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2 US Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan on Friday, 7 on Thursday

August 17, 2012

Afghan Police Officer Fatally Shoots 2 US Troops

ABC, By MUHAMMAD LILA (@muhammadlila) Aug. 17, 2012

An Afghan policeman turned his weapon on his U.S. troops on Friday, killing two U.S. soldiers in Western Afghanistan – the latest incident in a deadly two week span for U.S. forces.

Including Friday's incident, 19 American troops and one aid worker have been killed in Taliban attacks in the last two weeks, nine of them shot to death in cold blood by rogue Afghan soldiers or policemen.

Friday's incident took place in the western province of Farah, far from the insurgent hotbeds in the country's south and east. U.S. forces had come to the village of Kinisk as part of a mission to train members of the Afghan Local Police, or ALP. The ALP differs from the Afghan National Police in that they are recruited primarily to provide security for local villages and regions that are far away from bigger towns and cities.

In this case, the shooter, identified as Mohammed Ismail, a man in his 30s, was killed in a return exchange of gunfire. It's believed he signed up for the ALP just five days ago, according to a local police commander.
In the past, the ALP has been heavily criticized for a lack of training, corruption, heavy-handed tactics, and long-standing links to criminal organizations. View Full Size Gunman Kills 3 Marines in Afghanistan Watch Video Senior U.S. Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Watch Video South African Strike Shooting Caught in Dramatic Video Watch Video
Friday's incident comes on the heels of a warning from Taliban spiritual leader, Mullah Omar. The one-eyed Omar, widely believed to be living in the lawless border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, issued the warning as part of his annual Eid message to Afghans. Eid is the holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan, a month where Muslims fast from dawn till dusk.

"Mujahideen have cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy" Omar wrote in a seven page announcement, posted on the Taliban's website.

"They are able to enter bases, offices and intelligence centers of the enemy. Then, they easily carry out decisive and coordinated attacks."

At least 36 foreign troops have been killed this year in so-called "green-on-blue" attacks. The Taliban often claim responsibility for the attacks, and a recent video produced by their multimedia wing showed a rogue Afghan soldier receiving a hero's welcome after killing two US soldiers.

In his own Eid message to Afghans, U.S. General John Allen, commander of all NATO troops in Afghanistan, took direct aim at Omar.

"Mullah Omar has issued an unmistakable message of death, hate and hopelessness for the Afghan people" Allen said.

"The pride of the Afghan people has been smeared by killers who pose as Soldiers and police, yet they represent the worst of humanity. Today, the Afghan Army and National Police are trying to build a better future for the Afghan people, yet Omar wants to stop these efforts. Coalition forces are here to help the people; we have no other reason for being here other than to make Afghanistan a stable country, founded on educated and healthy citizens."



7 US Soldiers Killed In Afghan Copter Crash


8/17/2012 3:50 AM ET (RTTNews) -


Seven U.S. soldiers as well as four Afghan troops and a civilian interpreter were killed after their Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province early on Thursday, according the American-led military command.


Afghan officials said the helicopter crashed in the Chinarto area of Shah Wali Kot around 10:00 a.m. on Thursday. All on board the aircraft were killed in the crash, they added. Although they suggested that the chopper might have been downed by enemy fire, U.S. officials said there were no indications that it was shot down.


Earlier in the day, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had reported the incident in a statement posted on its website. It said the crash "resulted in the deaths of four International Security Assistance Force service-members, three United States Forces-Afghanistan service members, three members of the Afghan National Security Forces, and one Afghan civilian interpreter."


Incidentally, the United States Forces-Afghanistan is a command separate from the main NATO force and it includes many Special Operations forces. Notably, American officials later refused to specify the type of unit to which the deceased U.S. soldiers had been assigned.


NATO helicopter crashes are relatively common in Afghanistan, but are rarely due to enemy fire. But in August 2011, thirty American soldiers and six Afghans were killed after Taliban insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter in eastern Afghanistan.


While 12 Turkish soldiers were killed after their helicopter crashed in Kabul in March, another chopper crash had left six U.S. service-members dead in Helmand province in January. Also, two U.S. pilots died in July after their helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan.


It is not yet clear whether Thursday's crash was caused by mechanical problems or by enemy fire. ISAF has launched an investigation to determine the cause of the crash. Nevertheless, Taliban has claimed responsibility for shooting down the helicopter.


Also on Thursday, another ISAF soldier was killed in a roadside IED (improvised explosive device) attack in the south of the war-torn nation. The ISAF, however, did not disclose the identity or nationality of the deceased in accordance with its policy of not disclosing details until the home country of the victims does so. Notably, roadside bombings using IEDs are fast becoming the hallmark of Taliban strategy against NATO forces, as it avoids direct confrontation with the foreign troops while increasing casualties.


With the death of eight foreign soldiers on Thursday, it is now estimated that some 288 NATO personnel have been killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of this year, mostly in roadside bomb attacks using IEDs

NATO Troops Among 11 Killed in Afghan Helicopter Crash


NATO troops among 11 killed in Afghan helicopter crash

A NATO helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan on Thursday killing 11 people on board including seven US troops. The cause of the crash is still being investigated but Taliban insurgents later claimed to have shot the helicopter down.

By News Wires (text)

France 24, August 16, 2012

AP - Seven American troops and four Afghans died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash on Thursday in southern Afghanistan, the NATO military coalition said. The Taliban claimed their fighters shot down the aircraft.
The crash marked another deadly day for the U.S. in Afghanistan, less than a week after six American service members were gunned down, apparently by two members of the Afghan security forces they were training to take over the fight against the insurgency as international combat troops prepare to exit the country by the end of 2014.
The spike in American deaths and attacks by Afghan allies have stirred fresh doubts about the prospects for the U.S. plan to leave a capable Afghan government in place when most troops depart after more than a decade of war.
Spokesman Brig. Gen Gunter Katz said the NATO coalition is investigating the cause of Thursday’s crash in Kandahar province, though U.S. officials said initial reports indicated it was not shot down.
Kandahar is a traditional Taliban stronghold and the spiritual birthplace of the hardline Islamist movement that ruled Afghanistan before being ousted in 2001 by the U.S.-led alliance for sheltering al-Qaida’s terrorist leaders.
Among the dead were seven American service members, three members of Afghan security forces and one Afghan civilian interpreter, said Jamie Graybeal, a spokesman for the coalition. He said there were no survivors of the crash. He declined to give any details on the mission of the helicopter, a UH-60 Black Hawk.
U.S. officials said three of the seven American troops killed were special operations forces _ two Navy SEALS and a Navy explosives expert. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said insurgent fighters shot down the helicopter in Kandahar province on Thursday morning.
“Nobody survived this,” Ahmadi told The Associated Press by phone. The helicopter was shot down in Kandahar’s Shah Wali Kot district, which lies in the northern part of the province, said Ahmad Jawed Faisal, a spokesman for the provincial government said. He declined to give further details.
However, U.S. officials said initial indications are that it was not shot down, though an investigation has been opened. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity the investigation is ongoing. White House spokesman Jay Carney said it was too early to determine the cause of the crash.
“Based on my information, at this time the cause of that crash is still under investigation,” Carney said. “Of course our thoughts and prayers are with those American and Afghan families who lost loved ones in that incident.”
The area where the helicopter went down - a stretch of Kandahar along the border with Uruzgan province - is seen as a Taliban stronghold and key transit route. The insurgents regularly attack police checkpoints around the rural villages of the district and plant bombs in the road to catch passing government vehicles.
The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk is a medium-lift helicopter that has served as the U.S. Army’s workhorse since the 1980s.
The U.S.-led NATO force in Afghanistan has relied heavily on utility helicopters such as the Black Hawk to ferry troops, dignitaries and supplies around the mountainous terrain, thus avoiding the threat of ambushes and roadside bombs.
Thursday’s crash is the deadliest since a Turkish helicopter crashed into a house near the Afghan capital, Kabul, on March 16, killing 12 Turkish soldiers on board and four Afghan civilians on the ground, officials said.
In August last year, insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter, killing 30 American troops, mostly elite Navy SEALs, in Afghanistan’s central Wardak province.
At least 221 American service members have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year.

Scores killed in suicide blasts across Afghanistan


At least 46 people were killed in suicide blasts across the city of Zaranj in southwestern Afghanistan's Nimroz province on Tuesday, police sources said. Hours later, a motorcycle bomb killed at least 10 people in northern Kunduz province.

News Wires (text)
August 15, 2012

AP -

Suicide bombers launched multiple attacks in a remote corner of southwestern Afghanistan near the Iranian border Tuesday, killing dozens of people including shoppers buying sweets for a Muslim holiday and leaving charred and smoldering bits of cookies and dried fruit among the bodies on the ground.

A separate market bombing, this one in northern Afghanistan, brought the overall death toll to 46, most of whom were civilians. It was the deadliest day for Afghan civilians this year.

The attacks in provinces on opposite ends of the country – Nimroz in the southwest and Kunduz in the north - come as Taliban insurgents and their allies step up their assaults in a display of force that often results in civilian carnage. Militants are especially trying to weaken the still-developing Afghan security forces, who are to assume control of security across their homeland in 28 months when most foreign combat troops will have left.

“The Taliban “want to expand their influence – show that they are everywhere,” said Afghan political analyst Jawid Kohistani. “They want to show that the Afghan police are not strong enough so they are targeting the security forces and the government.”

The scope of the attacks in Nimroz, which has seen relatively few insurgent attacks over the past year, was surprising. The bombings took place in the provincial capital, Zaranj, where militants wearing suicide vests detonated their explosives in various neighborhoods, provincial police chief Musa Rasouli said. At least 25 civilians and 11 police were killed, he said.

The Nimroz provincial capital lies about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the Iranian border. Police arrested three attackers who later apparently confessed that they were from Zahedan, the capital of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan province near the Afghan border, according to Sadeq Chakhansori, a member of the Nimroz provincial council. The significance of this was not immediately clear.

Authorities said the casualties would have been far higher had they not learned of the plot beforehand. Police killed two potential attackers Monday night and captured three more Tuesday morning. But they could not catch them all.

Rasouli said three suicide bombers detonated their explosive vests, including one in front of a television station and another at an intersection in a bazaar. Most of the casualties, however, were from a bombing in a shopping bazaar in front of a civilian hospital. The area was crowded with shoppers from the city and outlying areas who were buying dried fruit, cookies and other sweets for the coming Muslim holiday of Eid.

“It was very powerful,” Rasouli said. “Everywhere there was smoke. With my eyes, I saw the dead bodies.”

The bodies, wrapped in blood-stained sheets, were ferried off in ambulances and pickup trucks. The legs of two victims hung off the back of a small truck that sped away with a long sheet dragging behind in the dusty road. Police fired bullets into the air to clear crowds from the scene.

“We cannot carry on with our daily lives,” Sayed Ahmad said, lying on a bed in a hospital where he was being treated for injuries. “People are scared and cannot go out of their houses,” he said. “We don’t know what to do.”

Three more attackers, also clad in explosive vests, tried to strike the governor’s house, but Afghan police killed them before they were able to blow themselves up.

“We took off their suicide vests – very carefully, very professionally – after we killed them,” Rasouli said. “They had no chance, the police bullets rained on them.”

The sparsely populated province is partly desert and is not regularly beset by insurgent attacks as are Helmand and Kandahar provinces to the east. Recently, however, Nimroz has seen an increase in violence. On Saturday, an Afghan police officer killed 11 of his fellow officers in the remote Dilaram district of the province.

Tuesday’s other major attack, in northern Kunduz province, involved a bomb on a motorcycle that was parked outside a crowded bazaar in Archi district. The attack killed at least 10 people, including five children, and wounded at least 25 others, according to Hamid Agha, the police chief for Archi district.

Altogether, at least 35 civilians were killed in the attacks in the two provinces, making Tuesday the deadliest day for Afghan civilians this year.

“What we saw today were further acts of intentional mass murder,” said Gen. John Allen, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. “By targeting innocent civilians in populated areas, the insurgents have again shown they will kill non-combatants without hesitation to advance their backward-looking plans for Afghanistan. Once again, I call on (Afghan Taliban leader) Mullah Omar to rein in his murderers. His intentions not to target civilians are hollow,” Allen said in a statement.

In past statements, Omar has asked his fighters to avoid civilian casualties. In one message in 2010, for instance, he said: “Pay attention to the life and property of the civilians so that ... your jihad activities will not become a cause for destruction of property and loss of life of people.”

The U.N. reported last week that civilian deaths were lower in the first six months of 2012 than in the first half of 2011, but that an onslaught of summer attacks from insurgents were threatening to reverse that trend. In all, 1,145 civilians were killed in Afghanistan between January and June of this year, according to the U.N. report.

On June 6, a car bomb and a motorcycle bomb killed 22 people near Kandahar airport in the volatile south. Another suicide attack July 14 on a wedding killed 23 people, including the provincial intelligence chief and two army generals.

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