Wednesday, October 13, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The local band, Pomeroy, is back from several weks of performing for troops overseas. KMBC's Emily Aylward reported that the band's departure to Afghanistan was demanding, from boxes of equipment to gaining clearance at the counter.
"I felt like I knew I was going to change," band member Chris Davis said.
But no matter the preparations, they all admit the trip surpassed anything they imagined.
"It's been the best month in a long time," band member David Fairbanks said.
The band put on 10 shows in 16 days. The Armed Forces Committee sponsored their trip, picking Pomeroy from thousands of other bands.
"It's hard to play because there's this lump in your throat and you're actually nervous because you want to put on the best possible show, you know?" band member Matt Marron said.
"After each show, it was overwhelming how much appreciation was given back to us," band member Dean Hopkins said.
Pomeroy will have a homecoming concert on Oct. 29 at the Beaumont Club in Westport.
Germany and France have rejected an appeal by the United States to have NATO take over the American-led combat mission in Afghanistan.
Afghan archaeology on road to recovery. International teams help troubled nation restore cultural heritage after decades of strife.
The post-voting capital of Afghanistan came under attack of four rockets late Monday and one resident was killed, eyewitnesses told Xinhua.... All the blasts occurred several hundred meters away from the USembassy, which often came under rocket attack launched by the Taliban and its al Qaeda allies in the lead up to the first presidential election.
Nearly 80 percent of Afghan refugees in Pakistan who registered to vote in their country's first presidential election turned out to do so, the head of the electoral operation said on Sunday. The projected total of refugee voters in Pakistan was 583,000 out of the 740,000 who registered, Peter Erben, head of the International Organisation for Migration's (IOM) refugee voting operation in Pakistan, told Reuters.
Los Angeles Times
BAGRAM AIR BASE, AFGHANISTAN - Early Saturday morning, after U.S. military officers had settled behind their laptops in the cavernous American operations center here, the computer maps and charts on the walls told a generally hopeful story for Afghanistan's first presidential election.
The maps showed scattered rocket and grenade explosions across the country, and a smattering of attacks on election sites. But what they did not show was what Maj. Gen. Eric Olson feared most — a spectacular attack that would undermine an election critical not only to Afghanistan but to the United States.
Olson, the operations commander for U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, sat at the center of the auditorium, studying the wall maps. He was convinced that a massive security operation mounted by Afghan police and the U.S.-trained Afghan army, backed by American and NATO troops, was pre-empting any devastating attack by Taliban or al-Qaida.
Olson nodded as an officer reported, "No apparent coordinated efforts to disrupt the election." He seemed relieved as the officer added, "It was pretty much futile for them last night."
A lot was riding Saturday on the shoulders of Olson, 54, a tall, rangy commander from Amityville, N.Y. The Bush administration has pointed to a successful Afghan election as proof of progress in its global war against terrorism.
It was Olson's job to carry out a sophisticated, nationwide security strategy that called for Afghan forces to take up positions at polling centers, with U.S. and NATO troops backing them up. American aircraft and ground forces were poised and on call to respond if the Afghans needed help.
Although the American military remains by far the strongest guarantor of security in Afghanistan, it is U.S. policy to turn more security duties over to the newly created Afghan police and army. The election has been a major test of that strategy.
Throughout the day Saturday, Olson monitored the security station, still braced for possible attacks on polling centers, voters or election workers.
By Saturday afternoon, Olson was declaring the election a success, despite the bad weather, a dispute over the ink used to mark the thumbs of those who had voted, and sporadic attacks on voting stations.
"They've missed their opportunity to stop the election," he said of the Taliban and al-Qaida.

A leading pro-Taliban Sunni Muslim cleric and an associate were shot dead in southern Pakistan on Saturday, the latest attack in religious violence that has already killed more than 70 people this month.
At least 24 suspected Taliban militants were killed on Saturday in a bombing raid by aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition in the central province of Uruzgan, the provincial governor said. Jan Mohammad Khan told Reuters Taliban guerrillas who have vowed to disrupt the poll attacked a convoy of Afghan and U.S.-led troops in Char Cheno district, several hours before polling began in Afghanistan's landmark election.
Afghan troops killed three suspected Taliban rebels in the southern province of Kandahar, and a fuel truck with explosives hidden in its tyres was stopped on the edge of Kandahar city, officials said on Friday.
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