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News, August 2011

 
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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

 

9 NATO Soldiers, 8 Afghani Security Officials, 18 Taliban Fighters Killed in Attacks

August 12-13, 2011

18 Taliban fighters killed in Afghanistan

By Indo Asian News Service

Kabul, Aug 13, 2011 (IANS)

At least 18 Taliban fighters were killed and 31 detained in a day-long operation in Afghanistan, the interior ministry said Saturday.

The Afghan National Police, in collaboration with the Afghan National Army, the National Directorate of Security and and the International Security Assistance Force, launched 10 joint operations in Kabul, Nangarhar, Helmand, Kandahar, Zabul, Paktika, Baghlan, Paktia and Farah provinces, Xinhua reported citing a ministry statement.

Police also found and defused 13 improvised explosive devices and anti-vehicle mines. Seven AK-47 guns, six pistols, two rocket launchers, five motorcycles and a vehicle were seized.

The Taliban Movement is yet to make any comment, it said.

NATO: 9 troops die in 2 days in Afghanistan

Roadside bombs kill 2 service members Friday in south

KABUL, Afghanistan

 Taliban fighters (referred to here by Reuters editors as insurgents) attacks have killed nine NATO service members in the past two days in Afghanistan, where the U.S.-led coalition is mourning the deaths of 30 American troops and eight Afghans in a helicopter crash last week, military officials said Friday.

The Aug. 6 crash was the single deadliest loss for U.S. forces in the nearly decade-long war.

The crash victims' remains were flown to a mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. The Pentagon said Friday that the military's medical examiner's office had positively identified all 30 U.S. troops and two of the eight Afghans, as well as the U.S. military dog that died in the crash. Identification work continues on the other six Afghans, the Pentagon said.

The identification team comprised 10 forensic pathologists, two forensic anthropologists, six odontologists (forensic dentists) and dentists, three FBI fingerprint experts, three forensic investigators, two tissue technicians and a three-person DNA team. To make the identifications, medical examiners used forensic techniques, including fingerprints, dental examination, radiology and DNA matching techniques that were not available in Afghanistan.

Psychological victory The coalition has said that the chopper was apparently shot down in Wardak province by a rocket-propelled grenade, but is investigating whether other causes contributed to the crash. The victims were: 17 members of the elite Navy SEALs, five Naval Special Warfare personnel who support the SEALs, three Air Force Special Operations personnel, an Army helicopter crew of five, seven Afghan commandos and an Afghan interpreter.

The crash comes amid fears that the country is far from stable even though U.S. and NATO forces have begun to leave Afghanistan. U.S. military officials have tried to counter those fears, saying that while the downing of the Chinook helicopter was a tragic setback, one crash will not determine the course of the war. Still, it was a psychological victory for the Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the crash and is relentlessly pursuing its campaign of intimidation and violence.

Eight of the nine NATO service members who died on Thursday and Friday were killed by roadside bombs, the insurgents' weapon of choice.

Two died Friday in separate blasts in the south, the coalition said. Their nationalities have not been disclosed.

On Thursday, a roadside bomb killed five U.S. troops in the south , American military officials said.

Story: US troops return to Afghan 'Valley of Death'

Also on Thursday, a roadside blast killed a French soldier 4 miles south of Tagab in Kapisa province in the east, the French Defense Ministry said in a statement. Four other French soldiers were wounded in the attack.

Another NATO service member died Thursday in an insurgent attack in the south, according to the U.S.-led coalition.

NATO did not disclose any further information about the deaths.

So far this year, 378 American and other NATO service members have died in the war in Afghanistan.

Medal of Honor Meanwhile, President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military decoration for valor, to a former active duty Marine Corps corporal, the White House said on Friday.

Dakota Meyer will be the third living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the first Marine.

Meyer will get the award for courageous actions while serving as a member of a Marine embedded training team in Afghanistan on Sept. 8, 2009, the White House statement said.

Insurgents killed eight security forces in Afghanistan

By Mirwais Harooni |

Reuters, August 13, 2011

KABUL (Reuters) -

Taliban fighters (referred to here by Reuters editors as insurgents) killed eight Afghan security officials who were kidnapped a day earlier in one of the most dangerous areas in central Afghanistan, a government official said on Saturday, and the Taliban claimed responsibility for the killings.

The five police and three officials from the National Directorate of Security (NDS) were kidnapped in Maidan Wardak, where 38 U.S. and Afghan troops were killed when their helicopter was shot down by a Taliban rocket during a battle a week ago.

The latest incident follows a particularly bloody week in Afghanistan, during which about 50 foreign troops killed.

The helicopter crash was the worst single incident for foreign troops in 10 years of war in Afghanistan, with 30 Americans killed, including 17 elite Navy SEALs.

Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesman for the Wardak provincial governor, said the Afghan police and NDS officers were travelling along a highway between the relatively peaceful province of Bamiyan and Maydan Shah in volatile Wardak when they were kidnapped by as yet unidentified gunmen.

"We started a rescue operation in the area but the enemies of peace in Afghanistan had already killed our forces," Shahid said. "Enemies of peace" is a term often used by the Afghan government to describe the Taliban and other insurgents.

Shahid said it appeared the eight security officials had been killed on Friday night. He said three suspected insurgents had been detained in the area where the men were kidnapped but gave no other details.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said fighters from the Islamist group had dropped the eight bodies in the Jalriz district of Wardak but said five of them were soldiers rather than police.

"There were eight people, three members of the spy agency and five from the army," Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

"We have no casualties. The people they (police) claim to have arrested might be local people or villagers," he said.

Although only about 80 km (50 miles) southwest of the capital, Kabul, Wardak is one of the most dangerous provinces in Afghanistan, with fighters from the Taliban, the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network and other insurgent groups active in the area.

Violence across Afghanistan in 2010 hit its worst levels since the Taliban were toppled by U.S.-backed Afghan forces almost 10 years ago and has shown no signs of abating this year.

U.S. and other NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops have claimed success in halting the momentum of the insurgency over the past year, especially in the Taliban heartland in the south, although insurgents have shown a worrying ability to hit back in other areas.

The latest violence also comes only weeks after ISAF and the Afghan government began the first phase of a gradual process of handing security responsibility to Afghan forces.

That process will end with all foreign combat troops leaving Afghanistan by the end of 2014, although some U.S. lawmakers have begun questioning whether that timetable is too drawn out.

(Writing by Paul Tait, editing by Rosalind Russell)





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