UK officials have sought to play down low voter turnout in Afghanistan’s elections amid reports just 150 people cast their ballots in an area where four British troops died securing it from the Taliban. British media claimed that early estimates of ballots in the former Taliban stronghold of Babaji in Helmand province indicated few exercised their voting rights, despite the efforts of Operation Panther’s Claw, a five-week offensive against militants in the region. The claims have fueled debate in Britain over the country’s continued military role in Afghanistan as the country’s death toll since operations began in 2001 pushes past the 200 mark.
If there was any doubt as to the character of the state that threatens to emerge in Somalia should Islamist rebels overthrow the embattled government, it was dispelled on June 22, when a militia court sentenced four men accused of stealing three mobile phones and two AK-47s to the amputation of their right hands and left legs. The sentence, whose execution was postponed after the al-Shabaab court decided the hot weather might cause the four men to bleed to death, was condemned as “cruel, inhuman and degrading” by Amnesty International