WASHINGTON: The Pentagon says there were no US military deaths in Afghanistan in March — the first zero-fatality month there since January 2007. American casualties in Afghanistan have declined as the number of US forces has grown smaller and their role has shifted away from combat. US troops are focused on training and advising Afghan forces. The Pentagon says there are about 33,000 US troops in Afghanistan, down from a 2011 peak of about 100,000. The international combat mission is scheduled to end in December; whether a new mission to train Afghans is undertaken in January has yet to be decided. Pentagon statistics show there were 132 US deaths in Afghanistan in 2013, compared with 313 the year before and 415 in 2011.
Over 22 tonnes of explosives seized
KABUL: Afghan security forces have seized more than 22 tonnes of explosives, enough to make hundreds of bombs, the interior ministry said yesterday. Sediq Sediqqi, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said the explosives, hidden in some 450 bags, were seized from a basement in the relatively peaceful northern province of Takhar, where the Taliban have gained ground in recent years.
Security features in cheques enhanced
KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan yesterday issued fresh instructions for enhancing security features in cheques while it amended some previous guidelines. “For paper security, banks are required to ensure that all cheques contain printer’s logo or name as a watermark,” said the SBP circular. The watermark can be single or multi tone. However, it must be ensured that Magnetic Ink Character Recognition readability is not adversely affected by such watermarks. Further, the paper used for cheques must contain at least one Invisible Ultraviolet (UV) security feature, such as UV fibres, UV Hi-Lites or any other.
16 Taliban killed
Kabul: At least 16 senior Taliban commanders were killed following a suicide attack in eastern Ghazni province of Afghanistan yesterday. The National Directorate of Security said that the Taliban leaders were planning coordinated attacks in Ghazni province when a Taliban suicide bomber opposed with the Taliban leaders plans and detonated his explosives.