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More trouble in Afghanistan

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Mon 16 Apr - 8:47


Fighting in the Afghan capital Kabul has finally ended - about 18 hours after the Taliban launched their assault, local officials have said.

A spokesman for Kabul's police chief said the last gunman, who was fighting near the parliament in the west of the city, was killed early on Monday.

Security forces earlier flushed out insurgents in the central diplomatic area, home to several embassies.

The officials said 36 gunmen and eight members of Afghan security forces died.

Three civilians were also killed, Afghan Interior Minister Besmillah Mohammadi told reporters on Monday.

He added that about 65 people - including 25 civilians - were injured.

Attackers also carried out raids in the provinces of Logar, Paktia and Nangarhar.

'Clear answer'

In Kabul, foreign embassies, Nato's headquarters and the Afghan parliament were hit in the first major attack on the city in more than six months.

Afghan MP Shukria Barakzai said lessons had to be learned from previous attacks
"The latest information we have about the Afghan parliament area is that the attack is over now and the only insurgent who was resisting has been killed," said the Kabul police chief's spokesman Hashmatullah Stanikzai.

In the central district of Wazir Akbar Khan, officials said Afghan and Norwegian special forces raided a construction site which the attackers had been using as a base.

Video footage showed soldiers scaling the scaffolding after dawn on Monday, as bullets blasted off walls around them.

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says there were reports that the gunmen took several construction workers hostage.

Continue reading the main story
High-profile attacks on Kabul
15 April 2012: Seven sites including parliament, Nato HQ and foreign embassies attacked
13 September 2011: Gunman seize unfinished high-rise to fire on Nato HQ and US embassy
19 August 2011: Gunman storm British Council HQ, killing 12 people

"I could not sleep because of all this gunfire now. It's been the whole night," local resident Hamdullah told Reuters.

Afghan officials said they have also arrested two would-be suicide bombers, who intended to kill the second vice-president, Mohammad Karim Khalili.

The Taliban said the co-ordinated attacks were a response to recent claims by Nato officials that the insurgency was weak.

"These attacks are the beginning of the spring offensive and we had planned them for months," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters.

There were also reports that militants from the Haqqani group took part in the assault.

Afghan lawmaker Shukria Barakzai told the BBC that she was sceptical about the ability of Afghan security forces to deal with insurgents without foreign support.

She said she wanted "a clear answer" from the authorities about why it had taken so long to fight off the assault.

Correspondents say the attacks have shattered the confidence of Afghans, as the insurgents have once more shown that they can strike right in the heart of Kabul.

The fighting has also raised concern about security as Nato prepares to withdraw its troops by the end of 2014 and hand over responsibility to Afghan forces.

Elsewhere in the country, gunmen attacked government buildings in Logar province, the airport in the eastern city of Jalalabad, and a police facility in the town of Gardez in Paktia province.


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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Mon 16 Apr - 21:38

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has linked Sunday's militant attacks to intelligence failures, especially on the part of Nato.

In his first response to the attacks, Mr Karzai praised the performance of the Afghan security forces.

He said they had proved themselves capable of defending their country.

Officials say 51 people died in the fighting in Kabul and elsewhere: four civilians, 11 members of the security forces and 36 insurgents.

"The terrorists' infiltration in Kabul and other provinces is an intelligence failure for us and especially for Nato and should be seriously investigated," Mr Karzai said.

Continue reading the main story “
Start Quote
Despite the rhetoric of not needing international support, this underlines dread about the future”
End Quote
Bilal Sarwary

Kabul

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On Sunday, militants attacked the district in central Kabul where many embassies are located, as well as the parliament building. Nato's headquarters in the city also came under assault.

The clashes in the city ended on Monday, 18 hours after they began, when the last gunman, who was fighting near the parliament in the west of the city, was killed.

Earlier on Monday morning, Afghan special forces flushed out gunmen who had been using a central Kabul construction site as a base from which to fire on foreign embassies and other targets.

Afghan security sources have told the BBC British special forces were eventually called in to help end the battle.

The US, German and British embassies were among the diplomatic missions targeted.

'Spring offensive'

Insurgents also carried out attacks in Nangarhar, Logar and Paktia provinces.

The Taliban say they carried out the raids as part of a co-ordinated "spring offensive". The group usually ramps up its attacks on Nato and government forces in spring, after a relative lull over the winter, when snows hamper the fighters' movements.

The attackers used a construction site in central Kabul as a base
But the US ambassador to Kabul, Ryan Crocker, said he believed the Taliban would not have had the ability to carry out the attacks.

He told CNN he believed they were the work of the Haqqani network, a Pakistan-based militant group allied to the Taliban.

Mr Karzai's office said four civilians had died in the fighting. Earlier, Afghan Interior Minister Besmillah Mohammadi said that about 65 people - including 25 civilians - had been injured.

President Karzai paid tribute to the "bravery and sacrifice of the security forces who quickly and timely reacted to contain the terrorists", AFP news agency reports.

Afghan forces are expected to shoulder increasing responsibility for security as Nato countries wind down their troop presence ahead of a full withdrawal scheduled for the end of 2014.

Continue reading the main story
High-profile attacks on Kabul
15 April 2012: Seven sites including parliament, Nato HQ and foreign embassies attacked
13 September 2011: Gunman seize unfinished high-rise to fire on Nato HQ and US embassy
19 August 2011: Gunman storm British Council HQ, killing 12 people

"I am enormously proud of how quickly Afghan security forces responded to attacks in Kabul," said Gen John Allen, commander of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).

"They were on scene immediately, well-led and well-coordinated. They integrated their efforts, helped protect their fellow citizens and largely kept the insurgents contained."

But a source quoted by AFP said he did not share Nato's optimism.

"It's true that [the Afghan forces] did it better than in the past - there is progress," he said, on condition of anonymity.

"But still, to build up so many attacks and being able to launch them simultaneously demonstrates clearly [the Taliban's] ability to strike where and when they want."

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary says the authorities will be worried by the fact that, in contrast to previous attacks, the militants managed to penetrate the Wazir Akbar Khan diplomatic district - the "ring of steel" around central Kabul.

While the Taliban have said they carried out the attacks, analysts say they bear the hallmarks of the Haqqani network.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Tue 17 Apr - 13:41


CNN) -- Australian troops could begin pulling out from Afghanistan in the coming months and may leave the country almost entirely by the end of next year, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Tuesday.

It's the latest announcement of foreign troop drawdowns in Afghanistan, a trend that signals the coalition's confidence in the country's fighting forces and the transition to Afghan security control.

Australia's move would mean that most of the more than 1,500 Australian soldiers in Afghanistan could leave a year earlier than the government had previously suggested.

"We continue to see steady gains in the fight against the Afghan insurgency," Gillard said in a speech in Canberra, suggesting that the strategy of international forces in the country had led to "security gains over the past year and a half."

She highlighted the progress made by Afghan troops, notably in the southern province of Uruzgan, where most of the Australian forces are concentrated.

Gillard said she expected the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, to make an announcement in the coming months about beginning the process of putting Afghan troops in charge of security in Uruzgan and other provinces, a transition that should take 12 to 18 months.

"And when this is complete, Australia's commitment in Afghanistan will look very different to that we have today," she said, adding that "the majority of our troops will have returned home."



Australia's future in Afghanistan That timetable puts Australian forces on a quicker withdrawal timetable than Gillard had previously described. In a speech to parliament in November, she said that the transition in Uruzgan might well be completed before the end of 2014.

Australia has been among those nations that have contributed troops, supplies and other resources to the NATO-led military effort in Afghanistan, which began in the weeks after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Gillard made her remarks Tuesday ahead of a summit meeting in Chicago in May. At the meeting, the leaders of countries with troops in Afghanistan will make key decisions about the future of the international coalition's mission there.

Australia's 1,550 troops in Afghanistan are a fraction of the overall number of foreign troops deployed to keep a lid on the country's insurgency more than 10 years after allied airstrikes marked the start of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The number of Australian soldiers killed in the war stands at 32, according to a CNN count.

More than 130,000 troops from 50 countries are currently operating in Afghanistan, according to the International Security and Assistance Force.

The international force has been there since 2001, shortly after the al Qaeda attacks on the U.S. The campaign was launched to stop the Taliban from providing a safe haven for al Qaeda fighters and to stop the terror group's use of Afghanistan as a base for its future activities.

The United States is the biggest contributor, providing about 90,000 troops, followed by the United Kingdom (9,500), Germany (4,800) and France (3,600).

In June 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan would end by 2014. At that time, there were more than 100,000 U.S. troops in the country after a 30,000-strong troop "surge" in December 2009 to help bolster the campaign against the Taliban.

In February, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the United States hoped to end its combat mission in Afghanistan in 2013, transitioning primarily to a training role as Afghan forces take more responsibility for security.

France announced in February that it would begin an early drawdown, and its troops would be gone by 2013. Germany plans to pull out some troops next year, with the remainder leaving in 2014.

Britain plans to hand over its security operations to local forces by the end of 2013 before continuing in a "supporting role" from 2014.

Some countries have already pulled out. Canada, which once headed the ISAF mission, removed almost all of its 3,000 soldiers at the end of 2011. Norway also withdrew almost all of its 500 troops during this period.

CNN's Jethro Mullen and Hilary Whiteman contributed to this report.


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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Wed 18 Apr - 7:21


18 April 2012 Last updated at 01:15 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page


More than 100 schoolgirls in northeastern Afghanistan are in hospital suffering from suspected poisoning.

The health director of Takhar province said the girls fell ill shortly after drinking water at their school.

An education official in Kabul said preliminary investigations suggested the water had been poisoned.

A local official in Takhar suggested that people opposed to education for girls were responsible.

Similar events have been reported before, but no conclusive evidence of poisoning has been found.

The official said 40 girls were treated and then discharged but 100 others including female teachers have been kept in hospital, after complaining of severe nausea, headaches and dizziness.

The water has been sent to a laboratory for analysis, and the official said he had asked for a full inquiry.

A spokesman for the education directorate in Takhar said the victims are aged from 14 to 30.

He said it appeared that "narrow-minded people" opposed to education for girls were behind the incident.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Thu 19 Apr - 3:40

US President Barack Obama says American soldiers shown in photos apparently abusing Afghan corpses in 2010 should be held accountable, a spokesman said.

"The conduct depicted in those photos is reprehensible," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

The pictures, published in the Los Angeles Times, shows the soldiers posing with the mangled remains of suspected suicide bombers.

Mr Carney also expressed disappointment that the Times published the photos.

It comes at a particularly sensitive time for US-Afghan relations, after a series of incidents - including the murder of 17 Afghan civilians in March - stirred up anti-Western sentiment.

Nato combat troops aim to leave Afghanistan in 2014.

Severed legs

During a Nato conference in Brussels on Wednesday, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta apologised "on behalf of the Department of Defense and the US government".

"I know that war is ugly and it's violent and I know that young people sometimes caught up in the moment make some very foolish decisions," Mr Panetta added.

"I'm not excusing that behaviour, but neither do I want these images to bring further injury to our people and to our relationship with the Afghan people."

The pictures in the Los Angeles Times newspaper apparently show soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division posing with the remains in Afghanistan's eastern Zabul province.

Continue reading the main story
Previous tension points
March 2012: US staff Sgt Robert Bales accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians
February 2012: Deadly protests after US troops inadvertently burn Koran
January 2012: Video shows US marines urinating on dead Afghans
March 2011: Radical US pastor burns Koran, triggering deadly protests
April 2008: Protests against cartoon of Prophet Muhammad in Danish newspapers

Some are seen grinning next to the bodies, while others appear to be holding severed human legs.

Another set of photos - from a few months later - apparently shows soldiers from the same division holding a dead man's hand with the middle finger raised.

The Los Angeles Times only published two of 18 photos.

It said the pictures had been given by a US soldier "to draw attention to the safety risk of a breakdown in leadership and discipline" among American troops.

The depicted soldiers - who have not been identified - had seen friends killed or wounded in suicide and other bomb attacks in the course of their year-long deployment, the paper said.

The Times defended its decision to publish the photos, despite a prior request from the US military not to do so.

"After careful consideration, we decided that publishing a small but representative selection of the photos would fulfil our obligation to readers to report vigorously and impartially on all aspects of the American mission in Afghanistan, including the allegation," the paper's editor Davan Maharaj said.

'Morally repugnant'

The commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (Isaf), Gen John Allen, has condemned the actions of the soldiers, while the US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, labelled them "morally repugnant".


The BBC's Paul Adams in Washington says the Americans have found themselves on the back-foot after a slew of negative publicity in recent months in Afghanistan.

Last month, a US soldier was charged with the murders of 17 Afghan civilians - including nine children - in the southern province of Kandahar.

In February, thousands of Afghans held street rallies after US soldiers inadvertently burned copies of the Koran at a Nato base in Kabul.

More than 30 people died in the ensuing unrest, as people protested at US bases and diplomatic missions.

A month earlier, a video emerged apparently showing US Marines urinating on dead Afghans.

The Taliban called off peace talks in the wake of that rampage and threatened more attacks.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sat 21 Apr - 12:40


21 April 2012 Last updated at 10:21 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page

Afghan security officials say they have foiled a huge attack in the capital Kabul, as they gave details of the seizure of 10 tonnes of explosives.

The explosives were found in a truck seized along with five militants in an operation last Sunday, a National Directorate of Security spokesman said.

The group was planning to attack crowded areas in the capital, he said.

He also gave reporters a video detailing plans for a separate attack on Vice-President Mohammed Khalili.

Describing the planned bomb attack on Kabul, the spokesman, Shafiqullah Tahiri, said the 10 tonnes of explosives were stuffed in 400 bags and hidden under piles of potatoes.

"If this amount of explosives had been used, it could have caused large-scale bloodshed," Mr Tahiri said.

He said three of the captured militants are Pakistani citizens, and two are Afghans.

'Confessions'

The five suspects had confessed that the planned attack was co-ordinated by two Taliban commanders with links to Pakistan's main intelligence organisation the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), according to the spokesman.

The arrests, which came during a wave of insurgent attacks around the country, was kept quiet at the time because of the ongoing security operation, he said.

Afghanistan has often accused the ISI of involvement in supporting anti-government insurgents in Afghanistan - an allegation strongly denied by Pakistan.

Last week, 51 people died in a wave of co-ordinated attacks by insurgents in Kabul and three other provinces.

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary says the security forces are under criticism for failing to anticipate the attacks, and are keen to show that they are making progress in their investigations.

In a separate operation, security forces detained a group of fighters - including suicide bombers belonging to the Pakistan-based Haqqani network - planning to assassinate Afghanistan's second Vice-President, Mohammed Khalili, Mr Tahiri said.

The Haqqani network is a mainly Afghan ethnic Pashto group operating out of the north-western Pakistani tribal areas, and is seen as linked to, but separate from, the Afghan Taliban.


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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sun 22 Apr - 9:16

This probably accounts for the American Soldiers behaviour in Afghanistan.


Viadeo
Opiates killed 8 Americans in Afghanistan, Army records showBy Michael Martinez, CNN
April 21, 2012 -- Updated 2352 GMT (0752 HKT)
It is estimated that Afghanistan supplies more than 90% of the world's opium, according to a 2009 U.N. study.STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Eight soldiers died of overdoses involving heroin, morphine or other opiates in 2010-11
56 soldiers, including the eight, were investigated for using, possessing or selling the drugs
More soldiers in the Army overall are testing positive for heroin use
The Taliban are believed to be stockpiling opium to finance their activities, U.N. reported
(CNN)-- Eight American soldiers died of overdoses involving heroin, morphine or other opiates during deployments in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011, according to U.S. Army investigative reports.

The overdoses were revealed in documents detailing how the Army investigated a total of 56 soldiers, including the eight who fell victim to overdoses, on suspicion of possessing, using or distributing heroin and other opiates.

At the same time, heroin use apparently is on the rise in the Army overall, as military statistics show that the number of soldiers testing positive for heroin has grown from 10 instances in fiscal year 2002 to 116 in fiscal year 2010.

Army officials didn't respond to repeated requests for comment on Saturday. But records from the service's Criminal Investigation Command, obtained by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, provided glimpses into how soldiers bought drugs from Afghan juveniles, an Afghan interpreter and in one case, an employee of a Defense Department contractor, who was eventually fired.

The drug use is occurring in a country that is estimated to supply more than 90% of the world's opium, and the Taliban insurgency is believed to be stockpiling the drug to finance their activities, according to a 2009 U.N. study. While the records show some soldiers using heroin, much of the opiate abuse by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan involves prescription drugs such Percocet, the Army documents show.

Judicial Watch obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information of Act and provided them to CNN. Spokesman Col. Gary Kolb of the International Security Assistance Force, the NATO-led command in Afghanistan, verified the documents to CNN on Saturday.

One fatal overdose occurred in June 2010 at Forward Operating Base Blessing, after a soldier asked another soldier to buy black tar opium from a local Afghan outside the base's entry control point. The first soldier died after consuming the opium like chewing tobacco and smoking pieces of it in a cigarette, the documents show.

The reports even show soldier lingo for the drug -- calling it "Afghani dip" in one case where three soldiers were accused of using the opiate, the Army investigative reports show.

The United States has 89,000 troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. death toll since the September 11, 2001, attacks that triggered the war has risen to more than 1,850, including 82 this year, according to the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Central Command.

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said his group was interested in soldiers' drug use partly because the risk was present during the Vietnam War.

"You never want to see news of soldiers dying of drug use in Afghanistan," Fitton said. "Our concern is, will the military treat this as the problem that it is, and are the families of the soldiers aware of the added risk in this drug-infested country?

"There is a dotted line between the uses. Prescription abuse can easily veer into heroin drug use," Fitton added. "Afghanistan is the capital of this opiate production and the temptation is great there and the opportunity for drug use all the more."

The group is concerned that "there hasn't been enough public discussion, and we would encourage the leadership to discuss or talk about this issue more openly," Fitton said.

In one case, a soldier bought heroin and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax from five "local national juveniles at multiple locations on Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan, and consumed them," one report states. Soldiers also distributed heroin, Percocet and other drugs among themselves, according to the reports.

Another soldier fatally overdosed in December 2010 after taking several drugs, including morphine and codeine, though the drugs were not prescribed for him, the Army documents show.

One female soldier broke into the Brigade Medical Supply Office at Forward Operating Base Shank and stole expired prescription narcotics including morphine, Percocet, Valium, fentanyl and lorazepam, the documents show.

The investigative reports show soldiers using other drugs, including steroids and marijuana, and even hashish that was sold to U.S. servicemen by the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police personnel, the reports state.

CNN's Sarah Jones and Nick

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Mon 23 Apr - 7:00

Apr 23, 1:02 AM EDT


Bomb kills 2 NATO service members in Afghanistan

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- NATO forces say two international service members have been killed in a bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan.

The military coalition says in a statement issued Monday that the deaths happened on Sunday. The statement does not provide nationalities or other details. NATO typically waits for member nations to announce casualties before providing more information.

Most of the international troops in the east are American but their are forces from other NATO nations as well.

The deaths make at least 25 international service members killed so far this month.

© 2012 The Associated Press


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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Mon 23 Apr - 7:05



US and Afghan negotiators have finalised a partnership agreement for the US role in Afghanistan after its forces withdraw at the end of 2014.

The draft agreement on their long-term relationship was signed in the Afghan capital Kabul after months of talks.

No details were released, with the deal to be reviewed by both presidents.

There have been sharp disagreements over how much financial support the US and Nato will provide after foreign troops leave.

Last week the Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on the US to make a written commitment to pay a minimum of $2bn (£1.2bn) towards the maintenance of Afghan forces.

'Strong foundation'

At last week's meeting of Nato ministers, the US was asking other nations to pay up to $1bn (£630m) a year, while it provides up to $3bn a year in support.

But it was unclear if the US was willing to make a firm commitment.

The agreement was signed on Sunday in Kabul by US ambassador Ryan Crocker and Afghanistan's national security adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta.

"The document finalised today provides a strong foundation for the security of Afghanistan, the region and the world and is a document for the development of the region," Mr Spanta said in the statement announcing the deal.

A final commitment on funding Afghan security is expected to be announced at the Chicago summit of Nato leaders next month.

There have been doubts over whether the Afghan forces would be able to provide adequate security once Nato forces withdraw.

But at last week's Nato meeting the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said the co-ordinated attacks by the Taliban in Kabul in which two Afghan soldiers and 17 militants were killed earlier this month, showed otherwise.

"The response by the Afghan national security forces were fast and effective and the attacks failed... So the Afghans are proving themselves increasingly ready to take control of their own future".

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Tue 24 Apr - 6:35


Apr 23, 9:27 PM EDT


US-Afghan security pact sends warning to al-Qaida

By PATRICK QUINN
Associated Press


AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A new strategic partnership that commits the U.S. to defend Afghanistan militarily for 10 years after most foreign forces leave in 2014 is intended to signal that the U.S. will not tolerate a resurgent al-Qaida or attacks launched by militants from neighboring Pakistan.

The agreement, parts of which were read out Monday in the Afghan parliament, is big on symbolism but light on substance. It leaves out specifics, including how much funding the U.S. will provide to support Afghan security forces or how many U.S. troops will stay on after the withdrawal deadline.

Afghanistan, for its part, insisted on approving any American military operations after 2014 and barred the U.S. from using its soil to attack other countries, such as neighboring Pakistan, where the Taliban, al-Qaida and al-Qaida-linked militants all have staging bases.

"In the end, of course, the U.S. and allied interests differ from those of most Afghans," said Andrew Exum, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a think tank in Washington.

"The United States is most concerned with dismantling al-Qaida, while Afghans are most concerned with what infrastructure and financing the United States and its allies will provide beyond 2014."

After 10 years of U.S.-led war, insurgents linked to the Taliban and al-Qaida remain a threat and as recently as a week ago launched a large-scale attack on the capital, Kabul, and three other cities. Both groups operate from within Afghanistan, as well as from across the border in Pakistan.

It took 18 months of painstaking, often tense negotiations to hammer out the accord, which was reached Sunday and lays out for the first time the relationship the U.S. will have with Afghanistan once the majority of U.S. troops have gone home. It builds on hard-won understandings reached recently on the controversial issues of control over detainees and the conduct of night raids by U.S. special forces.

Exum said the Obama administration had hoped to have the agreement finalized last summer, but Afghan leaders - notably President Hamid Karzai - were reluctant to agree to a continued U.S. military presence beyond 2014.

"The United States and the government of Afghanistan were able to find enough common ground to get an agreement on tough issues such as detainees, basing rights, and the so-called night raids. This is a real diplomatic achievement for the Obama administration," Exum said.

The accord is meant to reassure the Afghan people that the U.S. won't abandon them, to send a warning to the Taliban and to serve notice to Pakistan, which many analysts believe has been waiting for a U.S. withdrawal that would allow the Taliban to reassert power, giving Islamabad strategic control over its neighbor.

There have also been fears that Afghanistan's rival ethnic groups, including those that make up the Northern Alliance that defeated the Pashtun Taliban, would again fight for power and influence. A similar struggle after the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989 nearly destroyed the country.

"This continued international military presence, however, will hopefully arrest some of the momentum toward another civil war and will also hopefully force Pakistani decision makers to re-examine their own long-standing assumptions about the long-term U.S. and allied commitment to Afghanistan," Exum said.

The Afghan parliament got a first look at the strategic partnership agreement after the country's national security adviser read out portions of it Monday in the lower house. The full agreement has not been made public.

The document - which still has to go through internal reviews and be signed by Presidents Barack Obama and Karzai - commits the U.S. to defend Afghanistan from any outside interference via "diplomatic means, political means, economic means and even military means," national security adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta told the assembled parliamentarians. He stressed that any such actions would be taken only with Afghan agreement.

The draft was initialed by U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Spanta on Sunday and is to be signed before a NATO summit in Chicago on May 20-21.

Many Afghans have expressed worries that the U.S. wants permanent bases, a setup that would make it more of an occupying force than an ally. Spanta said that specific decisions about bases will be left to the later deal.

The agreement also addressed the countries' mutual commitment to the stability of Afghanistan and to human rights. It also says that the U.S. has no plans to keep permanent military bases in Afghanistan.

There have been fears that Afghanistan will fall apart after most foreign troops leave and there have been worries about the long-term economic commitment the impoverished nation needs to stay afloat.

Although specific troop numbers and other military details are not included in the agreement, the U.S. has said it expects to keep about 20,000 troops in the country after 2014. They would mentor and train the Afghan National Security Forces while also taking part in counterterrorism operations.

Those details are expected to be included in a bilateral technical agreement to be negotiated over the next year, but the partnership deal is the basis for the long-term relationship between the two countries.

It also sends a strong message to Taliban insurgents that the United States will remain inside the country in support of the fledgling Afghan security forces. More importantly, it tells neighbors such as Pakistan that they have to become more active in finding a peaceful solution to a war that has entered its 11th year.

Most insurgent groups retain safe havens in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas and the United States has for years pressed Islamabad to do something about the militants - who also threaten Pakistan's security.

The only concrete limit the pact puts on the U.S. military is a pledge that the United States will not launch attacks from Afghan soil. Afghan officials have said previously they would not allow their country to be used to launch drone attacks into Pakistan or other neighboring countries after 2014.

The agreement also says the U.S. will continue to fund the 352,000-strong Afghan security forces after 2014. It does not specify amounts, but U.S. officials have said they expect to pay about $4 billion a year, though funding would have to be approved by Congress.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland declined to say how much money the deal would involve. She said the U.S. is speaking with Karzai's government and American allies and partners around the world to ensure that Afghan security forces are "fully funded, that they are fully equipped and that we have the ability to continue to train them."

The agreement also says the U.S. will help support Afghan economic development, health care programs, education and social initiatives, and stresses that the U.S. remains committed to defending human rights and the right of free speech.

Most Afghan politicians said they supported the partnership, which they endorsed last November at an assembly of more than 2,000 tribal elders and dignitaries known as a loya jirga.

Two conditions set at the loya jirga, the end of night raids by international troops and complete Afghan control over detainees, were part of separate agreements signed earlier this month that opened the way to the partnership deal.

"Not only I believe, but everyone believes that this strategic partnership is for the benefit of both countries. Of course it is for the benefit of the United States as well as Afghanistan. In order for Afghanistan to come out from all those challenges that we are facing right now we need a very strong partner, and that is the United States," said Farkhunda Zahra Naderi, a lawmaker from Kabul.

But she added that lawmakers wanted to see the full document.

"At this stage we had the general content, but we are waiting to get the whole document. I believe it is a very good approach that promises a good future for Afghanistan and we are looking forward to it," she said.

---



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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sat 28 Apr - 6:22



The soldier's patrol came under fire from insurgents
8:06pm UK, Friday April 27, 2012

A British soldier has been killed in Afghanistan's Helmand Province, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.
The soldier was serving as part of Combined Force Nahr-e-Saraj (North), on a patrol to disrupt insurgents when he was killed as a result of small arms fire.




Task Force Helmand spokesman Major Ian Lawrence said: "Sadly, I must report that a soldier from 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards has died of a gunshot wound sustained while on patrol in the Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand Province.

"The thoughts and prayers of all in the task force and combined force are with his family and friends at this tragic time."

The MoD said the soldier's family has been informed.

The battalion deployed to Helmand as part of Operation Herrick 16 and is scheduled to return to Britain in the autumn.

The Army said Operation Herrick 16 was designed to "push back" the Taliban.

It said: "When we go into the villages and districts in Helmand we are supported by Afghan Army and Afghan Police who hold the ground we have cleared, to prevent the Taliban returning."

The Grenadier Guards previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and during 2009 - 2010, and are playing a key ceremonial role during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

:: A total of 410 members of UK forces have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001.


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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sun 29 Apr - 4:27

28 April 2012 Last updated at 15:21



A roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan has killed 10 members of the country's security forces, officials say.

Wardak province officials said the dead belonged to the Afghan local police - part of a government-sponsored militia.

Taleban representatives have claimed the attack late on Friday.

Elsewhere, two suspected Taliban militants were shot dead just outside the governor's office in southern Kandahar province.

The attackers had passed through security checks but pulled out their guns as guards noticed something suspicious and stopped them, Kandahar Governor Tooryalai Wesa was reported as saying.

The men were killed in a 30-minute gun battle in which a guard was also injured, a spokesman told AP news agency.

A statement from Mr Wesa's office said it was the ninth attempt to target the governor in the past three years.

Nearly two weeks ago Taliban forces launched a major assault on the capital Kabul, attacking sites including parliament, Nato HQ and foreign embassies.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Mon 30 Apr - 21:15

Apr 30, 3:45 PM EDT


AP EXCLUSIVE: US not reporting all Afghan attacks

ROBERT BURNS
AP National Security Writer


AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The military is under-reporting the number of times that Afghan soldiers and police open fire on American and other foreign troops.

The U.S.-led coalition routinely reports each time an American or foreign solider is killed by an Afghan in uniform. But The Associated Press has learned it does not report insider attacks in which the Afghan wounds - or misses - his U.S. or allied target. It also doesn't report the wounding of troops who were attacked alongside those who were killed.

Such attacks reveal a level of mistrust and ill will between the U.S.-led coalition and its Afghan counterparts in an increasingly unpopular war. The U.S. and its military partners are working more closely with Afghan troops in preparation for handing off security responsibility to them by the end of 2014.

In recent weeks an Afghan soldier opened fire on a group of American soldiers but missed the group entirely. The Americans quickly shot him to death. Not a word about this was reported by the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, as the coalition is formally known. It was disclosed to the AP by a U.S. official who was granted anonymity in order to give a fuller picture of the "insider" problem.

ISAF also said nothing about last week's attack in which two Afghan policemen in Kandahar province fired on U.S. soldiers, wounding two. Reporters learned of it from Afghan officials and from U.S. officials in Washington. The two Afghan policemen were shot to death by the Americans present.

Just last Wednesday, an attack that killed a U.S. Army special forces soldier, Staff Sgt. Andrew T. Brittonmihalo, 25, of Simi Valley, Calif., also wounded three other American soldiers. The death was reported by ISAF as an insider attack, but it made no mention of the wounded - or that an Afghan civilian also was killed.

The attacker was an Afghan special forces soldier who opened fire with a machine gun at a base in Kandahar province. He was killed by return fire.

That attack apparently was the first by a member of the Afghan special forces, who are more closely vetted than conventional Afghan forces and are often described by American officials as the most effective and reliable in the Afghan military.

Coalition officials do not dispute that such non-fatal attacks happen, but they have not provided a full accounting.

The insider threat has existed for years but has grown more deadly. Last year there were 21 fatal attacks that killed 35 coalition service members, according to ISAF figures. That compares with 11 fatal attacks and 20 deaths the previous year. In 2007 and 2008 there were a combined total of four attacks and four deaths.

ISAF has released brief descriptions of each of the fatal attacks for 2012 but says similar information for fatal attacks in 2011 is considered classified and therefore cannot be released.

Mark Jacobson, an international affairs expert at the German Marshall Fund in Washington and a former deputy NATO senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, said attacks of all types are cause for worry.

"You have to build up trust when working with partners, and years of trust can be destroyed in just a minute," Jacobson said. No matter what the motivation of the Afghan attacker, "it threatens the partnership."

Until now there has been little public notice of non-fatal insider attacks, even though they would appear to reflect the same deadly intent as that of Afghans who manage to succeed in killing their foreign partners.

Jamie Graybeal, an ISAF spokesman in Kabul, disclosed Monday in response to repeated AP requests that in addition to 10 fatal insider attacks so far this year, there have been two others that resulted in no deaths or injuries, plus one attack that resulted in wounded, for a total of 13 attacks. The three non-fatal attacks had not previously been reported.

Graybeal also disclosed that in most of the 10 fatal attacks a number of other ISAF troops were wounded. By policy, the fact that the attacks resulted in wounded as well as a fatality is not reported, he said.

Asked to explain why non-fatal insider attacks are not reported, Graybeal said the coalition does not disclose them because it does not have consent from all coalition governments to do so.

"All releases must be consistent with the national policies of troop contributing nations," Graybeal said.

Graybeal said a new review of this year's data showed that the 10 fatal attacks resulted in the deaths of 19 ISAF service members. His office had previously said the death total was 18. Most of those killed this year have been Americans but France, Britain and other coalition member countries also have suffered fatalities.

Graybeal said each attack in 2012 and 2011 was "an isolated incident and has its own underlying circumstances and motives." Just last May, however, an unclassified internal ISAF study, called "A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility," concluded, "Such fratricide-murder incidents are no longer isolated; they reflect a growing systemic threat." It said many attacks stemmed from Afghan grievances related to cultural and other conflicts with U.S. troops.

Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, said the army has tightened its monitoring of soldiers' activities recently and, in some cases, taken action to stop insider attacks.

For example, "a number of soldiers" have been arrested for activity that might suggest a plot, such as providing information on army activities to people outside the military, he said. Some have been dismissed from the Army, but he did not provide figures.

U.S. officials say that in most cases the Afghans who turn their guns on their supposed allies are motivated not by sympathy for the Taliban or on orders from insurgents but rather act as a result of personal grievances against the coalition.

---

Associated Press writer Heidi Vogt in Kabul contributed to this report.



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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Wed 2 May - 9:33



May 2, 4:03 AM EDT


Taliban attack in Afghan capital kills at least 7

By AMIR SHAH and CHRIS BLAKE
Associated Press


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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Taliban insurgents attacked a compound housing foreigners inthe Afghan capital Wednesday, killing seven people, hours after President Barack Obama made a surprise visit and signed a pact governingthe U.S. presence after combat troops withdraw.

The Taliban saidthe attack was a response to Obama's visit, which coincided with Wednesday's anniversary ofthe killing of Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan.

It wasthe second major assault in Kabul in less than three weeks and highlightedthe Taliban'scontinued ability to strike inthe heavily guarded capital even when security had been tightened security forthe high profile events.

Obama arrived at Bagram Air Base late Tuesday,then traveled in to Kabul by helicopter for a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in whichthey signedthe agreement. Later, back atthe base, he was surrounded by U.S. troops, shaking every hand. He ended his lightning visit with a speech broadcast to Americans back home.

The violence began around 6 a.m. in eastern Kabul with a series of explosions and gunfire ringing out fromthe privately guarded compound known as Green Village that houses hundreds of international contractors.

Shooting and blasts shookthe city for hours as militants who had stormed intothe compound held out against security forces, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to releasethe information.

A local witness saidthe attackers were disguised in burqas -the head-to-toe robes worn by conservative Afghan women.

"A vehicle stopped here and six people wearing burqas enteredthe alley carrying black bags intheir hands. Whenthey enteredthe alley,there was an explosion," said Abdul Manan.

At least seven people were killed, according tothe Interior Ministry. It also said 17 were wounded, most Afghan children ontheir way to school.

The area appeared to have calmed down by about 10 a.m. and NATO said allthe attackers had been killed.The gate atthe entrance ofthe Green Village was destroyed, withthe wreckage ofthe suicide bomber's car sitting in front.The road running pastthe compound was littered with shoes, books, school supplies andthe bloody ID card of a student from a nearby school.

The suicide car bomb that exploded near Jalalabad road - one ofthe main thoroughfares out ofthe city - was amongthe first blasts, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said. A station wagon that was driving past was caught up inthe explosion and four people inside were killed, Sediqi said. A passer-by and a Nepalese security guard were also killed, said Kabul Deputy Police Chief Daoud Amin.The seventh death was not identified.

A young man who sawthe explosion saidthe dead pedestrian was one of his fellow classmates.

"I was walking to school when I saw a very big explosion. A car exploded and flames went very high intothe air," said 21-year-old Mohammad Wali. "Then I saw a body of one of my classmates lying onthe street. I knew it was a suicide attack and ran away. I was so afraid."

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility forthe attack.

"This was a message to Obama that those are not real Afghans that are signing documents about this country," Mujahid said. "The real Afghan nation are those people that are not letting foreign invaders stay in this country or disrespectthe dignity of our country."

However, because such complex attacks usually take significant advance planning, it also was possible thatthe Taliban were capitalizing on fortunate timing. Mujahid saidthe target was a "foreign military base."

NATO forces spokesman Capt. Justin Brockhoff said no NATO bases came under attack.

The Green Village complex, with its towering blast walls and heavily armed security force, is very similar in appearance to NATO bases inthe city. An Associated Press reporter atthe scene saw a group of Afghan soldiers enterthe Green Village compound, after which heavy shooting could be heard coming from inside.

Outsidethe complex, men could be seen carrying a wounded man covered with blood, apparently pulled out ofthe flames engulfing a nearby car.

"These people evacuated a man fromthe burning car, two bodies are layingthere now and three or four other victims were evacuated fromthe school," said Ahmad Zia, a resident who sawthe explosion.

Green Village was alsothe target of anti-foreigner protests followingthe burning of Qurans at a U.S. base in February. At that time, violent protests raged outside, butthe angry crowds did not breachthe compound's defenses.

---

Associated Press writers Heidi Vogt and Rahim Faiez contributed to this report.


What will happen when the troops leave.....another Civil War.!!!




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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sat 5 May - 3:07

8:16pm UK, Friday May 04, 2012

Two British soldiers, from The Royal Logistic Corps, have been killed in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has said.
The families of the soldiers, who were serving in Helmand province, have been informed of their deaths.

They were killed in an indirect fire attack on Forward Operating Base Ouellette, in the northern part of Nahr-e Saraj district.

Task Force Helmand spokesman Major Ian Lawrence said: "Sadly, I must report that today that two soldiers from The Royal Logistic Corps attached to 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh Battlegroup were killed in an indirect fire attack on their base.

"The thoughts and condolences of everyone serving in the Combined Force are with their families and friends."

The MoD said that it would be releasing no further details after a request from the soldiers' families.

Their deaths take the number of British service personnel killed in action since the conflict began in 2001 to 372.

The total number of fatalities, including accidents and illnesses, now stands at 412.




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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sun 6 May - 15:56



Afghanistan attacks kill 2 NATO membersFrom Nick Paton Walsh, CNN
May 6, 2012 -- Updated 1316 GMT (2116 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
NEW: An allied servicemember was killed by a man in an Afghan uniform, NATO says
A roaside bomb killed one American and wounded two in the east
ISAF says it was an improvised explosive device attack
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A NATO servicemember was shot to death by a gunman in an Afghan army uniform Sunday in southern Afghanistan, the allied command in Kabul reported.

The attacker was killed by coalition forces who returned fire, NATO's International Security Assistance Force reported. An investigation was under way, ISAF said, and no further details were immediately released.

In a separate attack, a roadside bomb struck a vehicle carrying U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan, killing one American and wounding two, a Western official said. The bombing happened about 10 km (6 miles) south of an outpost in Paktia province, near the Pakistani border, the official said.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force initially reported three deaths from from an improvised explosive device Sunday, but later revised the toll to one. It did not identify the victim or nationality.

More than 1,900 Americans and another 1,000-plus allied troops have died in the 10-year-old conflict to date. The current year has seen a number of attacks on coalition forces by Afghan forces or by insurgents who have disguised themselves as Afghan troops, fueling distrust at a critical period of the conflict.


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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Mon 7 May - 13:07

Army captain 'knocked forward' during Skype chat, wife saysBy the CNN Wire Staff
May 7, 2012 -- Updated 0951 GMT (1751 HKT)
Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark died on May 1 while serving in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, about 85 miles north of Kandahar.STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark died in Afghanistan while Skyping his wife
Susan Orellana-Clark says her husband was "suddenly knocked forward"
She says she spotted a bullet hole in a closet behind her husband
A military official says there are no wounds on the body
(CNN) -- The wife of a U.S. Army captain in Afghanistan watched a live link for two hours of her husband slumped over a computer keyboard with a bullet hole in a closet behind him as she tried to summon help for him, she said.

The account by Susan Orellana-Clark offers new details about what she saw happen some 7,500 miles away, while raising fresh questions as to how he died and why, according to her, it took two hours for anyone to come to his aid.

Orellana-Clark, in a statement released Sunday, recounted the details surrounding the death of her husband, Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark, who died April 30 at Tarin Kowt, about 85 miles (140 kilometers) north of Kandahar.

She said the two were chatting on Skype, and there was no sign that he was in any discomfort, "nor did he indicate any alarm."

"Then CPT Clark was suddenly knocked forward," the statement said. "The closet behind him had a bullet hole in it."

Orellana-Clark said several other people -- one of them a member of the military -- who rushed to her home after she called for help saw the hole in the closet and agreed it was a bullet hole.

"After two hours and many frantic phone calls by Mrs. Clark, two military personnel arrived in the room (in Afghanistan) and appeared to check (Clark's) pulse, but provided no details about his condition to his wife," the statement said.

Orellana-Clark was releasing details "to honor my husband and dispel the inaccurate information and supposition promulgated by other parties."

Two U.S. military officials with knowledge of the investigation conducted in Afghanistan confirmed that it took two hours from the time Clark collapsed while on Skype with his wife to when military personnel responded.

They explained part of the issue was that the wife's request was routed through several commands in the United States before it was relayed to Afghanistan.

Clark was assigned to the William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, but deployed with a medical unit from Fort Hood.

No wounds were found on Clark's body, according to one of the officials, who said the death has been determined to be "non-combat" and suicide has been ruled out as a cause.

An official determination of cause of death is pending autopsy and toxicology results, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is still under investigation.

The official could not reconcile Orellana-Clark's account with the ongoing investigation.

Clarence Davis, a spokesman for the Beaumont Army Medical, said Friday that it had not been determined how Clark died. A call to the medical center Sunday was not immediately returned.

In addition to his wife, Clark is survived by two daughters.

Known by many as Kevin, Clark was a chief nurse in the Army who amassed many honors in his military career, according to his family. Those include an Army Commendation Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and an Army Service Medal.

The longtime resident of Spencerport, New York, joined the Army in September 2006 and served, among other places, at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii, according to a Beaumont Army Medical Center statement. More recently, he was based at that medical facility in southwest Texas and assigned to the Army's A Company, Troop Command.

"He loved being in the military," his sister-in-law Mariana Barry told CNN affiliate WHAM in upstate New York. "He was absolutely willing to make any sacrifice, and it's just horrible that this is the sacrifice he ended up making."

His commander described Clark, 43, as "awesome," "professional" and "a great asset, leader and friend," the family said.

After his death, special operations troops from the United States and Australia lined up to give him his final send-off from Afghanistan.

On Thursday, his casket was wrapped in an American flag as it was transported off a military plane onto the tarmac of Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, according to the U.S. Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operation.

While no dates have been given, the family said that Clark's funeral will be in Spencerport and a memorial service will be held in Addison, Michigan.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all flags at state government buildings be flown at half-staff Monday in Clark's honor, as he's done with other troops from the state who have died in combat zones.


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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sun 13 May - 11:30

A total of 414 members of UK forces have died since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001
11:13am UK, Sunday May 13, 2012

Two British servicemen have been shot dead by members of the Afghan Police Force, the Ministry of Defence has said.
A soldier from 1st Battalion Welsh Guards and an airman from the Royal Air Force were killed yesterday in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Serving as part of part of an advisory team, the two troops were providing security for a meeting with local officials at a patrol base, the MoD said.

Their families have been informed.

The attack was carried out by two people wearing Afghan Police uniforms, an International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) spokesman said.



One is on the run and the other was killed when forces returned fire, the spokesman added.

Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy MP told Sky News' Murnaghan programme: "There's been a real emergence of these kind of attacks by people in what appear to be allied uniforms."

Major Ian Lawrence, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: "Sadly, it is my duty to confirm that a soldier serving with 1st Battalion Welsh Guards and an airman from The Royal Air Force have been shot and killed in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand province.

"The thoughts and condolences of everyone serving in the Task Force are with their families and friends."

Since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001, 374 members of UK forces have been killed in action in Afghanistan - bringing the total to 414 including accidents and illness.

The attack is the 16th incident this year in which Afghan soldiers or insurgents disguised in military uniforms have turned their weapons on foreign troops, according to Nato.




On Friday, a man wearing an Afghan army uniform shot dead a US soldier in eastern Afghanistan.

In March, Sergeant Luke Taylor, of the Royal Marines, and Lance Corporal Michael Foley, of the Adjutant General's Corps were shot dead by an Afghan soldier at the entrance to the UK headquarters in Helmand.

Five British soldiers were killed by a rogue Afghan policeman in November 2009. The gunman opened fire on the men in a military compound in Nad e Ali before fleeing. The Taliban later claimed responsibility.

Isaf has taken several security measures in response to the shootings, including assigning "guardian angels" - soldiers who watch over their comrades as they sleep.

Around 130,000 Coalition troops are fighting alongside some 350,000 Afghan security personnel against the Taliban-led insurgency but they are due to pull out of the country in 2014.

Mr Murphy added that there is "no realistic outlook for delaying the withdrawal".


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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sun 13 May - 22:20

May 13, 2:15 PM EDT


Gunman kills member of Afghan peace council

By DEB RIECHMANN and RAHIM FAIEZ
Associated Press


AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

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Latest News
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Obama signs agreementfor US-Afghan partnership



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Efforts to rebuild Afghanistan

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WIlling to fight, unable to read

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U.S. troops under attack

Marine allegedly faked injuries to get freebies






KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A gunman in a car assassinated aformer high-ranking Taliban official working to end the decade-long war in Afghanistan, dealing a powerfulblow Sunday to the fragile, U.S.-backed effort to bring peace to the country.

Arsala Rahmani, a top member of the Afghan peace council and a senator in Parliament, was killed a week before a key NATO summit and just hours before President Hamid Karzai announced the third stage of a five-part transition that is supposed to put Afghan securityforces in control of their country by the end of 2014.

Police said an assassin with a silencer-equipped pistol shot Rahmani, who was in his 70s, as he was riding in his car in one of the capital's most secure areas, near Kabul University. The gunman fired from a white Toyota Corolla that pulled up alongside Rahmani's vehicle at an intersection. Rahmani's driver rushed him to a hospital, but he died on the way, police said.

Rahmani was aformer deputy minister of higher education in the Taliban regime that was ousted by the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. He eventually reconciled with the government and was trying to set upformal talks with the insurgents.

The killing was another setback to efforts to negotiate a political resolution to the war. In September 2011,former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was head of the peace council, was assassinated in his Kabul home by a suicide bomber posing as a peace emissary from the Taliban.

The Taliban denied responsibilityfor Rahmani's killing, although they had publicly threatened to target peace negotiators and others working with the government.

Agha Jan Motasim, a member of the Taliban leadership council known as the Quetta Shura, condemned Rahmani's assassination.

"He was a good Muslim. He was a nationalist and workedfor an Islamic system in Afghanistan. We respected him," Motasim said from Turkey, where he is recovering from gunshot wounds suffered last year in Pakistan.

The U.S.-led coalition is trying to wind down its involvement in Afghanistan by finding a political resolution to the war and training Afghan securityforces to take the lead in protecting their homeland. But a recent rise in violence has raised concerns about the Afghan government's readiness to assume responsibilityfor the country's security. If the government fails, the Taliban could stage a comeback.

The third and latest phase in the transition to Afghan-led security was announced with fanfare by Afghan officials.

Ashraf Ghani, head of a commission overseeing the transition, said that this stage - which ends with the Afghans taking the lead in areas representing 75 percent of the population of some 34 million - should be complete within six months.

"The third transition will be difficult - we don't want to lie to the Afghan people," Ghani acknowledged last week. But he added that the nation is strongly determined to take control of its own affairs.

Karzai's announcement means that Afghanforces already, or soon will, lead security in all 34 provincial capitals and 260 of Afghanistan's more than 360 districts. When the third phase of transition is complete, nearly a dozen provinces in their entirety will be under Afghan control.

NATO will hold a summit May 20 and 21 in Chicago, where the training, funding and future of the Afghan national securityforces will be a major topic.

"The completion of transition at the end of 2014 will mark the end of NATO's combat role, but not the end of our engagement. NATO is committed to an enduring partnership with Afghanistan and to providing the training which the Afghanforces will still need beyond 2014," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement.

At the summit, "we will take the decisions which will shape that future training mission."

---

Associated Press writers Kathy Gannon, Amir Shah and Patrick Quinn in Kabul contributed to this report.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.


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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Mon 14 May - 12:30

14 May 2012 Last updated at 10:35 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page

A bomb explosion at a market in northern Afghanistan has killed nine people, police say.

An official from a provincial council was among the dead in the Ghormuch district of Faryab province.

A local doctor told the BBC at least 10 people had been injured.

Last month at least 10 people were killed in Faryab when a suicide bomber struck a meeting of officials in the provincial capital.

Attacks in northern Afghanistan are far less common than in the south and east and Faryab province is considered to be relatively peaceful.

The bomb was remotely detonated, police told Reuters news agency.

At the time of the explosion, the market was busy and filled with shoppers.

No group has said it carried out the attack as yet, but Taliban attacks traditionally increase after a winter lull when bad weather restricts the movement of fighters.

On Sunday a Taliban official turned peace negotiator was shot dead in Kabul, dealing a blow to President Hamid Karzai's hopes of reconciliation moves with Taliban fighters.

Nato forces are set to hand over responsibility for security to Afghans by 2014.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Thu 17 May - 16:00

Afghan attack: Seven killed in Farah compound raid Continue reading the main story
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At least six policemen and a civilian have been killed and 13 wounded in a suicide attack on a governor's compound in western Afghanistan, police say.

Four attackers were killed in the assault in Farah province - one blew himself up at the gate and the others fought their way inside the compound.

They were shot dead after a gun battle lasting nearly an hour.

Government offices are frequently targeted by the Taliban. Farah is a strategic province bordering Iran.

The insurgents were armed with rocket propelled grenades, hand grenades and small arms, intelligence and police officials told the BBC.

Farah Deputy Governor Mohammad Yunos Rasuli said that the attackers wore police uniform and that he killed two of them before he was himself wounded by gunfire.

"I emboldened the police and others till the last breath. I killed two of them and rescued myself, His Excellency the governor and some 10 to 12 elders and officials. I and my son were hit by bullets. God saved us," he told Afghanistan's Channel One TV.

Mr Rasuli warned that the number of casualties may rise.

"They did not show mercy and shot everyone who came across - the office caretaker, a cleaner and others," he said.

Among the 13 injured were five civilians including two women, a one-year-old child and two elderly people, the chief doctor at Farah hospital told the BBC.

Last month two Taliban fighters smuggled themselves into the governor's compound in Kandahar, sparking a 30-minute gun battle in which both were killed.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sat 19 May - 1:07

May 18, 7:06 PM EDT


France's Hollande sticking to early Afghan pullout

By BEN FELLER and JAMEY KEATEN
Associated Press







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WASHINGTON (AP) -- In his first visit to the Oval Office, French President Francois Hollande declared he will withdraw all French combat troops from Afghanistan by year's end, making clear to President Barack Obama the timeline for ending the U.S.-led war will not trump a campaign pledge that helped Hollande gain his new job.

Obama nodded along on Friday, knowing what was coming, but did not otherwise directly respond. Heading into a NATO summit on the course of the war and beyond, the White House has sought to emphasize the war coalition will remain firm even as nations pull back. And Hollande assured Obama that France was not out to cut and run.

"We will continue to support Afghanistan in a different way. Our support will take a different format," Hollande said. "I'm pretty sure I will find the right means so that our allies can continue with their mission and at the same time I can comply to the promise I made to the French people."

France's declaration has significance far beyond its borders. Hollande's move means France, one of the top contributors of troops to the war, will be removing the combat forces a full two years before the timeline agreed to by allies in the coalition. That could shift more of the burden to those allies and give them reason to hasten their own exit.

Hollande later told reporters that some "residual" number of France's current 3,300 troops will remain in Afghanistan after this year to provide training and to bring home equipment. But he alluded to the reaction that France's fast-track withdrawal may get from its NATO allies when they gather in Chicago Sunday and Monday.

"Our decision will be taken," he said. "I can't tell you that it will be applauded, but it will be taken."

The United States and its allies plan to end the combat mission in Afghanistan at the end 2014. Afghanistan will move into the combat lead in 2013. The United States has about 90,000 troops in Afghanistan, far more than any partner nation, and is on pace to shrink that number to 68,000 by the end of September.

Obama and Hollande had never met, and their first interactions were closely watched given both the historic importance of the U.S-France relationship and the crises of war and economic strife confronting both leaders.

The mild-mannered Hollande, who has little international experience, ousted the more brash Nicolas Sarkozy and was sworn into office just days ago.

Now, in a hurry, Obama and Hollande will begin shaping a relationship that could prove one of the U.S. president's most important ones should he win a second term. Beyond their White House talks, Obama and Hollande are meeting at the G-8 summit Friday and Saturday in Maryland before shifting to the NATO conference in Obama's home town.

On the economy, Hollande and Obama both underscored that they want Europe to embrace a new approach to its debt crisis: more growth, less budget cutting. Obama's administration sees such a balanced approach as essential to stabilizing the eurozone and preventing its economic chaos, particularly in Greece, from spilling more broadly.

"President Hollande and I agree that this is an issue of extraordinary importance, not only to the people of Europe but also to the world economy," Obama said. He said managing the fiscal crisis in Europe must be coupled with a "strong growth agenda."

Hollande, elected May 6, is insisting on rethinking a European austerity treaty. But he also is trying to convince Obama and other leaders at the Group of Eight economic summit that his position will not worsen the debt crisis.

The French president also spoke for himself and Obama in sending a message to Greece, where fears remain that the debt-riddled country may have to abandon the 17-member currency union, which could jolt the global economy. Greece is set to hold elections on June 17 to end a political deadlock.

"We share the same views - Greece must stay in the eurozone," Hollande said. Ahead of the election, he said, both he and Obama "wanted to send a message to that effect to the Greek people."

Hollande is trying to defend France's interests while building a relationship with Obama, widely popular in France but seen by some in Hollande's camp as too friendly with the recently ousted president, the conservative Sarkozy.

Obama and Hollande traded some light-hearted thoughts about presidential life and American fast food. Both offered expected assurances of their alliance.

"France is an independent country and cares about its independence," Hollande said, "but in old friendship with the United States of America."

Hollande also met later with British Prime Minister David Cameron for the first time before addressing French expatriates at the French Embassy - where he suggested that Obama's looming election race made the American leader more accessible on Hollande's push for more growth-friendly policies.

He also hinted of his support for Obama in the election this fall.

"I think that we will begin a cooperation and partnership with President Obama that - I hope for him, and for us - will last a long time," Hollande said.

On the war, a senior U.S. official said the early combat exits of Dutch and Australian troops are the model for a probable agreement with France. In those cases trainers or other support forces are supplanting front-line combat forces. Such an agreement is likely to emerge from NATO discussions this weekend, the official said.

Polls show most French, and many other Europeans, want their countries out of Afghanistan, as do most Americans. Sensing the political winds, Sarkozy had prepared to break with NATO's in-together, out-together mindset and announced during the campaign that he'd pull out combat troops by the end of 2013, a year early.

Hollande, vying for election, promised to withdraw them even one year before that.

---

Associated Press writers Anne Gearan in Washington and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.

---


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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sun 20 May - 6:35

6:07am UK, Sunday May 20, 2012

Greg Milam, US correspondent

Prime Minister David Cameron will join fellow Nato leaders at a summit in Chicago as they try to negotiate an endgame for Western forces in Afghanistan.
But just like discussions at the G8 summit in Camp David, financial constraints are likely to dominate the search for answers.

US President Barack Obama is hosting more than 60 heads of state in his home city but expectations for the summit have been steadily receding in recent weeks.

Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to join a march through the city as the summit gets under way. A massive police operation is in place and much of Chicago will be locked down.

Three people have been charged with terrorism-related offences after police said they were planning to attack police stations and Obama's re-election campaign HQ.

The decade-old conflict in Afghanistan will be top of agenda at summit itself.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Pakistani president Asif Zardari are among those who have been invited as leaders try to plot Nato's exit.



Tens of thousands of protesters are in Chicago for the summit

The leaders hope to craft a timetable for handing over combat operations to Afghan forces by the middle of next year with all Nato troops out by the end of 2014.

But who pays the bill for those Afghan forces remains contentious with the US unwilling to shoulder all of the estimated $4.1bn a year.

Leaders are hoping for commitments to cover the 10 years of the strategic long-term partnership Mr Obama signed with the Afghan president earlier this month.

But former presidential candidate John McCain has told Sky News he has doubts about the viability of that deal.

He said: "I hope they can implement it correctly and I'm more optimistic than I've been in the past.

"I just wish the president would stop emphasising withdrawal and emphasise the importance of the strategic partnership."

He said the Taliban view of the US pullout plan is that "you have the watches, we have the time".

The alliance is unlikely to offer any solutions to the crisis in Syria during the summit but is likely to discuss the impact of budget cuts on defence capability.

Ivo Daalder, the US ambassador to Nato, has said the mission in Libya "only accentuated" the growing gap in capabilities between the US and its European partners, who actually ran short of precision-guided munitions at one point.

Mr Daalder said the US provided 75% of all intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets and flew 75% of aerial refueling missions in the Libya operation.It also provided the bulk of the officers who co-ordinated the targeting.

The summit follows the meeting of G8 leaders in Camp David in Maryland which focused on containing the impact of the euro zone financial crisis.



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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sun 20 May - 13:44

19 May 2012 Last updated at 14:24 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page


A suicide bomber has killed at least 10 people, a number of them children, at a checkpoint in the eastern Afghan province of Khost, officials say.

Police were checking vehicles when a man walked up and detonated a suicide vest, they said.

Police officers are also thought to be among the dead.

Afghanistan's eastern provinces, some of which border Pakistan's restive tribal areas, have seen an increase in militant attacks in the past year.

"The aim of the attacker was to target both police and civilians," provincial police chief Gen Sardar Mohammad Zazia told the Associated Press news agency.

"Unfortunately, the majority of the victims are civilian," he said.

'Criminal behaviour'

No group has said it carried out the attack, but Taliban militants frequently target police checkpoints.

The attack comes a day before a Nato summit in Chicago that will discuss Afghanistan's security transition, as local forces prepare to take over from foreign troops by the end of 2014.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's main human rights organisation says that local police in some areas are making things worse rather than better.

A report by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission alleges criminal behaviour by local police - an armed force introduced to support the regular police - including rape, murder and robbery.

Supporters see them as a key element in the transfer of security from international forces to Afghans. An interior ministry spokesman rejected the allegations but said it would investigate.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Mon 21 May - 1:14

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
11:46pm UK, Sunday May 20, 2012

President Hamid Karzai has said he hopes the transition out of war in Afghanistan will mean his country is "no longer a burden" on the international community.
After talks with US President Barack Obama at a Nato summit in Chicago, Mr Karzai said Afghanistan is "looking forward to an end to this war".

Nato is planning to handover to Afghan security forces the lead in operations against the Taliban in 2013, before a complete departure of combat forces in 2014.

Mr Karzai said it was important to complete the security transition and withdrawal of foreign combat troops so Afghanistan will be "no longer a burden on the shoulders of our friends in the international community, on the shoulders of the United States and our other allies".

Mr Obama said the world was behind Mr Karzai's strategy, adding that Afghans "desperately want peace and security", but warned there would be days of "hardship" ahead.



Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai at the Nato summit

Despite France saying it would pull out its troops earlier than planned from Afghanistan, Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said there would be "no rush for the exits".

He added: "We will stay committed to our operation in Afghanistan and see it through to a successful end. Our goal, our strategy, our timetable remains unchanged."

But France has shaken up the carefully crafted withdrawal plan with new Socialist President Francois Hollande saying that he plans to pullout French troops by late 2012, a year earlier than planned.

:: Read more: Obama's orders to G8 'Sherpas'

More than 60 world leaders at the defence alliance summit are trying to negotiate an endgame for Western forces in Afghanistan and discuss its post-war future, including security and upcoming elections.

But just like discussions at the G8 summit in Camp David, financial constraints are likely to dominate the search for answers.

Who pays the bill for the Afghan forces who will take over remains contentious with the US unwilling to shoulder all of the estimated $4.1bn a year.



Tens of thousands of protesters are in Chicago for the summit

Leaders are hoping for commitments to cover the 10 years of the strategic long-term partnership Mr Obama signed with the Afghan President earlier this month.

But former presidential candidate John McCain told Sky News he has doubts about the viability of that deal.

"I hope they can implement it correctly and I'm more optimistic than I've been in the past," he said.

"I just wish the president would stop emphasising withdrawal and emphasise the importance of the strategic partnership."

He said the Taliban view of the US pullout plan is that "you have the watches, we have the time".

The alliance is unlikely to offer any solutions to the crisis in Syria during the summit but is likely to discuss the impact of budget cuts on defence capability.

Ivo Daalder, the US ambassador to Nato, has said the mission in Libya "only accentuated" the growing gap in capabilities between the US and its European partners, who actually ran short of precision-guided munitions at one point.

Mr Daalder said the US provided 75% of all intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets and flew 75% of aerial refueling missions in the Libya operation.It also provided the bulk of the officers who co-ordinated the targeting.

The two-day summit follows the meeting of G8 leaders in Camp David in Maryland which focused on containing the impact of the eurozone financial crisis.



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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

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