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Saturday, July 10, 2004

An American arrested in Afghanistan for abusing inmates in a private jail he set up in Kabul spent three years in federal prison himself for a fraud conviction.

Friday, July 09, 2004

On the hill, Niedziocha, Colvin, and Spivey moved forward firing their weapons as the enemy fighters would pop up, fire a few rounds, and then move right or left inside the trench to repeat the process. When Spivey ran out of ammunition in McBride's rifle, he tossed it aside, pulled his 9mm pistol, and began tossing hand grenades into the trench, as did Niedziocha. Colvin, carrying a M203 40mm grenade launcher attached his M16A4, began accurately lobbing rounds into the trench as well.
"When one of the grenades went off," Niedziocha explained, "all I saw was turban and equipment flying, so I knew we had gotten at least one of them."
In the west, Bashir Baghlani, the governor of the province of Farah, blamed Taliban guerrillas for the attack on the Borjak border post with Iran. But another top provincial official, who did not want to be identified, said the attackers were men loyal to rivals of Baghlani and he linked the clash to a recent decision by the governor to fire some provincial officials. It was the latest violence to hit the province, which until recently was considered one of the safer parts of Afghanistan, and shows the difficulties President Hamid Karzai faces trying to bring stability ahead of the elections. On Thursday, police in the provincial capital shot and wounded five demonstrators after supporters of Baghlani pelted police with stones in a protest responding to one against the governor the previous day.
Walking back from a bazaar after buying gasoline for their village, four young friends were stopped by Taliban rebels. Gunfire erupts from the Taliban, killing one and wounding two children. One of the two people injured was a nine year-old boy, who was brought to doctors and corpsmen of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The United States has welcomed the decision of the U.N.-Afghan Joint Electoral Management Body to hold a landmark presidential election on October 9 and parliamentary elections next April.
Federal prosecutors worry that classified documents could become public during the trial of a CIA contractor charged in the beating of an Afghan prisoner who later died and they want a hearing on the matter before any trial. They also ask the court in a motion filed in federal court in Raleigh to bar defense attorneys for David Passaro from disclosing any classified information "except as is necessary during these proceedings."
A high school student is trying to raise $30,000 by October to buy a playground for children at a school in Afghanistan.
A third source, an official who works under ISI's director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed The New Republic that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs (High Value Targets) before [the] election is [an] absolute must." What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: "I'm aware of no such comment." But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
U.S. military forces in Afghanistan now number 17,900 and are likely to remain at that level at least through the New Year, according to senior Pentagon leaders.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

"It can get awful lonely here,” said Lt. Col. James Hand, the PRT commander. Hand calls Badghis in particular the “wild, wild West."
A bus crashed after trying to overtake a slower vehicle on Afghanistan's resurfaced main highway on Thursday, killing 11 people and injuring 44, a doctor said. The bus pulled alongside a truck 30 miles north of the southern city of Kandahar, on its way to the capital, Kabul, said Dr. Muhibullah Sidiqi of the Mirwais hospital in Kandahar.
"There was something coming the other way, and the driver panicked,'' Sidiqi said. ``The bus went off the road and rolled over."
The road was restored last year under a flagship reconstruction project funded by the United States. Hundreds of guards are protecting foreign and Afghan contractors laying a second layer of asphalt from Taliban attacks. The work has already cut the journey time between Kabul and the main southern city from about 16 hours to six hours, though some Afghans complain the road is too narrow and that the absence of potholes and washouts encourages speeding.
(Associated Press)
The U.S. embassy in Islamabad reopened on Wednesday after being forced to close by a threat of attack, but the nearby British High Commission stayed closed.
Six Afghan soldiers were killed in a daylight ambush in the country's west today after they were called to the site to assist civilian workers, an official said. "Six people were killed and four were wounded when Taliban attacked their vehicles driving along the Herat-Kandahar highway," said Mohammed Rassoul, deputy police chief of Farah province, where the attack occurred.
"The attackers were Taliban."
Rassoul said the Afghan militia force soldiers had been called to Chakaw district, about mid-way between the main southern city of Kandahar and the western city of Herat, to provide security for civilian reconstruction workers.
"Water," the farmer in the Bamyan valley in Afghanistan said when asked what he needed. "More water." He pointed to uncultivated fields. "I don’t have enough water to plant those fields." The same story was told us in the Shomali plains north of Kabul and in the rain-fed agricultural areas of northern Afghanistan. The farmers’ contention that water is their most important problem is backed up by a study commissioned by the U.S. Agency for International Development. "Persistent drought conditions have forced most farmers to decide how much wheat to plant each season based on the availability of water, not the price of wheat." According to climatic records, precipitation in Afghanistan has declined for forty years.
U.S. forces in Afghanistan say they have completed a review of prison conditions for Afghan detainees, amid allegations of torture and other abuses. Afghanistan's human rights commission says it has reports of continuing mistreatment by some U.S. troops...U.S. military spokesman Major Jon Siepmann says the findings of the review have been presented to General Barno and parts of the report will soon be made public.
An Air Force pilot involved in a "friendly fire" bombing that killed four Canadian troops in Afghanistan was found guilty Tuesday of dereliction of duty, reprimanded and ordered to forfeit more than $5,000 in pay.
He was fighting his own personal war when he dropped the bombs that killed four Canadian soldiers and injured eight others on April 17, 2002, in Afghanistan. U.S. combat pilot Major Harry Schmidt disobeyed a direct order to hold fire, and afterward lied about why he instead turned his weapons on the soldiers more than 3,000 metres below. He showed an astonishing lack of discipline.
(Canadian editorial)
Afghan National Army troops killed one of a group of four or five militants running an illegal vehicle checkpoint in Deh Rawud district of Uruzgan province, Major Rick Peat, a spokesman for the U.S. military said. He said the other militants fled.
When Afghan police burst into the large suburban house in Kabul, they were not expecting to see three men strapped to the ceiling and hanging by their feet. This was supposedly an import business, after all. But as they released the men, and five other captives who were also in the house, officers realised they had stumbled upon a private jail where Afghan prisoners were being locked up and tortured. Yesterday, Afghan security forces and the US military admitted they appeared to have uncovered a freelance counterterrorism mission by bounty hunters, who may have been lured to the country by the prospect of earning multimillion-dollar rewards.
A woman registering voters for the forthcoming elections in Afghanistan has been killed by an explosion in the eastern province of Nangarhar.
Afghan intelligence agents have spoken with fugitive Taliban founder Mulla Omar after commandeering a satellite phone being used by his top aide, an Afghan official claimed on Thursday. Mulla Omar, along with Osama Bin Laden, has escaped a US-led dragnet which now numbers some 20,000 coalition soldiers since the ousting of his fundamentalist regime in late 2001. A man believed to be Omar’s aide, Mulla Sakhi Dad Mujahid, was captured on Tuesday while carrying a satellite telephone containing the phone numbers of top Taliban, Kandahar intelligence chief Abdullah Laghmanai told AFP. “We contacted Mulla Omar by Mulla Mujahid’s phone,” he said, adding that at first Mujahid was forced to talk. “But when Omar realised what was happening ... he cut off the phone.” “Salam-aleikum, where are you?” Mulla Omar asked Mujahid, according to Laghmanai. Mulla Mujahid, as he is known locally, was arrested on Tuesday during a raid in Dara-i-Noor near Kandahar.
(Daily Times-Pakistan)
A top Taliban commander was arrested in southern Afghanistan and admitted distributing more than $1 million to supporters of the ousted militia, a senior intelligence official said Wednesday. Intelligence agents captured Mullah Mujahid on Tuesday evening in a raid on a compound in Shah Wali Kot, a district of Kandahar province.
Parliamentary elections, a central part of the American-led effort to establish a stable democracy in Afghanistan, are nearly certain to be delayed once again, probably until next spring, Afghan and foreign officials said Thursday.
EU foreign ministers will discuss the frail security situation in Afghanistan when they meet in Brussels next Monday to review the bloc’s preparations to assist Karzai’s government with the polls, the diplomats said. A Swedish Foreign Ministry briefing note to parliament said the ministers may also debate whether to invoke the EU’s nearly 300 million euro annual aid as leverage to warn Karzai against cutting deals with powerful regional barons.
Britain is funding a £100m campaign to combat the explosion in the drugs trade in Afghanistan, which is fuelling violence and anarchy.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has begun moving internally displaced Afghans from the town of Spin Boldak on the Pakistani border to the camp of Zhare Dasht, the first step in a process that will see the IDP camp closed by the end of August. A convoy of 15 trucks on Sunday carried the first 50 families that opted to relocate to Zhare Dasht, a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) that was set up two years ago near the main southern Afghan city of Kandahar. A further two convoys are expected this week and the pace will be stepped up to provide daily movements in subsequent weeks. All assistance to Spin Boldak IDP camp, located in an area where there have been continual security threats, will end on August 31. Spin Boldak camp was established in late 2001 to shelter Afghans fleeing the war between the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan and US-led forces but who were unable to cross the border into neighbouring Pakistan. Although Pakistan did allow the entry of some 300,000 refugees, many were stuck at the border.
In the 1980s, Afghan communists were the main force in Afghanistan's urban centers. But after the fall of the puppet Soviet government led by Mohammad Najibullah (1986-1992) , and in the face of civil war, many reds left the country, contrary to some expectations that they would switch sides...Now, although Afghan laws prohibit card-carrying communists from taking part in politics, the US is prepared to allow the return of these communist elements, especially those of Pashtun origin. So in addition to the search for good Taliban, the hunt is on for good communists. This has been a precedent in Afghanistan: in 1989, the ISI courted communist leader General Shahnawaz Tanai to overthrow Najibullah, but the effort failed and Tanai fled to Pakistan.
A man of letters, and a poet and journalist of some note, Pedram returned to Afghanistan last year after years of exile in France, and will himself stand as a candidate in the presidency race against Hamid Karzai, the US-supported incumbent. Pedram also confirmed regular Asia Times Online reports that US and Afghan officials are in "constant contact and negotiations" with senior Taliban leaders, including some ministers of the fundamentalist Islamic regime toppled in late 2001.
"The talks, mostly conducted at the presidential palace, sometimes with the presence of President Hamid Karzai, are aimed at legitimizing the so-called good Taliban and bringing them back with the help of Pakistan," Pedram told Asia Times Online.
The Pakistan federal government has directed the four provinces and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration to adopt "unprecedented" security measures for the US installations and embassy in the wake of revelation from a captured militant that his group had planned to use women suicide bombers, official source said. To further strengthen the security, four platoons of the Frontier Constabulary have been deployed for diplomatic missions security duty, while the police guards have been replaced.
(HiPakistan)

It's not an easy journey. As the fleet snakes its way through minefields and down spine-crunching roads, the convoy gets lost in villages and mired in sand traps. On a recent segment of the journey, most villages welcome the delegation in Pashtun fashion: performing tribal dances, firing guns into the air, or charging across the desert on brightly adorned horses. Yet this is Taliban country, and at times the road is laid with land mines rather than red carpet.
After years in exile, refugees are now returning to find the land they thought was theirs occupied and claimed by others. In many cases, refugees’ land was distributed by the local commanders who continue to seize private property by force. A law unto themselves, these local commanders have also appropriated government and other public property. “So far more than 8,000 refugees whose properties have been usurped mostly by local commanders have come to us for help,” said Mohammad Arif Rizai, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council in Mazar-e-Sharif.
Pakistan and Afghan troops exchanged light fire on the border area near Mohmand Agency during early hours of Tuesday with no loss of life reported on either side, official sources told Dawn. Officials said Pakistani troops returned the unprovoked firing from the Afghan side. The firing of 12.7 mm gunfire from the Afghan side was returned in kind with the same weapon. However, the Pakistani troops restrained from retaliating when only a single mortar shell was fired from the Afghan side. Sources said it was a minor skirmish on the Pakistan-Afghan border as compared to the sporadic exchange of gunfire during the past few months. The firing occurred within days of the Pakistan foreign office issuing a strong demarche to US ambassador to Kabul, Zalmay Khalilzaday, for making irresponsible statements not compatible with his diplomatic status.
(Dawn-Pakistan)
Afghan and United Nations officials have failed to agree on a date for national elections after talks in Kabul. A vote for president still appears likely in September or October but Afghan Agriculture Minister Hussain Anwari said he feared logistics for the parliamentary vote would not be ready for the same time.
Lieutenant Colonel Mahmudjon Mahmudov repelled raiders while the Soviet-Afghan war raged next door in the 1980s. He protected the rugged frontier with Afghanistan in the '90s during the tumultuous five years of his country's own civil war and internal fighting between Afghans across the border. Now Mahmudov is facing what could be the biggest challenge yet in his 17 years as a Tajik border guard: Tajikistan's underpaid, underequipped and undermanned force is supposed to take control of most of the Afghan frontier from a Russian force by next summer and complete the handover in mid-2006.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The windshield of the mine-clearing Hydrema is already pocked and battered from earlier blasts, but Sgt. Gary Feldewerd climbs into the armored cab for another run. Feldewerd and other Army reservists in Minnesota's 367th Engineer Battalion clear Afghanistan's minefields, inviting the danger that Afghans dread every day.
The Canadians are employing their signature low-key approach to the area, sharing tea, distributing radios, collecting live ordnance — there's a lot — and taking leads from local militia who know the lay of the land. Their style stands in stark contrast to the Americans. A U.S. provincial reconstruction team went through nearby Qala Khil recently, searching houses, seizing weapons and painting large white Cs on the sides of the buildings once they'd been cleared. Residents of the mountainside village of Leyvani heard about the operation and were not impressed, saying it smacked of the practices of Soviet occupiers in the 1980s, minus the rape and murder.
The female dress code has changed in ways subtle to foreigners, but revolutionary to many Afghans. Underneath their burqas, many women wear high heels, and they daringly put on brightly colored nail polish, details that may not please the conservative religious leaders who remain influential.
Afghan presidential and parliamentary elections will not be held at the same time, the government has said. Vote organisers told the Cabinet on Tuesday that a simultaneous vote was "impossible", President Hamid Karzai's spokesman, Jawad Ludin, said. But he stressed that presidential polls would go ahead by late October. The vote was postponed from June because of slow voter registration and rising violence by militants opposed to the US-backed Kabul administration.
(BBC)
Fighters loyal to a local commander have taken over police headquarters of the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif and captured more than 100 Afghan national police, according to a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry quoted by dpa. Reports say the takeover stemmed from a controversy over drugs between General Atta Mohammad, a powerful commander in Mazar-e Sharif, and police chief Mohammad Akbar Khakrizwar. Each side is accusing the other of being involved in the trafficking off illegal drugs. It is unclear when the takeover took place.
Afghan officials say suspected Taliban rebels have attacked a school used to register voters for the fall elections, and one registration worker was shot in the leg. The attack occurred last night about 30 kilometers outside Kandahar.
According to Iran's Official News Agency (IRNA) Iran and Afghanistan have signed an agreement to reconstitute the libraries of 10 schools in the Afghan capital Kabul...The Iranian side is to donate 10,000 volumes of books on poetry, fiction and biography to reconstitute the libraries which will be made available to the public in September.
The number of CIA experts devoted to fighting Osama bin Laden and preventing new attacks by his network remains about the same nearly three years after the Sept. 11 strikes, according to a senior CIA analyst who has written a new book arguing that bin Laden is winning his struggle against the United States. Moreover, the analyst warned in an interview with Knight Ridder, CIA specialists who have devoted years to studying and targeting bin Laden are worn out, and many are being shifted to other duties, moves that will dilute the agency's pool of knowledge about the Saudi extremist and his viloent following.
A convoy of armored Humvees rolls through the desert in Ghazni, Afghanistan, kicking up clouds of dust. The steady line of military vehicles lurches over bumps, rumbling along as they make their way through the dry, barren landscape. The lead Humvee is carrying a top general in the U.S. Army. More generals and their aides follow in the other Humvees. Just an hour before, a landmine lay buried in this very road. It was cleared, allowing the convey to pass safely. It's Dan Butler's proudest moment.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Sgt. Broyles does a DVIDS.
Soldiers left behind at Bagram continue to work on projects on the base, but during the weekend, they took time to celebrate the Fourth of July. On Saturday, the soldiers had a meet-and-greet session with actor Vince Vaughn, said Capt. Thomas Sarych, commander of the 367th's headquarters company. Many soldiers participated in a 10K run Sunday morning and capped their day with a barbecue.
While chatting with Japanese aid workers on a visit to Afghanistan, an agricultural expert suddenly realized what kind of crop might do well in the parched, battle-scarred land.
"What I really crave is some daigakuimo," the worker told the expert. He was talking about the sticky, deep-fried sweet potato snack that is usually sprinkled with toasted black sesame seeds...Various crops are being tested at an experimental farm in Afghanistan, in addition to reliable mainstays like wheat and maize and new varieties of cattle fodder. The team is trying out vegetables that have never been grown in the region. Hopes are high that the trusty sweet potato will turn dry fields into green ones, even without being replenished by irrigation canals.
CHAMAN, July 3: Frontier Corps Commandant Col Abdul Basit Rana has said that a secret camera, having 500 metres visibility range, has been installed here on Pakistan-Afghan border. Talking to newsmen here on Saturday, he said the camera would help monitor people entering and exiting Pakistan. A powerful camera had already been installed at Sheela Bagh checkpoint for the same purpose, he added. It would help the border force a lot to check infiltration of terrorists in Pakistan and smuggling of arms and drugs inside the country, he said.
(Dawn-Pakistan)
"I would not say life is very precarious here,” wrote Tourjee last week. "Certainly it is nothing like working in Iraq or Saudi Arabia. I live in Kabul but often go to villages in the Shamali Plains to visit farmers. There was much fighting during the war with the Russians and then with the Taliban in this area. In fact, the front lines were there, and you can still see the carcasses of old Russian tanks littered along the Kabul-Charikar road."
Tourjee said the Russians cut down trees and vineyards along that road because they were used as sniper lairs. The Taliban then destroyed remaining vineyards because people living in the area opposed them. “However,” he wrote, “the farmers' number one problem is a lack of water due to drought and irrigation systems that are in disrepair.”
What Tourjee does see in abundance are poppy fields. "The farmers don't seem shy about it. It's just another crop to them," he wrote. "They are anything but the vicious narco-fiends portrayed in the cinema. They are just farmers trying to scrape by in a difficult situation and welcomed me into their midst."
International peacekeepers in Afghanistan say Sunday that a blast at an illegal bomb factory in Kabul has hurt at least six people.
A spokesman for the NATO-led security force says police arrested three men after Saturday's explosion in a residential section of the capital. The spokesman says authorities believe the blast occurred, as the men were assembling bombs.
Supporters of the governor of a key Afghan province beat up staff of a new intelligence chief at the weekend, in yet another challenge to President Hamid Karzai's efforts to broaden his authority, an official said on Sunday. At least two members of the staff of Aziz Mayel -- who was named intelligence chief of Herat province two months ago, but prevented from taking up his position -- were in critical condition after Saturday's attack, an intelligence official said...The appointment was an attempt by Karzai to reassert his authority following fighting in Herat in March in which Governor Ismail Khan's men drove out the commander of a division appointed by Kabul.
The United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) has announced the launch of a new phase of a programme to expedite gender awareness training in Afghan government institutions. The programme, to be implemented by the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA), aims to improve gender balance and women's priorities in government policies.
Specific security threats today forced the US Embassy in Pakistan to cancel a scheduled reception marking American Independence Day while the British High Commission was temporarily closed.
The mayor of a southern Afghan province was seriously wounded along with a bodyguard when suspected Taliban guerrillas blew up his car, a spokesman said on Monday. The attack on Haji Manaf Khan, the mayor of Helmand province, occurred in the provincial capital Lashkargar on Sunday.
Of all the transformations wreaked by terrorism and the wars that have followed, Robina's change from a barefoot, illiterate captive of a backward regime to a polyglot modern Olympian must count among the happiest. It is a drama that the 17- year-old is enjoying to the full - within the guidelines laid down by her coach, Sapour Amiri - himself an Afghan track champion for a decade.
"I have very bad memories of the war," she said. "And before the war I couldn't leave the house. I had to be covered up all the time."
The only covering she wears on her head these days is a couple of brightly coloured hairbands. Equally unthinkable, she trains in tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt with the three male members of the Afghan team. The training camp in Salonika made available to the Afghan team by the Greek government is a far cry even from today's Afghanistan. There, one mullah, Abdul Matin Mutasem Bilal, has condemned Robina's Olympic entry because he claims that she will be flaunting herself in front of "thousands of foreigners, non-Muslims, in a big stadium". Men and women are kept apart at Kabul's main sports stadium. At least that arena is now once again used for sports events. Under the Taliban regime it was where public executions and mutilations took place.
The Taliban militia on Sunday claimed to have killed seven coalition soldiers in Zabul Province in southwestern Afghanistan, Afghan Islamic Press reported. The report quoted Taliban spokesman Mufti Lateefuddin Hakeemi as saying that seven coalition soldiers were killed in a clash late Saturday in a village in the Dai Chopan area of the province.
(Japan Today)

The president of Afghanistan said he would use the $100,000 prize from the Philadelphia Liberty Medal to support Afghan children orphaned by years of war. Hamid Karzai, the U.S.-backed leader who took over after the Taliban regime was ousted in 2001, accepted the medal Sunday at a ceremony at Independence Hall.
On Sunday, a U.S. soldier was wounded by an improvised bomb near Zormat, in Paktia province close to the border with Pakistan, U.S. military spokesman Major Rick Peat said. A Taliban spokesman telephoned Reuters to say that the guerrillas had targeted a U.S. military vehicle just outside a U.S. military base in Paktia province late in the morning.
"We are responsible for the planning, design, coordination and execution of engineer projects in Afghanistan," Wetherill said. She said the term "reconstruction" isn't really accurate because there is nothing there to reconstruct and that the projects are more basic construction in nature. Wetherill said most of the building projects are for the support of the various military activities taking place in the country and not for the reconstruction of Afghanistan itself. She said unit members are in various locations throughout the country, building more military camps. "Construction at the camps includes life support type facilities such as tent platforms (wood floors and frames with the canvas over the frame) including electrical service, heating/cooling units, dining facilities, tactical operations centers, septic sewer systems, concrete pads for latrine/ shower facilities, road maintenance, force (troop and equipment) protection barrier walls, rotary wing landing pads and airplane landing strip maintenance," Wethrill said.
Mahadad, who did not want her last name to be published, fell silent when asked about her attackers. She shook her head. Then, after a few minutes, she stood up. It was a cue to leave.
"It is very sad," Fahima Mojadeddi, the only female member of the shura, the province's tribal council, later said. "Mahadad used to be very active and outspoken on behalf of women. She could debate endlessly. Now she's too scared to talk."
As the United Nations tries to organise the registration of up to nine million voters, the number of women coming forward is limited. So far, of the 4.5 million registered, only 36 per cent are female. That figure has increased from 15 per cent from a few months ago but women are still made nervous by the extreme attitudes of men. Fawzia Mohamadi, 30, another victim of the bombing, said male passers-by shouted as the bus burned. "They were saying, 'Let them die'," she said from her hospital bed, where she is recovering from burns to her left leg. "They were shouting, 'These are women begging for America's dollars. Don't help them'. They were holding up our burning sandals and clothes and shouting."
All over the eastern province of Nangahar, the capital of which is Jalalabad, women are being threatened for participating in the elections.
Afghanistan will need the 10,000 NATO troops to ensure security for its presidential and general elections in September, the country's reconstruction minister Mohammed Amin Farhang said Saturday on German radio.
US military spokesman Maj. Rick Peat said a “high value” provincial Taleban commander US Marines reported captured in Uruzgan on Thursday was not in fact a Talebab commander and had been released.
A viable and free media in Afghanistan is widely recognized by the international community and Afghans themselves as a top priority in the reconstruction of one of the world's poorest and most war-ravaged countries. Yet Western donors have also come to see that conditions in Afghanistan have meant both scaling back expectations and adapting to realities on the ground. When governments pledged $5.2 billion in assistance for Afghanistan in 2002, with $3.8 billion to be given in the form of grants, media development was envisioned as an important, albeit secondary priority. Millions of dollars have now been spent to reform or create media since the war, yet money alone has not been able to surmount basic logistical difficulties and philosophical differences.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday explained that the government plans to hurry additional soldiers to Afghanistan...The number of Turkish soldiers in Afghanistan is expected to surpass 1,000 by 2005. After the US launched 'Operation Eternal Freedom' in Afghanistan in 2001, Turkish soldiers were among the first to arrive in Afghanistan.
US-led coalition troops have captured or killed close to two dozen suspected militants in southern Afghanistan during the past week, US military spokesman Major Jon Siepmann said.
Sixty-six soldiers from Kansas are being recalled to active duty for service in Iraq or Afghanistan, an Army spokeswoman said Friday. The soldiers are among 5,600 nationwide who are part of the Individual Ready Reserve, who have previously fulfilled their active-duty service requirements and are no longer attached to a unit...
Joy Moser, a spokeswoman for the Kansas National Guard, said officials had not been notified whether any Ready Reserve soldiers would be assigned to Kansas units. Of the 66 soldiers to be mobilized, four will go to National Guard units nationwide, while the remaining 62 will go to Army Reserve units.
Approximately 1,500 Kansas National Guard soldiers are mobilized, including 1,100 expected to deploy to Iraq later this year or early 2005.
The Taliban have vowed to continue their jihad and not miss any opportunity to oust the occupation coalition forces from Afghanistan. We will not care about our lives and we want to destroy our enemy, Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi told Radio Tehran Pushto service. He made it clear that the coalition forces have occupied our country brutally and the Taliban will fight every possible tactic.
There is more than one opinion about Nek Mohammad. The rulers stated that he was an Al-Qa'ida agent and was working for money. But, the reality cannot be denied that no one other than the corps commander of Peshawar himself signed the Shakai Agreement with Nek Mohammad. The signed document described him as a mujahid. But only after one month, Nek Mohammad was declared as a terrorist, traitor, and paid agent. This change in the government's stand did not come silently. The nation and the entire world witnessed this change in the official policy. And now, the people are rightly questioning these contradictions. If Nek Mohammad was really a terrorist and a paid agent, then why did the government sign the agreement with him? Why did the government call him a mujahid, a sacred word, in the agreement? And, if Nek Mohammad was a mujahid, how did he become a terrorist in just three weeks?
In the days when he was volunteering in Afghanistan, Dr. Brigg Reilley and a few other humanitarian aid workers used to sit in a circle on the floor in the Doctors Without Borders compound and talk about the tragedies of war. With pillows propped against the wall, a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling and comfort food--usually a local trail mix--in the middle, each of them shared stories of what they had seen and heard that day while delivering medical services to people in need. Then they had to decide if it was worth the risk to go out again the following day.
"Afghanistan is the litmus test for NATO's new mission," says a European ambassador in Washington. "If we fail in Afghanistan we might as well fold up and go home, because no one will take us seriously after that."
The American military is investigating the death in November of an Afghan man held in detention at an American military outpost here in southern Afghanistan... A spokeswoman at United States military headquarters in Kabul, Master Sgt. Cindy Beam, said Mr. Wahed was "almost dead" when he reached the care of American soldiers. Christopher Grey, a spokesman at the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, confirmed that an autopsy was performed at the Bagram base outside Kabul.
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