In brief: Suicide bombings kill more than a dozen
Kabul, Afghanistan – Two suicide bombings Saturday in a restive province near Kabul killed 12 Afghans and injured a small number of U.S. troops, military and local officials said.
In a separate incident, two American service members died in eastern Afghanistan after an insurgent attack, the U.S. military said.
The twin suicide bombings took place in the Sayedabad district of Wardak province, outside the U.S. base where a massive blast last September injured about 80 American soldiers.
The district was also the scene of the war’s worst single-day loss of U.S. lives when an insurgent-fired rocket downed a Chinook helicopter in August 2011, killing 30 Americans and eight Afghans.
The first of the two explosions struck about 5 a.m. at the entrance to Combat Outpost Sayedabad, authorities in Wardak said. The attacker was a suicide bomber on foot, said Abdul Qayuum Baqizoi, the provincial police chief. A short time later, a suicide attacker set off a powerful truck bomb in a bazaar nearby, shattering windows in buildings and damaging vehicles.
In addition to the eight Afghan civilians and four police officers killed, about four dozen civilians were injured, along with 10 members of the Afghan security forces, the police chief said. He identified the injured NATO troops as Americans.
Rebels overtake coveted town in Mali
Bamako, Mali – Islamic extremists seized control of the strategic town of Douentza on Saturday, moving much closer to government-held territory in central Mali, according to witnesses in the town and a rebel spokesman.
Residents say that early in the morning, a convoy of pickup trucks carrying bearded men entered the town, located about 500 miles northeast of the capital, Bamako. While far from the capital, Douentza is only 120 miles from Mopti, which marks the line-of-control held by the Malian military.
Islamist leader Oumar Ould Hamaha told the Associated Press by telephone that the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (known by the French acronym MUJAO) had seized Douentza after a brief standoff with the local self-defense militia, which formerly controlled the town. The head of the militia could not be reached.
The Malian military lost control of the northern half of the country in April, including the town of Douentza. But up until now, the Islamists didn’t have a presence in the town either, relying instead on an agreement with the local militia, which patrolled the area.