WASHINGTON, May 13 (UPI) -- Uzbekistan is being wracked by terrorist attacks: Besides the unrest in the provincial city Andijan, security guards Friday killed a suspected suicide bomber outside the Israeli Embassy in Tashkent. Guards opened fire when a man who appeared to be wearing an explosives belt approached the Israeli mission. Wounded by warning shots, the man refused orders to halt and was killed. Uzbek authorities subsequently said the man, who turned out not to be carrying explosives, may have been mentally disturbed. Uzbek security officials have good reason to be nervous: Last July 30, Muslim fundamentalist suicide bombings against Israeli and U.S. diplomatic missions and the prosecutor general's office in Tashkent killed three locals, including two Uzbek bodyguards of the Israeli ambassador. Following Friday's incident Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom ordered all Israeli embassies and consulates put on high alert. From March 29-April 1, 2004, a series of attacks in Tashkent and Bukhara killed 47 people, among them 33 suspected terrorists. The attacks marked the first appearance of suicide bombers in Central Asia. In August 2004 Uzbekistan's supreme court sentenced 15 people to as long as 18 years in prison for the bombings. One defendant, Furkat Yusupov, was arrested wearing a suicide belt; the car that he was traveling in contained 10 more. His wife Kamola received a sentence of 10 years at hard labor, as she had sewn 60 additional suicide belts.
The unrest that boiled up on Tuesday in Nangarhar province in Jalalabad, Afghanistan Wednesday, resulting in the deaths of at least four people following Newsweek reporting of allegations that U.S. guards in Guantanamo desecrated Korans, is spreading across the country. Three people were killed in Badakhshan province when a demonstration by some 3,000 people after Friday prayers turned into a violent demonstration in northeastern Afghanistan. According to Badakhshan province deputy governor Shamsul Rahman Shams, demonstrators reportedly attacked police and set fire to and looted the offices of several western non-governmental organizations. Afghan Interior Minister spokesman Lotfullah Mashal commented that in the southwest of the country in Ghazni province a demonstration resulted in the death of a policeman. Mashal said, "Some of the demonstrators were armed, they fired at the police forces, as a result a police officer of Ghazni was martyred. Ghazni's security chief was injured. During the clashes a police officer and 16 people were also injured." Afghanistan's Interior Ministry is investigating the Jalalabad unrest, but Afghan authorities have already blamed outsiders, anti-government groups, fundamentalist political parties and disaffected Taliban supporters as possible sources of the unrest.
A casualty of the Pentagon's war on terrorism, U.S. Air Forces posted in Europe and Asia are being forced to cut back on flying time as their commands cut costs to help underwrite the global war on terror. Deputy public affairs chief for USAFE at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Capt. Alisen Iversen said, "We have made the decision to cut flying hours, but the amount will depend on other efficiencies in both our flying program and other programs." According to Iversen, the Air Force has asked its European forces to absorb $100 million in the current fiscal year for the global war on terror. Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Paul Hester said pilots in the Pacific have been handed a $50 million cut in the flight-training program, complaining, "Every command in our Air Force that flies airplanes is taking money out of its flying hour program." Hester is concerned that a reduction in flying hours could degrade pilot skills and affect readiness, noting, "Obviously, when ... you start taking down specific training flights, you are, in fact, starting to eat away into readiness." Pilots at Misawa Air Base in Japan have lost at least 625 training hours; Hester commented that to offset the cuts, priority will be given to PACAF pilots training for "very, very specific" missions, particularly those preparing to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan.
According to the commander of U.S. Forces Japan -- U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright -- Tokyo and Washington, in anticipation of introducing a joint missile-defense system at the end of fiscal 2006, are considering establishing an interim joint operations center at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo. The proposed center would enable Self-Defense Forces officials to be alerted simultaneously with their U.S. counterparts to North Korean ballistic-missile launches via the U.S. early warning satellite network. Information on an impending attack could subsequently be transmitted immediately to Japan's Aegis-equipped destroyers or Patriot surface-to-air guided-missile units to intercept an incoming missile. According to a senior Defense Agency official speaking off the record, under the present system it takes about 10 minutes for Japanese officials to receive U.S. information -- the length of time it would take for a North Korean ballistic missile to reach Japan. Wright also commented that the proposed center should be equipped with a new U.S. and Japanese command control system. Under the proposal, reports containing satellite and intelligence information would be given simultaneously to the commanders of U.S. Forces Japan, U.S. Army Japan and Japan's Air Self-Defense Force while being transmitted to Japanese personnel so they could intercept incoming missiles.