cowardly act of a terrorist nature.” Speaking during a visit to Bangladesh, Singh said that India needed to work to make sure “this scourge of terrorism is crushed.”
The attack comes on the heels of a July attack in the financial capital of Mumbai, where three explosions killed 26 people.
7 Danish Hostages Released by Somali Pirates
After being captured by Somali pirates while sailing on a yacht and held for more than six months, seven Danes — a family and crew members — were released and are set to travel back to Denmark. Authorities have not confirmed if ransom money was paid for their release.
Jan Quist and Brigit Marie Johansen, along with their children and crew, had been on an around-the-world sailing trip on a 43-foot vessel when they were captured off of the coast of Somalia.