US says Guantanamo hunger strike on the rise

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP)

Days after a violent clash between guards and prisoners, the U.S. military says a hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay is on the rise.

A military spokesman says 52 prisoners have been classified as hunger strikers as of Wednesday. That’s up from 45 a day earlier. Navy Capt. Robert Durand says 15 prisoners are being force-fed to prevent dangerous weight loss and three have been hospitalized.

us-cuba-relations-1Prisoners have been on strike since early February to protest conditions and their indefinite confinement at the U.S. base in Cuba. The U.S. holds 166 men at the prison, most without charge.

Guards raided a section of the prison Saturday to move prisoners from a communal holding area into single cells after the men covered security cameras. The military feared some might commit suicide.

guan-cua

US Troops Attack Afghan Civilian Bus, Killing One

Another Civilian Also Wounded in Herat Shooting

Details are still scarce, but officials are confirming that US troops attacked a civilian bus in the Herat Province, in the Adraskan District. The attack killed one civilian and wounded another.

AfghanistanSo far there have been no comments from US officials as to why the bus was attacked, but it was traveling on the same Kabul-Herat highway as the US convoy was, and it is not unusual for US troops to perceive anything else on the road as a “threat” and start attacking it.

This is the second report incident of civilians killed this year in Herat. In February, four civilians were killed in the cross-fire between a NATO and Taliban gunbattle in the province.

It is also the second incident of US troops killing civilians this week, with 11 children killed in a US air strike in Kunar Province, on the other side of the country, earlier this week.

by Jason Ditz

US Airstrikes Kills 11 Children in Afghan Border Village

Destroyed Several Houses, Killing Women and Children Within

US warplanes pounded the village of Shigal in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan today, destroying several houses in the course of a “support” operation that NATO officials bragged led to the deaths of two “senior Taliban leaders.” The village was just miles from the Pakistan border.

Kunar-provinceProvincial officials checked the houses, however, and found a grim consequence of the bombing campaign: a large number of women and children within were killed and injured beneath the rubble of their homes. 11 children in all were reported killed, and one woman. Several other women were badly wounded.

The official narrative surrounding the story is still nebulous, because while NATO insists that no NATO ground troops were involved in the raids, they also claimed it was NATO troops that had called in the strikes after “coming under attack.” A Kunar MP suggested there were no ground troops at all in the area, and that it was considered a “Taliban stronghold” which is why the attacks occurred.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly banned NATO air strikes against populated areas, and has also banned Afghan forces from requesting air support if they are attacked in an area where civilians might be impacted. The bans appear to be having little to no impact, however.

The US has yet to respond to the killings, while NATO says only that they are “aware” on the incident and will conduct some sort of assessment. Such assessments have rarely amounted to anything, however, with after the fact statements, if they come at all, insisting the Taliban are to blame for whoever the US bombs in the course of trying to kill Taliban fighters.

US Parks Destroyer Off Korean Coast as Rhetoric Worsens

No Changes in North Korean Military Mobilization

Though the White House conceded that the rhetoric coming out of North Korea has not been followed with any significant changes to their mobilization, the US continues to deploy military hardware in the Korean Peninsula, raising the stakes in a war of words.

korea-mapStarting with nuclear-capable bombers flying along the frontier between North and South Korea, the US added F-22 stealth fighters over the weekend and has now deployed the USS Fitzgerald, a heavily armed destroyer, off the Korean coast.

The USS Fitzgerald’s primary use has been its radar systems, and it has long been part of the US Navy’s missile detection/defense system. This is the justification of the deployment; North Korea has threatened to launch missile strikes against the US mainland.

Yet realistically North Korea’s missile systems are nowhere near as advanced as advertised, and experts say they couldn’t even theoretically launch the sort of attacks they have threatened. Thus the Fitzgerald, assuming it is used for anything at all, would see its deployment off the coast primarily as a platform for launching missiles against North Korea, rather than defending against the largely illusory threat.

 

By Jason Ditz

Afghan Teen Stabbed US Soldier to Death, Escaped

Taliban Says Attacker Acted Alone

Details are emerging about the killing of US Sgt. Michael Cable last week, with officials confirming that he was stabbed to death by an Afghan civilian, believed to be a teenager. Nangarhar_in_AfghanistanThe attacker stabbed Cable in the neck during a meeting in Nangarhar Province. Cable was outside and reportedly playing with children who had come to the site when the attack occurred, and the assailant escaped. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid identified the attacker as a 16-year-old named Khalid, saying he was acting on his own in the killing but had since joined the Taliban after fleeing the scene. Today’s revelations are a stark change from the Pentagon’s initial statement on the matter, which claimed he was killed in combat with “enemy forces.” Officials say that since the attacker was not in uniform it is not believed to be an “insider attack,” and there is no indication he was working for the Afghan security forces at the time.

By Jason Ditz

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