Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

Featured Posts        





Nov 20th, 2009

Suicide Bomber Kills 16 in Busy Afghan Square

Image: An injured boy lies in the hospital
A boy who was injured in a bomb blast lies in hospital in Farah province on Friday, Nov. 20, 2009. (Photo credit: Reuters)

November 20, 2009

KABUL — A suicide bomber killed 16 people and wounded at least 23 others Friday in a busy city square in western Afghanistan, while near Kabul a powerful former warlord narrowly escaped an assassination attempt, officials said.

The attacks came a day after Afghan President Hamid Karzai took the oath of office for a second term amid escalating violence across the country. Karzai said he has put national reconciliation with Taliban insurgents at the top of his agenda.

Lawmaker Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a former Northern Alliance leader who has been accused by Human Rights Watch of war crimes, was in a convoy with his bodyguards when a remote-controlled bomb hidden in an irrigation canal beside the road exploded in the Paghman district north of the Afghan capital, said district chief of police Abdul Razaq.

One car in the convoy was destroyed, and Razaq said five of Sayyaf’s bodyguards had been killed. Sayyaf himself was not injured.

Motorcycle bomb

In the suicide bombing earlier Friday in western Afghanistan, a bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up about 55 yards from the Farah provincial governor’s compound in a crowded square, said Gov. Rohul Amin. The dead included two children and a police officer, he said.

Afghan police shouted “Stop! Stop!” at the motorcyclist before he detonated the explosives, provincial police chief Gen. Mohammad Faqir Askar said. It was unclear what the bomber was targeting. …

“These days Taliban are causing high casualties because the foreign forces and Afghan forces have been conducting operations against the insurgency in the region,” Askar said.

An operation three days ago in another part of the province killed five insurgents, including a Taliban commander and a bomb-maker, Askar said. …

Key U.S. ally

Sayyaf was a key U.S.-backed mujahedeen leader during the 1980s invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. His group was known for its close links to Arab fighters, including Osama bin Laden. He controlled the interior ministry when the mujahedeen ruled Afghanistan between 1992 and 1996, when their bitter internecine fighting led to the Taliban takeover in 1996.

Image: Abdul Rasul Sayyaf
Abdul  Rasul Sayyaf attends a lunch to mark the anniversary of the 1992 mujahedeen victory at the presidential palace in Kabul on April 28, 2009. (Photo credit: Massoud Hossaini / AFP — Getty Images file)

Sayyaf was close to slain Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Masood and opposed to the Taliban. When the Northern Alliance, backed by U.S. forces, toppled the Taliban regime after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks for hosting al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Sayyaf became a powerful figure in Kabul once more.

He has since been elected to Parliament and has close ties to Karzai, campaigning for him during the August presidential elections. …

As the inaugural ceremony took place in Kabul on Thursday, a suicide bomber killed two U.S. service members in the southern province of Zabul, local officials and NATO said. Hours later, another suicide bomber blew himself up in a busy marketplace in another province, killing 10 civilians, including three boys, and wounding 13 other people.

Also Friday, three civilians were wounded by a roadside bomb in Khost province, according to Wazir Pacha, deputy police chief of Khost. …

Full story


11/23/09 Update

Bombings, Shootings Kill 12 Across Afghanistan

November 23, 2009

KABUL, Afghanistan — Bombings and shootings killed 12 people across Afghanistan, including four American troops and three children, as President Barack Obama convened his war council again Monday to fine-tune a strategy to respond to the intransigent violence.

Obama is considering sending tens of thousands more troops to fight an increasingly virulent insurgency, and pressure has been mounting for a decision. NATO is also calling on allied nations to add to their military presence.

The violence has continued unabated despite the tens of thousands of foreign troops already in the country since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

Three U.S. troops were killed in southern Afghanistan on Sunday – two in a bombing and a third in a separate firefight — while another was killed in the east of the country in a bombing on Monday, NATO said in a statement.

October the deadliest month

The deaths bring the number of Americans killed in Afghanistan in November to 15. October was the deadliest month for U.S. troops in the eight-year war, with 59 dead.

To the north, insurgents attacked German soldiers and Afghan National Police with grenades and gunfire as the troops drove through an area northwest of Kunduz city, wounding two Afghan policemen. Air support was called in and the insurgents fled, the German military said in a statement.

A suicide bombing also struck the same province, which has seen a spike in militant attacks in recent months. The bomber, who was targeting a police convoy, killed five civilians, including three children, the Interior Ministry said. Another five people were wounded in the attack, which missed the convoy, it said.

Separately, three Afghan soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in the volatile southern province of Helmand, in the Musa Qala district, the Defense Ministry said. It did not give further details.

NATO currently has about 71,000 troops in Afghanistan, nearly half of them American. The U.S. military also has another 36,000 soldiers in Afghanistan who serve outside NATO under independent command.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, has said more U.S. forces are needed to head off a failure against Taliban militants. He has recommended about 40,000 additional troops.

Obama is expected to announce a decision in the next few weeks. …

Full story


12/15/09 Update

Chaos and Confusion — Another Day in Kabul

By Jim Maceda
NBC News Correspondent
December 15, 2009

KABUL — By 10 a.m. this morning, the day looked bright. The sun was shining on Kabul, taking the chill out of the bones. I’d had my breakfast of cereal and tea and read through the rather routine on-line newspapers and news wires.

Convinced the rest of the day would be just as pleasantly quiet, I went to get ready for a TV shoot with a U.S. Army chaplain who gives group guitar lessons on the side — his way of boosting troop morale on base.

And then the day took a violent turn.

The sound of the explosion had that dreaded, deep thud that rocked our house and my spirits.

Image: Afghan national police work at the scene of a suicide car bombing
Dario Lopez-Mills / AP
An Afghan national policeman gestures as he stands near the Heetal Hotel, not shown in the photo, after an apparent suicide car bomb was detonated in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009.

To the roof

Instantly, Iqbal, our NBC News fixer in Kabul, grabbed a camera from inside the office and before I had found my fleece jacket, he was on the roof, videotaping the thick plumes of black smoke billowing in the distance. …

“It looks like the Tajikistan Embassy,” Iqbal yelled, still taping the scene. Before I could digest that information someone else yelled up, “It looks like the house of the former mayor of Kabul.” …

By the time we arrived on the scene, the Afghan police had just cordoned off an area about 100 yards from where the bomb went off, leaving a crater — we were told — 6 feet wide and 3 feet deep. We could see the facade of a building collapsed on itself like a stack of pancakes. …

A bad day all around

The carnage — as it always is — was worse than we had thought. In the end at least eight Afghans, including four women, were killed in the suicide blast, and dozens were wounded.

But as bad as that was, the incident was dwarfed by a series of car bombings in Baghdad that killed four people and wounded as many as 15.

And another massive blast, which killed at least 20, in central Pakistan.

Despite all the panic and chaos and missteps, the Kabul bombing would end up being just a blip on our New York and London news desks radar screen. …

Read full account in NBC News World Blog


Related report

Bomb Explodes Near Former Afghan VP’s Home

Image: Smoke comes out of a destroyed vehicle
Smoke comes out of a destroyed vehicle at the scene of a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009. (Photo credit: Musadeq Sadeq / AP)

December 15, 2009

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide car bomber struck Tuesday near the home of a former Afghan vice president and a hotel frequented by Westerners, killing at least eight people and wounding nearly 40 in a neighborhood considered one of Kabul’s safest.

The blast was the deadliest in the heart of the city since an Oct. 28 assault on a guesthouse filled with U.N. staffers killed eight people, including five U.N. workers.

Tuesday’s attack occurred at mid-morning in Kabul’s heavily guarded Wazir Akbar Khan district, an area favored by foreigners and wealthy Afghans.

Security officials at the scene suspected the target was the home of former Vice President Ahmad Zia Massoud — brother of legendary anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was killed in an al-Qaida suicide bombing two days before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. …

Ahmad Zia Massoud, who served in President Hamid Karzai’s first administration that expired last month, was home but he was not injured.

The scene was chaotic, with rescue workers rushing victims on stretchers past the suicide bomber’s shattered vehicle, which flipped and was engulfed in flames. Thick black smoke rose from the area, situated at the base of a hill adorned with a huge billboard portrait of the late Massoud. …

During a speech at the gathering, Karzai said two of Massoud’s guards were among the dead. In a statement released later by the palace, Karzai condemned the bombing as an attack on “humanity and Islam.”

Four men and four women were killed and nearly 40 people were wounded, Ministry of Interior spokesman Zemeri Bashary said. Former Kabul police chief Salim Asas, who lives in a house near the explosion, was wounded along with a family member and another relative was killed, said Abdul Ghafor Sayedzada, chief of criminal investigation for the Kabul police.

The attack slightly damaged the Heetal Hotel, which is owned by the son of Burhanuddin Rabbani, who served as president of Afghanistan from 1992 until 1996. Three homes, including the former vice president’s, were severely damaged and windows in nearby buildings were shattered. …

A general view of damage at the site of a suicide attack near a guesthouse on Dec. 15, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Majid Saeedi / Getty Images)

Although bombings are far less common in Kabul that in Baghdad, attacks in the capital have increased over the last year. NATO commanders fear more violence throughout the country following President Barack Obama’s decision to send 30,000 reinforcements to try to reverse the tide against the Taliban. …

In other violence Tuesday, two Afghan National Army soldiers were killed in Helmand province when a suicide bomber on a motorbike attacked a joint vehicle patrol of Afghan and international forces, said Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense. Two Afghan soldiers were wounded in the attack.

NATO said a U.S. service member was killed in a bombing in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, but it did not provide further details.

A 19-year-old sergeant from the Estonian army also was killed Tuesday in an explosion after his unit was ambushed by insurgents in Helmand, according to the Defense Ministry in Estonia’s capital Tallinn.

Separately, a blast occurred Tuesday at the compound of Development Alternatives Inc., a Bethesda, Md.-based consulting firm on contract to USAID, in Paktia province, the U.S. Embassy said. There were no American casualties, but provincial police chief Gen. Azizdin Wardak said five Afghans and a Nepalese national were killed.

Full story


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — November 20, 2008

Bachmann Bears False Witness

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, appearing on Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes” on November 18, 2008, dismissed as an “urban legend” reports that she had said on an October 17, 2008 cable show with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that then-Sen. Barack Obama and other members of Congress “may have anti-American views” and that “the news media should do a penetrating exposé … and find out if they’re pro-America or anti-America.”

Watch the video:

Read the transcript:

Transcript from “Hannity & Colmes”

Fox News logo
Nov. 18, 2008

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Let me ask you very quickly. You’ve said you were concerned during the campaign that Obama had anti-American views. You said the news media should do a penetrating exposé and take a look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they’re pro- or anti-America.

MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA CONGRESSWOMAN: Actually, that’s not what I said at all.

COLMES: Well, I’m just — I’m reading your exact quote.

BACHMANN: Actually that’s not what I said. It’s an urban legend that was created. That isn’t what I said at all.

COLMES: We have — it’s on tape. I have the tape on my Web site,

BACHMANN: What I called on, Alan …


BACHMANN: … was for the mainstream media to do their job. They failed to vet Barack Obama the way that they had John McCain. And that’s what I was calling for.

COLMES: Your exact words were “take a great look at the views of the people in Congress, find out if they’re pro-America or anti-America.” Do you really want that kind of …

BACHMANN: Well, what I said is that I’m not qualified to say whether members’ views are pro- or anti-American. That’s not my job to do that.

COLMES: But you want it looked into by the media.

BACHMANN: The mainstream media needs — no, what I — that’s not at all what I said. What I was talking about is the mainstream media doing their job.

COLMES: Should the media do a penetrating exposé and take a look at the views of people in Congress, find out if they’re anti-America or pro-America? What would you say?

BACHMANN: Well, and what I said is do your job. That’s what it came down to.

COLMES: All right, Congresswoman.

14 Responses to “Escalating Afghanistan Violence”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Taliban Strikes in Heart of Kabul Says:

    […] Escalating Afghanistan Violence (Nov. 20, 2009) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Taliban Defiant in Kandahar Says:

    […] Escalating Afghanistan Violence (Nov. 20, 2009) […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Major Afghan Offensive Imminent Says:

    […] Escalating Afghanistan Violence (Nov. 20, 2009) […]

  4. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Grim Milestone in Afghanistan Says:

    […] Escalating Afghanistan Violence (Nov. 20, 2009) […]

  5. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Afghan War Set to Drag On Says:

    […] Escalating Afghanistan Violence (Nov. 20, 2009) […]

  6. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Bachmann Fails Truth Test Says:

    […] Escalating Afghanistan Violence […]

  7. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Afghanistan Worn-Out Welcome Says:

    […] Escalating Afghanistan Violence (Nov. 20, 2009) […]

  8. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Afghan Price Tag = Health Cost Says:

    […] Escalating Afghanistan Violence (Nov. 20, 2009) […]

  9. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Violence Ahead of Afghan Review Says:

    […] Escalating Afghanistan Violence (Nov. 20, 2009) […]

  10. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » ‘Limited Chance of Success’ in Afghanistan Says:

    […] Escalating Afghanistan Violence (Nov. 20, 2009) […]

  11. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Taliban Siege Rattles Kabul Says:

    […] Dec. 15, 2009: Suicide car bomber strikes near hotel frequented by Westerners, killing 8 people. […]

  12. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » No Way Forward in Afghanistan Says:

    […] Escalating Afghanistan Violence (Nov. 20, 2009) […]

  13. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Former Afghan President Assassinated Says:

    […] Escalating Afghanistan Violence (Nov. 20, 2009) […]

  14. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Afghan Civilian Deaths Reach New Record High Says:

    […] Escalating Afghanistan Violence (Nov. 20, 2009) […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.