Afghanistan: dialectic of terror escalates

A suicide bomber struck a NATO patrol in northern Afghanistan’s Kunduz province, killing at least two soldiers and five children Oct. 20. NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) did not reveal the soldiers’ nationality, but Kunduz governor Mohammad Omar said they were German. The attacker apparently rode up to the patrol on a bicycle. The attacker Germany has some 3,000 soldiers in northern Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, ISAF acknowledged that civilians may have been killed in an air-strike on insurgents last week in southern Helmand province. Villagers in Nad Ali in Helmand province said 27 civilians were killed in the Oct. 17 strike. ISAF opened an investigation in response to the claims, which were backed up by provincial officials. (BBC, London Times, Oct. 20; ISAF press release, Oct. 18; Xinhua, Oct. 17)

One day earlier, 31 Afghans were reported killed by Taliban insurgents after they stopped a bus travelling from Kandahar to Helmand as it passed through Maiwand, a Taliban-controlled district just west of Kandahar city. Afghan authorities said all 31 were civilians. But Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi told AlJazeera that only 27 were killed, and they were all Afghan army personnel. He said the Taliban fighters released all the civilian passangers before killing the soldiers. This was categorically denied by Afghan Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, who said: “Our soldiers travel by military convoy, not in civilian buses. And we have military air transportation.” (AlJazeera, Oct. 19)

See our last posts on Afghanistan and civilian casualties.

  1. How to make friends and influence people
    From AFP, Oct. 22:

    KABUL — An air strike by international forces mistakenly killed nine Afghan soldiers on Wednesday, the defence ministry said, in the latest in a string of errors to hit the campaign against Taliban militants…

    The US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai condemned the killing of the soldiers by foreign forces and said such incidents could sap the morale of security forces who are fighting a resurgent Taliban movement.

    The US military admitted that coalition forces “may have mistakenly killed and injured” Afghan soldiers in the eastern province of Khost and said it was investigating.

    Foreign helicopters accidentally targeted the soldiers as they manned a checkpost in an operation to provide security for voters registering for elections, said Colonel Mohammad Gul, a local spokesman for the Afghan army.

    “In an international military air strike at 2:00 am… nine members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) were martyred and three others were injured,” a defence ministry statement said.

    A spokesman for the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Greg Julian, announced a joint investigation.

    “Initial reports from troops on the ground indicate that this may be a case of mistaken identity on both sides,” a statement from his office said.

    Afghanistan’s defence ministry condemned the incident and pledged to bring the “culprits” to justice.

    “Such tragic and painful incidents would weaken the morale of the national security forces and could hamper the national army development,” it said.