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Alexander Sehmer (The Independent) — Two Turkish soldiers have been killed after Kurdish fighters detonated an explosives-laden tractor at a military police station in eastern Turkey. Twenty-four soldiers were also injured in the blast, the Turkish authorities said on Sunday.
The attack, carried out by fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), occurred near the town of Dogubayazit in Agri province, close to the border with Iran.
Reports said the blast was caused by a tractor carrying two tonnes of explosives. In a separate incident in southeastern Mardin province, another soldier was killed and four others wounded, the local governor's office said.
Matthew Rosenberg (The New York Times) — In the winter of 2014, an Afghan with links to top Taliban leaders approached Afghanistan’s intelligence service with a startling tip: Mullah Muhammad Omar, the secretive leader of the Taliban, had died in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.
The tip left the intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, with a mystery that would take 18 months to begin unraveling. But even with the Taliban confirming on Thursday that the man they called Emir al-Momineen, or Commander of the Faithful, was dead, American and Afghan officials said they were just starting to piece together the story of Mullah Omar’s final years and of his demise.
In interviews, Afghan, American and European officials offered insight into why it took so long to determine that Mullah Omar was dead: He may have been one of the world’s most wanted men — he carried a $10 million American bounty on his head — but by 2014 few people outside Afghanistan seemed to want him enough to put much effort into finding out whether he was dead or alive.
Kyrgyzstan and the United States are once again involved in a tense diplomatic dispute. This time it concerns a human rights award the U.S. State Department granted to Azimzhan Askarov, a Kyrgyz national and human rights activist serving a jail term in the country. Kyrgyz and U.S. diplomats met in Bishkek on July 29, but Kyrgyzstan had already renounced a cooperation agreement between the two countries.
The Kyrgyz government is clearly concerned that its strong ties with Russia in the context of Moscow's broader standoff with the West puts it at risk of U.S. retaliation. Moreover, Bishkek fears the country's history of political instability, along with growing economic problems and important elections in October, could threaten the government's position.
Scott Stewart (Stratfor) — On July 18, the eve of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, the market in Khan Bani Saad in Iraq's Diyala Governorate was packed with people buying items to prepare for family celebrations.
Amid the hustle and bustle, a merchant's truck entered the market. The driver announced that because of the holiday he was selling ice at deeply discounted prices. Such an offer was welcome in the scorching heat of an Iraqi summer, and many people crowded around the truck to take advantage of the sale.
As the crowd gathered, the truck's driver pushed an innocuous switch and the large quantity of explosives concealed under his cargo of ice erupted into a massive explosion. The fiery blast killed at least 130 people and injured scores of others. The powerful device left a deep crater in the street and severely damaged the surrounding building.
A roadside bomb attack targeted a police van on July 28, in the predominately Shiite village of Sitra, south of the capital Manama, killing two police officers and wounding five others. Police attacks are nothing new in Bahrain, where the authorities have been attempting to quash Shiite protests since 2011.
Over the past few years, police officers have been killed in relatively unsophisticated ways, such as being run over by cars or after being hit by flare guns, pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails.
A tactical breakdown of the July 28 attack, however, reveals that it was different from past attacks against police in Bahrain. First, the explosive device used in the action appears to have been constructed using high explosives, as opposed to the type of low explosive pipe bomb most frequently employed.