Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Reporter or sympathizer ?

Just the objective reporting of news . The very act of choosing which words are used to describe incidents means that no reporting can be objective. In this case the subjectivity is obvious and blatant.

One sentence stands out by the use of a single word and gives a careful reader pause to consider the perspective of the AP 'reporter' :

The three militants stormed the popular luxury hotel just after 6 p.m., hunting down Westerners who had cowered in a gym.

Cowered ? Not , 'sought safe haven' or even 'hid' . 'Hid' would seem to be the obvious choice to use here . And the reporter also specifies it was Westerners ONLY that did the cowering .... apparently non-Westerners hear lots of gunfire and just go about their normal business .

Dictionary.com has the following definitions for cower:

to crouch, as in fear or shame.

To cringe in fear.

Cower is a first cousin of cowardly. Unarmed civilians hiding for their safety from gunfire is cowardly ?

Are there editors at AP that check word usage ? If so, did the editors are either incompetent or agree with the whole tone of this sentence and the use of the word cower.

January 15, 2008

Kabul Bombing Suspect Arrested

Filed at 6:55 a.m. ET

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghan officials have arrested four men following an attack on Kabul's main luxury hotel, including one suspected of wearing a police uniform during the multi-pronged assault that killed eight, officials said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a militant connected to an insurgent leader in Pakistan was accused of masterminding the attack, which left at least one American among the dead and could signal a new era of brazen extremist assaults in Afghanistan.

Police said they also found a video made by two of the attackers in a home in Kabul, where they arrested two men. A fourth man -- believed to have driven the attackers to the Serena Hotel -- was arrested in eastern Afghanistan while trying to flee to Pakistan.

Amrullah Saleh, the head of Afghanistan's intelligence service, said three militants stormed the Serena Hotel on Monday evening. A guard shot and killed one attacker at the gate to the hotel's parking lot, which triggered his suicide vest.

A second attacker blew himself up near the entrance to the hotel's lobby, and the third attacker made it inside the hotel and shot his way through the lobby and toward the gym, Saleh said. A man alleged suspected of being the third attacker was arrested Monday.

The three militants stormed the popular luxury hotel just after 6 p.m., hunting down Westerners who had cowered in a gym. More than 30 U.S. soldiers in a half-dozen Humvees rushed to the hotel, and security personnel from the nearby U.S. Embassy ran to the scene.

Blood covered the lobby floor as gunfire rang out, witnesses said.

Saleh said the attack was masterminded by Mullah Abdullah, a close ally of Siraj Haqqani, a well-known militant leader thought to be based in Pakistan's tribal area in Miran Shah, the main town in North Waziristan. The U.S. military has a $200,000 bounty out on Haqqani.

Police arrested a man named Humayun, allegedly a key link to Abdullah, in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday as he was trying to flee to Pakistan, Saleh said, accusing him of supplying the assailants with weapons, explosives and suicide vests and driving them to the hotel.

Saleh showed a picture taken from the hotel's security cameras showing a gunman in a police uniform inside the hotel's lobby, apparently the third attacker. He was apprehended 15 to 20 minutes after the attack began, he said.

''The third person, after killing a number of the guests, maybe he changed his mind for some reason, he didn't detonate himself,'' Saleh said. ''He changed his clothes and later when security forces searched the premises, he was arrested.''

Authorities raided a house in Kabul early Tuesday where the alleged attackers had spent the night before the attack. Police found a video showing two of the assailants, identified as Farouq and Salahuddin, saying they were ready to die. The owner of the house and his brother were arrested.

''I commit this suicide attack for Allah,'' the video showed the attacker named Farouq saying. He was believed to have blown himself up during the attack.

Salahuddin was captured and provided information that led to the arrest of Humayun, Saleh said.

The official spokesman of the Kabul Serena said the hotel was closed for repairs, including damage caused by bullets and grenades.

''This will certainly affect our business,'' said the spokesman, who asked not to be identified citing company policy. ''The hotel was helping drive business in Afghanistan by creating a safe haven for international businessmen that wanted to invest and work here. This will dent that confidence.''

There was confusion over the death toll. Saleh said three Americans and a French woman were among those killed, but the U.S. Embassy said only one American citizen died. The French embassy was not aware of any French casualties.

The Serena spokesman said three hotel employees and two guards were killed during the attack. Officials have said an American citizen and a Norwegian reporter also died, and the Philippines Foreign Affairs Department said a Filipina spa supervisor wounded in the attack died on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to eight.

The Taliban has targeted aid workers and civilian contractors with kidnappings and killings, but this was the most daring and sophisticated attack yet on a prominent symbol of the foreign presence.

The Taliban have typically focused attacks on Western and Afghan officials or security personnel, not Western civilians.

Bo Asplund, the top U.N. representative in the country, said the attack was a matter of great concern, representing ''a deliberate targeting of foreign guests and Afghan civilians.''

''The international community has been present here for many years, enjoying the hospitality and generosity of its Afghan hosts,'' Asplund said in a statement. ''Its work is driven by the shared belief that peace and progress must prevail over war and suffering. This was an attack on those values, and a senseless crime.''

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