Dozens Of Police Killed, Wounded In Recent Days
24 Taliban Killed In Battle
UPDATE : In southern Afghanistan, NATO coalition forces fought a battle against the Taliban for more than seven hours. More than 24 Taliban fighters were dead when it was over.
From CNN :
According to the coalition, the battle began when four Taliban members fired rounds at troops patrolling the northeast corner of Helmand province's Sangin district.
"After maneuvering to gain contact with the enemy force, U.S. Special Forces requested coalition air support to engage the Taliban fighters as they were attempting to establish ambush positions," the coalition said.
No civilian casualties occurred, the coalition said.
The following day, the U.S.-led coalition launched air strikes on a munitions compound in the northeastern section of the Sangin district after Taliban insurgents fired guns and rocket-propelled grenades at Afghan and coalition forces conducting a security patrol.In Afghanistan's western Herat province, three Taliban insurgents were killed and three more were wounded by Afghan and coalition forces during an attempted ambush on their patrol Wednesday.
The coalition command in Afghanistan said the patrol was fired upon by Taliban insurgents donning Afghan national police uniforms at a makeshift checkpoint in the Shindand district.
In the past two days Afghan and coalition forces have confiscated more than 100 fake police uniforms and more than a dozen forged identification documents in Herat province, which is located near the Iranian border, according to the coalition command.
From the smh.com.au :
The Taliban, fighting to oust foreign troops from Afghanistan, have launched a wave of suicide attacks in the south and east, but attacks in the north are rare.
Taliban commander Hayatullah Khan claimed responsibility and said more bombers were ready to strike. "They are present in all Afghan cities and waiting for orders," he said.
Suicide attacks in Afghanistan, almost unheard of three years ago, surged last year to nearly 140, from about 20 in 2005. There have been numerous attacks this year.
A new report claims the Taliban have commited numerous war crimes through attacks on Afghan civilians. Some 670 civilians were killed in such attacks during 2006. The highest yearly toll for civilian deaths under attack by the Taliban since the group were deposed in late 2001.
From The Globe And Mail :
Insurgents committed war crimes by attacking ordinary Afghans and killing 669 civilians in 2006, the heaviest toll since the Taliban's ouster in 2001, according to a report released Monday.This report from the Associated Press details just how much troubling NATO forces are having in tracking down and then confronting Taliban fighters. They show the exact same kind of ability to elude NATO forces as the mujahadeen showed when it was the Russians chasing them down in the 1980s :
Tallying records from non-governmental organizations and the media, Human Rights Watch counted 189 bombings in 2006 that killed 492 civilians. Another 177 civilians were killed in other attacks including ambushes and executions.
“The insurgents are increasingly committing war crimes, often by directly targeting civilians,” said Joanne Mariner, terrorism and counterterrorism director at the New York-based rights group. Even when targeting security forces, “they generally kill many, many more civilians than they do military personnel.”
Human Rights Watch noted that anti-government forces were not the only ones responsible for civilian deaths, and that at least 230 civilians were killed during coalition and NATO operations last year.Exact casualty figures from previous years are not available, but the increase in insurgent attacks last year indicate that “2006 was the deadliest year for civilians in Afghanistan since 2001,” the report said.
Suicide bombings, once rare in Afghanistan, occurred on a regular basis in 2006. Two suicide attacks were reported in 2003, six in 2004, and 21 in 2005. Last year, the number of suicide attacks shot up to at least 136, killing 272 civilians and wounding 531, the 116-page report said.
Eighty of those suicide attacks were on military targets, but they killed nearly five times more civilians than security forces — 181 civilians compared to 37 Afghan or international security forces.
“The Taliban are starting to look like some of the insurgent groups in Iraq,” said Michael Shaikh, who conducted research for the report. “These guys are more about fighting the global jihad. ... It's a much more dangerous Taliban.”
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for more than two-thirds of recorded bomb attacks, mostly in the most volatile south and southeast.
Hezb-i Islami, a faction of which follows renegade former Afghan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, appears to be involved in attacks in the east and north, the report said.
The report cited 190 attacks on teachers, school officials, students and schools, up from 91 such attacks in 2005.
Troops with powerful rifle scopes scanned mountain ridges for elusive, black-clad Taliban infiltrators. Afghan soldiers, hit by a roadside bomb, pressed on into the valley. U.S. Special Forces swept through the sinister alleys of its main settlement.
The strike, carried out by about 200 American and Afghan government forces, was supposed to sever a major insurgent infiltration and supply route from neighboring Pakistan to Islamic fighters deep in Afghanistan.
But the attack didn't work - an object lesson in why 47,000 U.S. and NATO forces are struggling to contain a resurgent Taliban movement.
Field officers say eradicating fighters who cross the porous 1,470-mile border is like trying to drain a swamp when one cannot shut off the streams feeding it. Pakistan's failure to dam those streams has deepened the five-year-old conflict, they say.
"Stopping the infiltration is not the only way we are going to win this war, but it's a very key factor," said Capt. Samuel Edwards, who led U.S. Army troops in a recent drive into the Davudzay mountain bowl in the southeastern province of Zabul.
The Zabul routes are just a fragment of a vast cross-border network, reminiscent of the Ho Chi Minh Trail of jungle tracks and secret roads that carried Vietnamese communist troops and equipment to battle.
NATO "will never control the border without greater control of the border areas by Pakistan and greater coordination and cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan," Gen. John Craddock, the current NATO commander, said recently in Washington.
Taliban fighters and al-Qaida militants converged on the frontier after U.S.-led forces drove them from Afghanistan in 2001. Pakistan is now under greater pressure to act - particularly after the U.S. military last fall reported a threefold increase in cross-border attacks into eastern Afghanistan.
Pakistan maintains that the insurgency is primarily an Afghan problem, fueled by domestic frustration over poverty and dissatisfaction with the Afghan government. It says it has deployed 80,000 soldiers to stop Taliban supporters crossing from Pakistan to fight - far more troops than marshaled by Afghanistan, the U.S. and NATO on the other side.
"I can give the Pakistanis a list of the Taliban that are coming into my province," Zabul Governor Dalbar Ayman said angrily in an interview. "The world found their address in Pakistan, so why couldn't the Pakistanis have arrested them years ago? The ISI knows every village, every district, every individual."
Pakistan strongly denies these charges. But nonetheless, Taliban fighters are coming through.
FIght In Afghanistan Will Only Get Tougher
From Toronto Sun :
The death last Sunday of six Canadian soldiers in southern Afghanistan reminds us of Santayana's famous maxim that those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it.The invasion of Afghanistan was marketed to Americans as an "anti-terrorist" mission and an effort to implant democracy. It was sold to Canadians as a noble campaign of "nation-building, reconstruction, and defending women's rights." All nice-sounding, but mostly untrue.
What we are really seeing is a war by Western powers seeking to dominate the strategic oil corridor of Afghanistan, directed against the Pashtun people who comprise half that nation's population. Another 15 million live just across the border in Pakistan. What we call the "Taliban" is actually a loose alliance of Pashtun tribes and clans, joined by nationalist forces and former mujahedin from the 1980s anti-Soviet struggle.
Last year, a leading authority on Afghanistan, the Brussels-based Senlis Council, found the Taliban and its allies control or influence half of the nation -- roughly equivalent to Pashtun tribal territory. Its study flatly contradicted rosy reports of military success and "nation-building" from Washington and NATO HQ.
This week, the same think tank issued a shocking new survey based on 17,000 interviews. "Afghanis in southern Afghanistan are increasingly prepared to admit their support for Taliban, and belief that the government and international community will not be able to defeat the Taliban is widespread." Senlis' study concurs with my own findings in South Asia that Pakistan and India have independently concluded NATO will eventually be defeated in Afghanistan and withdraw. The U.S., however, may stay on and reinforce its 30,000 troops there because it cannot admit a second defeat after the Iraq debacle.
The U.S. and NATO are not fighting "terrorists" in Afghanistan and they are certainly not winning hearts and minds. They are fighting the world's largest tribal people. The longer the Westerners stay and bomb villages, the more resistance will grow. Such is the inevitable pattern of every guerrilla war I have ever covered.
Western troops stuck in this nasty, $2-billion daily guerrilla conflict will become increasingly brutalized, demoralized and violent. This is precisely what happened to Afghanistan's second to latest invader, the Soviet Union.
Afghanistan's figurehead Hamid Karzai regime controls only the capitol. The rest of the country is under the Taliban, or warlords who run the surging narcotics trade that has made NATO the main defender of the world's leading narco state.
If 160,000 Soviet troops and 240,000 Afghan Communist soldiers could not defeat the Pashtuns in ten years, how can 50,000 U.S. and NATO troops do better?
The Taliban claimed earlier this year that they had "thousands" of suicide bombers ready to attack NATO troops and Afghanistan police and security forces.
Clearly, the unleashing of these suicide bombers has begun :
A suicide bombing killed at least nine policemen and injured scores of others in Kunduz province of northern Afghanistan on Monday, a health worker and an official said.
Nine dead bodies and 32 injured policemen were brought to the hospital, he said, adding four injured were in critical condition.
The blast occurred when a suicide bomber belting explosives on his body attacked a mass of policemen, who were gathering on an open land to receive training for an upcoming ceremony, Safar said.
Ayub Salangi, police chief of Kunduz province, blamed the enemy of Afghanistan, a phrase used to refer to the Taliban, for the attack.
"We could not immediately identify the attacker, as only his feet were left at the explosion site," he told Xinhua.The Taliban claimed 2,000 suicide bombers would launch a bloody spring offensive against foreign troops and other targets in this country this year.
Over the past two months, suicide bombings targeting government and foreign interests have happened in Afghanistan nearly on a daily base.
A total of 12 soldiers of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have been killed in combat in this volatile country since April 8.Due to rising Taliban-linked insurgency, over 900 persons, mostly Taliban militants, have been killed in Afghanistan this year
April 12 : Bomb Attacks Kill Three Militants, 2 Police In Central Afghanistan
April 14 : Six Police Killed In Attacks In Southern Afghanistan
April 15 : Taliban Suicide Bomber Kills Eight Police In Eastern Afghanistan
April 17 : Nine Police Killed In Kunduz Province By Suicide Bomber
Taliban, Pakistani Troops Clash Over Border Fence After It Was Torn Down
War Is Hell, Afghanistan Is Worse
US State Department Gives NATO Forces Until End Of 2008 To Gain Victory Over Taliban