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Afghan police forces deflect Taliban attack on governor

KABUL, Afghanistan — An attack by six Taliban infiltrators in the eastern province of Paktika on Thursday killed three police officers but was put down before it reached the government offices that were its target, Afghan officials said.

The fighting again put the spotlight on the Afghan Local Police force, which is trained by U.S. special operations personnel and is seen as a critical hedge against the Taliban as Western forces begin withdrawing. The Local Police force, which was part of the response to the Paktika attack, has been the focus of intensified Taliban assaults as the annual fighting season has gotten under way.

The attack began when six gunmen wearing explosive vests under Local Police uniforms tried to pass through a security checkpoint near the district governor’s building. Police forces stopped the men to question them, and a gun battle broke out, eventually stretching to two hours before the last attacker was killed.

Two attackers detonated their explosives during the fight, but no civilians were hurt. Two members of the Afghan Local Police and one member of the national police force were killed.

—Graham Bowley, The New York Times

Pentagon stresses efforts to recover US soldier

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government is doing everything possible to locate Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who is being held captive by insurgents after being seized in Afghanistan in 2009, the Pentagon’s top civilian and military leaders said Thursday.

“Our heart goes out to the Bergdahl family,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said. “We share the concerns about Bergdahl and the importance of getting him returned. And we’re doing everything possible to try to see if we can make that happen.”

Joining Panetta at a news briefing, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the family of the 26-year-old sergeant had been to his office to discuss the efforts that remain under way.

“I can assure you that we are doing everything in our power, using our intelligence resources across the government, to try to find, locate him,” Dempsey said.

Their comments came after the Bergdahl family broke a yearlong silence to disclose that Bergdahl, the only U.S. soldier held captive by the insurgents, is a part of secret negotiations between the Obama administration and the Taliban over a proposed prisoner exchange.

—Thom Shanker, The New York Times

JPMorgan Chase loses $2 billion from trades

JPMorgan Chase, which emerged from the financial crisis as the nation’s biggest bank, disclosed Thursday that it lost more than $2 billion in trading, a surprising stumble that promises to escalate the debate over whether regulations need to rein in trading by banks.

Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan, blamed “errors, sloppiness and bad judgment” for the loss, which stemmed from a hedging strategy that backfired. The trading roiled markets a month ago, when rumors started circulating of a JPMorgan trader in London whose bets were so big that he was nicknamed “the London Whale” and “Voldemort,” after the Harry Potter villain.

For a bank that earned nearly $19 billion last year, the trading loss, which could go higher, will not cripple it in any way. Still, it demonstrates how a market blunder can shake even a financial giant that celebrates its “fortress balance sheet.”

—Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Peter Eavis, The New York Times