June 4, 2010 |
From a rocky knoll 600 feet above the lush Arghandab Valley, the war in Afghanistan looks deceptively peaceful. At dawn Friday, Afghan girls stooped to milk cows in mud-walled compounds. Farmers trudged across furrowed fields, carrying scythes for cutting wheat. Boys flew kites of tattered plastic from rooftops. Donkeys brayed. Peering through the morning haze from his perch atop Observation Post Kuhat, Army Spc. Victor Smyrnow paid scant attention to the bucolic scene below.
July 14, 2011 |
A suicide bomber struck a Kandahar mosque where a memorial service was being held Thursday for the assassinated half brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The attack killed at least four people and could mark the start of a violent power struggle in southern Afghanistan in the wake of Ahmed Wali Karzai's death. A number of high-ranking officials were present at the time of the attack, according to the Kandahar provincial government. The dead included a prominent cleric and a child, and 15 other people were injured, the Interior Ministry said.
January 30, 2011 |
A suicide bomber killed the deputy governor of strategic Kandahar province Saturday, raising fears that insurgents were reigniting an assassination campaign against public servants that terrorized the south's main urban hub for much of last year. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed Abdul Latif Ashna and injured three of his bodyguards as he was driving to work in Kandahar city. It was the highest-profile strike of its kind in months. A wave of political assassinations in and around Kandahar crested in the spring and summer of 2010: The city's deputy mayor was killed in April as he prayed at a mosque, and his successor was assassinated six months later.
September 10, 2011 |
In the country where the Sept. 11 plot was hatched and its Al Qaeda masterminds found shelter, public knowledge of the link between the devastating events of a decade ago and today's war has grown hazy. Nearly half of all Afghans are under the age of 15, too young to have a firsthand recollection of that day, or the U.S.-led invasion that began less than a month later. Among older people, even those grateful that the invasion ended Taliban rule, there is a sense that the conflict has moved far beyond its original impetus.
May 26, 2010 |
Afghan national police checkpoint No. 4, substation 3, is a blighted shell of a building ringed by garbage and shaded by scruffy trees whose leaves are coated with fine gray dust. Here, nine police officers have the task of protecting the Shinghazi Baba neighborhood of southern Kandahar. Sometimes they can't even protect themselves. Two months ago, an officer was fatally shot by an insurgent who escaped on a motorcycle. "The force-protection posture is not really all that great," Sgt. 1st Class Arnaldo Colon, a U.S. Army military policeman, said as he arrived Wednesday morning for an inspection.
September 30, 2009 |
A crowded Afghan passenger bus struck a roadside bomb today in the violent southern province of Kandahar, killing 30 people and injuring more than three dozen others, Afghan officials said. As many as 10 children were reported to be among the dead. The incident underscored the growing danger of road travel in much of Afghanistan, even on main highways, and the deadly peril faced by civilians in such mundane activities as walking to school, going to market or riding a bus. The United Nations reported last week that August had been the deadliest month so far this year for civilians, who often find themselves caught in fighting between Western troops and insurgents.
May 2, 2013 |
In a time when the whetted and arbitrary deficit-reduction knife is cutting bone out of critical U.S. government programs, the image of shopping bags stuffed with CIA cash handed off on a monthly basis to Afghan President Hamid Karzai - who reigns over one of the most corrupt governments on the planet - has outraged many Americans. The New York Times, which revealed the years of payoffs this week, noted that "there is little evidence the payments bought the influence the CIA sought.
January 26, 2012 |
How should we measure success in Afghanistan? It's a crucial question, but there isn't much agreement on an answer. In mid-January, this newspaper ran a story on the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan, a classified assessment drafted by analysts at more than a dozen U.S. intelligence agencies. According to The Times, the report "warns that security gains from an increase in troops have been undercut by pervasive corruption, incompetent governance and Taliban fighters operating from neighboring Pakistan.
May 8, 2011 |
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his allies in Washington are hoping that Osama bin Laden's demise will prod the Taliban into joining peace negotiations. But the aftermath of the raid in Pakistan that killed the Al Qaeda leader could just as easily embolden the Afghan insurgent group in its long struggle against the West. The dramatic U.S. strike against Bin Laden may provide the Taliban with greater incentives to talk rather than fight, not least the fear that its own senior leadership could suffer the same fate as the chief of its longtime ally.
December 11, 2011 |
After a U.S. special operations force secured a compound outside Kandahar recently, Army 1st Lt. Ashley White was sent in to search and interview Afghan women. Just after she arrived, a homemade bomb exploded, killing her and two Army Rangers. White, 24, was the first female soldier to die in combat while performing a unique new role for the Army. She was part of an elite cultural support team, first sent to Afghanistan in January in an attempt to overcome daunting cultural barriers in the deeply conservative Islamic country.