Reply Thu 8 Mar, 2007 07:00 pm

Matters have been made more complicated by the theft of more than 7,000 telephone lines in South Waziristan several weeks ago, he says, which is making communication with the area all the harder.

apparently the stealing of telephone wires is also a great "sport" in iraq .
the copperwires bring good money to the poor .

0 Replies
Reply Fri 9 Mar, 2007 09:31 am
it seems that a trip to las vegas some years ago has given the afghan anti-corruption chief plenty of training for his job Laughing Exclamation

the las vegas sun reports :

March 08, 2007

AP IMPACT: Afghan anti-corruption chief is a convicted heroin trafficker

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - When the deal went down in Las Vegas, the seller was introduced only as "Mr. E." In a room at Caesars Palace hotel, Mr. E exchanged a pound-and-a-half bag of heroin for $65,000 cash - unaware that the buyer was an undercover detective. The sting landed him in Nevada state prison for nearly four years.

Twenty years later and Mr. E, whose real name is Izzatullah Wasifi, has a new job. He is the government of Afghanistan's anti-corruption chief.

Wasifi leads a staff of 84 people charged with rooting out the endemic graft that is fueled in part by the country's position as the world's largest producer of opium poppy, the raw ingredient of heroin.

President Hamid Karzai's office won't say if he knew about the drug conviction when Wasifi was appointed two months ago as general-director of the General Independent Administration of Anti-Corruption and Bribery. Wasifi, a childhood friend of Karzai, is the son of a prominent Afghan nationalist leader.

link to complete article :
0 Replies
Reply Wed 14 Mar, 2007 05:50 pm
if you are a reporter in afghanistan , better not count on "freedom of the press" but learn how to behave or else !

Media dragged into Afghan conflict
By Alastair Leithead

BBC Kabul correspondent

Propaganda has always played an important part in war, but in Afghanistan the battles between Nato forces and the Taleban are being fought not just in the deserts and valleys but in the media.

When the war is about hearts and minds, winning public opinion is the be-all and end-all, and there's quite a temptation to interfere in a country with a now thriving media.
A local journalist from Tolo TV was arrested and held by Afghan authorities for about 36 hours without charge, for talking to a Taleban spokesman who would ring in every day with his version of events - something which happens in most organisations, including the BBC.

Last summer, a document was circulated to journalists by intelligence officers, and they were urged to sign up to an order banning criticism of the Nato mission, or of representing the Afghan armed forces as "weak", leading news bulletins with "terrorist activities" or filming or interviewing "terrorist commanders".
The proposed rules and regulations came to nothing, but there was fear among the Afghan media that this was a glimpse of what was to come.

"One of the greatest achievements of this post-Taleban era has been a free press and I fear that is now in danger," said Saad Mahseni from the Afghan Moby Media Group.

A new media law is being discussed in parliament which he fears may contain loopholes that could restrict broadcasters and newspapers.

This week the Taleban's former spokesman, known as Dr Mohammad Hanif, spoke on television after his arrest by Afghan intelligence officials.

Professing not to be under duress, he explained how he was told to inflate Taleban figures on deaths and injuries to Nato, coalition and Afghan forces, but that is something well known by journalists.

For the Taleban to use these tactics is perhaps expected from an insurgency using information, intimidation and guerrilla warfare, often from civilian areas, to take on the world's most sophisticated armies.

Last Sunday, a suicide bomber struck an American convoy close to the eastern city of Jalalabad. The American soldiers opened fire in the aftermath killing at least eight Afghans and injuring 34.
Questions have been raised over the Americans' insistence that they were ambushed after the bomb blast and were merely returning fire.

Two freelance journalists from the Associated Press news agency were on the scene within half an hour and they filmed and photographed a civilian car, 100m from the bomb attack, where three Afghans were killed.

They were ordered by an American soldier to delete the footage from their cameras, which they did.

The US military has said this was justified, claiming it could have compromised a military investigation and led to the public jumping to the wrong conclusion about what happened.

"Investigative integrity is one circumstance when civil and military authorities will reluctantly exercise the right to control what a journalist is permitted to document," said Colonel Victor Petrenko, chief of staff to the top US commander in eastern Afghanistan, in a letter to AP.

He added that images taken by "untrained people" might "capture visual details that are not as they originally were".


In disputing this, AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll in New York said: "That is not a reasonable justification for erasing images from our cameras.

" If they say they support democracy and freedom they should not be so strict about it in Afghanistan - it goes against the American constitution "
Jean Chung
Photographer for US agency

"AP's journalists in Afghanistan are trained, accredited professionals... in democratic societies, legitimate journalists are allowed to work without having their equipment seized and their images deleted."

A photographer in Kabul for the New York agency World Picture News, Jean Chung, also said her photograph of a gate at the US Bagram Airbase which was targeted by a suicide bomber while Dick Cheney was in Afghanistan, had been forcibly removed from her camera.

"They grabbed my lens and threatened to destroy my camera," she said.

"If they say they support democracy and freedom they should not be so strict about it in Afghanistan - it goes against the American constitution. I feel they are trying to cover up a lot of things."

Civilian casualties are a problem for the international forces as the incidents and the way they are reported will make a difference to the way they are perceived by the Afghan population.

For journalists, it is becoming increasingly difficult to establish exactly what happened in some of the more violent parts of the country - where being on the ground is almost impossible.

An Italian journalist is still being held along with his two Afghan translators and there have been threats levelled at locals from the Taleban, and as the violence increases, as expected, this is only going to get worse.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/03/11 11:36:06 GMT
0 Replies
Reply Thu 22 Mar, 2007 09:35 am
a tough choice for the pakistani government - support al-qaida or the taleban ?


Fighting Intensifies in Pakistan's Tribal Border Area
By Benjamin Sand
22 March 2007

Pakistani officials say at least 135 people have been killed after four days of sometimes intense fighting between local and foreign militants in the country's remote tribal region. From Islamabad, VOA correspondent Benjamin Sand reports the four-day battle shows no sign of easing.

Fighting erupted Monday between local tribesmen and several hundred Central Asian militants.

Pakistani authorities say most of the casualties are Uzbek nationalists who may be linked to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.

Local residents say the fighting started after tribesmen tried to force the Uzbek militants out of Waziristan.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Wahid Arshad says the conflict is, at least in part, the result of a government push to enlist local support in the fight against foreign extremists operating inside Pakistan.

"The tribes are part of the government's effort. They have an agreement with the government and they (the tribes) are the ones who are fighting them, the foreign militants and their supporters," Arshad said.

The government signed a series of controversial peace agreements with local tribesmen who have promised to get rid of foreign militants in exchange for a freer hand in local affairs.

Hundreds of Arab and Central Asian militants entered the region from neighboring Afghanistan in 2001 after U.S. forces ousted the hard-line Islamist Taleban regime.

U.S. and Afghan officials say the militants, including hundreds of Uzbek nationalists, established a series of bases in both North and South Waziristan.

But government critics say the current fighting is not necessarily a sign of progress.

Retired General Talat Masood says the violence is more of an internal power struggle between rival militant factions.

On one side, he says, there are the foreign extremists with ties to al-Qaida. On the other are the local tribes, many of whom still support the Taleban and remain deeply opposed to Pakistan's central government.

He says neither side is inclined toward supporting Islamabad and neither side is likely to help improve regional security.

0 Replies
Reply Mon 26 Mar, 2007 12:18 pm
being a police officer in afghanistan and hunting down suspected killers is not being looked upon favourably by the terrorists as more and more of the afganis are finding out .
i think it will becoma more and more difficult to convince the police to enforce the law of the land - if anyone even knows what the law is !

the CBC reports from afghanistan :

source :
0 Replies
Reply Sun 8 Apr, 2007 07:12 pm
on the day to mark the 90th anniversary of the World War I Battle of Vimy Ridge another six canadian soldiers die in afghanistan .

Nato troops killed in Afghanistan

Fifty-one Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan so far
Six Canadian soldiers serving with the Nato-led force in south Afghanistan have been killed, while another Nato soldier died in a separate incident.
The Canadians were killed when the vehicle they were travelling in hit an explosive device, Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said.

"Our hearts ache for them and their families," said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

It is the worst single incident for the Nato-led force since 2005.

'Dangerous terrain'

Mr Harper confirmed the deaths in the town of Verlinghem, France, while on a visit to mark the 90th anniversary of the World War I Battle of Vimy Ridge.

"Sadly, today has been a difficult day in Afghanistan. We have learned that an incident has claimed the lives of six Canadian soldiers and injured a number of others," he said.

"I know that as we gather here on Easter Sunday our hearts and prayers are with them."

At least one soldier was also injured in the explosion.

Addressing a group of veterans, Mr Harper drew parallels with WWI and the challenges faced by troops in Afghanistan today.

"For these men and women, the terrain of Kandahar province looks as desolate and dangerous as Flanders field did 90 years ago," he said.

Worst year

Elsewhere in southern Afghanistan, another roadside blast killed one Nato soldier and wounded two others earlier in the day, Nato said.

It did not released the nationality of those soldiers.

An Isaf spokeswoman told the BBC there had been no civilian casualties in the blast that killed the Canadians and that all signs pointed to the Taleban.

"Certainly it lends itself to the type of tactic that Taleban extremists use," Lt Col Angela Billings said.

"Because they cannot beat us conventionally or tactically, they resort to this type of tactic in order to hide in the shadows."

Canadian and British troops make up most of the Isaf forces in the south.

The Taleban are maintaining strong opposition to Nato, particularly in the south and east.

Last year saw the worst fighting in Afghanistan since coalition troops ousted the Taleban in 2001 with some 4,000 people believed to have been killed - about a quarter of them civilians.

Helmand has been the focus of a recent operation by Isaf troops against militants.

About 100 insurgents have been killed in it so far, officials say.

just having finished reading "the places in between" , rory stewart's account of walking (not driving !) through afghanistan in 2002 , gives me a better appreciation of afghanistan .
stewart states that trying to impose western values on the afghanis in a short period of time is doomed to fail .
these are people/tribes that have lived in isolation for centuries . in many cases people have never visited the next village which might only be 10 or 20 miles away , and here are the western powers trying to impose "democracy" - in a hurry !
he thinks that the "old" colonial administrators had a better appreciation of tribal life than today's administrators . he said , that they had to learn how to get along with tribal leaders and were not able to call on helicopters to lift them out if they were in danger .

stewart also wrote : "the prince of marshes" about his experiences as an interim administrator in the early part of the iraqi occupation - a truly superb book imo .


from the review :

stewart in now involved in the "TURQUOISE MOUNTAIN FOUNDATION "
which is trying to rebuild a traditional afghan society .

link :
0 Replies
Reply Sun 22 Apr, 2007 02:06 pm
while afghanistan may be considered less important than iraq , there is nevertheless a considerable amout of trouble and violence - and it is rising again .
canada's defence minister announced recently that canada will be buying "mothballed" leopard tanks from the dutch . it is hoped that the tanks will provide a measure of protection against IED's .
(canada bought some "gently used" submarines from the british navy about two years ago . one promptly refused to surface and untold amounts of money are being spent to re-furbish the subs ! A SMART BUY ! Crying or Very sad )
the defence minister also dropped "hints" that canada should be preppared to stay for another 15 to 20 years in afghanistan .
my suggestion would be to declare afghanistan a canadian province - might make an ideal holiday spot !


Double bombings rock Afghan town

At least six people have been killed and several wounded after two explosions hit the town of Khost in eastern Afghanistan, local police say.
The first blast, which occurred in a shop in the town's busy market, killed two people, police reported.

The second explosion, this time the work of a suicide bomber, killed two people and injured two police.

Khost, which is near the border with Pakistan and an area of Taleban activity, has seen frequent violence.

Rise in violence

Khost province borders the Pakistani tribally-administered area of North Waziristan, where a peace deal signed with militants and tribal elders last year saw the Pakistani army pull out.

US forces say the deal has led to an increase in violence on the Afghan side of the border.
Bloodshed in Afghanistan last year returned to levels not seen since the fall of the Taleban in 2001, with the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, and Khost and other areas in the east of the country particularly hard-hit.

Analysts say the bombings are the Taleban's response to being squeezed by the build-up of foreign troops in the south and east and they are very difficult to prevent.

Some 4,000 people are believed to have died in 2006 in the insurgency - about a quarter of them civilians.

And experts are now predicting an increase in fighting with the end of winter.

source :
0 Replies
Reply Sun 22 Apr, 2007 04:09 pm
hamburger wrote:
the defence minister also dropped "hints" that canada should be preppared to stay for another 15 to 20 years in afghanistan .
my suggestion would be to declare afghanistan a canadian province - might make an ideal holiday spot !
Great idea! It would be an awesome place to go spelunking!
0 Replies
Reply Sun 22 Apr, 2007 05:42 pm
0 Replies
Reply Sun 22 Apr, 2007 08:36 pm
it's already monday , april 23 in pakistan and the pakistani newspapers(no doubt the government !) are not happy being accused by the afghan president of allowing insurgents to cross from pakistan into afghanistan !
they call it KABUL PROVACATION !
and the western nations seem to be determined to stand in between them and become targets of both sides - a smart move imo !


Kabul provocation

The barbed-wire fence Pakistan is erecting may not be the best solution to the problem of terrorists infiltrating from one side of the Afghan frontier to the other. But the 35-kilometre-long barrier is at least worth a try. In any case it couldn't be so objectionable that Afghan forces should attack it and tear down the stretch constructed so far. An exchange of fire was bound to follow; thank goodness that this highly irresponsible Afghan action didn't produce casualties on either side. If it had, and given the taut situation on the frontier it's almost a miracle that clash was confined, the responsibility would have bee squarely with the government of President Hamid Karzai. The Pakistani version of the event is that there was unprovoked firing by the Afghan forces. Predictably, the Afghan Defence Ministry contradicted this, saying Pakistani forces had fired first. But its statement did admit that "the Afghan army moved to the area and removed the fence [and] Pakistani troops fired on our forces." Afghan forces reached there first, on Tuesday, and the Pakistanis immediately stopped the ongoing work on the fence and withdrew, it said. But then, "taking advantage of the darkness of the night," they resumed the construction overnight and this led to the clash on Thursday. In other words, even if the Pakistanis initiated the firing, as the Afghan ministry says they did, they were acting in reaction to a provocative move. The statement didn't concede that in stopping the work at the approach of the Afghan troops they had displayed remarkable responsibility.

The Afghan side is as much entitled to its version of events as the Pakistani side. But that version would have far lower credibility because of the very fact that Kabul has been unreasonably hostile to the fence ever since President Pervez Musharraf formally announced the plan for it early this year. At the end of December the Foreign Office had already said the Pakistan would both fence and mine the stretches of the frontier that are more vulnerable to infiltration. It remains to be seen how useful the barrier is going to be, but this could be known only if the Afghans were more patient with it. As for that tripartite commission composed of officials of Pakistani-NATO-Afghan forces to which Pakistan reported the provocation, it's of no use if the NATO officials cannot convince their Afghan counterparts of the grave dangers of confrontation.

source :
0 Replies
Reply Mon 23 Apr, 2007 12:46 pm
as the BBC reports , if you want to be a reporter in afghanistan you better be prepared for a beating and arrest by the police if you choose to report news unfavourable to the government .
those reporters better learn how to behave themselves ... or else !

Row over Afghan TV station raid
Staff at an Afghan television station in the capital, Kabul, have protested against a raid by armed police who allegedly assaulted workers there.
Dozens of journalists and members of parliament demonstrated outside parliament against the raid.

They accused President Hamid Karzai of smothering freedom of speech during Tuesday's raid at Tolo TV.

MP and former journalist Shukria Barakzai accused the authorities of having no respect for the law.


"It's a small example for journalists in Afghanistan. We face lots of violence," she told the rally outside parliament.

Staff at Tolo say that about 50 armed police entered its offices, assaulted staff and arrested three people who were taken to the attorney general's office.

He had complained earlier about an item broadcast in one of the station's news programmes which he said misrepresented a speech he made in parliament.

The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists described the raid as an "over-reaction", and an indication that Kabul was moving quickly away from its pledge of press freedom.

The BBC's Pam O'Toole says that the raid also says a lot about the difficult relationship between the government and media in Afghanistan.

Our correspondent says that Tolo is regarded as one of the stations trying to test the boundaries of what is acceptable broadcasting.

Afghanistan has hundreds of newspapers and magazines, more than 50 FM radio stations and a number of private TV stations.

But journalists' associations accuse the government of trying to restrict press freedom.

They say journalists across the country have been arrested, beaten, intimidated and threatened by government officials, local powerbrokers, or Taleban-led insurgents.

'Irresponsible reporting'

"The police beat us with the butts of AK-47s, with the barrels of AK-47s, and they punched us and kicked us before we were arrested," said Tolo journalist Siddiq Ahmadzada.

Last year there was a major row after national media organisations publicised what they said was a list of regulations given to them by the intelligence service aimed at restricting what they could report.

The government later denied producing any such regulations.

Government officials have accused some media outlets of inaccurate or irresponsible reporting in a country where the free press is still in its infancy and libel laws are not well enforced.

0 Replies
Reply Mon 23 Apr, 2007 07:46 pm
How the Taliban Defeated the Pakistani Army in Waziristan

Pakistan's army suffered losses of 700 killed in its unsuccessful effort to push Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan out of their tribal sanctuaries in Pakistan, an Islamabad-based journalist reports. That defeat may explain Islamabad's reluctance to resume the struggle.

"With every incursion, civilian death and displacement, the Pakistan Taliban grew stronger," writes Graham Usher in the April 16 issue of The Nation magazine, published in New York. The Taliban "defended villages, ambushed army patrols, killed pro-government elders and imposed their own brand of Islamic' law and order. "

"When the army sued for peace with pro-Taliban tribesmen in the Waziristans in 2005 and 2006, it was not because of a new holistic' strategy for the tribal areas, as sold by (Pervez) Musharraf to Washington," Usher said. "It was because of the army's military and political defeat."

In 56 years of independence, Pakistani soldiers had never set foot in the Waziristans, "part of the trade-off for keeping the tribes loyal," Usher said, and when they did the numbers of civilians killed and displaced were in the thousands.

Malik Qadir Khan, a tribal leader in North Waziristan explained, "Everyone supported the Taliban when the army came in. It was a people's revolt. Pakistan had broken its promise, and that's a big thing in the tribal areas. You don't break your promise."

Although U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney's advice to Musharraf has been to "go after them," journalist Rahimullah Yousafzai, an expert on the tribal areas believes, "every use of force is a victory for the militants." Yousafzai said the answer "must involve a strategy that provides education and jobs for thousands of impoverished and unemployed youth, who are ready recruits for the Taliban."

The tensions in the tribal regions will not lessen until Pakistan has a civilian government, historian Ahmed Rashid told Usher. "Only a civilian government can bring reform. You cannot have free elections in the tribal areas when there are no free elections in Pakistan," Rashid said.

Currently, the Pakistan Taliban are the de facto rulers of the areas vacated by the Pakistan Army. In Miramshah, capital of North Waziristan, it is not the elders or police who govern, Usher writes, "It is the mullahs and young men with black shaggy hair and rifles slung over their shoulders."

Usher said the U.S. "will not tolerate" the standoff and the public response to the retaliatory Pakistani bombings in Bajaur tribal area and South Waziristan has been "ferocious." Locals claimed the attacks, which killed seminary students and woodcutters, were not executed by Pakistani army helicopters but by U.S. Predator drones flown in from Afghanistan.

Suicide bomber responses to the aerial attacks since then mean the Taliban is saying, according to retired army general Talat Masood, "If you come after us in the name of America's war in the tribal areas, we will come after you all over Pakistan."

Two week before the upheavals began last March 9th in Islamabad when Musharraf suspended Pakistan's Chief Justice, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, Cheney flew into Islamabad to deliver a "tough message" to Musharraf, namely he was upset by peace agreements Musharraf signed with pro-Taliban tribesmen along Pakistan's border areas with Afghanistan, Usher wrote. "Bloodied by Iraq, the Bush Administration has realized that Afghanistan could tip the same way." Since 9/11, Pakistan has received $10-billion in direct U.S. aid and as much again in covert aid, "most of it military," The Nation article says.

The "crisis" Pakistan's President-General Musharraf faces today, Usher writes, is the worst since he took power in his Oct., 1999 coup, and the situation in the tribal regions will not improve until democratic elections are held.

Critics of Musharraf have taken to the streets not only to defend an independent judiciary. "They want Musharraf to stand down, exiled civilian leaders like Benazir Bhutto to come home and free and fair elections to be held so that Pakistan can once again be a democracy," Usher writes. This would mean "an end to policies based on military might, political abdication and panicked American dictates" but "so far no U.S. government official has called for a return to civilian rule in Pakistan."

Sherwood Ross is an American writer who covers political and military subjects.

0 Replies
Reply Wed 25 Apr, 2007 05:08 pm
i posted earlier that canadian forces in afghanistan have been quite clear that they think it is wrong for them to interfere with the poppy cultivation.
the U.N. office on drugs and crime seems to be rather unhappy about that .
from what i have read the united nations has not been able to give the poppy farmers an alternate source of income . it seems ridiculous to me - and certainly the canadian soldiers serving in afghanistan - to deprieve the farmers of their only source of income - and essentially to condemn them to starvation .
a ridiculous policy by the united nations imo .

Nato criticised for Afghan advert
By Alastair Leithead
BBC News, Kabul

Nato forces in Afghanistan have been criticised for paid adverts on a radio station implying it is acceptable for farmers to grow opium poppies.
The crop, which is the raw material of heroin, is expected to be grown at record levels again this year.

Criticism over the adverts came from both the UN and the Afghan government.

The UN last month said that although production of opium poppies had fallen in the north and centre, a sharp rise was likely in the lawless south.

'Major priority'

The controversial announcement, paid for by Nato forces, appeared on a local radio station in Helmand province.

It told farmers growing opium poppies that their fields would not be destroyed by Nato or the Afghan National Army.

It appeared to imply that it was alright to grow the illegal crop.

The advertisement said troops from the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) understood that most Afghan people had no other source of income and troops are there not to eradicate opium poppies but to bring security and kill foreign militants.

The majority of heroin in Europe comes from Afghanistan and reducing opium poppy production is a major priority for the Afghan government and the international community.

But the military has distanced itself from eradication efforts as angry farmers who have lost their livelihoods would be more likely to join the Taleban insurgency.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime representative in Kabul, Christina Oguz, said that such a policy was sending mixed messages to farmers


"Isn't it a kind of a dubious message? There is this very strong link between insurgents and drug traffickers," she said.

"I'm afraid that the farmers can be confused at that and believe that everybody's leading the drugs side which is not a good message."

The Afghan government said it had not been aware of the advertisement, but Nato had apologised for putting it on a local radio station.

But an Isaf spokesman said it was not a new policy, as the force is in Afghanistan to provide security.

He said that issues relating to poppies are the responsibility of the Afghan government.

source :
0 Replies
Reply Sat 5 May, 2007 07:13 pm
no , not really .
the canadian troops chase the taliban who decide to cross into pakistan . the canadian troops - of course - have to respect the border and retreat , and go on to another mission .
the canadians having disappeared , the taliban decide to cross back from pakistan to afghanistan ... the canadians start to chase them again ... well , you know the rest .

the taliban are patient people . they don't have much to do anyway . so they wait , plant some landmines and IED's , disappear into the village population .

they are in no hurry , never were ... they know allah is on their side .


0 Replies
Reply Wed 9 May, 2007 08:30 am
is that the way to "win the hearts and minds " of the afghans ?
apparently the western allies (NATO) haven't learned much ; they still seem to think bombing afghan civilians and saying "sorry" afterwards is going to make friends in afghanistan .
despite all the official protestations about helping the ordinary afghans ,
those living and working with afghans in villages and small settlements are painting a different picture .
one should not be surprised if the NATO troops will face the same hostility that the soviets faced .
trying to rely on a local government riddled by corruption isn't going to do much to bring peace to afghanistan or make friends out of enemies imo .


Air raid kills 21 civilians in Afghanistan: governor
Wed May 9, 2007 7:16AM EDT
By Ismail Sameem

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - An air strike by Western forces killed 21 civilians, including women and children, in Afghanistan, a provincial governor said on Wednesday, the latest in a string of civilian casualties that has riled Afghans.

The incident, which brings to nearly 90 the number of civilian deaths blamed by Afghan officials on Western troops in the past two weeks, comes as President Hamid Karzai faces rising pressure to halt the bloodshed and find a way to start peace talks with Taliban insurgents.

The air strike on Tuesday night hit houses in a village in the Sangin district of southern Helmand province, where Western forces have been hunting Taliban militants in recent weeks, Helmand governor Assadullah Wafa told Reuters.

"Last night, NATO forces carried out an operation in Sangin and as a result of its bombing, 21 civilians, including women and children and men, have been killed," he said.

NATO said its security force had not been active in that area on Tuesday but Wafa may have referring to a clash involving U.S.-led coalition troops hunting Taliban near Sangin, in which one coalition soldier was also killed the same day.

A U.S. military spokesman said he had heard reports about civilians killed in this clash but his information was that the only other people killed were militants.

Wafa said he had no report of casualties among the Taliban.

Helmand is a Taliban stronghold and the key drug-producing region of Afghanistan, the world's leading source of opium.


While most civilian casualties in Afghanistan in recent years have been linked to the hands of Taliban militants, a rising number of deaths in "friendly fire" from Western troops has added to pressure on the government.

The U.S. commander for eastern Afghanistan, Army Colonel John Nicholson, apologized on Tuesday for the killing of 19 civilians by U.S. troops just over a month ago.

An inquiry is underway into UN and Afghan reports that around 50 civilians were killed in a coalition operation in the west late last month, one of several incidents that has prompted NATO to seek ways to change how it operates to minimize civilian casualties.

"We know that our ability to operate here in support of the government of Afghanistan is dependent on the support of the people of Afghanistan," NATO spokesman Nicholas Lunt told reporters on Wednesday.

"We know very well that civilian deaths and injuries undermine this goodwill and support."


The government also faces criticism over rampant corruption and a lack of progress in rebuilding the country, despite billions of dollars in aid since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

Parliament's upper house called on Tuesday for increased efforts to negotiate with the Taliban and an end to Western military operations to hunt them.

In addition, a new political grouping that includes some government figures has called for some of the president's powers to be taken away and given to a new role of prime minister.

The Taliban have stepped up attacks in recent weeks, as both sides in the conflict look for a decisive advantage this year.

Separately, four civilians were killed on Wednesday when a suspected suicide bomber exploded his charge prematurely in the southeastern province of Paktika, officials said.

(Additional reporting by Sayed Sallahuddin in Kabul and Elyas Wahdat in Khost)

source :
0 Replies
Reply Sat 12 May, 2007 01:55 pm
while canadian politicians continue to re-assure canadians about much improvement in afghanistan , the violence nevertheless is continuing .

the BBC reports today :


Police die in Afghan bomb blast

Eight police officers have been killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan, Afghan police have said.

The blast happened on the outskirts of Kandahar, about 450km (280 miles) south-west of the capital, Kabul.

Several other officers were wounded in the attack, the police said.

Violence has surged in Afghanistan in recent weeks and Afghan and international troops are regularly targeted by Taleban insurgents.

***Across Afghanistan, bloodshed has returned to levels not seen since

the fall of the former Taleban regime in 2001. ***
About 4,000 people were killed in violence in Afghanistan last year.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/05/12 17:55:14 GMT

source :
0 Replies
Reply Sun 13 May, 2007 08:27 pm
aparently about 2 million afghan refugees are living in iran and there are another 2 million living in pakistan .
iran has demamded that afghanistan take back the refugees in 2008 , but it seems that the afghan government is unhappy about that many of their people retuning now .
it seems strange that iran having taken in all these refugees is being portrayed as "part of the axis of evil" .
for a small country like iran having taken in 2 million refugees seems quite a generous and humane act .

i guess these news don't always make it to the frontpages of the "regular" newspapers !

Afghan parliament sacks foreign minister
12. May 2007, 05:27
By Sardar Ahmad, AFP
Afghanistan's parliament voted to sack the war-torn country's foreign minister Saturday amid an uproar over Iran's forced return of thousands of refugees.

Foreign minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta lost a no-confidence vote by a large majority in a second round of voting, after the first round on Thursday had hinged on a single spoilt ballot.

Refugees Affairs Minister Akbar Akbar lost his job in Thursday's vote.

Spanta was accused of not doing enough to persuade Iran to ease its policy of forced repatriation, while Akbar allegedly failed to help accommodate thousands of refugees forced out by Iran.

Nearly two million Afghans are still living as refugees in Iran -- more than half of them illegally -- despite millions of Afghans having returned from Iran and Pakistan after the toppling of the Taliban in late 2001.

Another two million Afghans are living in Pakistan, according to the UN.

Iran says it wants the illegal Afghans out of its country by March 2008.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says more than 52,000 were forced out between April 21 and May 8, according to government figures.

According to the Afghan constitution, Spanta has lost his job, but President Hamid Karzai could decide to keep him on as acting minister until he chooses a replacement, officials said.

Female member of parliament Shukria Barakzai alleged that a "foreign conspiracy" was behind the parliament's decision to sack Spanta.

"It was a conspiracy by Pakistan and Iran," the MP said, without giving details. "Both Pakistan and Iran have their elements in the government and parliament."

On Thursday, Spanta told parliament that Iran was piling on the pressure because of various issues, including a dispute over water, with dam projects in this country likely to affect Iranian supply.

"We are under direct pressure for signing a direct security partnership (with the United States and NATO)," Spanta added.

A senior government official who asked not to be named also alleged that Iran had a role in the parliament's decision, chiefly due to Spanta's resistance to Tehran's proposal for a peace pact with the US-backed government of Afghanistan.

Under the proposed agreement Afghanistan would not have allowed any military action against Iran from its soil, the official said.

"I'm sure Iran had a role. The Iranians wanted our government to sign an agreement with them under which 'no military action would be taken against Iran from Afghanistan,'" the official said.

"The foreign minister had resisted this," he said.

The US and NATO have tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan helping the government of embattled Karzai to fight a strengthening Taliban insurgency.

source :
0 Replies
Reply Tue 15 May, 2007 05:56 pm
Well I suppose you can expect this when you consider who our Commander-in-Chief is.

Pakistan, Afghan troops trade fire for second day; 12 dead

0 Replies
Reply Wed 16 May, 2007 02:46 pm
this story was filed be the BBC's ANDREW NORTH on feb. 16 , 2007 ... and there doesn't seem to be any improvement in the lives of the returning refugees .
even Afghanistan's Refugee Minister, Mohammed Azam Dadfar, holds out little hope of things changing quickly.

"Things could get worse," he warns.

but the canadian government keeps telling us of "much improved living conditions for the afghan people " - i have to wonder what they are looking at when they are visiting in afghanistan ?

Refugees make do in Kabul's ruins

By Andrew North
BBC correspondent, Kabul

Since the fall of the Taleban in December 2001, more than 3.5 million Afghan refugees have returned to their homes.
For the United Nations refugee agency, which has overseen the process, it is the largest return of any refugee population ever.

But in a country still suffering the affects of a quarter century of war, many of these returnees are living in dire conditions.

One reason is that many have not been able to return to their towns and villages because they were destroyed in the fighting.

We shake from the cold, what kind of a life is this?
Afghan refugee

Instead, they have moved to Kabul and other cities, where in many cases they are living in the ruins.
Today, Afghan refugees is very much on the agenda, both in Afghanistan itself where the British foreign secretary Jack Straw will be discussing the issue as part of a visit, and in Brussels, where the UNHCR is discussing how to help them with donor nations.

Miserable conditions

In a corner of Kabul, children are having fun but in conditions of miserable squalor.

The walls their voices echo off are those of a war-shattered ruin in west Kabul.

Through gaping shell holes comes gusts of freezing wind and snow.

This was once the Soviet Cultural Centre but it is now home to around 700 former refugees.
"I've been here two years," says Salia, who returned from neighbouring Pakistan.

"We don't have wood to keep warm in winter, no water, no money," she says.

"We shake from the cold, what kind of a life is this?"

"There's no job, we have nothing," says Abdul Samad who lives with his wife and three children in a make shift hut he has built against one of the shell scarred walls.

Spilling over

Several thousand other returnees live in similar conditions in ruined buildings around Kabul.

Many thousands more are crowded in with friends and families around the capital and other cities.

An unknown number of former refugees have died in the sub-zero temperatures of the past month - although the UN refugee agency and other organisations have now moved many in the most exposed settlements into temporary shelters.

But with the situation so dire for so many of these former refugees, should the UN be so keen to see more Afghans return?

Tim Irwin is the UNHCR spokesman in Afghanistan.

The problem he says, is that many of the former refugees living in the worst conditions have chosen to come to Kabul and other cities rather than their home towns and villages - where there's much less chance of finding work.

But Afghanistan's Refugee Minister, Mohammed Azam Dadfar, holds out little hope of things changing quickly.

"Things could get worse," he warns.

Back at the ruins of the Soviet Cultural Centre, there is no sign of optimism from Salia.

"We thought our life would get better when we came back," she says angrily.

"But it's got worse."

For the moment, what is a undoubtedly a sign of hope for Afghanistan - the return of so many of its citizens - is proving a serious burden, on a country that is already carrying so many others.

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0 Replies
Reply Sat 19 May, 2007 01:56 pm
while we are being told that the extremists are on the run in afghanistan , another suicide bomber strikes killing more people .

the BBC reports :
German troops die in Afghanistan
Three German soldiers were among nine people killed in a suicide bomb attack in northern Afghanistan.
At least 14 people were injured in the blast which happened when the troops were conducting a foot patrol in Kunduz city, in the province of the same name.

An Afghan interpreter working with the troops was among those killed, and two Germans were among the injured.

About 3,000 German troops are based in northern Afghanistan as part of the Nato forces in the country.

Witnesses say a suicide bomber on foot targeted the German patrol as they walked through a shopping district in the city.

"Suddenly we heard a big sound. We were frightened," Aziz, a shopkeeper, was quoted by Reuters as saying. "We saw very thick smoke and people rushing to escape."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "These perfidious murders fill us all with disgust and horror."

She expressed her "deepest sympathies" to the relatives of the German and Afghan victims, but said such incidents would not deter Germany from its reconstruction mission.

US troops hurt

On 16 April, a Taleban suicide bomber attacked a group of policemen doing morning exercises in Kunduz, killing nine and injuring 25.

However, the north of Afghanistan where the German troops are operating has been spared much of the violence of the Taleban insurgency that is taking place in the south and east of the country.
In a separate incident, four US troops were reportedly injured when their vehicle rolled down a steep slope after a failed suicide car bomb attack in Khost, in the south-east of the country.

A suicide bomber had driven into their convoy, but his explosives failed to go off, the BBC's Alastair Leithead in Kabul said.

Lengthy gun battle

And in the eastern province of Paktia, near the Pakistan border, coalition troops and Afghan security forces clashed with Taleban militants late on Friday in a gun battle which lasted several hours.

Afghan army officials said more than 60 insurgents were killed in the fighting, though this has not been verified. No coalition or government forces were reported injured.

Paktia province has been the scene of frequent violence involving the Taleban, the radical Islamist group toppled from power after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

The Taleban are threatening to increase their attacks following the killing of their top military commander Mullah Dadullah a week ago.

Dadullah was killed in an operation by the US-led coalition, supported by Isaf, in Helmand province.

Dadullah's name had been linked with the beheading of suspected spies, controlling the guerrilla war in Helmand province, dispatching suicide bombers and the kidnapping of Westerners.

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