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The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread (November 2006)

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I will build more and kill less, says Nato's Afghanistan general
By Michael Evans and Anthony Loyd November 01, 2006

Winter campaign is to improve country rather than kill insurgents
The general says 'armchair critics' in Britain fail to see the progress being made in Afghanistan (Musadeq Sadeq/AP)
THE British general commanding all 31,000 Nato troops in Afghanistan has pledged to focus his winter campaign on development projects rather than killing Taleban fighters.
Lieutenant-General David Richards conceded that significant improvements were needed over the next few months to persuade Afghans to “keep the faith” with the Nato mission.

In an interview with The Times, General Richards said that he aimed to switch all the efforts of his 37-nation force towards protecting and enabling “visible” reconstruction projects. He was ready to “put a security cloak” around rebuilding programmes that would make an immediate difference to the people.

The shift follows months of fighting in which hundreds of Afghans have been killed in some of the toughest fighting experienced by British troops facing a resurgent Taleban. While not playing down the threat still posed by the Taleban, General Richards said he hoped that the “kinetic energy” that marked the first six months of his command would ease through the winter. Forty-six Nato troops have died in Afghanistan this year.

“Something that really hit me in the eye was just how important it was for the Afghan people for us to prove that we could fight and defend their areas. We did prove this but we don’t need to carry on doing this in the long term, and I hope the fighting element throughout the winter will be minimal compared with what our troops have had to face in the summer,” he said.
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Al-Qaeda leaders frequented bombed Pakistan madrassa: official
10-31-2006, 20h08 ISLAMABAD (AFP)

A religious school destroyed in Pakistani airstrikes was frequented by top Al-Qaeda militants including Ayman Al-Zawahiri and the alleged mastermind of the foiled London airliners attack, a senior security official said.

Neither Zawahiri -- Osama bin Laden's Egyptian-born deputy -- nor Abu Obaida Al-Misri were in the Islamic school, or madrassa, at the time of the raid on Monday, the official said in a briefing to journalists.

Thousands of tribesmen rallied earlier Tuesday saying the seminary in the Bajaur tribal agency near the Afghan border was harmless and that the 80 people who died in the helicopter raid were all civilians, mostly young students.

"The madrassa that was targeted was frequently visited by Al-Qaeda leaders, including Ayman Al-Zawahiri and Abu Obaida Al-Misri," the security official said on condition of anonymity.

He said Al-Misri was Al-Qaeda's operational commander in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province and was also the mastermind behind August's alleged conspiracy to blow up jets flying from London to the United States.

Al-Misri was responsible for guiding Rashid Rauf, a British national arrested by Pakistan in August in connection with the alleged plot, the official said.
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2 NATO troops killed in eastern Afghan bombing
Updated Tue. Oct. 31 2006 7:23 AM ET CTV.ca News Staff

A roadside bomb killed two NATO soldiers and wounded two others on patrol in Afghanistan's eastern province of Nuristan on Tuesday.

The two wounded soldiers were transported to an American military facility in Asadabad in neighbouring Kunar province.

The roadside bomb struck the soldiers' vehicle in the province of Nuristan, NATO said.

NATO did not release the nationalities of the soldier but American troops are the bulk of the NATO component in eastern Afghanistan.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast in the restive region, which is a bastion for militants as well as a stronghold for former prime minister and militant leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Taliban's top military commander, Mullah Dadullah, said the attack was triggered by a remote controlled device, according to unconfirmed reports from Reuters.

Meanwhile, NATO reported that its warplanes killed 12 insurgents in Kandahar province as "they tried to occupy firing positions on the roof of a compound."

The troops also reported that suspected militants launched an attack on a convoy of foreign troops in Nuristan.

There are a number of casualties in that attack, a NATO spokesman said, without offering further details.

In Ghazni province, meanwhile, a suicide bomber detonated himself Tuesday in the office of the chief of Andar district.

One police officer was killed and another wounded when they tried to keep the attacker from entering the office of the chief, provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Ghafar told The Associated Press.
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Who pays for Afghanistan's Tim Hortons?
Canadian taxpayer foots nearly $4-million bill 
Hannah Boudreau, Brian Liu  globalnational.com  Tuesday, October 31, 2006

OTTAWA -- In late June 2006, a pair of Soviet-era Illyushin-76 transport planes left Canada, carrying inside their cargo bellies tonnes of precisely chilled ingredients for making doughnuts and bagels.

Along with the precious cargo, six Canadian experts made the 10,000-kilometre journey over the North Pole to a region of the world from which Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs advises its citizens to stay away.

That place was Kandahar, Afghanistan, home to roughly 2,300 Canadian soldiers who are there to fight terrorism and rebuild the nation. Their mission was simple: to set up and train a team of Canadians to open the first Tim Hortons franchise outside of North America, at a place where Canadians feel furthest away from home.

Although while the Oakville, Ont.-based company initially balked at opening a franchise nine time zones from their main market (Canada and the U.S.), negotiations between Tim Hortons and the Department of National Defence eventually led to what was initially thought to be a private franchise operation on the Kandahar airfield -- the site of Canada's main base of operations in the region.

However, through Access to Information requests, Global National has learned that it took a lot more than thirsty soldiers longing for a "double-double" morale boost to open the Afghan coffee shop -- to the tune of nearly $4 million in Canadian taxpayers' dollars.

Upon the March announcement of the plans to open the Kandahar branch, Tim Hortons announced in a press release that it would convert a trailer normally used for restaurant renovations and deliver it to the Canadian Forces for use in Afghanistan.

Documents obtained now show that in fact, two trailers were purchased and retrofitted at the cost of $378,000. And renting the two Illyushin-76 cargo planes to transport the trailers over? The Canadian government picked up the $425,000 tab for that too.

The costs don't stop there:

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Canadian soldiers are not enough
Unless Hamid Karzai cracks down on his government's corruption, the people will keep making room for Taliban, says author and Kandahar businesswoman SARAH CHAYES
SARAH CHAYES  From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

'Are you going back to Kandahar?"

On a speaking tour in the United States and Canada, I keep hearing this question. The recent assassination of Safia Ama Jan, the provincial director of women's affairs in Kandahar, not to mention the death of yet another Canadian soldier, has made people wonder whether the violence in Afghanistan has taken a quantum leap that would cause me to reconsider.

I have lived in Kandahar for nearly five years -- arriving originally as a radio reporter, then deciding to stay on to help rebuild. Currently, I run a small co-operative that manufactures fine skin-care products and exports them to Canada and the United States. For residents of Kandahar, like me, who have been watching the apparently inexorable decline, Safia Ama Jan's killing seemed utterly within the realm of normalcy. More than a year ago, in late May of 2005, the head of the provincial council of religious leaders -- a much more important person locally than Safia Ama Jan -- was gunned down outside his office right next to the seat of provincial government. Three days later, my best Afghan friend, the chief of the Kabul police, was blown up along with 21 other people at the oldest mosque in town, at a prayer service in memory of the slain mullah.

At that time, it seemed to me that nothing could ever get worse.
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Drawing battle lines
Sun Media sent undercover employees to the street where they gauged the pulse of the nation

There is a quiet divide in our country.

It is between those who believe we should remain fighting in Afghanistan and those who hope we find a way out now.

But unlike our neighbours to the south, most Canadians don't often take a stand on corners to express and press our world views.

Last weekend's anti-war protests in Canadian cities, as well a few pro-mission gatherings weeks earlier, are rare and include only a small number of our voices.

We're usually so very quiet in our convictions and conversations, as we walk by one another on crowded streets. So I'm looking for signs to break the silence -- and get us talking.

Over the past week, in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa and London, Sun Media journalists, including myself, have stood on our busiest boulevards, carrying sandwich boards and waving placards which spelled out battle lines on our home front.

One day, our billboards called for us to hold fast in Afghanistan. In my case, the words were "Support Our Troops" -- the acknowledged slogan to stay the course.

Then the next day, the placards changed to a call of withdrawal -- "Canada Out of Afghanistan."
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US's Afghan policies going up in smoke
By Ann Jones

On the fifth anniversary of the start of the Bush administration's war in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld wrote an upbeat op-ed in the Washington Post on that hapless country's "hopeful and promising" trajectory. He cited only two items as less than "encouraging": "the legitimate worry that increased poppy production could be a destabilizing factor" and the "rising violence in southern Afghanistan".

That rising violence - a full-scale onslaught by the resurgent Taliban - put Afghanistan back in the headlines this summer and
brought consternation to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) governments (from Canada to Australia) whose soldiers are now dying in a land they had been led to believe was a peaceful "success story".

Lieutenant-General David Richards, the British commander of NATO troops that took over security in embattled southern Afghanistan from the US in July, warned at the time, "We could actually fail here." In October, he argued that if NATO did not bring security and significant reconstruction to the alienated Pashtun south within six months - the mission the US failed to accomplish during the past five years - the majority of the populace might well switch sympathies to the Taliban.
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Taliban handpick their targets
By Jason Motlagh   Oct 28, 2006

KABUL - Taliban militants are targeting Afghan government officials in yet another nod to Iraqi insurgents, marked by a spike in assassinations and attempted attacks in recent weeks that coincide with a greater reliance on suicide terrorism and the use of imported bomb technologies.

The killings appear to represent a systematic campaign to undermine the weak government of President Hamid Karzai, both to create fear in urban centers with a heavy security presence and distant provinces that have in past months experienced the
bloodiest fighting since the hardline movement was ousted five years ago for harboring al-Qaeda operatives.

"This really is a deliberate campaign to assassinate Afghan officials," Barnett R Rubin, a leading expert on Afghanistan at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Asia Times Online. "We have seen well-placed suicide bombers operating more effectively than they ever have before."

Suicide attacks have killed seven government officials so far this year, with many near misses. The upward trend began when Paktia provincial governor Abdul Hakim Taniwal, a Karzai confidant, was killed along with two aides on September 10 outside his office by a suicide bomber, followed by another strike at his funeral service the next day that claimed six lives.

A district police chief, an intelligence officer and an administrator in the eastern province of Nangarhar died on October 9 when a roadside bomb ripped through their vehicle en route to check on a school that had been torched.

Last month, a gunman killed Safia Ama Jan, the director of the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Kandahar province, a Taliban stronghold, after which four other female state employees opted to quit their posts. Two other provincial governors have since escaped assassination attempts, including one last month in which a suicide bomber killed 18 people outside the governor's compound in Helmand province. This week a provincial councilman was slain in Kandahar, prompting the council to double the amount of bodyguards on hand.
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Taliban demand release of hostage
By Danish Karokhel Oct 26, 2006 

(A review of Gabriele Torsello's book, The Heart of Kashmir , can be found at A story in black and white, Asia Times Online, Jan 26, 2004)

KABUL - An Italian freelance photojournalist kidnapped in southern Afghanistan by unidentified gunmen should be immediately released, a Taliban spokesman said on Tuesday.

Gabriele Torsello was abducted with his Afghan assistant on October 12 between Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand province, and Kandahar. Five armed men stopped their taxi and took them away, according to Ghulam Mohammad, a fellow-passenger.

The kidnappers had threatened to kill the photojournalist, who is now a practicing Muslim, unless Italy returned Abdul Rahman, an Afghan Christian convert who was given asylum, and also withdrew its soldiers from the country. This deadline has passed.

Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, a so-called Taliban spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News by phone from an undisclosed location that the journalist was innocent and must not be made to pay for the actions of the Italian government. "The abductors who claimed they were Taliban did so only to defame us," he said.

"Kidnappers of the Italian journalist are robbers and they have abducted the journalist for money. We will drag them to court if we find them," he declared.

Torsello had visited the Musa Qala and Sangin districts of restive Helmand province. The Taliban, who have appealed for his release, said that they provided the photojournalist with security during his five-day assignment in the two districts.
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Gross stupidity in Afghanistan
By Ajai Sahni Oct 25, 2006

The US-led coalition is unambiguously losing the war in Afghanistan, and it is important, at this stage, to reiterate the obvious, that is, precisely why the war was undertaken in the first instance: because of September 11, 2001, because of the al-Qaeda presence in Afghanistan, and because of the assessment that the Taliban regime there had provided safe haven and operational facilitation to al-Qaeda for its planning and execution of the multiple and catastrophic strikes in the United States. The war was not merely punitive, it was intended to be preventive. It has proved a failure on both counts.

As with all the pertinent leaderships confronted with the possibility, if not imminence, of defeat, saving face has become infinitely more important than the original objectives of this war. It is useful to emphasize here that this was not a war of conquest, or even of "liberation" (despite the rhetoric of "Enduring Freedom"), but of defense. Its principal objective was to deny a base for future September 11s to be strategized, planned and executed.

But the Taliban and al-Qaeda have survived - albeit somewhat damaged - and, if current trends persist, will soon have the freedom, the power and the required setting to plan out their next wave of attacks against the West. And Western - particularly US - leaderships are squarely to blame for this. US diplomat Alberto Fernandez has spoken scathingly of the "stupidity in Iraq", but the stupidity in Afghanistan is far more manifest, and was considerably the more avoidable.
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No 'real change' for Afghan women 
By Pam O'Toole  BBC News 

Millions of Afghan women still face discrimination, the report says
An international women's rights group says guarantees given to Afghan women after the fall of the Taleban in 2001 have not translated into real change.
Womankind Worldwide says millions of Afghan women and girls continue to face systematic discrimination and violence in their households and communities.

The report admits that there have been some legal, civil and constitutional gains for Afghan women.

But serious challenges remain and need to be addressed urgently, it states.

These include challenges to women's safety, realisation of civil and political rights and status.


Womankind Worldwide sent a film crew to Afghanistan to investigate the situation of women there.

They found a young Afghan woman crying in hospital who said she wanted to die. She was recovering after setting fire to herself.
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Taliban factions map
October 30, 2006

For those who are having trouble (like me) keeping up with the increasingly complex Taliban dynamics in Afghanistan, here's a heavily oversimplified map, just depicting the three major anti-government factions' geographic centers of gravity
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A Tim Hortons Soldier Fires Back

From the comments of the CTV Politics blog (responding to a quote from the Senlis Council's Norine MacDonald in this CTV story);

Re: The Afghanistan conundrum
by Trevo on Sun 29 Oct 2006 08:29 AM EST | Profile | Permanent Link

I'm not quite sure where you're going with the "Our military base in Kandahar has a Burger King and a Tim Hortons. And 15 minutes away, there are children dying of starvation," comment.

Is it a time issue that determines who should help these children you mention? Is the Tim Hortons you go to, far enough away that you don't care about starving children? Do you really think that because our coffee is closer to starvation, we should feel guilty? So are you saying the closer I am with my coffee to the problem of starving children, the worse I should feel? Further to that, because you are really, really far away, it’s not your concern?

What are you doing about the children of Afghanistan? You're sitting back in your recliner, after turning up the thermosat and having a warm shower, and deciding we (Canadian soldiers)should feel bad for having a coffee becuase we're closer than you to starving children. So you put down the newspaper, tell the kids to go outside and play, and head over to your computer to “throw” your opinion out there. We're trying to help these kids. We're giving girls the chance to go to school and we are doing our best to make this a safer place for everyone. Some of the greatest people i have ever met in my life have died trying to help these people. We leave our families, missing birthdays, funerals, new births, hockey games, and every comfort we as Canadians can enjoy. Now, we have a Tim Hortons to microscopically ease the burden of putting our lives on hold for 6 months, and bring our morale up for the 7 minutes it takes to drink a double-double.

For me personally, the hardest part of my job was not going to Afghanistan, Bosnia, or Kosovo, but it was the fact that I put my life on the line so that people like you can have these opinions.
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International Security Assistance Force Map

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Majority backs Afghan troop deployment: survey
Updated Mon. Oct. 30 2006 2:16 PM ET CTV.ca News Staff

A new survey finds a majority of Canadians support sending troops to Afghanistan, believing they provide "critical assistance" to the local population.

But at the same time, support for Canada's current mission and confidence that it's making a difference seem to have eroded since the summer.

The Innovative Research Group Inc. survey of almost 2,500 Canadians was conducted for the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute -- a Calgary-based lobby group.

The survey found that 54 per cent of Canadians are willing to put troops in harms way in Afghanistan.
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Tribal fury at air strike in Pakistan
POSTED: 1134 GMT (1934 HKT), October 31, 2006

KHAR, Pakistan (Reuters) -- More than 15,000 armed Pakistani tribesmen protested on Tuesday over a Pakistan Army helicopter attack on an al-Qaeda-linked religious school that killed around 80 suspected militants.

Chants of "Down with America" and "Down with Musharraf" rang out as the tribesmen gathered in Khar, main town in the Bajaur tribal region close to the Afghan border, in anger at the air strike.

"Our jihad (holy war) will continue and Inshallah (God willing), people will go to Afghanistan to oust American and British forces," Maulana Faqir Mohammad, a pro-Taliban cleric, told the crowd of turbaned tribals, many carrying Kalashnikovs and wearing bandoliers, and a few shouldering rocket launchers.

While the government claimed the madrasa school at Chenagai was being used to train militants, protesters said the dead, mostly young men aged between 15 and 25, were merely students.

President Pervez Musharraf, speaking at a seminar in Islamabad, said the army had killed militants.

"We were working on them for six or seven days, we know who they were. They were doing military training," Musharraf said.

Nowhere is Musharraf's alliance with the United States in a war on terrorism more unpopular than in the Pashtun tribal belt straddling the Pakistan-Afghan border.

A mountainous region that is difficult to access, Bajaur lies across from the eastern Afghan province of Kunar, where U.S. troops are hunting al Qaeda and Taliban militants.

Along with North and South Waziristan, Bajaur is regarded as a hotbed of support for Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
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Canada's David Fraser wraps up deadly mission in southern Afghanistan
Published: Wednesday, November 01, 2006

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CP) - Canada's Brigadier-General David Fraser has handed NATO control of southern Afghanistan to the Dutch.

It's a rotational change of command that wraps up a deadly eight months for Fraser in one of the world's most dangerous zones. Fraser says much has been accomplished: new roads, canals and schools. But he concedes that many Afghans are still waiting for help, and that NATO needs more troops to fight back insurgents and finish the job.

Maj.-Gen.Ton Van Loon of the Netherlands takes over for Fraser in southern Afghanistan.

Forty-two Canadians and one diplomat have died in the country since 2002

Afghanistan to prove to be 3rd Vietnam for U.S.: dissident
November 01, 2006     

As leader of the radical Hizb-e- Islami and a former Afghan premier, Gulbudin Hekmatyar warned that this post-Taliban central Asian state would become the third Vietnam for the United States, a Kabul-based newspaper reported Wednesday.

"Afghanistan will prove to be a third Vietnam for the United States," daily Outlook quoted a statement of the dissident Afghan warlord as saying.

Terming Iraq as the second Vietnam, Hekmatyar maintained that wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would break the U.S. economic backbone and that its fate would be similar to the former Soviet Union, a reference to the USSR's dismemberment.

Hekmatyar, a wanted man by the U.S. government, in his statement also called on Afghans to continue Jihad or holy war till the withdrawal of U.S.-dominated foreign forces from Afghanistan.

It is the second statement issued by Hekmatayr over the past 10 days. In his previous statement released on the eve of Eidul Fitr to mark the end of Muslims fasting month of Ramadan, he called on Afghans to back him in fighting the foreign forces in Afghanistan.

Source: Xinhua

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1) 'Canada responded magnificently'
NATO's top general lauds performance of our troops under fire in Afghanistan

MATTHEW FISHER, CanWest News Service
Published: Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Taliban specifically targeted Canadian forces in southern Afghanistan this year in an attempt to weaken NATO's political resolve, but the strategy backfired badly on the Islamic extremists, the often outspoken U.S. marine who commands the transatlantic alliance said yesterday.

"I think the Canadian leadership in the south is the answer to what was a clearly open question in some communities: Would NATO fight if tested?" General James Jones said in an interview at SHAPE, NATO's military headquarters in southern Belgium.

"They chose to test Canada, and Canada responded magnificently. ... The enemy was soundly defeated."..

Dire commentaries recently, particularly in the British media, about how badly the war has been going in Afghanistan were wrong, Jones said.

"With due respect to many people who feel qualified to talk about Afghanistan, if you have not been on the ground and seen the people, you cannot fully understand," Jones said.

"Afghanistan is not Iraq. It is a completely different problem, and it is not lost in my view."..

..."I think that in Afghanistan the exit strategy is very clear. It is not, in fact, a military problem. It turns on the proper harnessing, funding and focusing of the funding for the reconstruction effort.

"If I had a preference for any nation, it would be to focus on what your country can do for reconstruction, don't just think militarily. This is the path to success. If you asked me if I wanted 5,000 more troops or $50 million more to build schools and roads, carry out judicial reforms and move against corruption and crime, I'd take the money."

2) Foreign military fatalities--a complete list since 2001 from the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count is here:

3) Afstan orbat info at Wikipedia.  Looks pretty accurate to me.  Interesting that OEF CFC-A is winding up at the end on November.  Note also this--I've often wondered if our BGEN Fraser actually had command of the Brits in Helmand:

The relationship of the British Task Force in Helmand to the MNB RC South is unclear; there may be effectively two brigade HQs for a brigade's worth of troops.

Articles found 2 November 2006

3 Journalists Are Hurt in Afghanistan
The Associated Press Thursday, November 2, 2006; 7:46 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Three National Geographic TV crew members were hurt in southern Afghanistan last weekend in a roadside bomb blast that killed one U.S. soldier and injured eight, a military official said Thursday.

The three American journalists suffered non-life threatening injuries in the blast Saturday in Uruzgan province, U.S. military spokesman Maj. Matt Hackathorn said. He did not disclose their names.

The Department of Defense has previously said that one American Special Forces soldier died in the blast. Eight other soldiers and an interpreter were injured.

Two of the National Geographic crew members, the producer and the cameraman, were flown to Germany for treatment for face lacerations, Hackathorn said. The crew's soundman suffered a ruptured eardrum; he stayed behind in Afghanistan.

The entertainment Web site TMZ.com, which first reported the injuries, said the crew was embedded with Army Special Forces for an upcoming special called "Inside the Green Berets."

Kroll Denies Iraq, Afghanistan Pullout
November 2, 2006

Kroll, the security division of the Marsh & McLennan Companies, has issued a statement denying reports that it is planning to pull its international security services out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Company stated: "Kroll is remaining in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it has no intention of withdrawing any of its assets. Kroll staff are amongst the most professional, qualified and experienced in their field, and are distinguished for providing the highest quality security services globally. Kroll is fully committed to its clients that operate in Iraq and Afghanistan and will provide security services to them on an ongoing basis in these countries and in other locations worldwide."

However, Kroll also indicated that it has "decided to refocus its security business and is considering the sale of its United Kingdom-based high-risk asset protection business, Kroll Security International."
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Enforcing insecurity in Afghanistan
by Sonali Kolhatkar and James Ingalls; November 01, 2006 

The following is an excerpt from “Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence” (Seven Stories, 2006) by Sonali Kolhatkar and James Ingalls.

Once touted as a success in the “War on Terror,” Afghanistan has now deteriorated into increasing violence with the return of warlords, a flourishing drug trade, and ongoing women’s oppression. Additionally, us/NATO bombing raids still claim civilian lives and their brutal “hunt and kill” tactics have ironically resulted in a resurgence of the Taliban. Despite the NATO takeover of “security operations” this summer, Western troops in Afghanistan are more unpopular than ever and per soldier are just as likely to be killed as in Iraq.

But this descent into violence is a predictable outcome of deliberate U.S. policies over the past five years. As we explain in our new book, Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence (Seven Stories), the U.S. refused to allow UN peacekeeping troops to stabilize Afghanistan outside Kabul, and instead allowed their old allies, the Northern Alliance and other warlords, to regain power and resume their oppression.

This, in combination with U.S. military policy, has actually increased insecurity and made the Taliban once more a palatable alternative for many Afghans. However, despite the resurgence of the Taliban, “many Afghans [still] cite regional warlords as the greatest source of insecurity (Human Rights Watch).”

The following is an excerpt from Bleeding Afghanistan, Chapter 3: Replacing One Brutal Regime With Another

The U.S. ensured that its warlord partners were spared the glare of international oversight by working to restrict international peacekeepers to Kabul for more than two years after the fall of the Taliban. This had the effect of entrenching warlords in rural Afghanistan, where the overwhelming majority of Afghans reside. The New York Times,

As warlords have carved out chunks of Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban, the lawlessness that gave rise to the strict Islamic movement in the mid-1990’s has begun to spread, once again, across this country. The United States-led military campaign… has returned to power nearly all of the same warlords who had misruled the country in the days before the Taliban.
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E.U. Aid to Afghanistan Victims, notes Israel Rafalovich

2006-11-01 | Brussels - The European Union has decided to give 2.5-million Euro in emergency humanitarian aid for the victims that were affected by the drought in Afghanistan.

2.5-million people have been affected by the drought and are facing difficult living conditions. The money will be used to provide food and clean water with special focus on disabled persons and female headed households.

Significantly less snowfall and rain in the last winter season throughout Afghanistan have caused severe drought, as there has been considerable reduction of wheat.

The European Union decision will target the most vulnerable population and the food will be distributed directly to the most needed.

Until now the European Commission has given 77-million Euros in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. All other 25 member states of the European Union are individually making aid donations to Afghanistan.

Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan Tallies Operations
On October 26 – 27, 2006 Nov 01, 2006
Ahmed Al-Marid, JUS Afghan Correspondent

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Taliban are becoming increasingly savvy not just on the battlefield but in reporting their progress to Muslim Ummah that testifies that the movement is gaining strength. In the communiqué, the Media Committee details operations it carried out fro the two day period commencing October 26, 2006.

Here is their statement, published uncut and uncensored, as translated by JUS.

We remind our viewers that the opinions and points of view expressed in this statement are those of the author and shall not be deemed to mean that they are necessarily those of JUS, the publisher, editor, writers, contributors or staff. In addition, JUS assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of third party content.

News Report And Tally Of The Military Operations Carried Out By Your Brothers, The Mujahideen Of The Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan-Taliban October 26 – 27, 2006

OCTOBER 27, 2006

Two Mercenary Troops Killed In Helmand Province Explosion

At around 8 AM this morning, the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate killed two army collaborators in a bomb explosion in Bande Bark Area in Helmand Province’s Jreshk district causing death among the soldiers manning a checkpoint near where the explosion occurred.
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EDITORIAL: Honks with heart!

Helmets off to the Sun's Andrew Hanon.

Recently, Hanon, our "public pulse" reporter, along with a team of Sun Media journalists from across Canada hit the streets to gauge public reaction to our troops remaining in Afghanistan.

Hanon marched around armed with two signs. One supported our continued presence in that wartorn nation, where a fledgling democracy is taking root, and freedoms and privileges that Canadians take for granted are finally being experienced by ordinary Afghans, now that the evil Taliban are being held at bay.

Another placard, reading "Get our troops out of Afghanistan," echoed the cynical and opportunist words of federal NDP Leader Jack Layton.

The NDPers and their left-wing friends organized tiny anti-military rallies on the weekend, which attracted large and mostly distorted media coverage. And the mood reflected the message on Hanon's sign.

According to Hanon's "honk test," when he hung the pro-military message around his neck, the positive reaction went up substantially.

Hanon's pavement poll complements our equally unscientific - but significant nonetheless - yellow ribbon survey.

"Support Our Troops" stickers have been appearing on the end-gates of pickups and SUV hatchbacks throughout the city in recent weeks. And for troops serving with the NATO forces overseas - and their loved ones left at home at the Edmonton Garrison - that's a heartwarming message indeed.

Edmontonians do care.

Yes, the Afghan casualty rate has been a disturbing consequence of the war, particularly after the bulk of the forces were shifted to the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar from relatively peaceful Kabul.

For a country whose military has been downgraded to little more than a humanitarian aid agency under successive Liberal governments, having an engaged army takes some getting used to.

And it will make the Remembrance Day ceremonies next week all the more vivid and personal.

It certainly brings into sharp contrast the kind of Canada Layton would have in mind if Canadians were foolish and misguided enough to ever elect him and his party to office.

If fact, it might be a lesson in Canada 101 for Layton to borrow Hanon's sandwich boards and spend some time by the road at rush hour. He'd get a healthy dose of good, old Albertan and Canadian reality.
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Countering Afghanistan’s Insurgency: No Quick Fixes
Asia Report N°123  2 novembre 2006


Fierce battles rage in southern Afghanistan, insurgent attacks in the east creep towards the provinces surrounding Kabul and a new campaign of terrorist violence targets urban centres. The country’s democratic government is not immediately threatened but action is needed now. This includes putting more international forces into the battle zones but insurgencies are never beaten by military means alone, and there are no quick fixes. Diplomatic pressure on Pakistan is needed, and the government of President Karzai must show political will to respond to internal discontent with serious efforts to attack corruption, work with the elected National Assembly and extend the rule of law by ending the culture of impunity. Afghanistan needs a renewed, long-term effort to build an effective, fair government that provides real security to its people.

The desire for a quick, cheap war followed by a quick, cheap peace is what has brought Afghanistan to the present, increasingly dangerous situation. It has to be recognised that the armed conflict will last many years but the population needs to be reassured now that there is a clear political goal of an inclusive state. Actions to fight the insurgency must be based on and enforce the rule of law with priority given to the reform of the police and judiciary. Short-term measures such as reliance on ill-trained and poorly disciplined militias, harsh, ad hoc anti-terrorism legislation and discredited power brokers from past eras will only undermine the long-term goal of building sustainable institutions. Political strategy talk seems to focus increasingly on making a deal with the Taliban. That is a bad idea. The key to restoring peace and stability to Afghanistan is not making concessions to the violent extremists but meeting the legitimate grievances of the population – who for the most part have eagerly supported democratisation.

The intervention in Afghanistan has been done on the cheap. Compared even to many recent post-conflict situations (Bosnia, Kosovo) it was given proportionately many fewer peacekeepers and less resources – and Afghanistan has never been a post-conflict situation. Even the numbers do not tell the full story since force protection, rather than the creation of durable security, remains the first priority for some NATO members. Those prepared to go south and east to confront the Taliban – mainly the U.S., UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Romania, Australia and Denmark – are to be congratulated. Others, such as Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Turkey, must be persuaded to be more flexible and remove restrictions that impede true interoperability of the international forces.
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Bomber Strikes NATO Convoy in Afghanistan
By NOOR KHAN 11.01.06, 2:07 PM ET

A suicide car bomber struck a NATO convoy Wednesday in southern Afghanistan, wounding two soldiers and damaging a vehicle, while a NATO air strike killed three suspected insurgents in the east.

British Gen. David Richards, NATO's top commander in Afghanistan, told The Financial Times in an interview published Wednesday that he doesn't have enough forces to defeat the Taliban within the next six months, but they can still make "sufficient improvements" to keep Afghans confident in the government and international community.

Richards told The Associated Press last month that Afghans would likely switch their allegiance to resurgent Taliban militants if their lives showed no visible improvements in the next six months.

Maj. Luke Knittig, an International Security Assistance Force spokesman, said NATO's mission was a long-term effort.

"We're not after instant victories here," Knittig said at a news conference in Kabul. But he said Richards "absolutely has enough in a countrywide command now to continue to provide tangible results and progress."

U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley, meanwhile
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Blair urges Britons to support their forces in Afghanistan
The Associated PressPublished: November 1, 2006

LONDON: Prime Minister Tony Blair urged Britons on Wednesday to support the tough battle their forces are fighting against insurgents in Afghanistan, and he denied the troops have inadequate equipment.

During his weekly question session in Parliament, Blair said British commanders, who are currently leading the NATO forces in Afghanistan, have not requested additional armored vehicles to make up for shortages, but he said his government is willing to supply them with everything they need in the war.

"The work we're doing there obviously is extremely important. Yes, it has proved very, very tough down in the south of Afghanistan," forcing the soldiers to rethink their strategies, Blair said.
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AFGHANISTAN: Measles, tetanus and polio vaccination drive launched
01 Nov 2006 19:38:53 GMT Source: IRIN

KABUL, 1 November (IRIN) - Tens of thousands of children will be vaccinated against measles, tetanus and polio in southern parts of Afghanistan during a 10-day campaign launched on Wednesday by the Ministry of Public Health, with support from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and NGO partners.

WHO officials said that the insurgency-hit south and southeastern areas of the country were especially susceptible to measles outbreaks this winter due to high internal displacement and low immunisation due to insecurity.

The drive, which started in Paktya, Paktika and Khost provinces will be extended on Sunday to ten districts in the southern provinces of Kandahar, Nimroz and Helmand targeting around 540,000 children, according to United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

UN officials in the capital, Kabul said that the remaining districts in Kandahar, Helmand and Nimroz and in Uruzgan and Zabul provinces would be tackled at a later date.

More than 6,000 health workers will be engaged in the ten-day effort, said Dr Hemlal Sharma, a UNICEF health officer in Kabul.
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Tim Hortons in Afghanistan could cost taxpayers
Nov, 01 2006 - 9:20 AM

“VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980)” - The president of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is seeing red after learning the cost of setting up a Tim Horton's coffee shop in Afghanistan was almost four million dollars.
John Williamson says the restaurant chain giving Canadian soldiers a taste of home in Kandahar should be footing the entire bill.

“Tim Hortons is receiving a massive P.R. benefit from this whole entire venture.”

Speaking on CKNW’s morning news with Philip Till, Williamson says he's also concerned Canadians could end up paying more than two million dollars each year to keep the shop open.
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"There is No Clear Strategy for the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan"

In an interview with DW-RADIO, Klaus Reinhardt, the former commander of the KFOR peacekeeping force in the Balkans, criticizes the German government for lacking a strategy in its deployments of the Bundeswehr.

DW-RADIO: What would you say is the main problem with the Bundeswehr's missions abroad?

Reinhardt: Post-conflict operations have degenerated too much into military operations, rather than into combined civil-military operations. In the first phase, the military should provide for internal and external security. If you see how we do this today in our deployments, be it in Bosnia, be it in Iraq or Afghanistan, these things are not coordinated enough.

So, you're saying that it's not just the German government, it's all the governments. After all, Germany is only involved in missions that are organized by others, such as NATO, the EU or the United Nations.

Absolutely. This is not a thing that is unique to Germany. I saw this in all the nations, and if you read the book by Mr. Bob Woodward on the campaign in Iraq, you see that the Americans are still struggling for a strategy, how to cope with the problems. If you don't do this at the very start, you have very many actors in the country who all try to do the best they can, but very often they contradict each other. We had in Kosovo, and still have, some 3,500 NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and international organizations. Somehow this has to be brought together in some sort of synergistic approach for the well-being of the local population.

What kind of strategy is needed?

I think before we deploy into a country, the individual nations and the international community has to sit together and consider what we have to give to the country, with what means -- as in personnel, medical and financial means -- in order to make sure that in a bottom-up approach the conditions for the population are being met. It's not good enough in southern Afghanistan only to fight the Taliban and to be there with military forces if the living conditions for the people in all these villages are not being amended at the same time. This has to go hand in glove, otherwise we lose the confidence of the people for whose sake we are deployed to that particular country.
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Kroll Looks to Sell Security Subsidiary
Nov. 1, 2006, 3:58PM By EILEEN ALT POWELL AP Business Writer © 2006 The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Kroll, the risk consulting and technology division of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc., is looking to sell a subsidiary that provides security services in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Simon Freakley, the chief executive of Kroll, said Wednesday that the company is exploring the sale of Kroll Security International because it has decided to refocus on consulting and training.

Kroll Security International currently has some 350 employees and accredited subcontractors on the ground in Iraq, he said. The size of its work force in Afghanistan was not immediately available.

"Over the last six weeks, we have been speaking to high-quality companies that do this work and have expressed an interest in purchasing that subsidiary and taking over the activities," Freakley said.

He added that "as we explore a transaction, our priority is that our people and clients (in Iraq and Afghanistan) are not compromised."

Freakley said that KSI's staff would be maintained in both countries while negotiations were under way.

The issue came to light because insurance brokerage Marsh & McLennan, in its earnings report on Wednesday, said Kroll planned to leave high-risk international assignments that no longer fit its business strategy. Marsh & McLennan executives later said the reference was to security personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Rice and Kasuri not attending conference on Afghanistan in India
Wednesday, November 01, 2006  By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: Pakistan Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri and US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will not attend a foreign ministers’ conference on the reconstruction of Afghanistan, to be hosted by India from November 18 to 19.

Pakistani Minister of State for Economic Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar will represent Pakistan at the conference, which will be inaugurated jointly by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The first such conference was held in Kabul last year. The meeting is aimed at accelerating regional cooperation for Afghanistan’s economic development and improving security for the war-ravaged country. Nineteen countries, including the G8 group, China, Pakistan and Iran are expected to participate in the conference, which is also likely to be attended by the foreign ministers of Iran, France and Russia.
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Turkey rejects NATO Afghanistan request
ANKARA, Turkey, Nov. 1 (UPI)

Turkey is unwilling to extend its operations in Afghanistan despite a NATO request to do so.

Turkey's Zaman newspaper reported Oct. 29 that the Turkish government has rebuffed a NATO request to deploy its forces outside the capital Kabul. The rebuff comes despite a personal request by NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, U.S. Gen. James Jones, that Turkish forces in Afghanistan lift their self-imposed restrictions in the war-torn nation.

The Turkish chief of staff and the Turkish Foreign Ministry are opposed to Jones' request.

Hikmet Cetin, Turkey's former NATO senior civilian representative in Afghanistan for nearly three years, has indirectly supported the NATO request.

During an interview with Zaman Cetin said restrictions on Turkish troops in Afghanistan should be reduced to a minimum even as he observed that no other nation could force Turkey to alter its polices.

"The Afghan mission is NATO's most significant operation. I repeated that restrictions were completely unnecessary even when I was representing NATO there. Gen. Jones is right in demanding more troops. When I was in Afghanistan, I was saying that restrictions were unnecessary and strict policies were causing difficulties. Restrictions should be minimized," Cetin said.
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Afghanistan to deploy additional police personnel in six districts of Nangarhar
Wednesday November 01, 2006 (0130 PST)

KABUL: Sixty additional police personnel are to be deployed each at six border districts of Nangarhar province.
The step is aimed at checking growing incidents of drug trafficking and infiltration of terrorists from across the border in these districts, BBC Pushto reported.

It was decided at a meeting of the District Police Chiefs in Nangarhar that additional police force should be deployed at all the six districts of the province, bordering Iran and Pakistan, to check drug trafficking and cross border infiltration.

Each district will have sixty additional border police force personnel at its respective border. Youth between eighteen and thirty five years of age will be recruited to man the border force. After completing ten days training, the newly appointed police personnel will be sent to the respective district for performing security duty at the border.
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US Diplomat: Taleban Not Strategic Threat to Afghanistan
By Gary Thomas  Washington 31 October 2006

A senior U.S. diplomat is playing down the resurgence of the Taleban in Afghanistan, saying it poses no real threat to the government of President Hamid Karzai.

In a speech Tuesday to an Afghan investment conference in Washington, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said the surge of attacks by the Taleban does not pose any long-term threat to the Afghan government.

"Security has to be the primary concern of any government, at any level of government,” he said.  “And while we've seen an increased number of attacks in the regions and some of the provincial cities and even in Kabul and Kandahar themselves over the past few months, we do not believe that these attacks pose a strategic threat to the central government.  But they do have an effect because they prevent government from operating at the provincial level."
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Afghanistan becoming more unstable say returning NZ troops
Wednesday November 01, 2006 (0130 PST)

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Defence Force personnel returning from Afghanistan say security is worsening in the country.
The eighth rotation of troops flew into Ohakea Airbase on Monday, finishing a six-month tour rebuilding and patrolling the wartorn country.

The commanding officer of the contingent, Captain Ross Smith, says violence in Afghanistan increased during his time there. He says bombings and other incidents have slowly spread closer to where New Zealand troops are based.

Captain Smith says the Bamyan province, where most of the New Zealand troops were based, remained stable enough for the contingent to carry out its duties.

A ninth rotation of Defence personnel has already taken over in Afghanistan.

China voices support for Afghanistan's reconstruction
www.chinaview.cn 2006-10-31 00:44:41  

   BEIJING, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- China supports and will actively participate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong said here Tuesday.

   Zeng made the remarks in his meeting with visiting Afghanistani Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak. Zeng said that China respects Afghanistani people's choice on their social system and development path and supports the Afghanistani government's efforts to safeguard national independence, sovereignty and territory integrity, maintain social stability and develop their national economy.

   "China is willing to join hands with Afghanistan to further implement the bilateral treaty of friendship and cooperation in an effort to boost bilateral relations," Zeng noted.

   Wardak expressed his appreciation for China's valuable supports, calling China "a reliable friend" and vowing to make concerted efforts with China to promote the bilateral relations to a higher level.

China ratifies good-neighborly treaty with Afghanistan
October 31, 2006          

China's top legislature on Tuesday ratified a treaty with Afghanistan forging closer ties especially in security cooperation to maintain peace in the region.

The Good-neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between China and Afghanistan, signed by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Beijing on June 19, 2006, says the two sides will enhance the fight against terrorism, separatism, and extremism.

"Under the treaty, China and Afghanistan will launch more military and security cooperation and expand exchanges in trade, agriculture, science, education, natural resources exploration and so on," said Deputy Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Chinese experts have voiced concern that terrorists and drugs in Afghanistan are threatening peace and stability in China's western region.

Signing the treaty will consolidate China-Afghanistan ties, and be helpful in maintaining peace in Afghanistan and to fight "East Turkistan" terrorists in western China, source with the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress said.

Source: Xinhua

Valcartier troops en route to Afghanistan
Updated Tue. Oct. 31 2006 9:11 AM ET Canadian Press

QUEBEC CITY -- An extra contingent of Canadian soliders is en route to Afghanistan.

Seventy-six troops left CFB Valcartier last night on a 22-hour flight to Kandahar.

Fifty will be on a nine-month assignment to guard reconstruction projects in the area, which has grown increasingly hazardous.

Since summer, Taliban insurgents have picked up the pace of suicide bombings and ambushes.

The rest of the fresh troops will join a Canadian contingent helping to train the Afghan national army.

The poorly equipped force needs foreign support to maintain security in the volatile country.

Another 100 soldiers from Valcartier leave for duty in Afghanistan at the end of November.

Canada has about 23-hundred soldiers in Afghanistan.

Forty-two have been killed since 2002.

Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor was on hand to see the latest troops off and said their mission in Afghanistan is a noble one.
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A hidden enemy frustrates efforts to rebuild Afghanistan
By Raymond Whitaker in Gereshk, Afghanistan Published: 31 October 2006

"Effing brilliant," said a Royal Marine as J Company, 42 Commando, returned to base from their heaviest clash with the Taliban since they arrived in Afghanistan a month ago. Their elation and relief was understandable, but the engagement also showed the movement remained a threat, even in the relatively secure centre of Helmand province.

Up to a dozen Taliban fighters were believed killed. No marines were hurt, but the company found an Afghan civilian with a leg wound lying in the road after the encounter. He was brought to the Gereshk base and evacuated by helicopter to the hospital at Camp Bastion, the main British base in Helmand.

The encounter began yesterday afternoon as the company was completing a patrol on the eastern bank of the Helmand river about six miles outside Gereshk, an area known to be heavily infiltrated by the Taliban. "Just as we were returning to our vehicles, we came under mortar fire from two positions, one on each side of the river," said the company commander, Major Ewen Murchison.

"At first the fire was inaccurate, but then it started coming closer to us, and one shell fell 25 metres from some of the men. We saw a group of five to seven armed individuals down on the river bed, who were signaling with mirrors to the mortar crews, apparently to direct their fire. We neutralised them with machine-gun fire. One of the mortars was in range, and we neutralised that too." Although two RAF Harriers were scrambled from Kandahar air base, the pilots could not identify the second mortar, which was mounted on a truck. Major Murchison said he decided against a follow-up operation, which could have run into a prepared ambush, and casualties could not be verified.

"Every time we've gone out in force before, they've always moved out," said one of J Company's officers, Captain Tom Vincent. "This was the first time they've been prepared to stand up and have a go. That's why the lads are so happy." His commander added that for some of the younger men, "it was the first time they've heard the thump of a mortar and the whizz of the shell going past. It's an interesting sound if you've never heard it before."

Rarely, though, are encounters between British forces and armed Afghans so straightforward. Major Murchison described an incident earlier in the patrol, when they detained an Afghan with a shotgun who appeared to be passing on their movements by mobile phone. Although they found two AK-47 ammunition clips beneath his bed when they searched his home, they could not find any clear evidence that the man was connected to the Taliban or the opium trade, and he was released. It lent force to the major's comment that "it is difficult to distinguish between the Taliban and ordinary hoods".

Gereshk, the commercial capital of Helmand, is an important target for the Taliban, because it straddles a strategic intersection. "But they do not need to take the town," said the marines' commander. "They can sit outside and have an influence, both economically and through intimidation. It is our job to restrict their freedom of action and allow the Afghan security forces to build up competence and confidence."

The death of a marine in a suicide bombing in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, this month signalled that British forces faced a new threat, although Major Murchison said he was more concerned about roadside bombs, three of which had exploded in Gereshk in the past three weeks.

As for the main mission of British troops in Helmand, to support development, the major made it clear that only a handful of smaller projects were possible at the moment.

"Effing brilliant," said a Royal Marine as J Company, 42 Commando, returned to base from their heaviest clash with the Taliban since they arrived in Afghanistan a month ago. Their elation and relief was understandable, but the engagement also showed the movement remained a threat, even in the relatively secure centre of Helmand province.

Up to a dozen Taliban fighters were believed killed. No marines were hurt, but the company found an Afghan civilian with a leg wound lying in the road after the encounter. He was brought to the Gereshk base and evacuated by helicopter to the hospital at Camp Bastion, the main British base in Helmand.

The encounter began yesterday afternoon as the company was completing a patrol on the eastern bank of the Helmand river about six miles outside Gereshk, an area known to be heavily infiltrated by the Taliban. "Just as we were returning to our vehicles, we came under mortar fire from two positions, one on each side of the river," said the company commander, Major Ewen Murchison.
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Linguists Key to Success for Afghan Soldiers Training in U.S.
By Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky, USA Special to American Forces Press Service

FORT POLK, La., Nov. 2, 2006 – Afghan interpreters are crucial for the success of Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police forces training at the Joint Readiness Training Center here.
Hassan Wilson, a native Afghan who has been interpreting between American and Afghan forces for two years, said their role is vital. “What we do is very important,” he said.

Without proper translation, Wilson said, orders can be misinterpreted, which can cost lives and ruin missions the Afghan army conducts with coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Training for such missions would not be as effective without interpreters, Wilson said. “We help them (other Afghans) understand the concept (of being trained) so they don’t make mistakes,” he said.

Fellow Afghan interpreter Imram Mohamad Rasul agreed. “The (Afghan National Army is) getting good training here they’ve never done before, learning new stuff with the U.S. Army,” he said. “They like the different training, but can’t speak any English, so we try to do our best to help them learn.”

Learning as much as possible is vital for the troops to succeed against Taliban extremists, said Rasul, who has been interpreting for a year.
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Articles found 3 November 2006

NATO brass sees progress in Kandahar
Canada hands command to the Dutch
Troops battling to build trust in region

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan—Despite widespread reports of growing intimidation and fear, NATO leaders say this volatile region is open for business and increasingly safe for development.

That might be cold comfort for local residents who say they're regularly threatened because they work for foreigners, teach school or promote women's rights. And there are the suicide bombers.

Paranoia is common in Kandahar city, the iconic former Taliban stronghold referred to as the "jewel in the Crown" by military planners.

But Brig.-Gen. Tim Grant, the new Canadian commander in Kandahar, said yesterday such tactics are proof anti-government forces are running scared.

"Those are desperate measures by desperate people," he said. "And we need to make sure that people understand that the coalition is here, and that we have made significant improvements in the security of the average Afghani. It's a matter of getting the message out."

It was a resounding theme as Canadian Brig.-Gen. David Fraser handed command of southern Afghanistan to the Dutch after a tough nine-month mission.

The emerging goal is to hold hard-won former Taliban ground while doing more to win lasting Afghan support. New roads, wells and schools are desperately needed.

"We need more police, more soldiers, more international support and development to build on what we have achieved," Fraser said as he passed the NATO reins yesterday to Maj.-Gen. Ton Van Loon of the Netherlands.

Otherwise, bloody battles against insurgents from within and outside the country will be repeated, strategists say.

About 150 troops from Quebec's Royal 22nd Regiment will soon arrive to bolster security for development projects.

Earlier yesterday, a suicide bomber attacked a U.S. convoy a short drive down the main highway from the Kandahar base. Two soldiers were wounded.

In the eastern province of Khost, a NATO air strike killed three suspected insurgents. British Lt.-Gen. David Richards, NATO's top commander in Afghanistan, told The Financial Times in an interview published yesterday he doesn't have enough forces to defeat the Taliban in the next six months, but said they can still make "sufficient improvements" to keep Afghans confident in the government. Richards, head of 31,000 troops in the country, has asked for 2,500 more soldiers.

Retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie, who was briefly in Kandahar as part of a fact-finding mission, offered a characteristically blunt assessment.

"We're doing the maximum we can with what we have," MacKenzie said, adding that more help clearly was needed.
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How not to go to Afghanistan
Canadian Press

FREDERICTON — Soldiers who test positive for drugs will not be deployed to Afghanistan early next year, says a senior military official.

Lt.-Col. Rob Walker, the commander of 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, said soldiers who fail mandatory drug tests will be taken out of training.

Col. Walker, who is in Wainwright, Alta., where he is helping to guide his battle group through the last phase of its pre-deployment training, is taking a tough approach in enforcing the new policy.

“I can tell you one thing, those soldiers who have tested positive are not here on this training and they will not deploy to Afghanistan,” Col. Walker said.
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Military wife wants to talk

OTTAWA—Miranda Kostiuk-Hein has three children, a husband in uniform and a bone to pick with NDP Leader Jack Layton.

She says it's time that Layton, who addressed a weekend protest rally in Toronto to speak out against the Afghan conflict, made some time to hear the stories of the soldiers who have been fighting overseas and the families they leave behind.

"It's great he had time to go to this rally and yet again speak out about soldiers. Why can't he take 10 minutes and phone and talk to combat Joe's wife, who lives with it?" she asked.

As a military wife whose husband, Cpl. Dwayne Hein, is just back from a dangerous tour of duty in Kandahar, Kostiuk-Hein is keen to tell Layton about the life of Canada's military families.

"... At least give us a chance and hear our side, hear our stories, hear what we live with on a day-to-day basis," Kostiuk-Hein said in an interview yesterday.

She has invited Layton — who has called for Canadian troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan — to her home, just outside CFB Shilo, to sit at her kitchen table and see her life first-hand.
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NATO sees body counts as a measure of success
Alliance vision of Afghanistan is being painted by numbers
PAUL KORING From Friday's Globe and Mail

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN — NATO has exhumed an old and notoriously unreliable measure of war -- body counts -- in an effort to show it is making progress against the resurgent Taliban in southern Afghanistan.

Almost daily, the alliance's International Security Assistance Force trumpets another lopsided killing toll. But the practice, considered odious by some and pointless by others, irks some top Canadian commanders.

In the past week alone, leaders of the 31,000-soldier force issued statements saying "55 insurgents, one ISAF soldier killed in Zabul province" and "more insurgents dead in Uruzgan province," explaining that a revised body count showed "the number of insurgents killed . . . has increased from 55 to 70," and finally that "ISAF forces were engaged in heavy fighting with large groups of Taliban," killing 48 Taliban with no ISAF casualties.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's high-level decision to resurrect body counts apparently reflects an inability to find any other headline-grabbing measure to demonstrate success. Body counts were last used by the Pentagon in Vietnam, where the wildly optimistic and soaring totals were completely at odds with the grim reality that the United States was losing.
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All eyes on 'little Napoleon' in NATO command switch
DOUG SAUNDERS From Thursday's Globe and Mail

When his admirers call him "a little Napoleon," they are referring both to his stature and his voluble confidence. Brigadier-General Ton Van Loon, the Dutch officer who took over command of the NATO troops in Afghanistan this week, is clearly a different personality from the mild-mannered Canadian general he replaced.

But soldiers in the field, including more than 2,300 Canadians in the deadly Kandahar region, and political observers in the Netherlands and Canada, are anxiously waiting to see whether Gen. Van Loon will be a different sort of leader in other respects.

In an Afghan war that has been hampered by friction between nation-building and fighting the Taliban, the change of leadership from Canada to the Netherlands this week has led to speculation that the tenor of the conflict will also change.

"Is Van Loon going to do things differently? He may want to but I'm not sure he can do much," says Jan Willem Honig, a Dutch expert on the politics of NATO warfare at King's College in London.
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Italian 'released in Afghanistan'
POSTED: 1443 GMT (2243 HKT), November 3, 2006

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- An Italian photographer kidnapped in Afghanistan last month was freed Friday and is in good health, Italy's ambassador said.

Gabriele Torsello and his Afghan translator were kidnapped in mid-October while traveling from Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern Helmand province, toward neighboring Kandahar.

Ettore Francesco Sequi, Italy's ambassador to Afghanistan, said authorities at an Italian-run hospital in Helmand province received a phone call telling them to go to a location on the road linking Lashkar Gah and Kandahar. It was there that an Afghan hospital employee found Torsello, he said.

Torsello is in good health and will travel back to Kabul, where he could arrive sometime Sunday, Sequi said.

Maj. Luke Knittig, a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said the military was helping transport Torsello back to Kabul by air, but he didn't know when he would arrive.

"We are making air assets available to Italian authorities, but it's really their show," he said.

In Italy, Modesto Nicoli, Torsello's family spokesman, welcomed the photographer's release.

"It's an indescribable joy, it's a news we have been waiting for a long time," he told SkyTG24.

Sequi said he didn't think that a ransom was paid for the freelance photographer. "I really doubt it, so my reply is no," he said.

Torsello's kidnappers had asked for the withdrawal of Italy's 1,800 troops from Afghanistan, and for the return of Abdul Rahman, an Afghan who had faced the death penalty for converting to Christianity and was granted asylum in Italy.

Torsello's release was first reported by PeaceReporter, the online daily that has been handling media on behalf of Emergency, the Italian aid group that runs the hospital in Helmand province and that has been in contact with Torsello and his abductors.
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FACTBOX-Foreign hostages in Afghanistan
Fri 3 Nov 2006 8:13 AM ET

Gabriele Torsello, an Italian photojournalist kidnapped in Afghanistan last month, was released on Friday, government officials and aid workers said.

Following is a short chronology of some reported foreign kidnappings in Afghanistan.

November 2003 - Turkish engineer Hassan Onal is released by Taliban kidnappers after a month in captivity. Onal was seized from a U.S.-funded highway project on Oct. 30.

December 2003 - Two Indians, kidnapped while working on a U.S.-funded road project, are released unharmed.

March 2004 - One Turk is shot and a second kidnapped in an attack in southern Afghanistan. They had been working on the Kabul-Kandahar highway. The kidnapped Turk was later released.

November 2004 - United Nations workers Annetta Flanigan from Northern Ireland, Shqipe Hebibi from Kosovo and Filipino diplomat Angelito Nayan are freed almost four weeks after they were abducted at gunpoint in Kabul. A Taliban splinter faction, Jaish-e Muslimeen (Army of Muslims), claimed to have held them.

December 2004 - A Turkish engineer working on a road-building project between Jalalabad and Kunar is kidnapped. The Interior Ministry later said the body of a kidnapped Turkish construction engineer had been found in eastern Afghanistan.

May 2005 - Clementina Cantoni, an Italian working for the CARE International aid agency, seized by gunmen in Kabul. She was released unharmed after more than three weeks.
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Comedian to bring laughs to our troops
Dartmouth native off to Afghanistan
By CHRIS LAMBIE Staff Reporter

Tracey MacDonald probably won’t have to worry about jokes bombing, but the Dartmouth native will be wearing a helmet and flak jacket to protect her from real explosives when she lands in Afghanistan later this month to entertain Canadian troops.

The comedian is one of 15 entertainers from across the country travelling to Kandahar for the military’s Smiles From Home tour.

"When I told my family I was going to Afghanistan, I swear to God both my parents said to me, ‘You’re no safer living in Los Angeles,’ which I thought was really funny," Ms. MacDonald said Thursday in an interview from her home in California.

The 33-year-old moved to Hollywood after winning $200,000 on the CBS television show Star Search.
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Don't share a table with the Taliban
Women's rights would be negotiated out of existence by misogynists, says LAURYN OATES
LAURYN OATES Globe and Mail Update

Afghanistan is spiralling into further chaos as donor governments, which have poured millions into the country, are scratching their heads in bewilderment. Some critics have called for alternative responses to the conflict that has taken the lives of more than 40 Canadian soldiers. One of the propositions gaining traction is the idea of negotiating with the Taliban, bringing them to the table for peace talks and giving them a place in the country's fledgling government.

Unfortunately, in negotiations dominated by men, women's rights are often the first thing to become a bargaining chip -- usually meaning they are negotiated right out of any discussions. This is particularly true with groups having a proven track record for human-rights abuses against women and girls, such as the Taliban and the Northern Alliance.

Misogyny is not peripheral to the Taliban's agenda. Rather, it is a central tenet of their platform. We have already had the chance to see the Taliban in power, and know that their policy of subjugating women is not mere rhetoric but bona fide practice. Their warped interpretation of Islam swiftly became the law of the land, and was brutally enforced during their horrifying rule in the late 1990s.

The evidence we have of what happened to women under the Taliban is not light stuff. Their edicts meant torture, rape, the amputation of nail-polished fingers, women whipped in the streets for an exposed ankle, and girls killed for studying secretly. The haunting stories of women stoned to death inside crowded soccer stadiums are not urban myths, but actual events in the very recent history of Afghanistan. Have Canadians so soon forgotten our shock and fury at hearing about the hell Afghan women faced for more than five years?

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Think tank warns more troops needed in Afghanistan as 6 police killed in militant ambush
The Associated PressPublished: November 3, 2006

HERAT, Afghanistan: Suspected militants with machine guns killed six police patrolling in western Afghanistan and wounded three others, an official said Friday, as a think tank warned that more foreign troops are needed to secure the country.

The police car was sprayed with bullets in the ambush in Herat province's Adraskan district late Thursday, said Nasar Ahmad Paykar, the provincial deputy police chief. The district police chief was among those killed, and three police were wounded.

Paykar blamed Taliban militants for the ambush near Shindand district, where a clash between two rival warlords and their tribes left a dozen people dead last week.

In the southern province of Kandahar, a suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy Thursday, wounding three soldiers, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said. There were no reports of civilian casualties.
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NATO fighting the wrong battle in Afghanistan
By M K Bhadrakumar Nov 4, 2006

The pre-dawn attack on the Zia-ul-Uloom madrassa in Pakistan's Bajour tribal region on Monday killing 80 people, mostly students, is bound to impact on the course of the Afghan war. No matter the repeated assertions by Islamabad to the contrary, widespread suspicions of US involvement in the attack have arisen.

The incident offers "proof" to those who clamor for Pakistan doing "more" that indeed Islamabad is going the extra league in the "war on terror". White House spokesman Tony Snow was quick to lavish praise on President General Pervez Musharraf for showing
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UNSC to send fact-finding mission to Afghanistan    
www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-03 12:11:08  

   UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Security Council will send a high-level fact-finding mission to Afghanistan next week to review the threat posed by Taliban and Al Qaida extremists, council president for the current month Jorge Voto-Bernales said on Thursday.

   Voto-Bernales, Peru's ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters that a nine-member team from the 15-member council will leave for Islamabad on Nov. 10 on its way to Afghanistan where it is due to arrive on Nov. 12.

   The mission is due back at UN headquarters on Nov. 17 and the Security Council is to hear a briefing on the trip on Nov. 22, Voto-Bernales said.

   The Taliban is waging mounting insurgency in Afghanistan. The rebels who are allied with Al Qaida have attacked troops in large numbers and intensified a campaign of suicide and roadside bombings.


U.K. Military, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Is Short-Staffed, NAO Says
By Mark Deen Nov. 3 (Bloomberg)

Britain's armed forces are short- staffed, the country's spending watchdog said, adding its voice to concern that commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan have left the military over-stretched.

Shortages are most acute for specialists such as technicians who run the nuclear reactors in submarines, explosive experts, doctors and the Royal Marines Corps, the National Audit Office said in a report released in London.

With 7,200 troops in Iraq and 5,600 in Afghanistan in addition to British commitments in Northern Ireland, the Balkans and Africa, lawmakers are concerned that government is pushing the military too hard. The issue is adding pressure on Prime Minister Tony Blair to set a date to bring forces home from Iraq.

``There simply aren't enough men and women in all parts of the armed forces to meet the planned levels of military activity, never mind enough to cope with the heighten demands'' placed on them, Conservative lawmaker Ed Leigh said in response to the report. ``Given the ferocity of the challenges they face in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, this is intolerable.''

Recruitment rates have dropped while departures have increased in the past year, the audit office said.

The Ministry of Defense achieved 96 percent of its recruitment target last year, compared with 98 over the previous five years, the audit office said. The number of those leaving the forces increased ``slightly'' to 9,200, with pressures on family life being cited by 49 percent.

`Immense Strain'

``The U.K. has been involved in more military activity than even the most demanding levels it had planned for and that looks like continuing to be the case for years to come,'' Leigh said. ``It must exhaust our service men and women and put immense strain on their personal lives.''

In an effort to reverse the trend, the government said last month that it will begin paying bonuses to soldiers deployed in dangerous areas.
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US Drug Policy in Afghanistan at Crossroads

Afghanistan’s primary industry, its main export and the chief prop holding up its shaky economy is opium cultivation. For tens of thousands of Afghani opium farmers and their families growing the opium poppy that supplies Europe with an estimated 92% of its heroin is their only means of livlihood. The US supports the government of Afghanistan with billions of dollars while jailing tens of thousands of its own citizens for drug-related offenses. US official drug policy in Afghanistan calls for the complete eradication of the opium poppy. It is a failed policy, but getting out if won’t be easy.

Supposedly under the Taliban opium production was stopped entirely. The Taliban decided the opium production was “un-Islamic”, but many doubt whether they really stopped opium farming or just used its profits to fund Islamic terror groups. The US quandry is that even if its eradication program succeeded, the result would be a devasting blow to the Afghan economy and an even heavier burden on US taxpayers along with unpredictable social upheaval.

On October 24 Rep. Henry Hyde (R. - Ill.) sent an open letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as asking for a change in US Drug Policy in Afghanistan. Instead of pursuing the failed program of eradication of opium farming, Hyde wants the US DEA to go after drug traffickers, the so-called “Drug Lords” who make most of the profit and who control the refining and export of the final product, heroin. So far Rumsfeld hasn’t responded to Hyde’s letter.

Last January a two-day symposium was held in Kabul on the subject of formulating a new drug policy for Afghanistan. The sponsor of the symposium was a European-based think-tank called the Senlis Council. Made up of foreign policy and world health experts, the Senlis Council proposed a solution that may shock some Americans, but which would seem to hold out the promise of a way out of a very sticky situation if adopted.
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Articles found 4 Nov 2006

Hundreds support troops at Edmonton rally
Updated Fri. Nov. 3 2006 10:55 PM ET CTV.ca News Staff

Freezing cold and a biting wind didn't stop more than 300 people from showing up at a "Red Friday" rally in Edmonton to support Canada's troops in Afghanistan.

As at similar rallies in previous weeks in other Canadian cities, supporters who gathered in Edmonton's downtown Churchill Square wore red to symbolize support for troops.

Organizers had hoped for attendance to reach 3,000, but the extreme cold discouraged all but the most determined. Organizers vowed there would be encore performances in coming weeks, however.

A choir of young people wearing red T-shirts started Edmonton's gathering by singing Oh Canada.

Rebecca Jones told CTV News that hearing the youngsters sing in tribute to Canada's brave troops brought tears to her eyes.

"My boyfriend is in the military and he was deployed from January until the end of August so it's hard," said Jones.

"It's nice to hear everybody singing the national anthem," she said. "It makes you know everybody is supporting them when they're away."

"Your soldiers don't crave pity, they don't want you to fear for them," Col. John Vance told the crowd. "They need your love and your unwavering support."

Regardless of their opinions of the mission in Afghanistan, Edmontonians came to thank the soldiers for the job they do, and sign a banner that will lift troops' spirits in the war-torn country.

"I'm not supporting the war -- I'm sorry," rally participant Maria Grundel said. "But I'm supporting our soldiers."

Master Cpl. Paul Franklin, one of hundreds of soldiers based in Edmonton Garrison who have served in Afghanistan, was a key speaker.
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Combating the Ideology of Suicide Terrorism in Afghanistan

By Waliullah Rahmani

Although there was no record of Afghan suicide attacks during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the pursuant civil war, suicide attacks in the country have steadily increased since the fall of the Taliban. Since January, more than 85 suicide attacks in Afghanistan have killed or injured 700 people (BBC Persian, October 13). Recently, on September 30, a suicide bomber blew himself up in an entryway to the Afghan Interior Ministry, killing more than 12 people and injuring 42 others (Radio Farda, September 30). Since the September 30 attack, Kabul has suffered from at least one suicide bombing per week. Statistics show that this year alone, Afghanistan was hit by more suicide attacks than in all past years combined. With the absence of a historical tradition of suicide attacks, important cultural and sociological questions must be addressed. For example, what has convinced Afghans to adopt suicide attacks as a military tactic? When was this tactic adopted? Were there outside influences or examples that influenced Afghans? Most importantly, can this ideology of suicide terrorism in Afghanistan be combated?

Suicide Attacks: Low-Cost and High Profile

After the fall of the Taliban, there was a large-scale campaign to bolster the support of the Afghan government through the strengthening of the Afghan army and the presence of coalition forces. Initially, this made ground operations for the Taliban difficult. In recent months, however, the Taliban insurgency has adapted and has changed tactics to fit the new situation on the ground. Kabul-based Afghan analyst Fahim Dashti, the editor of Kabul Weekly, argued that the current surge in suicide attacks marks a "change in tactics by the Taliban." He stated that "suicide attacks have been executed to decrease the Taliban's causalities" and "to create fear" among the Afghan people. Dashti explained that by "killing civilians and causing insecurity, the Taliban want to motivate people against the foreigners in Afghanistan" (Radio Dari, May 12). The rationale behind this strategy rests on the assumption that the population will blame the U.S.-led coalition and the Afghan government, rather than the Taliban, for the lack of security in the country.

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Abducted Italian photographer flown out of Afghanistan
Nov 4, 2006, 8:49 GMT

Rome - A Italian freelance photographer formerly kidnapped in Afghanistan was flown from the country to an undisclosed destination Saturday, it was reported.

According to the Afghan news agency Pajhwok citing the Italy embassy in Kabul, Gabriele Torsello was able to telephone his family in Italy, telling them he was in good health.

Torsello, a 34-year-old convert to Islam, was freed by his captors on Friday after spending three weeks tied up in chains and in the dark in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. It remained unclear whether a ransom was paid.

He was abducted in the restive Helmand province in southern Afghanistan by gunmen on October 12.
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Taliban kill two in attack on US convoy in Afghanistan

KHOST: Taliban fighters ambushed a convoy supplying logistics and goods to a US base in southeastern Afghanistan, killing two Pakistani drivers and wounding an Afghan, police said Saturday.

The attackers opened fire on the two trucks from both sides of the road in a mountainous area of Khost province late Friday, the provincial police chief told foreign news agency.

"Two Pakistani co-drivers were killed and one Afghan driver was wounded in an enemy attack on non-military trucks hired to supply goods for Americans," General Abdul Hanan Raufi said.

Raufi said the attack was carried out by Taliban insurgents who fled immediately afterwards. Police were searching for the killers, he said.
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Fort Polk bids farewell to 1,000 soldiers headed to Afghanistan
By KELLY MOORE/Staff Writer Published: Friday, November 3, 2006 11:08 AM CST

FORT POLK — Fort Polk honored 1,000 soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team as they deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Boar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom here Thursday morning at Fort Polk’s Mountain Field.

The 1,000 soldiers who are deploying have been preparing for this day for more than two years. They have spent countless days in combat training, weapons training and buddy medical training awaiting their turn the theater of operation.

Lt. Col. Ronald Metternich addressed the soldiers and hundreds of friends and family members who attended the ceremony.

“As I look out across Mountain Field today I see a task force that is fully-prepared to embark on a journey ... a journey that we have prepared for nearly two years,” Metternich said.

Metternich spoke of the “newly” formed unit as it has only been formed for two years.

“It seems like only yesterday that this unit was formed, sparse of soldiers and equipment. Over that time we have built the combat task force that you see before you today.”

This unit has been on 15-day alert for more than a year and have been trained and prepared to deploy at a moment’s notice.
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Clashes kill six cops in Afghanistan
Web posted at: 11/4/2006 1:53:9

HERAT, Afghanistan • Six Afghan police and a soldier were killed and eight Nato troops injured in three separate attacks by Taleban insurgents in Afghanistan, officials and the military said yesterday.

The attacks which occurred in Herat in the west and Laghman in the east also left three Afghan police and four soldiers injured, they said.

The six policemen, including a district police chief, were killed when rebels ambushed a police convoy in Herat province on Thursday.

Mohammad Sediq, police chief of Adraskan district, was visiting police posts in the area when he was attacked, the province’s police chief, Nisar Ahmad Paikar, said.

Paikar blamed the attack on remnants of Taleban who have waged an insurgency since 2001 when they were forced out of power by US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) Major Luke Knittig said seven Isaf soldiers were injured Friday when their convoy was hit by a rocket fired by Taleban in Laghman province.

We had “two incidents in the last two days in Laghman province. Eight Isaf were soldiers wounded, one yesterday, seven today. An IASF convoy was hit by rocket propelled grenade,” he said.
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(AGI) - Rome, Nov. 3 - The chairman of the lower house culture committee, Pitero Folena (Refounded Communists) said that "the release of Gabriele Torsello is a wonderful piece of news". "In recent days, we felt that it was all turning for the worst and that the approach used lacked the necessary determination. The fact that football players wore a T-shirt calling for his release, following a proposal by the Italian Football League, was something positive ". "The mobilization of the Islamic communities and that of Torsello's colleagues, that is journalists, "Folena said, "were also positive. Now, I believe that Torsello's kidnapping, as well as the massacres of civilians that take place on an almost daily basis in Afghanistan, should convince us of the need to withdraw our troops. On the other hand, the main player in Torsello's release was Emergency, that is an organization which is operating there without any military protection and is calling for the withdrawal of all foreign troops. I think that this position can be easily shared".(AGI) -
031542 NOV 06

Afghan president opens work on 15 million dollar hospital
Saturday November 04, 2006 (0214 PST)

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai attended a ceremony to mark the start of the rebuilding of a 15-million-dollar Chinese-funded hospital to replace one that collapsed under construction in 2004, killing around 10 labourers.
Karzai said that the new hospital represented progress in Afghans' hopes of having good medical services inside the country instead of having to go to neighbouring nations for treatment for basic illnesses.

The new 10-storey Jamhuriat Hospital will have around 350 beds. The walls and roof of the old hospital collapsed while under reconstruction by a Chinese firm in 2004. Around 10 labourers were killed and 18 wounded.

Once built, the hospital will be equipped with modern medical instruments at a cost of more than five million dollars, Health Minister Mohammad Amin Fatimi said at the ceremony.
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Atop Azerbaijan's oil boom: Mr. Aliyev
The country's president is overseeing an uprecedented influx of wealth in one of the world's most corrupt countries.
By Fred Weir | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN – British Petroleum's gleaming, ultramodern Sangachal oil terminal is the face of Azerbaijan that President Ilham Aliyev wants the world to see.
Surrounded by a jumble of derelict Soviet-era oil rigs, the sprawling $350 million facility is an oasis of computerized efficiency. Soon, it will be pumping up to 1 million barrels of Caspian crude daily to thirsty Western markets through the new Baku-Ceyhan pipeline.

  Thanks to the gusher of profits as Azerbaijan's new oil and gas fields come onstream, this Caucasus country of 8 million has rocketed in just three years from near-stagnation to become the world's hottest economy. GDP growth will be a dazzling 32 percent this year, according to Economics Minister Heydar Babayev.

"We need to use this unique opportunity to solve our social and economic problems," says Aliyev, speaking to a group of visiting journalists in his office. "We aim to build a strong, independent, economically self-sufficient, politically free state."

But the Moscow-educated, multilingual president has his work cut out for him: Azerbaijan is rated one of the world's most corrupt countries, and critics have voiced concern that the government is ill-prepared to preside over such a massive influx of wealth. But Aliyev, who's seen his state budget quadruple since 2004, insists the expected $150 billion in oil revenues over the next two decades will be put to good use, slashing poverty and unemployment, rebuilding Azerbaijan's crumbling infrastructure, and creating a sustainable, diversified economy.
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7 Taliban militants killed in S. Afghanistan   
www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-04 21:29:28 

    KABUL, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- Afghan and NATO forces killed seven Taliban insurgents and injured 30 others on Saturday in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan, the provincial police chief told Xinhua.

    Nabi Jan Mullahkhil said the conflict, which lasted for hours, occurred in Zanboba area of Gereshk district.

    The forces carried out an operation to wipe out militants in the area after locals complained Taliban activities were rampant there, he added.

    There were no casualties of the troops and civilians, he said.

    Helmand, famous for its gigantic opium product, has been a hotbed of Taliban insurgents, who clash with government and foreign forces frequently.

    Due to rising Taliban-linked violence this year, Afghanistan has plunged into the worst spate of bloodshed since the Taliban regime was toppled down nearly five years ago.

    Over 2,600 people, mostly Taliban militants, have been killed in this volatile country this year.

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Afghanistan role could last 10 years
general: Low pay for Afghan police, army hurts self-sufficiency drive 

Joel Kom, CanWest News Service, 3 Nov 06

NATO operations will likely continue in Afghanistan for another 10 years, a high-ranking Canadian soldier said Thursday.  Maj.-Gen. Ivan Fenton, NATO's assistant chief of operations for the international military staff, said the mission will extend into the next decade.  "I would think 10 years would be a rule of thumb," Fenton, who has almost 35 years of military service, said Thursday.  The strength of Afghanistan's army and police force will be the biggest factors determining when the International Security Assistance Force leaves Afghanistan, Fenton said ....

Mission in Afghanistan is crucial: ambassador
Lecture helps students grasp Canada's role

David Lea, Kingston Whig-Standard, 3 Nov 06

Canadians are making a difference in Afghanistan, and the country's ambassador to Canada warned that if western nations leave, extremists would move in to fill the void. "You have to have a military on the ground to stop the Taliban from burning down the girls' school that was just built," Omar Samad told students at Queen's University yesterday. "We need them to say to the Taliban, 'No, you will not turn this country into a terrorist training camp again.' " He said Canada's 2,200 soldiers are both needed and necessary. "The mission is critical as far as Afghans are concerned," Samad said ....

More News on CAN in AFG here

SNL creator Lorne Michaels applauds Canadian Afghan mission
Jennifer Ditchburn, Canadian Press, 2 Nov 06

"Saturday Night Live" creator Lorne Michaels applauded Canada's participation in the Afghan mission Thursday, saying he's glad his native country is "back in the world."  But the Toronto-born Michaels, one of six Canadians being honoured this week with a Governor General's Performing Arts Award for lifetime achievement, had some sharp criticism for the previous Liberal government's reaction to the September 11 attacks.  He said in an interview Thursday that while he lives in Manhattan, he still tries to keep up to date with what's happening in Canada and has a strong "emotional connection."  "It's obviously unfortunate we're in Afghanistan, but I think it's important we're there," Michaels said of the military mission. "I don't know enough about it to know what the correct judgments are, but it feels like Canada's back in the world."....

Taliban to launch war in the cities
Christina Lamb, news.au.com, 23 Oct 06

TALIBAN fighters are preparing for a campaign of urban warfare, say Afghan and Western intelligence, and have established cells in the cities of Afghanistan from which to launch a campaign of explosions and suicide bombings.  While military chiefs have been declaring victory in the south of the country and claim to have killed more than 3000 Taliban over the northern summer, diplomats in Kabul warn that security in Afghan cities is deteriorating fast. "This could turn into another Iraq," one said.  Suicide bombs were almost unheard of in Afghanistan until last year, with only five since the fall of the Taliban in December 2001. But this year has already seen 81, which killed or wounded more than 700 people ....

Taliban Commander: We're Planning Attacks in Europe
Fox News, 23 Oct 06

A Taliban commander has told Sky News that the militants are for the first time plotting to attack Westerners in Britain and the rest of Europe.  In a rare exclusive interview, the commander insisted the militants had stockpiles of weapons and would never give-up exacting revenge from what he called "the foreign invaders".  He confirmed that Taliban fighters are taking refuge within neighbouring Pakistan and are being helped by locals sympathetic to their cause ....

Protests demand Canadian troops out of Afghanistan
The political issues in the fight against war

Socialist Equality Party (Canada), 27 Oct 06

Two thousand three hundred Canadian Armed Forces troops, backed by Leopard tanks and NATO warplanes, are waging a colonial-style war in southern Afghanistan in support of the US-installed regime of Hamid Karzai.  Last month Canadian troops killed hundreds of villagers in Panjwayi district who had risen up in protest against local Afghan police and security forces who were extorting, robbing, and abusing them. This week saw a fresh atrocity: NATO warplanes reportedly killed dozens of villagers in Panjwayi and in a second district of Kandahar province, Pashmul.  The Canadian mission in Afghanistan is directly tied to the illegal US occupation of Iraq. The deployment of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel in southern Afghanistan was undertaken at Washington’s request and with the definite aim of enabling the Pentagon to concentrate its forces on subjugating Iraq ....

Articles found 5 November 2006

Pakistan is urged to seal border with Afghanistan
Sunday, 5 November, 2006, 10:05 AM Doha Time

KABUL: Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot pressed Pakistan yesterday to seal its border with Afghanistan to stop the infiltration of militants and also called on Nato nations to send more troops.

Bot, who is due to visit Pakistan today, has made similar appeals in previous visits to Afghanistan to visit Dutch troops, most of them based in the province of Uruzgan on the Pakistan border.

"The world community, including The Netherlands, is very serious in exerting pressure on Pakistan to (see) ... that its borders are sealed off and the terrorists can no longer cross from Pakistan into Uruzgan, into south of your country," Bot told reporters.

Afghan officials allege that Taliban and other insurgents have training facilities in Pakistan and find support and finance among extremist circles there.

They say the government is not doing enough to crack down on these groups, a claim Islamabad rejects.

Bot, who was talking to reporters after meeting his Afghan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta, said he had raised the issue with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a recent visit to the United States.

He said he hoped Pakistan realised the world was watching.
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Turkey To Open 27th Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan
American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2006

Turkey will open the 27th of 34 Provincial Reconstruction Teams planned for Afghanistan later this week, officials in Bagram, Afghanistan announced today.
The new PRT, in Wardak province, will assist Afghan authorities with reconstruction efforts and enhance development and stability within the province, according to Army Col. Thomas Collins, spokesman for Combined Forces Command Afghanistan.

The PRT will focus on providing health care, education, police training and agricultural alternatives to local farmers, Collins said. Its projects will be structured to meet the benchmarks of the Afghanistan Compact Document and the Interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy.

Although the PRT won’t open officially until Nov. 9, Turkish representatives already have started what they call “quick impact assistance projects” before the official opening ceremony, officials said.

These include construction of:

* Primary girls’ schools in Nirkh, Jalriz and Saidabad districts;
* A childbirth and comprehensive health-care center in the Desti Dut region of Saidabad district;
* A recreational sports center;
* A children’s park in Maidan Shar;
* A vocational agriculture school and student dormitory; and
* A water tank and cold storage facility.

These projects are valued at about $3 million U.S. dollars, officials said.

Turkey also has started a humanitarian assistance project for the Wardak people, officials said. The first phase of the project, which cost $300,000, will deliver 150 tons of flour, 150 tons of rice, 150 tons of beans, 30 tons of sugar, 30 tons of oil and 6 tons of tea to some 6,000 needy families in eight districts.

An official ceremony today at the Wardak Governor’s Building will launch the delivery of this humanitarian aid, officials said.
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Afghanistan drug problem not that easy to solve

Simple policy analysis leads, of course, to simple solutions that very rarely succeed. Scott Taylor – in between making gratuitous remarks about Canadian military officers – offers to the public just such a simplistic suggestion for redressing the poppy/narcotics problem in Afghanistan (Oct. 30 column).

He recommends that "we" should buy the poppy harvest directly from the farmers, thereby eliminating the drug trade, cutting the warlords out of the market and lessening their influence, and enriching the farmers. Everybody wins.

Unfortunately, the problem is more complex, and Mr. Taylor’s "solution" would likely cause more problems and violence in the country and elsewhere. The flaw in his "free enterprise"solution and in the "eradication" solution now in place is that both are based on the erroneous notion that we are dealing with a supply problem – the production of opium made available to a market.

In fact, we are dealing with a demand problem. It is the demand for illegal drugs in North America, Europe, Russia and Asia that stimulates the cultivation and production of drugs in Columbia, Africa, Afghanistan and, indeed, in marijuana grow-ops in Canada.

Basic economic theory and reality suggest that were we to enter the drug market, we would stimulate a bidding war with other buyers – the warlords – and encourage more farmers to enter the business because the demand and price would increase. We would also increase the violence in the area as buyers in an already unregulated marketplace attacked each other and the farmers as they tried to control prices and market share – see Chicago, circa 1920. Our buyers would be the first on the hit list.
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Support for Afghan mission continues to decline
Allan Woods CanWest News Service Sunday, November 05, 2006

OTTAWA - The level of support among Canadians for Canada's military mission in Afghanistan dropped considerably over the course of the last month, according to a new Ipsos Reid opinion poll conducted for CanWest News Service and Global Television.

The latest figures peg support for the use of troops in combat operations in the troubled country at 44 per cent. That number is down 13 per cent from the level of support expressed by survey participants at the end of September.

In that one-month period, six Canadian soldiers were killed in four separate incidents and a number of Afghan civilians, including women and children, were killed in a bombing in Kandahar's Panjawaii district.

That air attack, in which no Canadian soldiers were directly involved, also killed dozens of suspected Taliban fighters, according to coalition military officials in Afghanistan.

But more than anything, the drop is a "correction" from the boost in support that came along with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's address to Parliament in September, said Ipsos Reid senior vice president Darrell Bricker.
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Dutch foreign minister arrives in Pakistan for talks on Afghanistan, terrorism
The Associated PressPublished: November 5, 2006

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Dutch foreign minister discussed counterterrorism measures with his Pakistani counterpart on Sunday, a day after he called for greater international pressure on Islamabad to stop militants from infiltrating into Afghanistan.

Bernard Bot, who arrived in Islamabad after visiting Kabul, and Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri held talks on the situation in Afghanistan and cooperation in fighting terrorism, Pakistani foreign ministry officials said.

Bot was also expected to meet with other Pakistani government officials during his one-day visit.

In neighboring Afghanistan, where the Netherlands has assumed command over NATO-led troops in the country's troubled south, Bot said on Saturday that Islamabad needed to be pressured to block Taliban fighters based in Pakistan from crossing into Afghanistan.
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Reservist reunited with youth he met in Afghanistan
Web Posted: 11/04/2006 09:00 PM CST Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje Express-News Staff Writer

Call it a one in 300 million chance.
Maj. Joseph Leon, an Army reservist with the 492nd Civil Affairs Battalion, was on the last leg of a one-year tour in Afghanistan, working in a remote farming village in a central highlands province.

He was in charge of overseeing the building of infrastructure in the impoverished village — schools, highways, public works. To do this, he needed someone to help him communicate with the village elders.

That someone turned out to be Assadullah, a resourceful 16-year-old who spoke passable English and was well known as a reliable interpreter.

For weeks, Leon and Assadullah worked together to bridge language differences for the betterment of the community. It was a lofty job for a teenager.

"It would be similar to me going down to city hall and talking with the mayor," says Leon, a soft-spoken man with a direct stare behind wire-frame glasses who now teaches special education students in Floresville
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Saturday, November 04, 2006

‘We should learn lesson of Iraq and Afghanistan’: America is the sole superpower: Kasuri
By Zulfiqar Ghuman

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri on Friday refused to comment on the Bajaur incident, saying that questions related to the incident should be directed to the interior or defence ministries.

“The Foreign Affairs Ministry has nothing to do with this. These questions should be asked from ministries of interior or defence,” Kasuri was quoted as replying to Senator Maulana Samiul Haq’s question on whether US or Pakistani forces carried out the Bajaur attack, during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The committee held an in-camera session here with Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed in the chair to have a briefing from Kasuri on the government’s foreign policies.

Haq said he protested against the Bajaur incident and insisted that the operation was carried out on US orders. “This is the result of failed foreign policy. The Bajaur killings are extra-judicial and the government is responsible for them,” Haq said.

Briefing the committee earlier, Kasuri said that Pakistan had decided to join the US-led war on terror “in the best national interest” and added that Pakistan could otherwise have faced a fate like that of Iraq. “We should learn lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan and admit the fact that the US is the sole superpower of the world,” he added.
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Articles found 6 November 2006

Why we remember

As Stan Kircoff, poppy manager of a local chapter of the Royal Canadian Legion in Quebec accurately put it the other day, "every year, there's something."

Every year some local manager at one chain of stores or another bans a war vet from selling poppies, reversing years of past practice.

And every year, the media gets wind of the story, the ban is reported, veterans and members of the public raise their voices in outrage and within hours the business is apologizing and welcoming the war vet and his or her poppies back into the store.

This week it was Loblaw Co. Ltd. reversing the decision of one of its local managers at a Provigo supermarket in Montreal. Korean War vet Tom Mullin, 76, whose brother died in the conflict, was allowed back into the store along with his small poppy stand.

Loblaw issued a statement apologizing to Mullin and emphasizing its support for vets and Remembrance Day. It said a misunderstanding occurred because recent renovations had limited the free space available in the store and after allowing poppy sales for five days, the manager thought most of the customers had been covered.
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DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died of injuries suffered when an IED detonated near their vehicle Oct. 31 in Wygal Valley, Afghanistan. All soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

            Killed were:

            Maj. Douglas E. Sloan, 40, of Evans Mills, N.Y.

            Sgt. Charles J. McClain, 26, of Fort Riley, Kan. He later died in Asadabad, Afghanistan.

            Pfc. Alex Oceguera, 19, of San Bernardino, Calif.

Till the boys come home
Janice Kennedy, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Sunday, November 05, 2006

For wives of soldiers in Afghanistan, it's a stress-filled life of endless days and sleepless nights, yet somehow life goes on

Keep the home fires burning,

While your hearts are yearning,

Though your lads are far away

They dream of home.

There's a silver lining

Through the dark clouds shining,

Turn the dark cloud inside out

'Til the boys come home.

(Ivor Novello/Lena Ford, 1914)

It was the Monday before Labour Day. With two young daughters about to return to school, Chantal Robinson -- 37, but with the fresh-faced look of a university student -- had a thousand things on her mind and a hundred things to do. Such burdens are routine for those who run households on their own.

Her husband, Scott -- Warrant Officer Scott Robinson of the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment -- had left their Petawawa home just three weeks earlier for a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Then she got the phone call, Scott's voice coming at her from 10,000 kilometres away.

"You need to sit down," he told her from a base hospital phone line in Kandahar.

"They always get the guys to call themselves, if they can," explains Chantal, recalling the moment. Scott told her he had been wounded, shrapnel slicing into him from a mortar attack in a dusty area west of Kandahar.

Hospitalized for a couple of days and recuperating after that, he was out of commission for the action that took place the following Sunday, the day before Labour Day. In that fierce firefight, which took place near a small village west of Kandahar, Taliban insurgents wounded eight Canadian soldiers and killed four, all from CFB Petawawa, including his two close friends, Warrant Officer Frank Mellish and Warrant Officer Rick Nolan.
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Soldiers’ tough duty

With Remembrance Day fast approaching and our soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, the Canadian military deserves special respect at this time of year.

We can start by dispensing with the cheap shot often taken at soldiers — that they are stupid and violent.

That idea raised its head in the U.S. midterm elections last week when defeated Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry had to apologize for comments that appeared to suggest American soldiers serving in Iraq are dumb.

Speaking to a university audience, Kerry warned them that unless they studied hard they might “get stuck in Iraq.”

Faced with fury from both Republicans and Democrats, Kerry later claimed he had blown the punch line of a joke he intended to tell — that if the students didn’t study they would “get us stuck in Iraq,” as President George Bush has done.

Sounds like a pretty lame explanation to us.

But whether Kerry made a mistake (accidentally saying something he doesn’t believe) or a gaffe (accidentally saying something he does believe) we’ve all heard the argument that people only go into the military because they have no other real prospects.

In a word, preposterous. First, it’s ironic that this smug smear against those who serve in our military often comes from people who consider themselves intellectuals
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Pace of Afghan reconstruction is painfully slow
Updated Sun. Nov. 5 2006 11:37 PM ET CTV.ca News Staff

With a current lull in heavy fighting in Afghanistan's Kandahar province, Canadian troops are refocusing their efforts on reconstruction, which the military regards as the best hope for peace.

If there is any hope of Canadian soldiers leaving Afghanistan, the military says it will be tied to how successful it is in rebuilding the country.

With the increased strength of the insurgency this year, however, rebuilding has been almost impossible, as NATO troops had to focus on combat.

There are some small successes.

The stadium in Kandahar, where the Taliban once held most of its public executions, has been reclaimed by the city's youth. Canadian soldiers have donated shoes and uniforms, and helped organize more than 1,000 players in a soccer tournament.

"It puts a face to the future of Afghanistan," reconstruction team commander Lt. Col. Simon Heatherington told CTV News, "and, if we can, impart some positive message now."

But CTV's Steve Chao said that beyond the stadium, life remains grim. "Five years after the fall of the Taliban, many of the country's 31 million people still don't have access to clean water or basic medicine."

According to the International Monetary Fund, international generosity has been sorely lacking. This year, aid money flowing to Afghanistan totalled about $75 per Afghan. In Bosnia, it came to about $275 per person.
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Afghan army 'wafer thin'
SUE BAILEY Canadian Press

KABUL — It will be at least 10 years before Afghan troops can handle national security without help from Canadians and other foreign soldiers, says a top military trainer here.

British Col. Paul Farrar, deputy commander of the international assistance wing of the Kabul Military Training Centre, says the four-year-old Afghan National Army is making real but painfully slow progress.

“It's superficial,” he said in a candid interview. “It's wafer thin — that's the way I describe it. But it's better than it was last year and the year before that.

“It's really been struggling on to its feet, and it's probably not even now fully on them. But there is potential.”

His assessment isn't exactly good news for countries, including Canada, who pin their exit strategies from Afghanistan on the ultimate hand-over of security duties.

The challenges are monumental. American, British, Canadian and French soldiers are helping to build a modern force almost from scratch after the Taliban's iron-fist rule. Comparison with Western military standards is simply unfair, they say.

Most Afghan recruits can't read, write or add; some officers left over from the vestiges of a class-based army system think they're entitled to a job; and the rate at which soldiers desert, go absent without leave or decline to renew their three-year, volunteer contracts hovers between 20 and 50 per cent, depending on circumstances.
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Afghan Governor Denounces Terrorist Lies, Violence
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2006 – An Afghan governor denounced recent Taliban and Hizb-I Islami Gulbuddin claims that Afghan and coalition forces caused casualties and deaths of local nationals in the Tagab Valley, officials in Afghanistan reported today.
“These claims are false,” Governor Murad said. “The Taliban will use innocent Afghan civilians as human shields and then blame us. Their tactics are truly inhumane and cowardly.”

The Afghan National Police, Afghan National Army and coalition forces have been conducting joint operations in the Tagab Valley of the Kapisa province to deny safe havens to the Taliban and HIG. The terror groups have launched numerous attacks against Afghan civilians.

The groups want to undermine the Afghan government’s ability to provide security and services to the people of Kapisa.

Murad provides 900 police officers from his area to work with ANA and coalition forces in Tagab Valley. The significant number police and Murad’s cooperation demonstrates the intense dedication that the local government has towards ensuring security and services to its citizens.
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Afghan army `struggling' to make progress
It will take 10 years, colonel says

Many recruits fail to renew contract

KABUL—It will be at least 10 years before Afghan troops can handle national security without help from Canadians and other foreign soldiers, says a top military trainer here.

British Col. Paul Farrar, deputy commander of the international assistance wing of the Kabul Military Training Centre, says the four-year-old Afghan National Army is making real but painfully slow progress.

"It's superficial," he said in a candid interview. "It's wafer thin — that's the way I describe it. But it's better than it was last year and the year before that.

"It's really been struggling on to its feet, and it's probably not even now fully on them. But there is potential."

His assessment isn't exactly good news for countries, including Canada, who pin their exit strategies from Afghanistan on the ultimate hand-over of security duties.
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Milford area troops off to Afghanistan
By Timothy R. Homan/ Daily News Correspondent Monday, November 6, 2006 - Updated: 03:53 AM EST

NEWTON -- Family and friends wished a tearful goodbye yesterday to 13 local National Guard soldiers being deployed to Afghanistan for a yearlong mission.

    Members of the 726th Finance Battalion, which includes members from the Milford area, will depart Wednesday, under the name Task Force Diamond, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The unit will be responsible mainly for paying soldiers and contractors.

    "A pay issue doesn’t just affect a soldier," said Brig. Gen. Oliver J. Mason Jr., the state’s adjutant general, "a pay issue affects a family."

High-ranking military leaders and civilian dignitaries, including Newton Mayor David B. Cohen, were among the approximately 200 people on hand at the National Guard Armory in West Newton to bid farewell to the troops.

    Cohen told the departing soldiers, whose motto is "Pay Ensured" and "Fit to Fight," that their work is critical because it means combat soldiers "can concentrate on their job because you are concentrating on their welfare."
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Afghanistan: Who, What, Where, When, And Why?
by Milo Clark
(Swans - November 6, 2006)   With so little being what it may seem at any given time, where to turn for a sense of balance? Or a sense that accurate or even useful information is out there? That statement is a macro-perception rolling onward into American mid-term elections and stumbling over persistent sore points worldwide.

Over the last few years, I have read and studied and pondered to little avail about the great swath from Balkans to Bering Strait. I have only known, to any extent, two Pashtun people, part of the largest segment of Afghan population. From my conversations with them, I am left with a profound sense that Westerners, especially Americans, rarely, very rarely, have any meaningful sense of these peoples.

And "peoples" is the proper word since the tribal and ethnic mixes of the regions defy counting unless one has been brought up among them.

Sarah Chayes, once NPR correspondent and more recently a worker within Afghanistan, writes with more understanding and compassion than commonly on display. The Punishment of Virtue, inside Afghanistan after the Taliban (Penguin, New York, 2006, ISBN 1-59420-096-3) documents her personal transitions from observer to participant. One by one she first questions and then walks her readers through her many hard lessons as she moves toward grokking Afghan peoples, places and events.
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U.S.-led troops detain 6 suspected extremists in Afghanistan
The Associated PressPublished: November 6, 2006

KABUL, Afghanistan: U.S.-led and Afghan troops detained six suspected extremists, including Saudi and Pakistani nationals, in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, a U.S. military statement said.

The troops detained "a known al-Qaida terrorist and five other extremists" during an operation near Khost city, in Khost province, the statement said.

No shots were fired, and nobody was harmed during the operation, it said.

The military did not provide details on those arrested. It only said that one of them "has known ties to al-Qaida leadership."
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Securing Afghanistan's future
By Harlan Ullman November 6, 2006  KABUL, Afghanistan.

    For want of a nail, as the old adage goes, the shoe, horse, battle, and, ultimately, the war, were lost. Afghanistan too is missing the right nail. Without it, that war could easily be lost.
    The missing nail is a single authority with the clout to enforce integration, cooperation and action across the hugely complex and multifaceted layers of government, external actors and realities of Afghani culture, politics and tribal relationships.
    Five years after Operation Enduring Freedom toppled the Taliban, Afghanistan is both better and worse off. On the positive side, there is every opportunity to create a stable, functioning state under an acceptable standard of rule of law. On the negative side, the lack of urgency by the Afghan government in addressing these challenges has created a perplexing contradiction that could leave Afghanistan a failed state slipping back under the horrors of Taliban rule. And the friction and often childish behavior between President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan are also unneeded impediments that must be fixed.
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The Dalles remembers planner killed in Afghanistan
11/5/2006, 6:10 p.m. PT The Associated Press   

THE DALLES, Ore. (AP) — An Army reservist killed in Afghanistan was remembered Sunday as a strong-willed boy who grew into a man that sought to make a difference.

Staff Sgt. Robert Paul, 43, died Sept. 8 when a car bomber struck near the Humvee that was carrying him. Paul, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, had come to Oregon from Chicago and worked in land-use planning, starting with the city of The Dalles and then with Wasco County.

At a memorial service at The Dalles Wahtonka High School, Gov. Ted Kulongoski, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden and Major Gen. Raymond Rees spoke about the man who served his country. His mother, meanwhile, told the audience about a boy who watched movies with a box of hats
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NYC Marathon a challenge for blind runner from Afghanistan Karen Matthews, Canadian Press
Published: Monday, November 06, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) - Nooria Nodrat's legs and hands went numb in the 24th mile in the New York City Marathon on Sunday. So she rested for half an hour before finishing.

"I'm very obsessed with challenges," said Nodrat, an immigrant from Afghanistan who has been blind since 1997, when she was attacked in the New York subway by a mentally disturbed teenager who punched her in the head, destroying her retinas.

The 45-year-old Nodrat ran and walked the course through the city's five boroughs tethered to a rotating team of supporters with a dish towel. She finished in about seven hours.

"I want to continue my running until the age of 90," she said, undeterred by the numbness, which she thought might have had to do with hunger or her asthma. "Every year I want a marathon."

A record 38,368 runners started the race, which began on Staten Island and ended in Manhattan's Central Park.
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Afghanistan Slipping Further Away
By Justin Gardner

That’s what the CIA is tellling the administration.

Here’s more from the NY Times:

The assessment found that Mr. Karzai’s government and security forces continued to struggle to exert authority beyond Kabul, said a senior American official who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. The assessment also found that increasing numbers of Afghans viewed Mr. Karzai’s government as corrupt, failing to deliver promised reconstruction and too weak to protect the country from rising Taliban attacks. […]

The assessment, which was conducted before Mr. Karzai’s visit to Washington in late September, echoes the frustration that has gathered force in Afghanistan since the spring, and American officials in Washington and Kabul are expressing increasingly dire warnings regarding the situation here. Ronald E. Neumann, the American ambassador in Kabul, said in a recent interview that the United States faced “stark choices” in Afghanistan. Averting failure, he said, would take “multiple years” and “multiple billions.”

“We’re going to have to stay at it,” he said. “Or we’re going to fail and the country will fall apart again.”

Listen, the fight in Afghanistan always felt more important than Iraq because of the Taliban and Osama. And let’s not mention 80% of the world’s heroin production.

Maybe we’ll start paying more attention to Afghanistan after the election…
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Failing to ‘liberalise’ Pakistan and Afghanistan frontiers
Monday, November 06, 2006 Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: It was just before dawn when the residents of Chinagai, a small border village in the Bajaur tribal area, woke up to a thunderous blast. Then came three more explosions in quick succession. The missile attack reduced a local seminary known as Madrassa Ziaul Uloom to a huge pile of rubble. Some 85 people died—including several children—in the single deadliest operation launched by Pakistani forces against suspected militants in the country’s lawless tribal region. Pakistani military officials said the madrassa was being used to train suicide bombers for attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to a report published in Newsweek International.

The missile strike provoked a strong backlash in the border region and exposed a troubling reality for President Pervez Musharraf: he has run out of options in the fight against rampant radicalism along his country’s rugged western border. Thousands of armed Pashtuns took to the streets in Bajaur to protest the attack, and the demonstrations spilled over to parts of North West Frontier Province, which is ruled by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). Islamists, angered by the rumour that US military drones had bombed the Chinagai madrassa, whipped up anti-American sentiments in the region. “It has basically provided a propaganda tool to Taliban and Pakistani Islamists to gain sympathy,” says Samina Ahmed, country director of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.
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O'Connor says military 'scrambling' to find soldiers for Afghanistan
Last Updated: Sunday, November 5, 2006 | 6:45 PM ET CBC News

Canada's military is "scrambling" to find soldiers to send to Afghanistan as it seeks to keep front-line troops from being overworked, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said Sunday.

"What we're trying to do in principle is try to avoid having people who are in daily operations to go back [to Afghanistan] a second time before the end of February, '09," O'Connor said, referring to the date to which Parliament extended the Afghan mission.

"So that's had them scrambling to figure out where all the troops are coming from."

O'Connor said he believes it will be "no great challenge" to avoid sending soldiers back to Afghanistan for a second deployment because recruiting is up.

The military is lowering its fitness standards for new recruits and moving training and administrative personnel into combat units.
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Hundreds rally to support Afghanistan mission
Sunday November 05, 2006 (0059 PST)

OTTAWA: More than 300 people braved a bitter wind and freezing cold in downtown Edmonton Friday for a rally in support of Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
The rally at Churchill Square is the first of what organizers promise will be weekly demonstrations dubbed Red Fridays.

Rachel Lambert, who helped organize the event, says the soldiers in Afghanistan need to know Canadians care.

We have a lot of veteran military members who sign on the dotted line willing to do a job that many of us wouldn't do," she said.

"We need to support them 100 per cent because, as I said, they're doing a job to protect our freedoms here at home, whether you want to believe that they can accomplish that somewhere else or not."

A choir of children dressed in red T-shirts opened the event with O Canada. A key speaker at the event was Master Cpl. Paul Franklin, who lost his legs in a suicide bomb attack.

"When you are on a mission you don't have to think about how Canadians support us," he told the crowd. "We know that if we head out those gates, that no matter what, Canadians across this land support what we do."
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Nato forces attack insurgents close to Afghanistan capital
By Rahim Faiez in Kabul Published: 05 November 2006

In a clash unusually close to the Afghan capital, Nato forces attacked an insurgent compound in the Tagab Valley, some 40 miles north-east of Kabul, and a Nato official said fighting continued in the area yesterday.

The air strike on the compound, where eight to 10 insurgents were sheltering, is part of Operation Eagle, which a Nato spokesman, Major Luke Knittig, said was aimed at hunting down Taliban fighters. Most of the fighting has been concentrated in Afghanistan's south and east, close to the Pakistan border, but Major Knittig said the operation "is going to address known areas where the Taliban, we suspect, are seeking safe haven. If that's close to Kabul, then so be it."

Taliban fighters, meanwhile, attacked a convoy of supply vehicles going to a Nato base in the eastern province of Khost, killing two Pakistani drivers. The Afghan defence ministry said nine Taliban insurgents and one Afghan soldier were killed in other violence in the past few days.

A photographer kidnapped in Afghanistan last month returned home to Italy yesterday, one day after his captors freed him and left him on the side of a road. The Taliban denied holding him and said he had been seized by bandits. Italy said it had not paid a ransom.

Relatives and officials greeted Gabriele Torsello, 36, at Ciampino Airport in Rome. "I am well. Thank you, Italy," he said, after stepping off the plane, clad in Afghan dress. Hewas kidnapped on 12 October while travelling by bus from Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, to neighbouring Kandahar.

In a clash unusually close to the Afghan capital, Nato forces attacked an insurgent compound in the Tagab Valley, some 40 miles north-east of Kabul, and a Nato official said fighting continued in the area yesterday.

The air strike on the compound, where eight to 10 insurgents were sheltering, is part of Operation Eagle, which a Nato spokesman, Major Luke Knittig, said was aimed at hunting down Taliban fighters. Most of the fighting has been concentrated in Afghanistan's south and east, close to the Pakistan border, but Major Knittig said the operation "is going to address known areas where the Taliban, we suspect, are seeking safe haven. If that's close to Kabul, then so be it."

Taliban fighters, meanwhile, attacked a convoy of supply vehicles going to a Nato base in the eastern province of Khost, killing two Pakistani drivers. The Afghan defence ministry said nine Taliban insurgents and one Afghan soldier were killed in other violence in the past few days.
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Pakistan proposes mining Afghanistan border to block Taleban
(DPA) 6 November 2006

ISLAMABAD - In response to charges that it has not done enough to halt Taleban infiltration, Pakistan proposed to Afghan and NATO authorities that they fence and mine the border between the two countries, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam said in Islamabad on Monday.

She was responding to a demand made by Dutch Foreign Minister Bernhard Bot in Kabul the previous day that Pakistan should fence its border to stem the infiltration which is blamed for the intensified Taleban insurgency in Afghanistan.

‘Pakistan has made a number of suggestions, including fencing the international border, selectively mining the border, introducing restrictions and checks on movement of people and requirement of documents at border crossings,’ she said.

But Afghan President Hamid Karzai ‘in fact is for further liberalizing the movment at the border,’ she added.
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Rebels abduct 4 in Afghanistan: Police
Agence France-Presse Khost, November 6, 2006

Two Afghan engineers employed by an international aid group, and two other Afghans working with them, have been abducted in southeastern Afghanistan, police said Monday, blaming Taliban.

Police said the engineers worked for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) but the group could not immediately confirm some of its staff were missing.

The United Nations said it was aware of the report and looking into it.

The four were abducted in the remote Zurmat district of Paktia province on Sunday afternoon, provincial police chief General Abdul Hanaan Raufi said.

"Two engineers from IOM and two other local liaison workers were abducted by Taliban on Sunday afternoon in Zurmat," said Raufi.
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Jolie meets Afghanistan refugees
Monday, November 6 2006, 11:55 UTC - by Matt Houghton

Angelina Jolie has taken time out from filming in order to meet refugees from Afghanistan and Burma.

According to the BBC, the Tomb Raider star toured a refugee camp in New Delhi as part of her role as goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Jolie is currently working on a film in India about Daniel Pearl, the US reporter who was murdered in Pakistan in 2002.

After touring the camp Jolie released a statement that read: "I am grateful to the refugee families who spent time with me and shared their stories. They are remarkable courageous people."

Memorial planned for soldier killed in Afghanistan

MOUNT KISCO - Bob Coulombe, a National Guard member who lives in Chappaqua, was hoping to help Army Staff Sgt. Kyu Hyuk Chay get his career rolling as a judge advocate general in the Army once Chay returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Instead, Coulombe is helping to plan a memorial service at the Mount Kisco American Legion post for Chay, a married father of two who was killed Oct. 28 by an improvised bomb in Oruzgan Province of Afghanistan.
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Afghan Reconstruction Projects Continue
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2006 – Reconstruction projects continue in Afghanistan with an agricultural extension center being expanded and construction for an urgent care facility beginning, officials in Afghanistan said.
The Zormat agricultural extension center is being refurbished and expanded in the Zormat district of Paktya province. The $22,535 project is funded by the U.S. Gardez Provincial Reconstruction Team in conjunction with local officials. The project began in August and will be completed in the spring.

“The purpose of this project is to help farmers grow bigger, healthier crops so they can earn an income rather than just support their own families,” said Army Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force 76. “A stronger agricultural community will improve the economic outlook for the people of Paktya.”

In Kabul, Afghan and coalition officials today are laying a cornerstone for an urgent care facility. The clinic is scheduled to open early in 2007 at a cost of $670,000, funded by the U.S. Defense Reconstruction Support Office. The clinic will minimize patient overload at other hospital emergency departments and permit affordable services based on each patient's ability to pay. The clinic will be under the direction of the Afghan Ministry of Public Health and will provide employment to 28 Afghan health care workers.

"The development of this clinic is another step towards the improvement of conditions for the Afghan people. There is no substitute to the access of urgent medical care," said Col. Donald Johnson, command surgeon for Combined Forces Command Afghanistan.
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NATO calls for overhaul of Afghanistan strategy
Alliance leader wants to revamp training

International Herald Tribune, November 5, 2006

NATO's secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, is calling for a radical overhaul of military, civilian and development operations in Afghanistan that would involve the U.S.-led military alliance in playing a greater role in training the Afghan Army and the European Union taking over the entire training of the police forces...

NATO, he added, "should do much more to train and equip the national army. Why? Because that is part of an exit strategy. We want to have the Afghan national army to do what any normal army does - that it be responsible for security in its own country."..

He said one of the biggest problems facing NATO in Afghanistan was "national caveats." Almost all of the 37 countries contributing to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan have set restrictions on their troops or the use of their equipment, de Hoop Scheffer said.

"The caveats are poison," he said. "They significantly reduce the amount of forces a commander really has at his disposal."..

UN Envoy Urges Deeper NATO Involvement in Afghanistan
Deutsche Welle, 06.11.2006

The UN representative in Afghanistan Tom Koenigs, warned that NATO and especially German forces must step up efforts to keep the strife-wracked country from sinking into chaos.

Koenigs told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that the international troops serving in Afghanistan had reached a key crossroads.

"The conflict cannot be won by military means alone but NATO must not lose it," he said, calling for an "enormous military effort" against insurgents in the country.

He said that while diplomatic and humanitarian aid was essential, attacks mounted by the hard-line Taliban movement and other militants had to be stopped.

"Otherwise the entire NATO alliance is absurd and not usable for peacekeeping in the Third World," he said [my emphasis].

"Germany must increase efforts further"

Koenigs, a German citizen, called for German troops to join NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the violence-plagued south of Afghanistan [my emphasis].

Amid growing pressure for Germany to help stabilize the region, the German military said Wednesday that 21 signals corps soldiers had been deployed to southern Afghanistan in mid-October for two months.

The Bundeswehr has the third largest ISAF contingent with nearly 2,900 soldiers. It holds the ISAF command in the north of the country.

ISAF commanders have said they are stretched in their fight against the resurgent militants and need more manpower and equipment to fight a stronger- than-expected campaign...


More articles found 6 November 2006

Storming towards the enemy...with their bayonets fixed and helmet-cameras rolling
By MARK NICOL, Mail on Sunday Last updated at 00:19am on 5th November 2006

Video 1 mms://a1247.v266748.c26674.g.vm.akamaistream.net/5/1247/26674/454cf62e/1a1a1a9b086f9d0162cb37b01d7ee75381e45381f66190066fd338a7/Video1.wmv

Video 2 mms://a524.v266746.c26674.g.vm.akamaistream.net/5/524/26674/454d2a9b/1a1a1a9b086f9d0162cb37b01d7ee75381e45381f66190066fd338a7d644b3295b8bbbf1/Video2.wmv

WARNING: The footage shot by British soldiers in Afghanistan is graphic and the soundtrack includes strong language that is unsuitable for minors

These are the most dramatic images of British soldiers on the front line ever shot by the troops themselves.

Troops face new battles in blitz on heroin crop

They show paratroopers and Royal Marines fighting in Sangin province at the end of September in the most fierce exchanges of the controversial Afghanistan campaign.

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A Duty NATO Is Dodging In Afghanistan
David Bosco, Sabawoon Online (AFG), 4 Nov 06
Article Link

.... The European and Canadian publics have been disgusted by reports of prisoner abuse, and they want nothing to do with what they see as American excess. In Brussels and Ottawa, Bagram and Guantanamo Bay are dirty words.  So NATO countries have essentially opted out of the detainee business. Before committing their troops to combat areas, the Canadian, Dutch and British governments signed agreements with the Afghan government stating that any captured fighters would be handed over to Afghan authorities rather than to American forces.  In practice, these agreements mean that NATO troops have no system in place for regularly interrogating Taliban fighters for intelligence purposes ....

Schools Reopen in Panjwayee
Ahmad Farzan, Pajhwok Afghan News, 4 Nov 06
Article Link

Schools have reopened in Panjwayee district of the southern Kandahar province after the conclusion of the NATO anti-Taliban operation there.  All the 42 schools were closed after the launching of anti-Taliban operation by the NATO forces in the district.  Director of the Education Department Hayatullah Rafiqi told Pajhwok Afghan News on Thursday Shamsuddin Kakar High School and another located in centre of the district were opened a day earlier.  In this connection, a meeting was held which was attended by local officials, elders and students. He said more schools would be opened in other parts of the district after improvement in security situation ....

More News on CAN in AFG here

Training: 'This is the exit strategy'
Canadians training Afghanistan's future soldiers admit there are difficulties, but failure isn't an option

Lee Greenberg, Ottawa Citizen, 6 Nov 06
Article Link

At the academy that pumps out hundreds of new Afghan soldiers every month, a multi-ethnic group of wispy young men is in the midst of a training exercise when suddenly one of the men flips his AK-47 to automatic and, holding it one-handed, fires a barrage of shots in all directions.  The bullets are blanks, but it is enough to make a group of seasoned Canadian soldiers hit the deck. "He will not be firing again," says Capt. Carlo Tittarelli, 25, a reserve infantry officer from Stony Creek, Ont., one of 15 Canadian soldiers stationed at the Kabul Military Training Centre, just east of the Afghan capital. "He'll probably go back for remedial training." Capt. Tittarelli and his colleagues, who put the fledgling Afghan troops through their final paces, are confronted with daily challenges that have taught them to temper their expectations ....

NATO Boosts Afghan "Confidence" in Reconstruction, Diplomats Say
Alliance ranks high in opinion surveys; Taliban attacks spark outrage

Vince Crawley, News from Washington (USA State Dep't), 6 Nov 06
Article Link

International diplomats, meeting in Belgium to discuss the urgent need for Afghanistan reconstruction, said recent NATO operations south of Kandahar have given the Afghan people “enormous” confidence that the international forces are serious about preventing the Taliban from returning to power.  Also, Taliban attacks against civilians and schools have undermined the Taliban’s credibility among Afghans, who continue to hold positive opinions about the United States and the international community, the diplomats said.  Representatives of the United Nations, the World Bank and NATO’s political civilian body met with reporters November 2 at alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, following an informal Afghanistan planning session that also included partner countries that have contributed forces to the country ....

NATO expands humanitarian role in Afghanistan: NGOs fear backlash
Daily Times (PAK), 7 Nov 06
Article Link

Non-government groups in Afghanistan are worried about the growing role NATO forces are playing in reconstruction, fearing people will not differentiate between soldiers and aid workers as security deteriorates.  NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is putting a lot of emphasis on “civilian military” projects, such as the building of bridges and schools or distribution of aid, in what is as much a hearts and minds campaign against the Taliban insurgents as a military one.  But their efforts “put aid workers in danger”, says the head of the Afghan mission of the French NGO Action Contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger), Thomas Loreaux.  “People cannot tell the difference between aid workers and soldiers,” he told AFP. “And that challenges our neutrality and independence.” ....

Four Afghans linked to foreign aid group abducted
Agence France Presse, via Khaleej Times Online (UAE), 6 Nov 06
Article Link

Two Afghan engineers employed by an international aid group, and two other Afghans working with them, have been abducted in southeastern Afghanistan, police said Monday, blaming Taleban.  Police said the engineers worked for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) but the group could not immediately confirm some of its staff were missing.  The United Nations said it was aware of the report and looking into it.  The four were abducted in the remote Zurmat district of Paktia province onSunday afternoon, provincial police chief General Abdul Hanaan Raufi told AFP.  “Two engineers from IOM and two other local liaison workers were abducted by Taleban yesterday afternoon in Zurmat,” said Raufi ....

One ISAF Soldier killed, 2 wounded in roadside explosion in Kandahar province
ISAF News Release #2006-266, 7 Nov 06
Link to Statement

One ISAF soldier died and two were injured when the vehicle they were travelling in was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in the Panjwayi District of Kandahar yesterday.  The soldiers were conducting a patrol as part of the countrywide joint Afghan - ISAF Operation OQAB when their vehicle was caught in the blast of the IED. The wounded troops were evacuated to the ISAF Hospital at Kandahar for treatment.  In accordance with NATO policy, ISAF does not release the nationalities of casualties prior to the relevant national authority doing so.

Nato soldier killed in Afghanistan
The Guardian (UK), 7 Nov 06
Link to Article

A soldier was killed and another two wounded when an explosive device struck a Nato patrol vehicle in southern Afghanistan, officials said today.  The blast, which killed the Nato soldier, whose nationality has not been disclosed, occurred in the volatile Panjwayi district of the southern Kandahar province on Monday, a Nato statement said.  The wounded soldiers were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.  Another Nato spokesman said initially that the militants had fired a rocket-propelled grenade on the US-led coalition patrol in the area. It was not immediately clear what caused the discrepancy ....

NATO soldier killed, two wounded in Afghanistan
CTV.ca, 7 Nov 06
Link to Article

NATO says one soldier has been killed and two others wounded after an explosive device struck their patrol vehicle in southern Afghanistan.  The blast occurred yesterday in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province.  The NATO statement did not disclose the nationalities of the dead and wounded soldiers.  The wounded soldiers were taken to a nearby military hospital for treatment ....

Blast kills 1 NATO soldier, injures 2 in southern Afghanistan
CBC Online, 7 Nov 06
Link to Article

An ambush on a NATO patrol vehicle left one soldier dead and two others injured in southern Afghanistan, NATO said in a statement on Tuesday.  The attack occurred Monday, NATO said, when suspected insurgents detonated an explosive device in the Panjwaii district in Kandahar province. NATO officials did not disclose the nationality of the soldiers involved ....

Nato soldier dies in Afghanistan
BBC Online, 7 Nov 06
Link to Article

One Nato soldier was killed and two injured when an explosive device struck their vehicle in southern Afghanistan, officials said.  The incident occurred 35km (19 miles) west of Kandahar city on Monday, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said.  The injured were taken to an Isaf hospital in Kandahar, Captain Andre Salloum told the AFP news agency.  The nationalities of the dead and injured were not given ....

New Afghan violence leaves five dead, including coalition soldier
Agence France Presse, 7 Nov 06
Link to Article

The latest in a wave of attacks blamed on Taliban fighters in Afghanistan has left five people dead, including a foreign soldier, police and the NATO-led military force said.  The soldier with the US-led coalition was killed Monday when militants fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a military vehicle travelling through the southern province of Kandahar, a spokesman for the NATO force said.  "One vehicle was destroyed and one coalition soldier was killed, but there was no heavy fighting," International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman Captain Andre Salloum told AFP on Tuesday ....

More News on CAN in AFG here

Articles found 7 November 2006

`We've got to see it through to the end'

Commander back from 9-month tour Says Canadians should be proud of work

CFB TRENTON—Brig.-Gen. David Fraser arrived back on home turf with a smile on his face, relief in his eyes and an admission that he will always be marked by his gruelling nine-month tour in Afghanistan.

"I might have left Afghanistan, but Afghanistan will always be part of me," he told the Star in an interview yesterday. "The people out there are phenomenal, courageous.

"You can't help but leave a part of yourself back there," he said.

"Men and women, the children who are just trying to eke out a living. ... We've got to see it through to the end," he said.

In February, Fraser took over command of the multinational forces in the southern region of Afghanistan as they faced a rebounding insurgency that killed allied troops and thwarted efforts to rebuild.

While the mission is proving divisive on the home front, Fraser said Canadians should take pride in the mission.
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Drones on military wish list

Armed forces seek to add to Ottawa's $17B spending spree unveiled last week
Unmanned `eyes in the sky' would monitor oceans here, hot spots abroad
New chief of army calls for better fighting gear, protection for troops

Canada's air force hopes to buy a fleet of sophisticated aerial drones — unmanned "eyes in the sky" — to patrol Canadian territory and waters as well as spy on enemy troops in hot spots like Afghanistan, a top general says.

Lt.-Gen. Steve Lucas, the head of the air force, said he hopes the purchasing process for 18 drones, valued at $500 million, will begin this fall.

As well, the air force hopes to finally move on the long-delayed purchase of 19 new search-and-rescue aircraft for an estimated $2 billion to replace the old Hercules planes now doing the task, he said.

Lucas's comments came on the heels of last week's announcements of $17 billion in new spending to boost Canada's military. The spending includes:

$8.3 billion to buy and maintain four Boeing C-17 Globemaster strategic lift cargo jets or similar aircraft to replace Canada's Antonovs, plus the smaller tactical lift aircraft to replace our aging Hercules transports.

$2.9 billion for three new supply ships.

$4.7 billion for 16 heavy Chinook-type helicopters.

$1.2 billion for 2,300 trucks.

And that's far from the end of the military's wish list.

Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, the new head of the army, said he wants to tweak capabilities to cope with evolving conflicts that demand a mix of guerrilla fighting and development work.

"I think what we're doing in places like Afghanistan will be our stock-in-trade for a good many years," Leslie told the Star, describing the mission as "dangerous and complicated."
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Torch passed to troops in Afghanistan, PM says
SCOTT DEVEAU  Globe and Mail Update

Speaking to a group of veterans and youths at the Canadian War Museum Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper drew on Canada's proud military history to reiterate his government's support for the troops in Afghanistan.

“When the cause is just, Canada always answers the call, just as it is today in Afghanistan,” Mr. Harper said in the build up to Remembrance Day this weekend.

“In Afghanistan, more than two score of our troops have fallen since we joined the United Nations campaign to rescue that country from tyranny, terrorism, and the Taliban following 9/11. This week, we remember them too.”

Since 2002, 43 Canadians have been killed in the war in Afghanistan, where more than 2,200 Canadian troops are participating in the mission.
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Troops kick ass - See picture below
Dan Harrison November 7, 2006 - 3:50PM

They may be 11,000 kilometres from Flemington, but that hasn't stopped Australian troops in Afghanistan from getting into the spirit of the spring carnival.

Australian Defence Force personnel serving in Tarin Kawt, southern Afghanistan, as part of a NATO reconstruction taskforce, have honoured the day with the inaugural TK Derby carnival donkey race.

The 600-metre race, which kicked off at 3.15pm local time yesterday, covered one lap of the ring road at Camp Russell, within Camp Holland, the toops' heavily fortified desert base.

Soldiers donned brightly-coloured wigs and fluorescent silks for the race, while uniformed troops watched from the tops of what appeared to be shipping containers positioned along the edge of the dusty track .

The eventual winner was a donkey ridden by Darwin-based second cavalry regiment trooper Tim Brusch, who was hoisted on the shoulders of his mates and presented with a small silver cup trophy.
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Al-Qaida operative captured in E. Afghanistan: U.S. military
November 06, 2006   

The U.S. coalition forces have captured another suspected al-Qaida operative in Afghanistan's eastern Khost province, a press release of the U.S. military said Monday.

"Afghan and Coalition forces captured a known al-Qaida terrorist and five other extremists during an operation nearly Monday morning near Khost city," the press release added.

It said the detainee had ties with al-Qaida network's leadership. However, it declined to identify his name but added, "The detainee along with five other terrorists found in the compound including Saudi and Pakistani nationals."

The press release also claimed that several women and children were found from the compound where the suspected terrorists were hiding, saying the "terrorists willingly place non-combatants in danger."

No Afghan or coalition soldiers were injured during the operation while a number of arms and ammunition including AK-47 assault rifles and hand grenades had been found from the compound.

According to officials, over a dozen terrorists have been arrested over the past couple of months in Khost and the neighboring provinces of Paktia and Paktika.

Source: Xinhua

Pakistan, Afghanistan to hold tribal jirgas November 06, 2006         

Pakistan and Afghanistan are in touch to sort out modalities for holding of tribal jirgas as agreed between President Pervez Musharraf and his Afghan counterpart during their meeting in Washington, Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasneem Aslam told a weekly news briefing on Monday.

Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri is expected to visit Kabul in the first half of next month to exchange views with his Afghan counterpart on the subject, she said.

Aslam said Pakistan is doing everything possible to ensure that its territory is not used for violence in Afghanistan.

"Pakistan has made a number of suggestions including fencing of the international border," she said.

She said Pakistan has also proposed introduction of restrictions and checks on movements and requirement of documentation on points where such movement should be allowed.

"There have been interactions with Afghan side on various levels including the highest level," she added.

"Pakistan however feels that challenges in Afghanistan are compounded by lack of progress in reconstruction, poppy cultivation, gun running, corruption and role of war lords," she said.

"There is also need for reconciliation in Afghanistan and early relocation of Afghan refugees living close to Afghan border," she said.

Source: Xinhua

India Conference to Support Afghanistan
Nov. 6, 2006, 11:33AM © 2006 The Associated Press

NEW DELHI — India will host a conference this month to seek new commitments to support the fragile Afghan economy as it recovers from decades of war.

The regional economic cooperation conference on Afghanistan _ scheduled to be held in New Delhi beginning Nov. 18 _ will bring together the Central Asian nation's neighbors, including Pakistan, Iran and China, and members of the G-8 group of industrialized nations.

The conference is "envisaged to bring together all the important players in the postwar reconstruction of Afghanistan on a single platform," Navtej Sarna, India's External Affairs Ministry spokesman, said Monday.

Representatives from the World Bank, the United Nations and other multilateral agencies will also participate in the two-day conference. Other attendees will include representatives from Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

The first such regional conference, hosted by Britain and Afghanistan, was held in Kabul in December last year.
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Taliban support on rise in Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- For Ata Mohammad, who lost 19 members of his family during a fight between NATO and Taliban militants, the choices ahead are bleak.

He has no particular wish to join the Taliban. He could support NATO and President Hamid Karzai's government, but feels betrayed by the violence in the Panjwayi district he lives in. His other options include becoming a refugee in Pakistan or Iran.

Many in Kandahar say their confidence in the government is falling, and some say that is helping fuel support for the Taliban.

"Should we join the Taliban? Should we join the government? We don't know," Mohammad said. "The Taliban, they are causing problems for us, but the government is causing problems for us too."

"We can hardly feed our family bread. We are struggling for our life," he said. "And with the Taliban and the government and NATO fighting, we are victims, too."
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Suspected insurgents kidnap four Afghan aid workers
Globe and Mail Update

Kabul — Suspected Taliban insurgents kidnapped four Afghan aid workers in eastern Afghanistan, while U.S.-led Afghan troops detained six suspected extremists Monday, including one described as a “known al-Qaeda terrorist,” officials said.

The four aid workers, employed by the International Organization for Migration, were abducted Sunday in Zormat district of eastern Paktia province, said General Abdul Anan Raufi, the provincial police chief.

The workers were on their way to visit a newly built school in the area, he said.

“There were no demands from the kidnappers so far, but the elders in the area are involved in negotiating their release,” Gen. Raufi said.
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Cross border infiltration allegations leveled by Afghanistan not acceptable: FO Spokesperson
Tuesday November 07, 2006 (0430 PST)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has brushed aside cross border infiltration allegations leveled by Afghanistan against it saying such baseless accusations are not acceptable.
" We do not accept cross border infiltration allegations leveled by Afghanistan against us. Pakistan has done a lot to stem cross border infiltration. We put forth the proposals for erection of fence besides laying land mines but Afghan president rejected the proposal of fencing", said foreign office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam in weekly press briefing here Monday.

Several challenges are there in Afghanistan with reference to peace, she held. They are presence of war lords, poppy cultivation and Afghan refugees, she added. " We want Afghan refugees return to Afghanistan or their camps be relocated to Afghanistan, she maintained.

Ms Tasneem Aslam said no strategic talks are going to be held between Pakistan and US nor Nicholas Burns is coming to Pakistan.

Responding to a question, she said Pakistan is optimistic about success of foreign secretaries level talks with India, she underscored. During the meeting outcome of second phase talks would be reviewed. " We hope that both the countries would move forward to all the key outstanding issues including issue of Kashmir and a positive movement forward will take place}", she added
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Dutch soldier refusing service in Afghanistan convicted without punishment
November 07, 2006         

A Dutch military court convicted a soldier for refusing to be redeployed to Afghanistan, but spared him punishment because he was suffering post-traumatic stress from the earlier service of duty.

The court in the central city of Arnhem said in a written judgment that both the soldier and the armed forces were responsible to deal with the negative consequences of a mission, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The court criticized the military for not doing enough for the 20-year-old man. The soldier, whose identity was not known, had faced a maximum sentence of two-year imprisonment.

The Dutch have about 1,400 troops stationed in the southern Afghanistan province of Uruzgan. They serve as part of NATO forces, mainly engaged in a peacekeeping and reconstruction mission.

The unidentified soldier said earlier this year that he had been promised he would not be sent abroad when he re-enlisted after a previous mission in Afghanistan. He described his unit then as "a kindergarten class" unprepared to serve in a hostile environment.

Source: Xinhua

R E G I O N: NATO expands humanitarian role in Afghanistan: NGOs fear backlash
Tuesday, November 07, 2006 

* People’s inability to differentiate between aid workers and soldiers may create security problems for aid workers

KABUL: Non-government groups in Afghanistan are worried about the growing role NATO forces are playing in reconstruction, fearing people will not differentiate between soldiers and aid workers as security deteriorates.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is putting a lot of emphasis on “civilian military” projects, such as the building of bridges and schools or distribution of aid, in what is as much a hearts and minds campaign against the Taliban insurgents as a military one.

But their efforts “put aid workers in danger”, says the head of the Afghan mission of the French NGO Action Contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger), Thomas Loreaux.

“People cannot tell the difference between aid workers and soldiers,” he told AFP. “And that challenges our neutrality and independence.” The confusion is dangerous as the Taliban direct most of their attacks against troops, although scores of aid workers have also been killed in the increasingly deadly insurgency launched after hardliners were toppled in 2001.

Loreaux says his group treasures its neutrality because “we are here to help people and if we need to negotiate with the Taliban, we will.”

This year at least 14 Afghans working with NGOs have been killed, most of them in the north of the country which does not see as much of the Taliban violence that is gripping the south, although banditry and territorial rivalries are rife.
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2 suspected Taliban, 1 police killed in eastern Afghanistan clash
The Associated PressPublished: November 7, 2006

KABUL, Afghanistan: Suspected Taliban militants attacked a police checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan, leaving two militants and one police officer dead, an official said Tuesday.

The militants fired rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns on the police post in the eastern Khost province late Monday, which also left two police wounded, said Gen. Mohammad Ayub, the provincial police chief.

Police rushed reinforcements to the area, forcing the Taliban to flee, Ayub said. They took their dead with them.
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Afghanistan opposes fencing border with Pakistan
November 07, 2006         

Afghanistan Tuesday repeated its firm opposition to fencing border with Pakistan.

"We are against fencing or erecting barriers on the Durand Line and would not accept it," Afghan Presidential spokesman Mohammad Karim Rahimi told newsmen at a press briefing.

He made these remarks just days after suggesting fencing border with Afghanistan by Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmoud Kasuri.

Khurshid Kasuri, according to media reports at a joint press conference with his Dutch counterpart Bernhard Bot on Sunday, stressed the need to seal the border with Afghanistan saying it could be fenced and jointly monitored in order to check terrorist activities.

Spokesperson of Pakistan's Foreign Ministry Tasneem Aslam, according to media report, also said Monday that Islamabad had proposed fencing and selectively mining the 2,500 km porous border with Afghanistan.

"Fencing the Durand Line or erecting barriers cannot curb terrorism except dividing the inhabitants of the people living on the both side of the line," Rahimi emphasized.

Demarcated in 1893 by the erstwhile British Empire, the Durand Line divides the Pashtun tribe which used to live on the both sides of the line over the past centuries.

Afghanistan's successive governments have not recognized the line as international border with the neighboring Pakistan.

Karimi also stressed that eliminating terrorism requires joint and coordinated struggle among Afghanistan, Pakistan and international community to target the root cause and breeding centers of terrorism but declined to name any specific country as the breeding center of terrorism.

Afghanistan officials often say that Taliban militants usually cross the Durand line and after conducting subversive activities go back to Pakistan, and such claim is rejected by Islamabad as groundless allegation.

Source: Xinhua
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From agony in Angaston to Diggers' donkey races in Afghanistan
Richard Sproull and John Stapleton  November 08, 2006

STRAPPERS, jockeys and trainers from David Hayes's Lindsay Park Stud always retreat to the nearby Angaston pub, the Barossa Brauhaus, when their horses are running at the Spring Carnival's big races.
"Most of them drink here when they've had a win, too," said Julie Blenkiron, the hotel's night manager.

More than 200 patrons packed the bar of the 155-year-old pub in the heart of the Barossa Valley to watch the Melbourne Cup yesterday where Hayes's Tawqeet and Short Pause were running.

Lindsay Park, the stud established by his late father, Colin, in 1965, is just a kilometre down the road.

Horses that have stood or been trained at Lindsay Park include past champions Zabeel, Rory's Jester, Jeune, At Talaq, St Covet, Kaapstad, Military Plume, Blevic and Devaraja.
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Pashtuns protest Pakistani meddling in Afghanistan
07 Nov 2006 14:23:28 GMT Source: Reuters By Saeed Ali Achakzai

CHAMAN, Pakistan, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Several thousand ethnic Pashtuns rallied in a Pakistani town near the Afghan border on Tuesday, accusing Pakistan of meddling in Afghanistan's affairs.

The protesters, Pakistani Pashtuns and some Afghan Pashtun refugees, accused Pakistan of providing sanctuary to Taliban militants, who have this year unleashed the most intense violence in Afghanistan since their 2001 ousting from power.

"We demand the government of Pakistan stops playing its game in Afghanistan," Hamid Khan Achakzai, a leader of a Pakistani Pashtun nationalist party and a former member of parliament, told the rally in the southwestern town of Chaman.

"This duplicitous policy poses serious danger to the entire world," Achakzai said.

Pashtuns live on both sides of the rugged Afghan-Pakistani border.

Afghan complaints that Taliban insurgents are operating from safe havens on the Pakistani side have seriously strained relations between the neighbours this year.

Pakistan nurtured the Taliban after they emerged from Pashtun tribal lands along the border in the early 1990s, but officially ended support after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
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More on link[/color
Dutch take command of ISAF in South Afghanistan (note bold )
Radio Netherlands 01-11-2006

The major general's headquarters at the sprawling base close to Kandahar Airfield puts one a little in mind of a Canadian log cabin, and in an attempt to make it somewhat more attractive a small square has been created close by, complete with neat, paved paths. Visitors here pass by two monuments - one erected by NATO, the other by the Americans - and two flags, NATO's and the national flag of Afghanistan.

With effect from 1 November, this 'cabin' will be the centre of operations for Major General Van Loon as he holds command of NATO forces in Afghanistan's six southern provinces, including the most volatile three: Kandahar, Helmand and Uruzgan. Ton van Loon's predecessor in the post was Canadian Brigadier General David Fraser, and a British general will succeed him next year. These three countries - the Netherlands, Canada and the UK - will continue to hold command of NATO's operations in the area on a rotating basis for the next few years. At the moment, some 11,000 NATO troops are stationed in this part of Afghanistan, including a large contingent of US forces in the province of Zabul [my emphasis].

The major general's headquarters at the sprawling base close to Kandahar Airfield puts one a little in mind of a Canadian log cabin, and in an attempt to make it somewhat more attractive a small square has been created close by, complete with neat, paved paths. Visitors here pass by two monuments - one erected by NATO, the other by the Americans - and two flags, NATO's and the national flag of Afghanistan.

With effect from 1 November, this 'cabin' will be the centre of operations for Major General Van Loon as he holds command of NATO forces in Afghanistan's six southern provinces, including the most volatile three: Kandahar, Helmand and Uruzgan. Ton van Loon's predecessor in the post was Canadian Brigadier General David Fraser, and a British general will succeed him next year. These three countries - the Netherlands, Canada and the UK - will continue to hold command of NATO's operations in the area on a rotating basis for the next few years. At the moment, some 11,000 NATO troops are stationed in this part of Afghanistan, including a large contingent of US forces in the province of Zabul...

Canada says has broken S. Afghan Taliban uprising
Reuters (UK), 8 Nov 06
Article Link

Canadian troops have broken the back of an insurgency by Taliban militants near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, the scene of fierce recent fighting, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said on Tuesday.  Canada has 2,300 soldiers based in Kandahar. Since 2002, 42 Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan, most of them in battles in the south of the country over the past few months.  Although an opinion poll over the weekend showed most Canadians pessimistic about the future of the mission and want the troops to come home, O'Connor struck an upbeat tone.  "It is a critical time in the south. ... I believe that we are going to succeed," he said in a Parliamentary debate on the Canadian military.  "We have already broken the back of the insurgency in the Kandahar area in the sense that they (the Taliban) are not prone to attacking us directly. They are going to have to revert to suicide bombings and IEDs (improvised explosive devices)," he said ....

Taliban vow renewed jihad against Canadians
Lee Greenberg and Noor Khan, Ottawa Citizen, 7 Nov 06
Article Link

The Taliban have pledged to wage a renewed jihad against Canadian troops in Afghanistan, saying Canada has, by killing innocent civilians, broken its promise to redevelop the war-ravaged country.  "We will pursue our fighting in winter," Qari Mohammad Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said in a telephone interview yesterday, shooting down suggestions of a lull in fighting over the winter when insurgents traditionally retreat to mountain hideaways.  "We will change our tactics according to the situation."  He said if Canadian troops want to avoid casualties, "the best way is to stop their operations."  Lt.-Gen. David Richards, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, has accused the Taliban of deliberately enmeshing themselves in civilian populations to increase casualties. He calls the tactic a "cynical" attempt to diminish support for the coalition.  But one tribal elder in a hard-hit southern village said his people had little choice but to comply with Taliban demands.  "NATO is telling us not to give shelter to Taliban," said Zarif Khan, a tribal elder in Sperwan Ghar. "This is not our duty. The government and NATO have to stop Taliban. We don't have weapons to stop armed people. If they ask us for shelter we don't have any options." ....

`We've got to see it through'
Commander back from 9-month tour
Says Canadians should be proud of work

Bruce Campion-Smith, Toronto Star, 7 Nov 06
Article Link

Brig.-Gen. David Fraser arrived back on home turf with a smile on his face, relief in his eyes and an admission that he will always be marked by his gruelling nine-month tour in Afghanistan.  "I might have left Afghanistan, but Afghanistan will always be part of me," he told the Star in an interview yesterday. "The people out there are phenomenal, courageous.  "You can't help but leave a part of yourself back there," he said.  "Men and women, the children who are just trying to eke out a living. ... We've got to see it through to the end," he said.  In February, Fraser took over command of the multinational forces in the southern region of Afghanistan as they faced a rebounding insurgency that killed allied troops and thwarted efforts to rebuild.  While the mission is proving divisive on the home front, Fraser said Canadians should take pride in the mission ....

Support for troops lauded
Cary Castagna, Edmonton Sun, 7 Nov 06
Article Link

Brig. Gen. David Fraser isn't putting much stock into recent polls suggesting Canadian support for the war in Afghanistan is dwindling. "If the support out there's dwindling, I haven't seen it," said Fraser, who arrived home last night with the final wave of Edmonton-based soldiers from Joint Task Force Afghanistan. Fraser, who handed over command of the NATO troops in southern Afghanistan on Nov. 1, said he's received nothing but positive e-mails from supporters across the country. "All they tell me is keep going," the Edmonton-based commander said, adding support is "100% solid." ....

More News on CAN in AFG here

$189M to send tanks to Afghanistan: O'Connor
Canadian Press, via Toronto Star, 7 Nov 06
Article Link

Canada’s defence minister says it’s costing taxpayers $189 million to send re-enforcements, including Leopard tanks, to Afghanistan to support Canadian troops.  Gordon O’Connor told a House of Commons committee Tuesday night that includes the cost of sending the tanks, a team of engineers and a counter-mortar unit.  “That’s transportation, plus what was necessary to get all the equipment up to standard for operations,” said O’Connor in reply to questions from opposition MPs.  The military announced last summer that the 42-tonne Leopards would be deployed to Afghanistan.  Five of the 42-tonne monsters are already in operation with another 12 to be deployed in the next month ....

Conviction, not contempt 
Susan Riley, Ottawa Citizen, 8 Nov 06
Article Link

When is Prime Minister Stephen Harper going to stop treating Canadians like slow students, or spineless wimps, and announce a new approach for the failing Afghan mission?  Leaving before 2009 will be awkward, at the least, given the Harper government's promise to NATO allies to keep our troops in the country until that date. But are we doomed to losing more soldiers (and inflicting injuries on more civilians) in a stumbling military effort for three more years, while our allies tiptoe away from the mess and Afghans turn against the Karzai government and against their would-be rescuers?  It is a real possibility. Yet Harper's public comments on Afghanistan conform to an unchanging pattern: praise for the troops and abuse for anyone who questions the direction, or duration, of the mission ....

AFGHANISTAN: Tribal elders reopening southern schools
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 7 Nov 06
Article Link

LASHKAR GAH, 7 Nov 2006 (IRIN) - In an effort to reopen hundreds of schools, closed due to fear of attacks from insurgents in southern Afghanistan, local tribal elders in Helmand province have helped the government to open the doors of at least 20 schools in the past two weeks, local officials said on Tuesday.  The initiative came after local officials in the insurgency-hit south announced last month that more than 300 schools were now closed following attacks and threats from insurgents.  “Community leaders in Sangin and Nawzad districts have also raised their voices and support for reopening schools and now we hope that many other schools will be reopened for students in the near future,” Saifal Maluk Noori, head of Helmand’s education department, said.  The elders, who command considerable respect and power in their villages, have promised to guard and protect schools and mount a community-based protection network to counter the threats from militant groups ....

Afghanistan: UN-backed panel voices alarm at surge in opium cultivation
UN News Centre, 3  Nov 06
Article Link

A United Nations-backed panel on narcotics control today expressed alarm at the rise in illicit opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, by far the world’s largest supplier, and called on its neighbours to crack down on the apparent smuggling of a chemical needed for the manufacture of heroin within the country.  The Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) Board, an independent and quasi-judicial control organ set up in 1961 to monitor implementation of UN drug conventions, noted that although acetic anhydride needed to make heroin appears to be available in the country, the sources from where it is smuggled have not been identified ....

INCB Expresses Concern Over Illegal Manufacture of Heroin in Afghanistan During Annual Session
The International Narcotics Control Board, UN Information Service, 3 Nov 06
Article Link

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) during its ongoing 87th session in Vienna, Austria, has expressed concern over alarming increase in illicit opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and the illegal manufacture of heroin in the country.  "Although acetic anhydride, which is needed to manufacture heroin, appears to be available in the country, the sources and routes from where the chemical is smuggled have not been identified. The Board is extremely concerned that hardly any of the countries bordering Afghanistan have reported seizures of acetic anhydride during 2005 and 2006. The Board therefore urges all Governments in the neighbouring countries to ensure that acetic anhydride transiting through their countries illicitly, is intercepted," said Dr. Philip O. Emafo, INCB President.  The Board, during its present session, will adopt its Annual Report for 2006 which will be released in February 2007 ....

Afghanistan: Profile Report 07 Nov 2006
United Nations Security Council, via ReliefWeb, 7 Nov 06
Article Link - .pdf report

For the last quarter of a century, Afghanistan has been embroiled in conflict. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 was followed by a decade of clashes between Soviet troops and Afghan fighters, the mujahedin. After the withdrawal of the Soviet army in 1988, and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, factional fighting among the mujahedin forces continued until 1996, when the capital, Kabul, was taken by the Taliban ....

Articles found 8 November 2006
(even though milnewstbay beat me to it
  ;D - he saves me a lot of work- thanks)

Afghanistan 'to spray poppy crop' 
By Najiba Laima  BBC Pashto/Persian service 

The Afghan government has for the first time accepted that aerial chemical spraying could be considered to curb the cultivation of opium poppies.

Poppy production across Afghanistan has increased by 60% since 2005.

A spokesman for the anti-narcotics ministry told the BBC that spraying could be used to free Afghanistan from its "biggest enemy", opium.

The government has resisted aerial spraying, but the spokesman said it was now being considered as a last resort.

Local people in the southern Helmand province, which cultivates more than a quarter of Afghanistan's poppies, claim there has already been clandestine spraying which reduced the province's poppy yield by more that half last year.

They say the spraying also badly affected other crops and that some people complained of skin conditions.

New plans

President Hamid Karzai has declared jihad, or war, against drugs, arguing they are destroying his country and its future prospects.

However, a leading member of the Afghan parliament, Daud Sultanzoy, has told the BBC that he will fight the aerial spraying.
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Extreme care is exercised to avoid collateral damage in war against terrorism: Musharraf
Wednesday November 08, 2006 (0354 PST)

RAWALPINDI: President General Pervez Musharraf Tuesday said extreme care is being exercised to ensure that there is no loss of innocent lives or collateral damage while combating terrorists.

He observed this while presiding over a day long 99th Corps Commanders` Conference here at General Headquarters. Vice Chief of Army Staff, Corps Commanders and Principal Staff Officers attended the conference.

After recitation from the Holy Quran, President General Pervez Musharraf dwelt at length on the international and regional environment and their relevance to the security of Pakistan; domestic environment and professional matters.

Talking about the role of Security Forces in combating militancy and terrorism, the President said that given the complexity of the issue, various parties try to exploit it for petty vested interests and create gross misperceptions amongst the general public.
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Pakistan providing full-fledged protection to foreign entrepreneurs, companies: Sherpao
Wednesday November 08, 2006 (0354 PST)

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao has said Pakistan offers conducive environment for foreign investment adding full security is being provided to the foreign entrepreneurs and companies in the country.
He said this while talking to a delegation of oil and Gas Company of Hungry, MOL here Tuesday in ministry of interior. The delegation was led by company's executive vice president.

Interior minister held that new era of development and prosperity has ushered in Pakistan. A record surge has been noticed in foreign exchange reserve.

Country has carved a unique niche in the comity of nations under the courageous leadership of the President General Pervez Musharraf and the Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. " We are playing our key role to protect the world against the scourge of terrorism", he added.
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Drug money being used in promoting terrorism in Afghanistan: Kasuri
Wednesday November 08, 2006 (0354 PST)

ISLAMABAD: Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs said the drug money in Afghanistan is being used for crimes and terrorism.
He said this while speaking to UN Secretary General's Special Representative Thomas Koenigs on Tuesday at Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Foreign Minister informed the UN secretary General representative that he would be soon be visiting Afghanistan during early December 2006.

Mr Keonigs briefed Khurshid Kasuri on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan's role and functions.
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Travelling with the Taleban 
The BBC's David Loyn has had exclusive access to Taleban forces mobilised against the British army in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.

There is no army on earth as mobile as the Taleban.
Taleban interview   http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/help/3681938.stm

I remember it as their secret weapon when I travelled with them in the mid-1990s, as they swept aside rival mujahideen to take most of the country.

Piled into the back of open Toyota trucks, their vehicle of choice, and carrying no possessions other than their weapons, they can move nimbly.

The bare arid landscape of northern Helmand suits them well.

After one hair-raising race across the desert last week, patrolling the large area where they can move at will, they screamed to a stop at a river bank.
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Nato struggles in Afghanistan 
By Jonathan Marcus BBC diplomatic correspondent 

For now there is not going to be a Polish solution to Nato's problems in Afghanistan.

Nato spokesmen are making it clear that Poland's decision to send 1,000 troops to the country early next year - a few months earlier than planned - has nothing to do with the alliance's current military problems in the south of the country.

Nato is still struggling to find up to 2,500 extra troops for southern Afghanistan and it needs them urgently.

If they cannot be found then the success of Nato's mission could be called into question and this in turn could have a considerable impact upon future perceptions of the alliance itself.

Nato leaders accept that Afghanistan represents a fundamental test for the alliance.

The crucial problem for any international institution is relevance. Is it still useful to its members? Can it re-invent itself for a world that is very different from that in which it was founded?
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Afghanistan: Tactics and techniques  

International forces in Afghanistan are facing mounting security problems. The Taleban - ousted from Kabul in the 2001 US-led invasion - have regrouped over the last couple of years, and are now a resurgent force in the south and east of the country.
Although there are no reliable estimates of their current manpower, Taleban tactics are nothing new.

Their fighters follow exactly the same principles of low-level guerrilla warfare as the mujahideen fighters who inflicted heavy losses on the Soviet army which occupied Afghanistan from 1979-89.

Leading defence analyst Colonel Christopher Langton from the International Institute for Strategic Studies told the BBC News website: "It's a well-practised Afghan way of operating. There has been no change in tactics since 2001. A far as they're concerned, it works.

"They're limited by the type of equipment they have. It's been a long time since they operated any tanks or armoured vehicles.
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Afghans speak on foreign troops 

The presence of foreign forces are a daily reality for people throughout Afghanistan.
While British forces launch offensives against Taleban strongholds in the south, Nato troops patrol the streets of Kabul to maintain order.

Here Afghans from around the country give their verdict on the foreign troops in their midst.

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Can change in Afghan tactics bring peace? 
Analysis By Alastair Leithead BBC News, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan 

The British forces in southern Afghanistan have finally had a change of tactics.

Ever since they were deployed into the small government compounds in Helmand's remote district centres they have been under fire and looking for a face-saving way out.

In Sangin, Now Zad and Musa Qala, the small deployments of men have been defending attack from all sides - rocket propelled grenades, small arms fire, mortars.

The enemy was underestimated and was a lot tougher, more determined and fearless than they expected.

It would launch "wave after wave of attack" to quote one commander, in the most intense fighting "since the Korean or even the Second World War" to quote another.

They went into these centres bowing to pressure from the governor, and because they could not be seen to be losing ground to the Taleban as they were deploying, but before they were up to full speed.
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15 suspected insurgents killed by NATO troops, aircraft in eastern Afghanistan
The Associated PressPublished: November 8, 2006

KABUL, Afghanistan: NATO-led troops aided by military aircraft killed 15 suspected insurgents in eastern Afghanistan after the militants opened fire on the Western patrol, wounding one soldier, an official said Wednesday.

The troops came under attack on Tuesday in Barmal district of Paktika province, which borders Pakistan, said Capt. Jose Lopez, a spokesman for the NATO-led troops.

Troops returned fire and called in close air support, killing 15 suspected insurgents, Lopez said. A NATO soldier was also wounded in the leg.

The nationality of the wounded soldier was not disclosed. Most of the troops in the area are American.
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Articles found 9 November 2006

Taliban rockets hit NATO base after clashes
Updated Thu. Nov. 9 2006 8:05 AM ET CTV.ca News Staff

Canadian troops in Afghanistan helped in the aftermath of a truck bombing Thursday, one day after Canadian and NATO troops killed 28 Taliban fighters and just hours after insurgent rockets hit a nearby NATO base.

The clashes took place in southern Afghanistan, said CTV's Steve Chao, reporting from Kandahar. No Canadians were killed or wounded in the fighting.

Three rockets landed in the NATO base at Sperwan Ghar early Thursday.

Less than two hours later, a young Afghan man was killed and a 10-year-old Afghan boy was wounded when the burned out hulk of a gravel truck hit by a roadside bomb exploded for a second time.

Chao said the boy, who suffered from leg injuries, is being treated by Canadian medical staff at the military hospital at Kandahar airfield.

"Time and again Canadians have been trying to help Aghans as much as possible because often it's the civilians that are caught in the middle in this battle between the Taliban and NATO forces," Chao told CTV Newsnet.

Late Wednesday, Canadian troops called in a NATO air strike in the deadly clash that left 22 suspected insurgents dead.

Canadian troops and Afghan police located a Taliban position in Shari district, and sent in the air strike, district police chief Ghulam Rasool Aga told The Associated Press.

Canadian troops had exchanged fire with a group of insurgents who attacked them, but there were no reports of casualties, said Canadian military spokesperson Lieut.-Cmdr. Kris Phillips.

In fighting earlier Wednesday in Zhari district, Afghan police fought with Taliban fighters for three hours. The battle claimed the lives of six Taliban fighters and wounded another four, Aga said. One police officer and three villagers were wounded in the clashes.
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22 Taliban fighters said killed in clashes with Canadians
Canadian Press

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN — Canadian troops called in NATO air strikes in a clash in Kandahar province that killed 22 suspected Taliban militants, Afghan police said Thursday.

The Canadian soldiers along with Afghan police identified a Taliban position in Zhari district late Wednesday and called in close air support. District police chief Ghulam Rasool Aga said 22 Taliban fighters died.

Canadian military spokesman Lieutenant-Commander Kris Phillips confirmed Canadian troops and Afghan forces clashed with a group of insurgents who had attacked them with small arms fire, but had no immediate details on militant casualties.

Cdr. Phillips called the clashes “pretty standard stuff for the Pashmul area,” a greenbelt region that sits between Zhari and Panjwaii district to the south. The region lies just to the west of Kandahar Air Field where the Canadian and other NATO troops are based.
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Afghan gunmen erase a beacon of hope
A pharmacist shuts his little clinic in a dangerous area after insurgents take him for a terrifying ride
GRAEME SMITH From Thursday's Globe and Mail

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN — Gul Mohammed was in a fine mood a week ago, as he left his modest home in Kandahar city, climbed into his minivan and started his daily commute to work. He was moments away from getting kidnapped by masked gunmen and enduring what he describes as the most frightening day of his life. But in those crisp, cool hours after morning prayers, when the slanting winter sun hit the horizon with a dazzle of pink and orange, Mr. Mohammed had reason for optimism.

One year had passed since the 44-year-old signed up for a job as a pharmacist at a clinic run by Afghan Health & Development Services (AHDS). It was a risky post: The little yellow clinic was located about four kilometres outside of Bazar-e-Panjwai, a village at the heart of the notoriously dangerous Panjwai district.

Panjwai has been the focus of Canadian military action this year, and the fighting in that district got steadily worse for six months. But a few weeks ago, after the biggest battle yet, the violence abated.

There have been fewer gunfights and fewer bombings, and Canadian officials now talk hopefully about improving the lives of ordinary people in Panjwai.
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Letters for a fallen soldier

Jessica Buyers is writing condolence cards to families she has never met — people who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan.

The cards are among more than 1,000 being written by students at Loyola Catholic Secondary School.

They will be delivered to the widows and parents of the 42 Canadian soldiers who have died in that mission.

"I think it's really going to affect the family in a good way because they'll know so many people are with them," said Jessica, 16, who chose to address her cards to the families of Sgt. Robert Alan Short and Sgt. Marc Leger.

The exercise, designed by Loyola teacher and retired military officer Robert Smol, is one of the ideas schools in the Toronto area are using to convey the gravity of war and sacrifice to students.
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Most want end to Afghan mission: Poll
Nov. 9, 2006. 06:09 AM CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO — More than half of Canadians wanted to see their troops pulled from Afghanistan before the scheduled end of their mandate in 2009, and almost as many did not think Canada's mission to the violence-plagued country will be successful, a new poll suggests.

The poll, conducted for the CBC by Environics Nov. 2 to 6, indicated that 59 per cent of those surveyed said they want Canadian troops out of Afghanistan before 2009.

Ten per cent of respondents said they believe Canadian soldiers should stay in Afghanistan past 2009, while 23 per cent said the troops should remain in the central Asian country until 2009.

The federal Conservative government has committed to keeping troops in the country until at least February 2009.

When respondents were asked how they thought the Canadian mission to Afghanistan would end, 58 per cent said it would not be successful, while 34 said it would be.
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November 09, 2006 edition

Taliban fighters talk tactics - while safe in Pakistan
By Suzanna Koster | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

BALOCHISTAN PROVINCE, PAKISTAN – The 22-year-old doesn't look like the traditional turbaned Taliban commander. His black hair shoots out at all angles from beneath a red cap. He smiles easily and has a neatly trimmed beard.
But Hilal says he is the co-leader of 200 Taliban fighters who operate across the border in Afghanistan. "Two years ago, we only attacked Afghan officials, but now we have so many Talibs that we can attack Americans," he boasts.

In a rare interview with a Western reporter, Hilal and three other Afghan Taliban fighters describe how they slip into Afghanistan, attack NATO and Afghan forces, and return to Pakistan to rest.

"Everybody in the neighborhood knows we are Talibs," says Noman, a 19-year-old fighter with a blue-white block-printed turban. "Paki-stan is a little bit free for us."

The interview was conducted over two days in a small house made of yellow mud in Pakistan's Balochistan Province. The fighters, who won't give their real names, say they are here for a refresher course in Taliban ideology in a Pakistani religious school.

"We are enormously organized," brags Mustafa, a 20-year-old wearing a black turban usually favored by conservative Muslims.

"Even British defense officials say they face a lot of problems from the Taliban."
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Three "terrorists" captured in south-east Afghanistan
dpa German Press Agency Published: Thursday November 9, 2006

Kabul- Afghan and US-led coalition forces captured three alleged terrorists early Thursday morning during an operation on a compound near Khost city, the coalition said Thursday. "Credible intelligence indicated the compound was a refuge for a terrorist network operating in the Khost Province," coalition forces said in a statement.

The coalition statement added, "The combined force ensured the safety of the Afghan women and children present in the compound."

No Afghan or coalition forces were injured during the operation.

Six alleged terrorists were captured, including Arabs and Pakistanis, by Afghan and US-led coalition forces last Monday with grenades, military equipment, armour-piercing rounds and AK-47 assault rifles during the search of the compound. They also recovered a camera containing surveillance video of nearby military installations.
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Turkish Provincial Reconstruction Team To Serve In Afghanistan
Published: 11/8/2006
ANKARA - The Provincial Reconstruction Team established by Turkey upon Afghanistan's demands to serve in Afghanistan's Vardak province will formally go into operation tomorrow and serve for five years in this country.
Setting-up of Provincial Reconstruction Team by Turkey is appraised as an indicator of historical friendship between Turkey and Afghanistan and the Turkey's eagerness of contribution to peace and stability as well.

Comprised of 64 military and 30 civilian staff, Provincial Reconstruction Team will carry out projects worth 3.2 million USD. In this framework, educational, health and agricultural projects will be given priority in Vardak.


Provincial Reconstruction Teams became the most important tools for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to get extended to entire Afghanistan.

Provincial Reconstruction Teams are based on a model in which military and civilian components work together to bring civilian-military cooperation to foreground.
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Canadians Face Uphill Battle in Afghanistan
Canada's soldiers have suffered heavy losses in the violence-prone region of Kandahar, Afghanistan, but change may be on the horizon.
By Joan Delaney Epoch Times Victoria Staff Nov 09, 2006

After 43 deaths and $2.1 billion, Canadian troops may be turning the corner in the fight against a Taliban insurgency in southern Afghanistan.

Although an opinion poll over the weekend showed most Canadians pessimistic about the future of the mission and want the troops to come home, O'Connor struck an upbeat tone.

"It is a critical time in the south. ... I believe that we are going to succeed," Defense Minister Gordon O'Connor said on Tuesday.

"We have already broken the back of the insurgency in the Kandahar area in the sense that they (the Taliban) are not prone to attacking us directly. They are going to have to revert to suicide bombings and IEDs (improvised explosive devices)," he said.

O'Connor's assertion came shortly after a weekend opinion poll showed that most Canadians remain pessimistic about the future of the mission and want Canada's troops to return home.
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NZ troops destroy $18m of opium in Afghanistan  
1.00pm Thursday November 9, 2006

New Zealand troops in Afghanistan have destroyed a haul of opium with a potential street value of US$12 million ($18m).

The almost one tonne of drugs was confiscated on November 1 by a team of Afghan National Police after they caught up with smugglers on a deserted road.

The New Zealand Defence Force in Bamyan received a call from the province's governor Habibi Serabi asking if they could incinerate the drugs.

Wooden pellets filled with opium were stacked on top of each other and doused in petrol before being set alight.

Medical Officer Major Phil Misur, one of those involved in the drugs' destruction, said the experience was as satisfying as it was extraordinary.

"Working in the burn pit surrounded by millions of dollars worth of foul smelling opium, mixed with plenty of diesel and petrol, is an experience I'll never forget," he said.

Police superintendent John Kelly, from Hamilton, said he had never seen such a large quantity of drugs in 30 years of police work.

Mr Kelly said: "It's certainly the biggest haul I've seen in my career and it's a bit different from the average couple of pounds of cannabis you might turn over back home."

Afghanistan is the world's biggest supplier of opium with the country's southern Helmand province producing over 70 per cent of the world's total production alone, the NZDF said.
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Wednesday, November 08, 2006 | Updated at 5:41 PM EST

Afghanistan mission worthwhile, Clinton tells Kitchener luncheon audienceFormer president says return of the Taliban would be a "nightmare"

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton today affirmed the need for American and Canadian forces to stay in Afghanistan.

Clinton, speaking to a fund-raising lunch in Kitchener attended by nearly 1,000 people, said that it had been a "serious mistake" for the United States to invade Iraq at the same time that it also had troops involved in Afghanistan.

There's a need for 5,000 to 8,000 more troops in Afghanistan, he said. "We never put enough troops there."

The Afghanistan operation — where soldiers are supporting the democratically elected government and keeping the extremist Taliban forces at bay — "may look like another Iraq to you" but it is a quite different situation from Iraq, Clinton said.

Winning in Afghanistan is "far, far more important, in terms of protecting Canada and America against terror," than Iraq, he said.

"If we lose in Afghanistan and the Taliban come back, it will be a nightmare," he said.
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N.S. premier applauds Afghan mission
November 8, 2006 By JAMES KELLER

HALIFAX (CP) - Nova Scotia's premier used a rally in support of Canada's military on Wednesday to applaud the Afghanistan mission, while dismissing the suggestion that Nova Scotians are divided on whether troops should be fighting there.

Several hundred people stood under a light rain outside the legislature in Halifax to applaud Canada's Armed Forces.

The event was billed as a chance to support all Canadian soldiers and their families, but Premier Rodney MacDonald paid special tribute to troops serving in Afghanistan.

"Their mission is to create the conditions for stability and for freedom," the Conservative premier told the crowd.

"Afghanistan is a country still struggling, and this is a concern for us all."

The rally was staged hours after all three of the province's political parties passed a resolution supporting the mission.

Some civil servants were given time off to attend the rally.
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Canadians battle on in Afghanistan as they honour those who had fallen
Sue Bailey, Canadian Press, 9 Nov 06
Article Link

Canadian Brig.-Gen. David Fraser wears a little black bracelet as a tender reminder of two soldiers he'll never forget. "Matt Dinning, Randy Payne killed in action April 22, '06," it says.  The two men were once part of his personal protection team.  "Remembrance Day is every day," said Fraser, who completed his term as NATO commander in southern Afghanistan on Nov. 1 ....

A soldier’s story
Sarah Elizabeth Brown, Chronicle-Journal, 9 Nov 06
Article Link - 1.12MB .pdf version

After a school assembly Wednesday, a handful of curious Algonquin Avenue students hung back to ask the visiting veteran questions or shake his hand.  Fit and trim, he’s not wearing a vet’s familiar navy blue blazer, but the desert-camouflage uniform he wore in Afghanistan from February to August.  And he’s only 30.  Cpl. Robin Rickards, a Lake Superior Scottish Regiment rifleman and grenadier, spoke to the school’s youngsters — all decked out in red and white — about remembering soldiers who’ve fought overseas as well as those who helped during natural disasters closer to home.  The students prepared poems, a song and a slide show, as well as a book of art and writing that will be sent to Kandahar for Canadian troops to read.  Called “Celebrating Canadian Soldiers,” the book grew from teacher Natalie Corbin’s idea of letting overseas soldiers know folks back home are thinking of them. She’d seen a Kandahar-based soldier interviewed on the news and thought how she’d feel if that was her husband with the fatigue and sadness lining his face ....

`A very spiritual exercise'
Tallying the war dead row on row for all to see

Bruce Campion-Smith, Toronto Star, 10 Nov 06
Article Link

With a focused eye and practised strokes, Nancy Ellis's hand moves her broad-edged nib pen carefully across the paper. Letter by letter, the sumi ink leaves its mark — "Tedford, Darcy Scott, CD."  She stops, leans back and checks her handiwork, and with that, another fallen Canadian soldier has taken his place in the Book of Remembrance.  Seven weighty volumes list the names of Canada's more than 116,000 war dead dating back to the Boer War in 1899. This week, Canada's latest casualties in Afghanistan were added to their calfskin vellum pages.  Names like Nichola Goddard, Matthew Dinning, Timothy Wilson and William Turner.  As a professional calligrapher, Ellis works quietly and deliberately. But she admits she wonders about the people behind the names.  "It becomes a very spiritual exercise. Who loved you? Who misses you? How did you die?" Ellis said ....

More News on CAN in AFG here

Top investigators on case following failed drug tests
Military using ‘every available resource’ to ‘stamp out’ problem

Chris Lambie, Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 10 Nov 06
Article Link

The military has put its top crime investigators on alert after a spate of recent failed drug tests at CFB Gagetown.  Maj. Rob Bell, senior operations officer with the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, said he has met with army representatives to discuss the drug tests conducted on soldiers training to go to Afghanistan next February.  "The army and other organizations are definitely concerned about the issue, and so they’ve engaged us to ask what strategies we are using to try and mitigate it," Maj. Bell said Thursday. "It has definitely got the attention of the highest echelons, and we are using every resource available to try and stamp it out."  "Those guys are taking these people into theatres of operations where their performance is important to the survival and the effectiveness of the group," Maj. Bell said. "And so I think they have definitely got a renewed focus at reducing and eliminating drug usage." ....

Canadians help boy hurt by truck bomb; at least 22 Taliban killed in clashes
Sue Bailey, Canadian Press, 9 Nov 06
Article Link

Canadian troops were helping in the aftermath of a truck bombing in southern Afghanistan Thursday, hours after Taliban rockets hit a nearby NATO base and a day after Canadians and Afghan police reportedly killed more than two dozen Taliban militants. Early Thursday morning three rockets hit a nearby NATO camp at Sperwan Ghar. Less than two hours later, a group of Afghans approached the hulk of a gravel truck hit by a roadside bomb. The burnt-out truck exploded again, killing a young man and wounding a 10-year-old boy. It's not clear whether the truck was booby-trapped. The boy, with injuries to his legs, was being cared for by Canadians at a field medical unit and was to be transferred to hospital. An Afghan man, who identified himself as a local farmer, was detained by Canadian troops. The soldiers tested him for explosive residue and let him go shortly after. He is now staying with the young injured boy ....

Forum panelists debate Canada's Afghan role
Ethan Ribalkin, CBC Radio Vancouver, 10 Nov 06
Article Link

The question of whether or not Canadian troops should be in Afghanistan came under fire Wednesday night at CBC Radio Vancouver. The forum, which was co-sponsored by 24 hours, included four panelists - Afghani ambassador Omar Simad, injured Canadian soldier Capt. John Croucher, Michael Byers, academic director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues, and Lauryn Oates, spokesperson for the national organization Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. With 36 Canadian soldiers killed since last Remembrance Day, the forum quickly brought forth an array of viewpoints. According to Simad, Afghanistan is a much better place today, five years after the Taliban ....

Afghanistan not a lost cause, but major changes needed: crisis group
Murray Brewster, Canadian Press, 9 Nov 06
Article Link

The raging violence in southern Afghanistan should be a wake-up call to western nations, not an excuse to give up, says a new report by a respected international conflict studies group. The Belgium-based International Crisis Group says there is nothing "inevitable about failure in Afghanistan," but some major policies of both NATO and the Afghan government must be reconsidered. Those policies include aggressive house searches and detentions of residents. "The desire for a quick, cheap war followed by a quick, cheap peace is what has brought Afghanistan to the present, increasingly dangerous situation," says the group, which has a self-appointed mission to prevent and resolve conflicts. The study also says NATO has not committed enough troops to provide security to the fragile democracy, and its efforts to bring stability are severely undermined by corrupt Afghan authorities ....

Articles found 10 November 2006

Live war message from Afghanistan

Soldiers speak to local students via videolink

ST. ALBERT - The same technology used to stream live war footage into Canadian homes brought a wartime message of peace Thursday, as two local soldiers chatted to students via live videolink from Afghanistan.

As their images were projected onto a gymnasium wall, Capt. Glen Morrison and Sgt. Ernie Kuffner bowed their heads in a prayer with more than 400 students at Ecole Secondaire Sainte Marguerite d’Youville.

The pair, whose daughters attend ESSMY, appeared in a cramped yellow broadcast booth from Kandahar to share stories of their tour and answer questions from students.

Only one question was censored by principal Shawn Haggerty: Do you feel Canadians support your contribution?

“It’s a dead-end question,” Haggerty said. “Yes, these men were speaking to our students, but also directly to their wives and children, whom they haven’t seen for months.”

He’d approved the questions beforehand, but changed his mind during the videocast and quietly asked a student to skip that particular question.

“I decided at the last minute that it wasn’t the proper forum. This was about remembrance and honour, not politics.”

The three students chosen to query the soldiers in front of the entire student body agreed with Haggery’s decision.

“It was just an honour to speak with them, for them to have taken the time to talk with us. This was about peace,” said Grade 11 student Dave Henderson.

“We all knew the answer anyway,” said Roslynn Ricard, a Grade 10 student. She and Grade 10 student Jennifer Lissey said their peers are well aware of the Afghanistan conflict.

“The soldiers were very positive, they believe they are changing things there.”

As for the issue of censoring a question, the girls said Social Studies class is a better forum to debate such questions.

“And we do,” Lissey added.

During the ceremony the soldiers talked of losing friends in battle, specifically Capt. Nichola Goddard and Cpl. Francisco Gomez, with whom they were friends.

They showed a slide presentation of images from the war, including sombre ramp ceremonies.
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Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
Updated Thu. Nov. 9 2006 11:09 PM ET CTV.ca News Staff

The Canadian Forces are investing in a new high-tech shell to be used in Afghanistan. But at $150,000 per round, it could be the most expensive ammunition ever fired by the military.

"It's like shooting a Ferrari every time you use one of these things," Steve Staples of the Polaris Institute told CTV News on Thursday.

"These are incredibly expensive weapons. And really, it's overkill for the kind of mission we're doing."

Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor estimates Canada will have poured $4 billion into the Afghanistan mission by 2009. Just sending a squadron of Leopard tanks to the region costs $190 million.

But supporters argue the shell -- called the Excalibur -- is worth the added expense. U.S. defence contractor Raytheon promotes the shells as "the next-generation family of projectiles," and the U.S. military already uses them in Iraq.
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Poland to have 1,200 troops deployed in Afghanistan by February, defense minister says
The Associated Press

Poland will deploy some 1,200 troops in Afghanistan by February and will allow them to operate in the volatile southern provinces where allied troops are battling Taliban insurgents, Defense Minister Radek Sikorski said Friday.

The troops will be based mainly in eastern Afghanistan, but could be used anywhere in the country to help allied forces, Sikorski said.

"They will have their area of responsibility and their area of operations, but if there is an operational need to reinforce our allies, including our British allies, (we) have told our soldiers they have no political restrictions on where they move," he said.

"In Afghanistan as NATO we'd have enough troops if they could be used according to military logic rather than according to political constraints."

About 20,000 NATO troops are operating in Afghanistan, along with 21,000 mostly U.S. troops on a separate mission to hunt down terrorists.

NATO had focused on peacekeeping and supporting
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Blind Quran reader teaches peace
POSTED: 0322 GMT (1122 HKT), November 9, 2006

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The village medicine woman caked the baby's eyes with a concoction of opium and tobacco, telling his parents it would cure his ailing sight. When the bandages came off two months later, he had lost 90 percent of his vision. He was totally blind by 16.

But Barakatullah Salim, now 57, regards his affliction as a blessing.

He memorized Islam's holy book, the Quran, by age 9, then he studied at Egypt's revered Al-Azhar Mosque for five years after turning 13. And he became renowned across the Muslim world as a "qaria" -- Arabic for recitalist of the faith's scriptures.

"Yes, I have a gift from God," Salim said in the cushioned salon at his Islamic seminary, or madrassa, in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

An ethnic Pashtun, Salim is one of Afghanistan's most respected figures, blessed with a flawless grasp of the Quran, soaring baritone, pious nature and amazing memory. He says he can instantly recall more than 2,000 telephone numbers.

Hardly an event involving Afghan President Hamid Karzai goes by without the burly Salim first stepping onto stage to recite Quranic scripture, his breathtaking voice and measured style holding crowds spellbound at events from Coca-Cola factory openings to official conferences.

"Barakatullah Salim is the best Quranic reader in the world," said Karzai spokesman Khaleeq Ahmed. "The people of Afghanistan and the government officials trust him. For any big event or an important gathering, he always has his revered place."

Until its ouster by a U.S.-led offensive five years ago, the hard-line Islamic Taliban regime also called on Salim for special events and openings, although he says he was not always needed.

"The Taliban all recited the Quran anyway. They were already clerics. But they did ask me to come read the Quran from time to time to open a madrassa or for some other event," he said.
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China donates stuffs worth 1 mln USD to Afghanistan
November 10, 2006          

The Chinese government donated vehicles, security equipment and kitchenware worthy of 1 million U. S. dollars to Afghan parliament on Thursday, once again providing timely assistance to the country under reconstruction.

Liu Jian, the Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan, and Ghulam Hassan Gan, Deputy Secretary-general of the lower house of Afghan parliament, signed an agreement on the donation.

The stuffs include 20 jeeps, 20 pickup trucks, sets of security monitoring system, lots of cooking utensils and others.

Liu said the Chinese government has consistently supported Afghanistan's post-war reconstruction and provided assistance in its power.

China attaches great importance to developing the ties between its legislative and Afghan parliament, and hopes the two legislatives can carry out more communication and exchange in the future, he added.

On behalf of Afghan parliament, Gan thanked the Chinese government for providing the aid, saying as Afghanistan's neighboring country, China has played an active role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, which suffered decades of war, and afforded timely assistance frequently.

In another latest case, on Nov. 2, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Chinese ambassador Liu Jian laid the foundation stone for the China-funded new main building of Jamhuriat Hospital in Kabul.

With an investment of some 16 million U.S. dollars, the project will bring Afghan patients a 10-storeyed new building, which has 350 beds and a total of about 19,000 sqm construction areas.

Source: Xinhua

NATO making a difference in Afghanistan
Nov. 10, 2006. 01:00 AM

Five years after the ousting of the Taliban, the country is making progress in democracy, education, health care and equality, writes NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

On Nov. 13, 2001, coalition and Northern Alliance forces took Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. The Taliban was ousted from power, and Al Qaeda lost its safe haven. It was an important day for the people of Afghanistan, who were liberated from a terrible oppressor. It was also important for the international community, which began a major effort to help build a new Afghanistan: democratic, at peace, and no longer a threat to the world.

Five years later, what has been the result? Are we making a difference? Have the lives of the Afghans gotten better — and are we, in the international community, safer than we were?

The answer is a clear "yes." It is sometimes difficult, as we read media accounts of suicide attacks and roadside bombs, to step back and look at the big picture.

But anniversaries are the opportunity to do just that. And the big picture — the story of Afghanistan five years after the fall of the Taliban — should encourage all of us who believe in what we are helping to build there.

Democracy: Five years ago, there was no national government and no democracy. Today, Afghanistan has held a series of successful elections, and now has a constitution, an elected president and parliament.

Equality: Women, banished from society under the Taliban, are now in government. Eighty-seven women, 25 per cent of the total number of MPs, sit in the National Assembly. Almost four in 10 Afghan children in school are girls — from around zero five years ago.

Health care: 80 per cent of the population now has access to health care, up 10 times from 2001. For a country at Afghanistan's stage of development, this is extremely high.

Education: Almost 6 million Afghan children are in school, six times more than 2001. Enrolment in higher education is up 10 times, to more than 40,000. And despite a big increase this year in attacks by the Taliban, killing teachers and burning down schools, more than 1,000 schools have been built or opened so far this year.

Economy: The Afghan economy has tripled in value in the past five years and per capita income has doubled. People simply have more money in their pocket.

There are two final indicators of progress. First, people are coming home. Four million refugees have returned to their homeland, one of the biggest return movements in history. They know they are safer now, and that they have a chance to build a better life for their children.
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Afghanistan takes tough measures to counter narcotics: official  
November 10, 2006          

The Afghan government is taking various tough measures including the sacking of governors, possible ground chemical spraying, to prevent the rocketing poppy cultivation in this country, a senior Afghan officer said Friday.

"If governors and district chiefs are not able to reduce poppy cultivation, at least they will lose their jobs," Said Mohammad Azam, director of Public Relation and Public Information of Afghan Counter Narcotics Ministry, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

District and police chiefs of Daryam in the northeastern Badakhshan province had been sacked for incapability in fighting drug, he added.

Azam said an eight-member anti-narcotics committee, grouping district and police chiefs, has been established in 108 districts of 11 provinces where poppy cultivation is rife.

The committee would supervise poppy crops closely and find ways to reduce it, he added.

In 2006, poppy cultivation in Afghanistan reached a record 165, 000 hectares, up 59 percent from last year, according to a report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime issued in September.

Opium production reached 6,100 tons, witnessing a 49 percent rise over 2005 and accounting for 92 percent of the world's total supply, the report said.

The Afghan government has been severely criticized by the international community, especially Western countries for its failure to curb the booming opium industry.

Azam said "Ground chemical spraying would be the last option if all other options do not work. But no decision of using chemical spraying has been made."

It is the first time that the Afghan government accepted that chemical spraying could be considered to curb poppy cultivation.

But Azam said aerial spraying is out of the choice, as it would do great harm to water resources, cattle, human being, etc.

The number of 6,100 tons of opium is "not acceptable and not tolerable," and it "brings a bad name for the country," said Azam, adding Afghanistan is pushing the national anti-drug campaign led by President Hamid Karzai.

However, analysts say it is a daunting task to curb opium production in Afghanistan as insecurity, official corruption and poverty there are providing fertile soil for the industry.

Moreover, as Azam said the government would not provide job opportunities, crop seeds, and other compensation for those who are forced or persuaded out of planting poppy, it is extraordinarily difficult for farmers to abandon the industry, which many tightly tie their lives to.

Source: Xinhua

Afghan government says relations with U.S., troop levels unaffected by political shake-ups
The Associated Press

Top American and Afghan officials said they don't expect the United States' commitment to Afghanistan to change despite the shake-up in Congress and the Pentagon. A new poll found that Afghans are losing confidence in the direction their country is headed.

Jawed Ludin, chief of staff to President Hamid Karzai, told The Associated Press Thursday that the Afghan government watched the midterm elections in the U.S. with "tremendous interest" but was not worried relations would change significantly after the Democratic takeover of the House and Senate.

"I think the people of the United States have been with Afghanistan, and that's all that matters for our people," Ludin said.

Ludin said he did not think Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation would greatly affect U.S. troop levels
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Kabul after the Taliban blossoms for the rich, unchanged for the poor
The Associated Press

Eight-year-old Sajjad's kite struggles upward. It's nothing grand — a plastic bag salvaged from a heap of garbage and fashioned into a diamond shape.

But it's a symbol of change in Kabul, five years after the Afghan capital was freed from a Taliban regime that believed activities such as kite-flying would distract youngsters from studying the Islamic holy book, the Quran.

The U.S.-led war and the Western-friendly government that followed eliminated that rule and a host of others. Girls have returned to school. Public beheadings and amputations as punishment for crimes came to an end.

The times have changed. But in Kabul today the question often asked is: How much and for whom?

Sajjad (he says he has no last name), lives in a neighborhood called Shirpur, a significant symbol of what has changed since U.S. and British bombs drove the Taliban from the city on the night of Nov. 12-13, 2001.

Part of it has been demolished and its inhabitants evicted to make way for a "new Afghanistan" of palatial homes — scores of four- and five-story mansions boasting gold-painted marble columns and floor-to-ceiling windows flanking grand wooden doors.

The owners are the successors to the Taliban — movers and shakers who in 2003 used their new power to seize and clear the land. About 250 of Sajjad's neighbors were tossed from their homes.
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Startling findings from friendly fire investigations
The Associated Press

In a remote and dangerous corner of Afghanistan, under the protective roar of Apache attack helicopters and B-52 bombers, special agents and investigators did their work.

They walked the landscape with surviving witnesses. They found a rock stained with the blood of the victim. They re-enacted the killings — here the U.S. Army Rangers swept through the canyon in their Humvee, blasting away; here the doomed man waved his arms, pleading for recognition as a friend.

"Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman, damn it!" the former NFL football star shouted, again and again.

The latest inquiry into Tillman's death by friendly fire should end next month. But The Associated Press has combed through the results of 2 1/4 years of investigations — reviewed thousands of pages of internal Army documents, interviewed dozens of people familiar with the case — and uncovered some startling findings.

One of the four shooters, Staff Sgt. Trevor Alders, had recently had PRK laser eye surgery. Although he could see two sets of hands "straight up," his vision was "hazy," he said. In the absence of "friendly identifying signals," he assumed Tillman and an allied Afghan — who also was killed — were enemy.

Another, Spc. Steve Elliott, said he was "excited" by the sight of rifles, muzzle flashes and "shapes." A third, Spc. Stephen Ashpole, said he saw two figures, and just aimed where everyone else was shooting.
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'Pakistani Taliban' take credit for blast
The Associated Press

An investigation into a deadly attack on Pakistani troops waging a counterinsurgency campaign along the Afghan border was progressing well, an investigator said Thursday, as a previously unknown group said "Pakistani Taliban" were responsible for the attack, a suicide bombing that killed 42 soldiers.

A man with explosives strapped to his body ran up to soldiers doing calisthenics and blew himself up Wednesday at an army training center in the town of Dargai, about 100 kilometers, or 60 miles, north of Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province.

At least 42 troops were killed; 20 more were wounded, with some in critical condition.

"Body parts of the suicide bomber have been collected for DNA test," said a security official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the case, at the training center. "We have vital clues, and the investigations are proceeding well."
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Defense chief: New Zealand handed captured Afghans to coalition forces
The Associated Press

New Zealand troops fighting insurgents in Afghanistan handed captured prisoners to U.S.-led coalition forces, Defense Minister Phil Goff said Friday.

He was responding to media requests for information on the status of prisoners taken by New Zealand troops fighting insurgents in Afghanistan. Previously, no information had been released on New Zealand troops' treatment of such detainees.

New Zealand commandos "temporarily detained individuals for up to five hours while those persons were awaiting evacuation," Goff said in a statement.

Prisoners were handed over to "other coalition forces" that "had the capacity to identify them and process them as required under international law," he said in a letter to the Dominion Post newspaper in the capital, Wellington.

Goff said that from an early stage, New Zealand had made clear to U.S. authorities "our expectation that all detainees would be treated humanely and in accordance with international law."

He said that as far as New Zealand knows, no one who had been held in New Zealand custody was currently in U.S. authorities' hands.

People captured during armed conflict in Afghanistan were not legally entitled to prisoner of war status, Goff said. He said they did not qualify for combatant status under Geneva Convention III, noting that al-Qaida was not a party to the conventions because it was a terrorist organization, not an armed force.
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Cdns. losing knowledge of military history: study
Updated Fri. Nov. 10 2006 8:26 AM ET CTV.ca News Staff

Just one day before Canadians pause to remember those who fought for freedom, a new survey suggests our collective knowledge of Canadian military history is eroding.

The survey by the Dominion Institute found that only 42 per cent of Canadians received a passing grade on a simple test of First World War knowledge.

In a multiple choice quiz, only 33 per cent of those quizzed identified Sir Arthur Currie and Billy Bishop as the correct answers. And one quarter of those surveyed said that General Douglas MacArthur, an American, was a Canadian war hero.

Among young Canadians, the grades were even worse, with only three out of every 10 young Canadians passing a four-question quiz. The lowest grades came from Quebec's young people.

Along with those dismal results the survey, which was conducted during the last week of October, revealed that Canadians are having a harder and harder time remembering the names of Canadian war heroes.

More than 1,000 Canadians were surveyed. The results are considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

The survey was carried out by the Dominion Institute's Innovative Research Group.

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