April 13th, 2010
04:00 PM ET

Around the Web: Militants still active in Marjah, report says

Despite the offensive aimed at rooting out the Taliban in the Afghan city of Marjah earlier this year, militants there continue to “plant bombs and intimidate civilians,” report Tony Perry and Laura King of the Los Angeles Times.

“Security for Afghan villagers remains precarious in the Marjah district of Helmand province, where U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers mounted a massive assault in February to oust the Taliban from control, according to the Marine general who led the assault,” they write.

“Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson said late Sunday that while there are hopeful signs in Marja, with Afghan police patrolling and farmers signing up to grow crops other than opium poppy, the mission's success or failure may not be known for months.”


April 13th, 2010
02:18 PM ET

Photo spotlight: Approaching sandstorm

A sandstorm approaches the town of Marjah, Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. The storm interrupted U.S. military missions in the region for about six hours on Monday.  The desolate town of Marjah is now famous after it was recently the focus of efforts to drive the Taliban out of this region as part of Operation Moshtarak. The region is already experiencing 95°+ F weather conditions. What's the weather like in Afghanistan? Check out the conditions

Filed under: Marjah • Photo Spotlight
April 13th, 2010
02:17 PM ET

Kabul nightlife: Thriving in between suicide bombs

Nightlife may seem like a luxury no one can afford in Kabul. But on most nights, Kabul's expatriates go out and partake in the manic craziness of the city's bar and restaurant scene in houses reminiscent of America's Prohibition-era speakeasies, behind 20-ft.-tall blast walls and an outer perimeter of armed Afghan security guards. "It's like dancing at the edge of a volcano," explains one U.N. worker in Kabul.

Read the full story from Time's Tim McGirk 

Filed under: Life and Culture
April 13th, 2010
10:52 AM ET
April 13th, 2010
10:48 AM ET

Pakistani military denies civilians killed in weekend strikes

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - The Pakistani military Tuesday disputed reports that 80 civilians were killed in weekend airstrikes, calling the reports "absolutely wrong."

A military official told CNN there was intelligence on the ground and visual confirmation that militants were at the spot in the Tirah Valley, in northwest Pakistan, before the strikes took place.

"There was no doubt that there were militants there," said the official, who asked not to be identified because he is not the official spokesman for the Pakistani military.

A Pakistani intelligence official and a local government official told CNN on Tuesday that the strikes left 80 civilians dead in the Tirah Valley, which is in the Khyber Agency along the Afghan border. FULL POST

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Filed under: Civilian deaths • Pakistan
April 13th, 2010
10:15 AM ET

Official: Al Qaeda short in nukes pursuit

The president's top counterterrorism adviser says there is indisputable evidence that dozens of terrorist groups have sought weapons of mass destruction. But a U.S. intelligence official who is not authorized to speak for attribution said although al Qaeda clearly wants a nuclear weapons capability, it hasn't gotten very far.

"At this point, they don't appear to have made much progress, but we continue to review every bit of information that comes in to determine whether they've advanced their efforts in any way whatsoever," said the official. "Developing a nuclear device involves a highly sophisticated technical process, and al Qaeda doesn't seem to have mastered it based on what we know now."

Read the full story from CNN National Security Producer Pam Benson