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Taliban attack kills dozens, decimates Afghan army camp

(CBS) — KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban have killed at least 58 Afghan security forces in a wave of attacks across the country, including an assault that officials say wiped out an army camp in the southern Kandahar province.

Spokesman Dawlat Wazir said the attack on the army camp late Wednesday, which involved two suicide car bombs and set of hours of fighting, killed at least 43 soldiers. Nine other soldiers were wounded and six have gone missing, he said, adding that 10 attackers were killed.

A Ministry of Defense official told CBS News’ Ahmad Mukhtar that the attackers struck in the middle of the night while most of the 60 soldiers at the camp were sleeping. The Ministry spokesman confirmed to CBS News that the camp was totally destroyed.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a Taliban ambush in the northern Balkh province late Wednesday killed six police, according to Shir Jan Durani, spokesman for the provincial police chief. A Taliban attack on police posts in the western Farah province, also late Wednesday, killed nine police, said police chief Abdul Marouf Foulad. He said 22 insurgents were killed in the ensuing gun battle.

Afghan forces have struggled to combat a resurgent Taliban since U.S. and NATO forces formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014, switching to a counterterrorism and support role.

The Taliban unleashed a wave of attacks across Afghanistan on Tuesday, targeting police compounds and government facilities with suicide bombers in the country’s south, east and west, and killing at least 74 people, officials said.

Among those killed in one of the attacks was a provincial police chief. Scores were also wounded, both policemen and civilians. Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister, Murad Ali Murad, called Tuesday’s onslaught the “biggest terrorist attack this year.”

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UK facing most severe terror threat ever, warns Intelligence chief

(THE GUARDIAN) — By Vikram Dodd

Britain is facing its most severe ever terrorist threat and fresh attacks in the country are inevitable, according to the head of Britain’s normally secretive domestic intelligence service in a rare public speech.

Andrew Parker, the director general of MI5, said the UK had seen “a dramatic upshift in the threat” from Islamist terrorism this year, reflecting attacks that have taken place in Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge.

The spy chief said: “That threat is multi-dimensional, evolving rapidly and operating at a scale and pace we’ve not seen before.”

He added: “It’s at the highest tempo I have seen in my 34-year career. Today there is more terrorist activity, coming at us more quickly, and it can be harder to detect.”

MI5 is under pressure to demonstrate its effectiveness after four Islamist terrorist attacks escaped its detection this year.

Parker’s speech to specialist security journalists on Tuesday was his chance to frame the debate about Britain’s battle against Islamist terrorism at a time when the agency’s staff numbers are already expanding from 4,000 to 5,000.

This month the government will receive reports on whether chances to thwart the atrocities were missed and what lessons could be learned. Ministers and the National Security Council wanted independent oversight of the review, in essence not allowing MI5 or counter-terrorism police to assess themselves.

Parker said MI5 had stopped far more terror plots than those that caused mass casualties this year. He said 20 plots had been thwarted in the last four years.

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Afghan officials: Taliban wave of attacks kills at least 74, hundreds wounded

(USA TODAY) — KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban unleashed a wave of attacks across Afghanistan on Tuesday, targeting police compounds and government facilities with suicide bombers in the country’s south, east and west, and killing at least 74 people, officials said.

Among those killed in one of the attacks was a provincial police chief. Scores were also wounded, both policemen and civilians.

According to Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister, Murad Ali Murad, the day’s onslaught was “biggest terrorist attack this year.”

Murad told a press conference in Kabul that in Tuesday’s attacks in Ghazni and Paktia provinces, the insurgents killed 71 people.

In southern Paktia province, 41 people — 21 policemen and 20 civilians — were killed when the Taliban targeted a police compound in the provincial capital of Gardez with two suicide car bombs. Among the wounded were 48 policemen and 110 civilians.

The provincial police chief, Toryalai Abdyani, was killed in the Paktia attack, Murad confirmed.

The Ministry of Interior said in a statement earlier on Tuesday that after the two cars blew up in Gardez, five attackers with suicide belts tried to storm the compound but that Afghan security forces “killed all five terrorist.”

According to the Health Ministry spokesman, Waheed Majroo, the Gardez city hospital reported receiving at least 130 wounded in the attack.

Hamza Aqmhal, a student at the Paktia University, told The Associated Press that he heard a very powerful blast that shattered glass and broke all the windows at the building he was in. The university is 1.25 miles from the training academy, said Aqmhal, who was slightly injured by the glass

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Raqqa: Isis completely driven out of Syria ‘capital’ by US-backed forces

(UK INDEPENDENT) — By John Davidson

US-backed militias have completely taken Isis’ de facto capital, Raqqa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Tuesday, in a major symbolic blow to the jihadist group.

The fall of Raqqa, where Isis staged euphoric parades after its string of lightning victories in 2014, is a potent symbol of the movement’s collapsing fortunes. The city was used as a base for the group to plan attacks abroad.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias backed by a US-led international alliance, has been fighting Isis inside Raqqa since June.

SOHR said 3,250 people were killed in the five-month battle, including 1,130 civilians.

A witness said fighting appeared to be almost at an end with only sporadic bursts of gunfire.

Militia fighters celebrated in the streets, chanted slogans from their vehicles and raised a flag inside Raqqa stadium.

An SDF spokesman said the alliance would capture the last Isis areas in the city within hours.

Save The Children has warned that the humanitarian crisis in northeast Syria is “rapidly escalating”, with 270,000 people who have fled the fighting in “critical need” of aid and camps “bursting at the seams”.

On Saturday a deal was brokered for the last remaining local fighters in Raqqa to leave the city.

SDF spokesman Talal Silo said then that any fighters who were not signed up to the deal would be left behind “to surrender or die”.

The jihadists’ last bases in the city, a stadium and a hospital, were captured earlier on Tuesday, the SDF said.

A local field commander said no Isis fighters remained at the two central points where militants had been best entrenched and where the SDF said fighting on Monday night and early Tuesday was focused.

“We do still know there are still IEDs and booby traps in and amongst the areas that ISIS once held, so the SDF will continue to clear deliberately through areas,” said Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the coalition.

In a sign that the four-month battle for Raqqa was in its last stages, Col. Dillon said there had been no coalition air strikes there on Monday.

It is now hemmed in to a tiny bomb-cratered patch of the city around the stadium that was being pounded from the air by a US-led coalition and encircled by SDF fighters.

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Austrian voters concerned about immigration, Islam

(ABC NEWS) — Wrapping up a bruising political campaign season, Austrian political parties were counting down to an election Sunday that could turn the country to the right amid voter concerns over immigration and Islam.

The vote is coming a year ahead of schedule after squabbles led to the breakup last spring of the coalition government of the Social Democrats and the People’s Party. A total of 16 parties are vying for 183 seats in the national parliament and will be chosen by Austria’s 6.4 million eligible voters. But less than a dozen parties have a chance of getting seats.

The People’s Party, which has shifted from centrist to right-wing positions, is leading in the pre-vote polls after an image make-over by its leader, 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz.

Austria’s traditionally right-wing, anti-migrant Freedom Party is expected to come in second and the center-left Social Democrats are thought to be trailing in third place.

Others that may clear the 4 percent hurdle needed to get into parliament seats are the Greens, the liberal NEOS, and Liste Pilz, led by former Greens politician Peter Pilz.

Favoring the People’s and Freedom parties is distrust of migrants and Muslims among many Austrian voters.

The 2015 influx of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the war in Syria and poverty elsewhere into the EU’s prosperous heartland left Austria with nearly 100,000 new and mostly Muslim migrants. That has fueled fears Austria’s traditional Western and Christian culture is in danger. As a result, voters are receptive to the anti-migrant platforms of both the People’s Party and the Freedom Party.

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In Belgium, arguments about Islam grow louder

(THE ECONOMIST) — Like much else in Belgium, the administration of the country’s second-largest religion is in a rather chaotic state, and things could get worse.

In a kingdom of 11m people, Islam claims the loyalty of about 800,000 souls, of whom the vast majority originate either from Morocco or Turkey. Most of the country’s 300-plus mosques are Turkish or Moroccan in flavor, and imams who serve them usually come from those countries. In Brussels, which is the country’s capital as well as hub of Europe’s main institutions, the Muslim share of the population is about 25%.

Since the terrorist outrages of March 2016, which targeted Brussels airport and the metro system, both the government, the security services and a parliamentary commission have been delving into the country’s Islamic scene to see whether it has any characteristics that make it prone to produce fanatics.

The handling of this problem is complicated by Belgium’s older division between Francophones and the Dutch-speakers of Flanders. Among Flemings on the political right, there is a strong streak of Islamo-scepticism. Many sensitive matters, like the teaching of Islam and the regulation of female headgear, are handled at regional or local level. Flemings sometime accuse French-speakers of being soft on Islam.

Even before last year’s horrors, Belgium had the grim distinction of being the European country that produced the highest number per head of young fanatics who went off to fight in Syria. The heavily immigrant Brussels district of Molenbeek received (and bitterly resents) the nickname of “jihadi central” because it had been a way-station of the perpetrators of terror in France. For the record, it is a pleasanter place to walk the streets than are similar urban areas in England or France.

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Somalia bomb attacks: Death toll rises to 231 after huge blast in Mogadishu

(UK INDEPENDENT) — The death toll from the most powerful bomb blast witnessed in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has risen to 231 with more than 275 injured, a senator has said.

Police said a truck bomb exploded outside the Safari Hotel at the K5 intersection, which is lined with government offices, restaurants and kiosks, flattening buildings and setting vehicles on fire. A separate blast struck the Medina district two hours later.

Abshir Abdi Ahmed said the toll comes from doctors at hospitals he has visited in Mogadishu. Many of the bodies in hospital mortuaries have not yet been identified, he said.

It is the single deadliest attack ever in the Horn of Africa nation.

More than 200 were injured in the explosion outside of the hotel and hospitals are struggling to cope with the high number of casualties.

Officials feared the death toll would continue to climb.

Many victims died at hospitals from their wounds, Police Captain Mohamed Hussein said.

The Red Cross said four volunteers with the Somali Red Crescent Society are among the dead and warned “this figure may rise as there are a number of volunteers still missing.”

Overnight, rescue workers with torch lights searched for survivors trapped under the rubble of the largely destroyed Safari Hotel, which is close to Somalia’s foreign ministry. The explosion blew off metal gates and blast walls erected outside the hotel.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared three days of mourning and joined thousands of people who responded to a desperate plea by hospitals to donate blood for the wounded victims. “I am appealing all Somali people to come forward and donate,” he said.

Angry protesters took to the streets in Mogadishu a day after the massive truck bomb attack.

Somalia’s government blamed the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab extremist group for the attack it called a “national disaster.” However, al-Shabaab, which often targets high-profile areas of the capital with bombings, had yet to claim the attack.

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ISIS persists in Vegas claim, dubs shooter ‘Abu Abdul Bar al-Amriki’

(PJ MEDIA) — By Bridget Johnson

After federal officials announced today that they saw no nexus to international terrorism in the Las Vegas Strip massacre, the Islamic State doubled down with their claim that Stephen Paddock was theirs — even granting the Mesquite, Nev., resident a nom de guerre.

ISIS claimed through their Amaq news agency this morning that the “Las Vegas attacker is a soldier of the Islamic State who carried out the attack in response to calls for targeting coalition countries.” They claimed he had converted to Islam recently.

They issued the claim in various languages, without evidence to back it up.

The special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Las Vegas, Aaron Rouse, told reporters, “We have determined, to this point, no connection to an international terrorist group.”

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said authorities still don’t know the motive of Paddock, 64, who killed himself before SWAT officers accessed his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, a perch he used to unleash automatic weapons fire on an open-air music festival kitty-corner from the hotel.

“We don’t know what his belief system was at this time,” Lombardo said.

Yet ISIS persisted, issuing a longer official communique that called Paddock “Abu Abdul Bar al-Amriki” — the American.

The new statement claims Paddock, specifically answering the call of ISIS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, conducted the attack after “accurate monitoring of crusaders” in the venue. It offered no further proof.

The “soldier of the caliphate,” the communique says, “equipped with machine guns and ammunition” fired on the concert with “600 between killed and wounded until the soldier’s ammunition was finished and he became a martyr.”

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‘Acts of terrorism’ in Canada: Edmonton police officer stabbed, people struck by U-Haul

(GLOBAL NEWS) — A terrorism investigation is underway in Edmonton, where a police officer was stabbed and four pedestrians struck down by a fleeing U-Haul truck Saturday night.

A 30-year-old Edmonton man is in custody and police think he acted alone, but they aren’t ruling out the potential for others to be be involved.

“We are urging Edmontonians to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings,” Edmonton Police Service Chief Rod Knecht said in a 3 a.m. news conference on the attacks.

At around 11:30 p.m., reporter Laurel Gregory was just wrapping up a live report at the end of Global Edmonton’s News at 11 when a police officer shouted out a warning: “Get behind a tree. Or a car. This is for your own protection!”

The chaos began down the street from Commonwealth Stadium, where the Edmonton Eskimos were hosting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Canadian Forces Appreciation Night. Over 30,000 people were at the game.

Police said at around 8:15 p.m., a car rammed a traffic checkpoint on Stadium Road near 92 Street, striking an officer and sending him flying into the air.

“Suddenly and without notice and at a high rate of speed, a male driving a white, Chevrolet Malibu crashed through the traffic barricades that were separating vehicles from pedestrians, the vehicle struck the officer, sending him flying into the air 15 feet before colliding with the officer’s cruiser, again at a high rate of speed,” Knecht explained.

Knecht said a man, believed to be 30 years old, then jumped out of his car and “viciously attacked” the Edmonton Police Service member with a knife. “A struggle then ensued, during which the male suspect stabbed the officer several times before fleeing the scene on foot northbound down 92nd street.”

The officer was taken to hospital and treated for non life-threatening injuries while a manhunt was launched.

Police say it was just before midnight when a U-Haul truck was pulled over at a checkstop on Wayne Gretzky Drive near 112 Avenue. Knecht said the officer realized the driver’s name was similar to that of the Malibu’s registered owner, and the U-Haul truck took off, pursued by police towards downtown Edmonton.

“Throughout the chase, the truck deliberately tried to hit pedestrians in crosswalks and alleys in two areas along Jasper Avenue.”

One witness said the U-Haul came speeding down 109th Street and careened east into the alley next to a bar, hitting two people.

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Knifeman shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ slits a woman’s throat and stabs another to death at Marseille station before he is killed by French army

(UK DAILY MAIL) — A man carrying a knife and shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ killed two female passengers before being shot dead by soldiers at train station in the southern French city of Marseille.

The attack at Marseille’s busiest train station took place early this afternoon, as scores of armed police officers and soldiers swarmed the area.

Both victims were women, with one left with a ‘sliced neck’.

Local official Oliver de Mazieres told AFP: ‘Two victims have been stabbed to death.’

The prosecutor for the area Xavier Tarabeux said the knife man was shot by soldiers, while Marseille police urged people in the city to avoid the area around Saint-Charles station.

The prosecutor’s office in Paris said in a statement the probe would focus on ‘killings linked to a terrorist organization’ and the ‘attempted killing of a public official’, two terror-related charges.

Early pictures from the scene showed a woman lying on the ground and armed police standing over a man on the floor.

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