Wednesday, November 09, 2011 8:32 AM
Two breaking stories out of Afghanistan:
1) Big firefight in Paktika Province at COP Margah, which this blog has been keeping an eye on for a while. Sixty jihadis killed, all Americans okay.
Two senior Afghan intelligence officials told the BBC the attack was "very close to Pakistan", adding: "Sixty insurgents carrying so many weapons could have not crossed from Pakistan without the help of Pakistani security forces - it is either that or they turned a blind eye."
Pakistan says it does all it can to halt insurgent activity.
Karzai's big pal Pakistan.
2) At Patrol Base Basir in Uruzgan province, where most of our Australian allies are stationed, a "rogue" ANA soldier is on the run after opening fire from a tower with an automatic weapon and a grenade launcher and seriously wounding three Australian soldiers. How he got down from the tower and away we don't know.
From ABC in Sydney:
The latest attack came 10 days after three Australians were killed and seven wounded when another Afghan soldier turned his weapon on his trainers.
In May, one Australian soldier was killed when a member of the ANA opened fire.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the latest attack would shake public confidence in the Afghan mission.
She said it damaged bonds of trust between Australian forces and the Afghan soldiers they are training, but she said the Government remained committed to finishing its mission in Afghanistan.
Ms Gillard has brushed aside suggestions Australian troops could be isolated from Afghan soldiers, pointing out that contact is essential if they were going to train them effectively.
"The mission needs to be accomplished by training ANA soldiers. This is not an extra to the mission we are on; this is the mission we are on," she said.
Sounds like the Bridge to Nowhere.
"[It is] training Afghans so they can provide the long-term security for their nation and deny it as an operating base for terrorism."
No word, however, on how to deny Australia's patrol base as an operating base for terrorism.
The latest attack has once more raised questions about whether enough security precautions are being taken to prevent rogue soldiers turning their weapons on Australians.
The Defence Force will investigate, but says it is too early to say whether the two recent attacks are spontaneous or part of a coordinated insurgent campaign.
Chief of Defence General David Hurley says Australians should not jump to conclusions.
"Because both this issue and the previous incident, neither of them had any pre-warning to them," he said.
"It doesn't tell us whether they're premeditated; we don't have that sort of information, so we need to go back and look at the intelligence picture we're getting. It could be a personal grievance; it could be religious ideology."