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January 13, 2014 | By Tony Perry
CAMP PENDLETON - One thing has always been true for 12-year-old Haleigh Cook-Watt: Her father periodically leaves home to spend months in some of the most dangerous places in the world. So the pre-dawn departure Monday of Gunnery Sgt. Dylin Cook-Watt and 140 other Marines and sailors for Afghanistan was familiar for Haleigh, 7-year-old Jamie, and their mother, Samantha Cook-Watt. Still, the leave-taking, while sad and fraught with uncertainty, had a different feel this time: The Marines are allowing the Afghan forces to take the lead in fighting a resurgent Taliban.
January 10, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams, This post has been updated and corrected, as indicated below.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Friday condemned the killing of a 4-year-old boy this week during a security patrol by international forces, adding to the animosity between Kabul and Washington that may leave the war-ravaged country on its own at the end of this year to deal with a resurgent Taliban. Karzai learned of the boy's death from visiting Helmand Gov. Naeem Baloch, presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi told journalists in Kabul. The boy apparently was hit when shots were fired during an International Security Assistance Force patrol through farmland in Helmand province, an ISAF spokesman said.
January 9, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his top justice officials on Thursday ordered the release of 72 imprisoned terrorism suspects for lack of evidence to prosecute them, defying U.S. objections to freeing men still considered a security risk. The prisoners at the Parwan detention facility at Bagram air base, north of Kabul, were captured by U.S. and NATO forces over the course of the 12-year-old U.S.-led war in Afghanistan against the Taliban and Al Qaeda-backed militants. But a case review by Afghan officials of 88 prisoners deemed by the United States to be too dangerous to set free found enough evidence to prosecute only 16 of them, Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi told reporters after the president met Thursday with the Afghan attorney general and justice minister.
January 4, 2014 | By Hashmat Baktash
KABUL, Afghanistan -- A NATO soldier was killed Saturday when insurgents attacked a military base in eastern Afghanistan, officials said. Five insurgents launched the early-morning assault on a joint Afghan-NATO base in Ghani Khel, a district in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province. One attacker detonated a Toyota Corolla packed with explosives at the entrance while four others tried to storm the base, said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the provincial governor. A 40-minute firefight ensued, and when it was over the militants lay dead at the scene, Abdulzai said.
December 22, 2013 | By David Zucchino
SAFID SHIR, Afghanistan - Astride his dappled gray stallion, Mohammad Karim looked like a weathered warrior, though he wielded a grain sack instead of a carbine. Decades ago, Karim was a mujahid, a mountain tribesman who took up arms against Soviet soldiers and, later, the Taliban. Now 45, with white whiskers beneath his pakol , a traditional Afghan hat, he is again prepared to fight if his beloved Panjshir Valley is threatened. "If the Taliban tries to come back, we'll fight them and kill them," he said, as he rode his horse near the shimmering blue Panjshir River and hillside trees streaked with autumn gold.
December 20, 2013 | By Carol J. Williams
Two thirds of Americans questioned in a recent poll said the 12-year war fought in Afghanistan to cleanse the country of terrorists hasn't been worth the price paid in lives and dollars. Nevertheless, a majority still favors keeping some U.S. forces in the troubled country even after the military mission ends a year from now, the ABC News/Washington Post poll found. The survey conducted for the media by Langer Research Associates of New York found that disillusionment with the U.S.-led war was expressed by a majority of all political leanings.
December 20, 2013 | By Kevin Baxter
The first time Nick Pugliese's mother wondered if her only son had lost his mind was when he announced he was going to work for a telecommunications company in Afghanistan. The day she was sure of it came last spring, when Nick called from Kabul to say he was quitting that job and leaving the secure compound where he lived to rent a room in a ramshackle boarding house so he could play professional soccer in the Kabul Premier League. "I was, like, 'You've got to be kidding me,'" his mother, Kim Pugliese, recalled.
December 13, 2013 | By David Zucchino
KABUL, Afghanistan - Formal peace talks between Taliban insurgents and the central government may be at a dead end, but provisional peace negotiations are underway in the rugged and often unforgiving Afghan countryside. In some remote districts, Afghan army and police commanders have agreed to cease-fires with local Taliban commanders, according to international coalition officials, diplomats and former top Afghan government advisors. Driven by tribal and sometimes family ties, these informal accommodations are viewed as a possible blueprint for a wider, more meaningful national peace deal after 12 years of war. In many instances, former top Afghan government security advisors say, the Taliban is under intense pressure from tribes fed up with the militants' roadside bombings and intimidation of villagers.
December 7, 2013 | By David Zucchino and David S. Cloud
KABUL, Afghanistan - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in Afghanistan on Saturday for a previously unannounced visit, said he had been assured by Afghanistan's defense minister that a post-2014 bilateral security agreement would be signed soon. Hagel, who landed in Afghanistan in secrecy while on a scheduled trip to the Middle East, said the defense minister, Bismullah Khan Mohammadi, told him earlier Saturday that the stalemated 10-year agreement would be signed "in a very timely manner.
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