For the night of 13 May 2014
South Korea-North Korea: A South Korean defense spokesman launched a verbal counter-attack yesterday against North Korea. National Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said Monday that North Korea wasn't a real country and existed for the benefit of only one person - a reference to its leader, Kim Jong Un. He said the North has no human rights or public freedoms. He also said North Korea must disappear soon.
Today, the North's National Defense Commission issued a rant in response. It overflowed with more personal insults against the President of South Korea and all members of her government. Then it got carried away and threatened to wipe out every South Korean. It was unclear whether this would occur before or after it took immediate action to punish the South Korean spokesman.
Comment: The North Korean propaganda attacks against the South Korean and the US Presidents prompted Monday's counter-attack. The North's threat against the spokesman suggests the South needs to expect an assassination attempt. As for wiping out South Korea, the North has been threatening to turn Seoul into a sea of fire for the past 20 years.
It is a positive change to see the South stand up to the verbal bullying by the North.
Afghanistan: Update. The first two days of the Taliban's new spring offensive are underwhelming. On Sunday, fewer than 36 attacks were reported. On Monday, fewer than 18 were reported; half were roadside bombs. The worst incident was a suicide bomb attack near Kandahar, in the south, that killed 5 and injured 35 people.
Comment: The Khaibar offensive is off to a slow start. The reasons for this are not yet clear, but it is a reprieve for Afghan forces. One open source reported that the Taliban leadership dismissed its top military leader because the Taliban failed to surge to prevent the Afghan presidential elections. Leadership disarray could be contributing to the lackluster start.
Ukraine: Armed pro-Russia fighters ambushed a Ukrainian military ammunition convoy that was transporting ammunition near Kramatorsk, killing seven paratroopers and wounding seven more. One rebel fighter was killed during the assault.
The Defense Ministry in Kyiv said that the heavily armed rebels fired rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons at the convoy of Ukrainian paratroopers near the village of Oktyabrske about 20 kilometers outside Kramatorsk.
The separatist militia confirmed that they had destroyed two armored personnel carriers and that one of their fighters had died in the assault.
In the city of Luhansk, the separatist governor, Valery Bolotov, was shot and wounded in an assassination attempt. One news account said the ambush was in retaliation for the assassination attempt.
In Kherson, northwest of Crimea, Kyiv's defense ministry reported two servicemen died and two were injured in a fire that occurred on a self-propelled gun while it was moving.
Comment: Today's clashes are the opening rounds of escalating violence. The Kyiv-appointed governor of Donetsk claimed he is the rightful governor and vowed that the presidential election will be held in his Oblast on 25 May. The representatives of the Kyiv regime seem to have a talent for making incendiary statements.
The German foreign minister persists in trying to arrange "round table" talks. The major compromise of the day is that the Kyiv regime said finally that it is willing to talk with representatives from Luhansk and Donetsk, provided they were not involved in the referendum or in the resistance. However, Kyiv refuses to discuss a federation option. No grounds for negotiations exist yet.
End of NightWatch for 13 May.
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