A suicide bomber in Kandahar, Afghanistan, killed four people Thursday at a memorial service for Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-brother of President Hamid Karzai. The attacker apparently hid the explosives in his turban, according to witnesses and officials. He blew himself up near the entrance to the mosque where the service was taking place, after security guards barred him from entering.
President Karzai was not present, but a number of senior government officials, tribal elders and people from across the country attended. Several of the elders said they were not searched, reported the BBC’s Bilal Sarwary, who was in Kandahar. That would be in keeping with Afghan tradition at memorials.
Ahmed Wali Karzai was shot and killed Tuesday by an associate. The Taliban took responsibility, but there was no immediate claim after Thursday’s mosque bombing.
The attack came as a newly released United Nations report found the number of Afghan civilian deaths in the war has risen 15 percent in the first half of this year, over last year. In all, it said 1,462 civilians have been killed, up from 1271 in the first six months of 2010.
In addition, the report found, May was the deadliest month for Afghan civilians since 2007, when the U.N. started tracking deaths.
2009 photo of Ahmed Wali Karzai. Photo by Jonathan Saruk/Getty Images.
Indian Police: No Suspects in Mumbai Bombing
Authorities in India said they have not yet identified suspects in the bombing of the three busy commercials sites in the financial capital of Mumbai Wednesday, and no group has yet come forward to claim responsibility for the attacks. Seventeen people died in the blasts and scores more were injured.
“Whoever has perpetrated this attack has worked in a very, very clandestine manner,” Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told reporters. He defended the country’s ability to defend itself from extremist attacks. Authorities have blamed the attacks on sophisticated improvised explosive devices.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to visit Mumbai on Thursday.
The attacks worried residents and reminded many of the 2008 siege in Mumbai that killed 166 people. The attack in 2008 was largely blamed on Pakistan-based militants.
Phone Hacking Inquiry Seeks Testimony from Murdoch, Brooks
Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of News of the World, is expected to testify before British lawmakers next week in connection with the phone hacking scandal that shut down the tabloid after it was revealed it accessed the voice mails of victims’ families, public figures and a teenage murder victim in an effort to glean information for stories.
Rupert Murdoch, head of parent company News Corp., and his son James were also given a summons by the House of Commons. Rupert Murdoch has said he cannot appear; James Murdoch said he would not be available until mid-August. Because they are not British citizens, they are not compelled to appear before the House of Commons.
Amid the growing scandal, News Corp. dropped its bid for a $12 billion deal that would give it full control of British satellite broadcaster BSkyB, in which it already has a 39 percent stake.
Several U.S. lawmakers have questioned whether any of Murdoch’s companies were involved in accessing the phones of 9/11 victims’ families. Several Democratic senators have called for a preliminary investigation into whether or not U.S. laws were violated.
Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg.
Foreclosures Decline in First Half of 2011
Foreclosures are down 29 percent in the first half of 2011 compared to the same period last year, but experts warned that the decline can be attributed more to a delays in paperwork and attempts to sort out the robo-signing scandal than on a real improvement in the dismal housing market.
RealtyTrac released its mid-year report on foreclosures Thursday, showing 1.2 million homes currently in foreclosure, with an additional 3 million with delinquent payments but not in the process of foreclosure.
RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio warned that that process will actually delay the housing market’s recovery. “[W]e estimate that as many as 1 million foreclosure actions that should have taken place in 2011 will now happen in 2012, or perhaps even later,” he said. It also reflects the fact that banks are overwhelmed with the tedious and time-consuming process of carrying out a foreclosure.
Photo by Jay Mallin/Bloomberg.