Afghan “surge” of military advisors amid anti-US protests

Two US troops were killed by an Afghan army solider outside a coalition military base in Nangarhar province Feb. 23 as protests escalated over the burning of Korans that had been issued to detainees at Bagram Air Base. Protests have spread across half a dozen provinces following the revelations, with demonstrators arming themselves with rocks, bricks, sticks and pistols. The Taliban issued a statement signed by the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” on their website, Voice of Jihad, calling for an uprising against the “American invaders.” The unrest comes as the US Department of Defense announced the next round of unit deployments to Afghanistan. Five brigades and one army command will deploy to Afghanistan between April and August 2012. These units will not be assigned to regular combat operations, but to train and support the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The deployment will constitute an unprecedentedly large training mission. (VOA, Feb. 23; NYT, Feb. 22; Long War Journal, Feb. 19)

President Obama apologized for the Koran burnings, and was promptly lambasted by Newt Gingrich, who told a crowd in Spokane: “President Obama surrendered twice today and I think that deserves to be brought to the country’s attention. The president apologized for the burning, but I haven’t seen the president demand that the government of Afghanistan apologize for the killing of two young Americans.” (CNN, Feb. 23)

Violence has not abated across the border in Pakistan. A car bomb ripped through a bus station on on the outskirts of Peshawar Feb. 23, killing 12 people, including two children. The attack happened on the road towards the garrison city of Kohat near the border of the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA). (Dawn, Pakistan, Feb. 23) Four police were killed when suicide bombers blew themselves up in an attack on a police station in Peshawar the following day. (Dawn, Feb. 24)

See our last post on Afghanistan.

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  1. Afghan crisis deepens
    Authorities in Afghanistan are hunting for an Afghan intelligence official suspected of killing two US officers at close range inside a heavily guarded command center at the Interior Ministry in Kabul Feb. 25. Also that day, demonstrators hurled grenades at a US base in Kunduz. (VOA, Feb. 26; AP, Feb. 25) The UK, France and Germany all announced that they will pull their military advisors from Afghanistan after the Interior Ministry attacks. (AAP, Feb. 27)

  2. US drone base at Jalalabad hit by Taliban attack
    The Taliban claimed credit for a Feb. 27 suicide attack outside of a US airbase in eastern Afghanistan that is used to launch drone attacks in Pakistan. Nine people were killed and several more were wounded in today’s suicide bombing. The suicide bomber rammed his car packed with explosives into the main gate at Jalalabad Airfield in Nangarhar province, killing nine Afghans, said to “include civilians, security guards and an ANA [Afghan National Army] soldier,” the International Security Assistance Force said. (Long War Journal, Feb. 27)

  3. Pakistan: Shi’ites massacred in bus attack
    Gunmen on Feb. 28 killed at least 18 Shi’ite bus passengers in a sectarian attack in the northern Pakistani district of Kohistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. The attackers reportedly checked the identity cards of all the passengers before removing the Shi’ites and shooting them. About 27 other passengers were spared. Four buses were travelling in a convoy from the city of Rawalpindi to the northern town of Gilgit. (BBC News, Feb. 28)