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Afghanistan Hit by Deadliest Blast Since 2001

Suicide car bomber kills 89 civilians

(Newser) - A suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives near a busy market and a mosque in a remote town in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, killing at least 89 people in the deadliest insurgent attack on civilians since the 2001 US-led invasion. The blast destroyed numerous mud-brick shops, flipped cars... More »

Shopkeeper: Here's What the Taliban Like to Buy

White undies, foreign perfumes, brand-name soaps, he says

(Newser) - Ever wonder what the Taliban buy when they go shopping? Neither did we, but apparently they like spending big bucks on nice perfumes and brand-name soaps and shampoos. Oh, and they prefer white underwear, either Y fronts or briefs, a former shopkeeper tells the BBC . The young man in his... More »

Hagel Grilled on Bergdahl: 5 Standout Lines

He appears before House Armed Services Committee

(Newser) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today became the first Obama administration official to testify publicly about the controversial decision to swap Bowe Bergdahl for five Gitmo prisoners, and the New York Times reports that he "wrote almost every word of his opening statement himself," canning his speechwriters' suggestions and... More »

Secret Bergdahl Prediction: Only 1 Will Shun Taliban

2 likely to return as honchos, says assessment made during negotiations

(Newser) - The back story of the Bowe Bergdahl swap gets one detail richer today by way of a Wall Street Journal report on a classified assessment that found two of the five Guantanamo detainees that were to be released would likely end up back in a senior role with the Taliban.... More »

Militants Launch Fresh Onslaught at Pakistan Airport

Gunmen attack airport security academy

(Newser) - Gunmen have launched a fresh assault on Pakistan's biggest airport just two days after a Taliban attack left dozens of people dead. Officials say security forces are battling militants who attacked a security training facility at Karachi airport from two directions, the AP reports. All flights have been suspended... More »

Goal of Taliban Airport Assault: Hijack Plane, Mayhem

But Karachi gunfight ends sooner than militants expected

(Newser) - Last night's five-hour gunfight at Pakistan's biggest airport, which ended with at least 27 dead including the 10 militants who stormed the airport, does in fact appear to have been an attempt by the Pakistani Taliban to hijack a passenger plane. A Pakistani military spokesperson initially denied that... More »

John Kerry: Freed Taliban Could Fight, Also 'Get Killed'

(Newser) - John Kerry has a word for critics who charge that American troops are in greater danger in the wake of the prisoner swap that freed five Taliban leaders, and that word is "baloney ." Of the Taliban, he says, "I am not telling you that they don’t... More »

Bergdahl Was Kept in Shark Cage for Weeks

US officials also say he's in decent shape physically; mentally still unready

(Newser) - Bowe Bergdahl tried in vain to escape his Taliban captors, US officials tell the New York Times , and as punishment, he says "they kept him in a shark cage in total darkness for weeks, possibly months," says one official; that's a drastically different scenario than the Taliban... More »

Taliban: Bergdahl Played Soccer, Read Books

Spokesman describes his 'good conditions'

(Newser) - So how did Bowe Bergdahl while away the five years he spent as a Taliban hostage in Afghanistan? Playing soccer with his captors and reading about Islam seem to be two pastimes, a Taliban spokesman tells the AP . "You can ask him in America about his life (in captivity),... More »

Taliban: We Found Bergdahl Alone, Cursing Americans

Commanders say they thought it was a trick

(Newser) - The Taliban were just as confused by Bowe Bergdahl as the Afghan villagers who first encountered him after he allegedly wandered off his base, two former commanders say. Fighters rushed to capture Bergdahl after villagers informed them of his presence, and he was found walking alone, acting strangely, and cursing... More »

White House: We Thought Bergdahl Would Be Killed

Says it bypassed Congress because of threats by Taliban

(Newser) - The Obama administration has told senators it didn't notify Congress about the pending swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban officials because the Taliban had threatened to kill him if the deal was made public before it happened. That's according to three congressional officials who spoke to... More »

'Only Clues' About US Mom Held in Afghanistan Emerge

Family goes public with videos after Bergdahl release

(Newser) - The release of Bowe Bergdahl has the parents of two others held hostage in Afghanistan going public with videos of the couple asking for help. American Caitlan Coleman and Canadian husband Joshua Boyle disappeared while on vacation in Afghanistan 20 months ago. Coleman was pregnant at the time. Then, in... More »

'High' Bergdahl Headed Right for Taliban: Villagers

Dazed soldier was probably 'smoking hashish,' district intel chief says

(Newser) - Just how did Bowe Bergdahl end up separated from his US military base and in the hands of the Taliban? According to Afghan villagers who met Bergdahl wandering off base shortly before his capture, it seems he headed right for trouble. "It was very confusing to us. Why would... More »

1 in 3 Freed Gitmo Detainees Returns to Violence

In some cases with dire results

(Newser) - Just how dangerous was the Obama administration's move to swap five Guantanamo detainees for Bowe Bergdahl ? It's hard to say, but as of January roughly 29% of the 614 Guantanamo detainees released so far had returned to the fight, the Wall Street Journal reports, based on Director... More »

Here's Why Bergdahl Actually Wasn't a Deserter

He was never classified as such, having been captured so quickly

(Newser) - When is a solider a deserter? Critics have accused Bowe Bergdahl of being one ; there's even a petition to the White House calling for his punishment and a popular “Bowe Bergdahl is NOT a Hero!” Facebook page. But the Idaho Statesman pointed out on Saturday that Bergdahl... More »

Clinton Wasn't Real Keen on Bergdahl Deal

Inside the administration debate

(Newser) - Hillary Clinton offered a less-than-ringing endorsement of the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap yesterday, calling the administration's no-man-left-behind ideal "noble," but adding, "I think we have a long way to go before we really know how this is going to play out." Which isn't surprising,... More »

Taliban: Here's Video of Bergdahl Handover

Afghanistan meeting lasted less than a minute

(Newser) - The moment Bowe Bergdahl saw freedom after five years of captivity is captured in a dramatic video released by the Taliban. In the 17-minute video, a clean-shaven Bergdahl can be seen waiting in a pickup truck while Taliban soldiers stand guard in eastern Afghanistan, Reuters reports. "We told them... More »

Now a Bergdahl Tweet Is Raising Eyebrows

Bowe's father, Bob, reportedly directed it at a Taliban rep

(Newser) - There has been no shortage of criticism surrounding the release of Bowe Bergdahl, and a now-deleted tweet is joining the roster of things being picked apart. As the Washington Post reports, Bergdahl's father, Bob, last week tweeted the following: "I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners.... More »

Bergdahl Was a Deserter: Fellow Soldier

He's no 'hero,' writes Nathan Bradley Bethea

(Newser) - Bowe Bergdahl's release is being widely celebrated, but some soldiers from his platoon are calling for him to face trial for desertion —and in the Daily Beast , a soldier from his battalion delves into more detail about what really happened to Bergdahl in 2009. Nathan Bradley Bethea was... More »

Inside the Secret 3-Year Quest to Free Bergdahl

Secret messages, secret meetings, secret negotiations

(Newser) - America's only prisoner of war is now free —after what the Wall Street Journal describes as three years of secret negotiations to obtain Bowe Bergdahl's release. Its sources describe a timeline that began in November 2010, with a meeting in Munich in which the Taliban asked for... More »

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