Afghanistan: US air-strike sparks protests —as White House escalates

A deadly US military raid on an Afghan house Dec. 25 sparked protests and produced conflicting reports over who was killed. The US said the dead were 11 armed Taliban militants, part of a bomb-making cell in the Maiwand district west of Kandahar, on Thursday. US forces said they found dozens of land mines, grenades and bomb-making materials. But local Afghan officials said eight militants and four civilians were killed. Angry Afghans protested by blocking the highway between Kandahar and Herat with burning tires. (NYT, Dec. 26)

The Pentagon is poised to announce the deployment of at least one more combat brigade to Afghanistan in the coming weeks, AP reports—roughly 2,800 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne based at Fort Bragg, NC. All told, officials say the US could nearly double its troop levels there to as many as 60,000, sending up to four combat brigades and thousands of support forces within the next year. Gen. David McKiernan, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces, has asked for four combat brigades and thousands of support troops. (AP, Dec. 23)

A rocket attack on Kabul Dec. 27 demolished two rooms of a mud-brick home and killed three sisters—aged 13, 15 and 16—relatives and police said. Authorities believe the rocket may have been fired by militants in the west end of the city, near neighboring Wardak province. Also Dec. 27, a suicide car bomber attacked a police checkpoint, killing three officers and two civilians, in Arghandab district, Kandahar province. Four officers and one civilian were wounded. (AP, Dec. 28)

See our last posts on Afghanistan and civilian casualties.

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