Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, January 2011
17 Afghani Killed in Bombing Attack, 5,500 US Soldiers Injured in 2010
U.S. wounded rate in Afghanistan soars
Published: Jan. 8, 2011 at 7:31 AM
WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) --
The number of U.S. troops wounded in battle in Afghanistan in 2010 more than doubled from the previous year, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The newspaper cited reports it obtained from the Pentagon that showed almost 5,500 soldiers were injured in 2010 in the NATO intervention in Afghanistan.
In 2009, 2,415 U.S. soldiers were wounded in action, the report said. The year's death toll for U.S. troops was 430, the newspaper said.
The wounded rate was almost six times higher than 2008, although data indicated advances in emergency care reduced the mortality rate to 7.9 percent last year from 14.3 percent in 2008, the Times said.
Military officials said soldiers were better trained and equipped to deal with injuries.
"This is just basic techniques -- trained well," said Lt. Col. Michael Wirt, brigade surgeon in the 101st Airborne Division.
Taliban attack kills 17 at Afghan public bath
by Nasrat Shoaib Nasrat Shoaib –
Fri Jan 7, 2011, 10:25 am ET
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) –
A Taliban suicide bomber on Friday assassinated a police commander and killed 16 others at a public bath in southern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border, the deadliest attack in months.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing. Policemen, who are generally less well protected than soldiers in Afghanistan, are common targets in the Taliban's nine-year insurgency against its Western-backed government.
The marketplace attack underscored the perilous security in parts of the southern province of Kandahar, the Taliban's home town, despite being the focus of the US-led military strategy to reverse their momentum.
It was the deadliest bomb blast in Afghanistan since a northern provincial governor and 19 other people were killed at a mosque in Takhar on October 8.
"At around 12:00 pm (0730 GMT) a suicide bomber blew up explosives strapped to his chest at a public bath in Spin Boldak," border police official General Abdul Raziq told AFP.
Apart from the head of the rapid reaction border police unit, who was killed, and two policemen who were wounded, all the other casualties were civilians, Raziq said.
In a separate incident, criminal investigation police chief Farid Ahmad was killed in a drive-by shooting in Kandahar, the provincial capital, police said.
The local government confirmed from Kandahar that at least 17 people had been killed in the attack on the baths and that 23 people were wounded.
A doctor at the small cottage hospital in Spin Boldak told AFP on condition of anonymity that 14 people were seriously wounded in the suicide attack.
"Three were in a critical condition and transferred to the military hospital in Kandahar," he said.
Shopkeeper Mujebullah, whose cousin was wounded, said the baths were in a crowded market and used by people to wash before attending the main weekly Muslim prayers.
"The public baths were destroyed. Lots of dead bodies were picked out of the rubble at the beginning and afterwards," he told AFP.
"Different people were killed in this explosion -- old people, even children," he added.
The Kandahar government released a statement saying the bomber had been targeting a police commander named Ramazan, who died in the attack.
Spin Boldak is a short distance from the border with Pakistan.
Taliban spokesman Yusuf Ahmadi told AFP that the militia killed the police commander but denied civilians had been hurt, saying that when Ramazan used the public baths, he cleared everyone else out.
"Today is Friday (the weekly Muslim day of rest). There weren't any civilians inside," he told AFP, speaking from an unknown location.
The Taliban are fighting to bring down the Western-backed Afghan government and expel 140,000 US-led foreign troops.
Afghan officials say around 1,300 policemen were killed last year.
US officials say an American-led military campaign in the south is make-or-break for the war, pinning their hopes on undermining the Taliban in its heartland and limiting the number of attacks such as Friday's bombing.
The US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan said bomb attacks killed three of its soldiers on Friday, two in the east and one in the south.
It declined to identify the soldiers' nationalities. In 2010, 711 foreign troops were killed during the war, by the far the deadliest annual toll in the nine-year conflict.
Defence Secretary Robert Gates has ordered an extra 1,400 US Marines to southern Afghanistan in a move the Pentagon said would put pressure on the Taliban in order to pre-empt a traditional insurgent offensive in the spring.
A year after ordering 30,000 more troops as part of a strategy designed to defeat Al-Qaeda and reverse the Taliban, US President Barack Obama conceded last month that gains were fragile and reversible.
But US commanders are under pressure to show clear progress in Afghanistan in 2011 so that at least a limited drawdown of American troops can begin from July, or else face fresh public doubts about the course of the war.
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