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Taliban Execute Pregnant Woman

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AfPak round-up:

Taliban execute pregnant woman. Taliban insurgents flogged and publicly executed a pregnant Afghan widow for alleged adultery Saturday, according to reports.

The woman, Sanum Gul (also reported as Bibi Sanubar by DAWN), was killed in Badghis province in western Afghanistan Saturday morning, the provincial governor's spokesman said. After being held in captivity for three days and flogged 200 times, Gul -- whose age was given as both 35 and 47 in various reports -- was shot in the head three times, said Hashim Habibi, the district governor of Qades, also located in the province.

Though Habibi said Taliban commander Mohammaad Yousuf carried out the execution, a Taliban spokesman has since denied any involvement.

"We have not done anything like that in Badghis or any other province," the spokesman said, calling the report "propaganda" by foreigners and the Western-backed Afghan government.

Officials say Gul had been widowed for four years. She was accused of adultery for her relationship with an unnamed man, despite claims that the man had planned to marry her.

Various groups have since condemned the killing. [DAWN, CNN, AFP]

Karzai bashes "foreign advisors." Insisting that "we have the ability to rule and govern our country and we have our sovereignty," Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for a ban on private security firms, which protect many Western installations in the country. Karzai has not set a firm deadline for removing the firms but, according to his chief spokesman, wants them out "as soon as possible." The move escalates tensions between Kabul and Washington, which flared up last week after an Afghan anti-corruption force mentored by U.S. officials raided the home of Karzai's national security advisor. [WSJ]

Pakistan floods could sweep Taliban back to power. Before the Pakistan army's offensive in the Swat Valley last year, militants in the region held sway by capitalizing on residents' hostility to a government they saw as indifferent to their needs. With electricity "months away," and predictions that full reconstruction will take years to complete and cost billions more than the Pakistan government has, many officials are worried this will happen again. [WashPo]

Vietnam War scholar: "Unraveling" Afghan war is "déjà vu." But Gordon Goldstein, author of Lessons in Disaster, which received a rave review in 2008 from Richard Holbrooke, now U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and which President Obama says he keeps on his nightstand, thinks it won't be long before Obama decides to scale back America's presence in Afghanistan. "Obama never drank the Kool-Aid on the counterinsurgency case; that's why he gave McChrystal fewer troops than he wanted and set a date to start withdrawing," he says, adding, "This is illustrative of doubt and caution, of not wanting to be boxed in. That was Kennedy's signature style on Vietnam." [NYT]