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Dec 31st, 2009

Afghans Shout ‘Death to Obama’ over Killings

NATO disputes finding that most of the dead were teenage students

Image: An effigy of President Obama is burned during a protest in Afghanistan
Protesters chant anti-American slogans and burn an effigy of President Barack Obama in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009. (Photo credit: Rahmat Gul / AP)

The Associated Press and Reuters, via
Dec. 30, 2009

ASADABAD, Afghanistan — The head of a presidential delegation investigating the deaths of 10 people in eastern Afghanistan concluded Wednesday that civilians — including schoolchildren — were killed in an attack involving foreign troops, but NATO officials disputed that.

NATO spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks said in a statement NATO has no direct evidence to substantiate the Afghan probe’s findings, and the international force has requested an immediate joint investigation to find out what happened.

Asadullah Wafa, a senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai, gave conflicting numbers on the schoolchildren. He told The Associated Press by telephone that eight schoolchildren between the ages of 12 and 14 were among the dead discovered in a village house in the Narang district of Kunar province. But Reuters quoted him as saying that eight boys, ages 13 to 18, and two men in their 20s were killed.

A NATO official had said that initial reports from troops involved in the fighting on Sunday indicated that those killed were insurgents — all young males.

Civilian deaths are one of the most sensitive issues for foreign troops in Afghanistan, especially now when some additional 37,000 U.S. and NATO troops are being deployed to the war-ravaged country. Although far more civilians are killed by the Taliban, those blamed on international forces spark widespread resentment and undermine the fight against militants.

Afghans protested the deaths Wednesday in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad and in the capital of Kabul.

In the capital of Nangahar province, which borders Kunar, around 200 university students took to the streets to protest against the raid, demanding those responsible be brought to justice.

“Death to Obama. Down with Karzai,” they shouted.

Wafa said he was convinced all those killed in the Kunar incident were innocent civilians. …

The latest figures released by the United Nations show that 2,021 civilians died during clashes in the first 10 months of this year, up from 1,838 for the same period last year. Taliban insurgents were blamed for 68 percent of the deaths this year — three times more than NATO forces, according to the U.N. …


12/31/09 Update

U.N.: Afghans Slain in Troop Raid Were Students

Dec. 31, 2009

KABUL — The United Nations said Thursday that a weekend raid by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight local students and that it warned against nighttime actions by coalition forces because they often cause civilian deaths.

The Afghan government said its investigation has established that all 10 people killed Sunday in a remote village in Kunar province were civilians. Its officials said that eight of those killed were schoolchildren aged 12-14.

NATO officials initially said all the dead were insurgents, but later backed off by saying there was no evidence to substantiate the claims that they were civilians. …

The coalition attack in Kunar has sparked protests by Afghans who have demanded that foreign troops leave the country.

[UN special representative in Afghanistan Kai Eide] said the UN remained concerned about nighttime raids by coalition troops “given that they often result in lethal outcomes for civilians, the dangerous confusion that frequently arises when a family compound is invaded.” …

A statement issued Thursday by the Afghan National Security Directorate said the government investigation showed no Afghan forces were involved and “international forces from an unknown address came to the area and without facing any armed resistance, put 10 youth in two rooms and killed them.

“They conducted this operation on their own without informing any security or local authorities of Afghanistan,” the statement said.


1/1/10 Update

More civilian deaths claimed in Afghanistan … Local governor’s office cites 7 killed in second such incident in a week.


Taliban Claim Blast That Killed 8 Americans

CIA staff slain on base; 5 Canadians killed in separate attack

Official: Afghan blast kills 8 Americans (NBC Nightly News, Dec. 30, 2009) — According to reports, a suicide bomber claimed the lives of eight U.S. citizens at a military base in eastern Afghanistans Khost province. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports. (01:15)

Dec. 30, 2009

KABUL — The Taliban claimed responsibility Thursday for a suicide bombing at a base in eastern Afghanistan that killed eight American civilians and one Afghan, the worst loss of life for the U.S. in the country since October. A U.S. congressional official said CIA employees are believed to be among the victims.

Four Canadian soldiers and a journalist also were killed Wednesday by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan’s south, the bloodiest single incident suffered by that country’s military this year.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press that a Taliban bomber wearing a military uniform and a suicide vest entered the base in Khost province Wednesday evening and blew himself up inside the gym. A U.S. official who was briefed on the blast also said it took place in the gym.

That official said eight U.S. civilians and one Afghan were killed; it was not clear if the Afghan victim was military or civilian. Six Americans were wounded, the official said.

The CIA has not yet commented on or confirmed the deaths.

A senior State Department official said all of the victims were civilians. A former senior CIA officer who was stationed at the base said a combination of agency officers and contractors operated out of the remote outpost with the military and other agencies. He said contractors also might be among those who died. …

NATO said only that the base is used by provincial reconstruction teams, which consist of both soldiers and civilians, and other personnel.

In Kabul, a spokesman for the international coalition force in Kabul said no U.S. or NATO troops were killed in the afternoon explosion. The attack was the bloodiest day for Americans since eight soldiers were killed in an insurgent attack on a base in eastern Afghanistan on Oct. 3.

Canadian troops, reporter killed

Image: Michelle Lang
Chris Bolin / AFP — Getty Images
Reporter Michelle Lang was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009.

In the south, NATO said that the four Canadian troops and a reporter embedded with their unit died when their armored vehicle hit a bomb while on an afternoon patrol south of Kandahar city. It’s the third deadliest day for Canadians in Afghanistan since the war began.

Michelle Lang, a 34-year-old health reporter with the Calgary Herald, was the first Canadian journalist to die in Afghanistan. Lang arrived in Afghanistan just two weeks ago. …

Brig. Gen. Daniel Menard, commander of coalition forces in Kandahar, said that the soldiers were conducting a community security patrol in order to gather information about daily life in the area and how to maintain security.

Wednesday was the second lethal strike against the Canadian force in a week. One Canadian soldier and an Afghan soldier were killed Dec. 23 during a foot patrol in Panjwayi district of Kandahar province. According to figures compiled by The Associated Press, the latest casualties bring to 32 the number of Canadian forces killed in Afghanistan this year; in all, 138 have died in the war. …


12/31/09 Update

Bomber in CIA Attack Was Not Searched

Suicide attack takes heavy toll on CIA (NBC Nightly News, Dec. 31, 2009) – The CIA is seeking answers after seven officials were killed Thursday in Afghanistan in what was one of the deadliest single attacks on U.S. intelligence personnel. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports. (02:30)

The Associated Press and Reuters, via
Dec. 31, 2009

KABUL — The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees at a remote outpost in southeastern Afghanistan had been invited onto the base and had not been searched, two former U.S. officials told The Associated Press on Thursday

A former senior intelligence official says the man was being courted as an informant and that it was the first time he had been brought inside the camp. An experienced CIA debriefer came from Kabul for the meeting, suggesting that the purpose was to gain intelligence, the official said.

The former intelligence official and another former official with knowledge of the attack spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. …

Blow to tight-knit spy agency

The bombing on Wednesday dealt a blow to the tight-knit spy agency. Among those killed was the chief of the CIA post, whom former officials identified as a mother of three. Six more agency personnel were wounded in what was considered the most lethal attack for the CIA since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001 and possibly even since the 1983 embassy bombing in Beirut. …

The CIA did not release information about the victims, citing the sensitivity of their mission and other ongoing operations. Harold E. Brown Jr., a State Department employee of Fairfax, Va., died in the attack, his father, Harold E. Brown Sr., told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The younger Brown, 37, who grew up in Bolton, Mass., served in the Army and remained a major in the reserves. He is survived by a wife and three children ages 12, 10 and 2. …


1/7/10 Update

Bomber Targets Afghan Security Convoy; 7 Die

Image: Blast site in Gardez
Residents of Gardez, Afghanistan, on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010 examine the scene where a suicide bomber killed at least seven people. (Photo credit: The Associated Press)

Jan. 7, 2010

KABUL — A suicide bomber killed seven people at a busy bazaar in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, and a bomb hidden in a garbage container outside a provincial governor’s compound slightly wounded the official, authorities said.

The attacks were in Paktia and Khost provinces, both of which border Pakistan and suffer frequent violence as insurgents gain momentum in their fight against Afghan and international troops.

In Gardez, the capital of Paktia province to the south, a suicide bomber on foot blew himself up in a bazaar near a six-vehicle convoy of security workers, said Deputy Gov. Abdul Rahman Mangal. He said seven people were killed, including the commander of Afghan security guards at a base for a provincial reconstruction team in Logar province. Another 24 were wounded, he said. …

Khost is one of Afghanistan’s most troubled provinces. Seven CIA employees were killed Dec. 30 when a suicide bomber attacked an agency base there. On Wednesday, at least 15 people were wounded in a blast outside a shop in Khost city, the provincial center.

Rockets hit Kabul

Earlier Thursday, three rockets were fired into a residential area of Kabul, wounding three civilians. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that two of the rockets hit a house and the third landed in a garden. Local police said the attack was in the Qalafa neighborhood, about three miles southeast of central Kabul. …

In the eastern city of Jalalabad, about 5,000 demonstrators gathered to protest the Wednesday deaths of children in an explosion that they blamed on U.S. forces. Local officials said four children were killed, but NATO said Thursday that two died and that international troops were not responsible.

The blast about 15 miles south of Jalalabad, tore through a group of soldiers and civilians while the soldiers were visiting a road-construction project. Some 80 civilians and three soldiers were wounded.

Afghan police said the blast was caused by a passing police vehicle hitting a mine, but the protesters blamed it on the U.S. soldiers. They shouted “Death to America” and burned an effigy of President Barack Obama. …



Staggered Suicide Attacks Kill 23 in Iraq

Bombing marks worst violence in months in former al-Qaida heartland

Image: Wounded policemen in Ramadi, Iraq
Wounded police officers are treated at a hospital after a bomb attack in Ramadi, Iraq, on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Dec. 30, 2009

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Staggered explosions Wednesday killed 23 people — 13 of them policemen — and wounded an Iraqi provincial governor, officials said, in the worst violence in months to hit the western province that was formerly al-Qaida’s top stronghold in Iraq. …

The attacks Wednesday were worrisome because the strategically important Anbar province was once the heartland of support for al-Qaida-linked militants, before many insurgents turned on the terror organization and joined forces with U.S. troops and the Iraqi government. The governor is the most senior Sunni leader to be attacked since then.


Police official Lt. Col. Imad al-Fahdawi said two bombs exploded in Anbar’s capital of Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad. He says a suicide bomber in a car caused the first blast near a checkpoint on the main road near the provincial administration buildings.

Gov. Qassim al-Fahdawi, the deputy police chief and other officials came to inspect the damage, the police official said, when a suicide bomber on foot detonated a vest full of explosives nearby.

The deputy police chief was killed and the governor and other officials wounded, al-Fahdawi said. Police have put a curfew in place, he added. …

Forensic investigations

A doctor at the main hospital in Ramadi, Ahmed Abid Mohammed, said 23 people had been killed and 57 injured. He said the governor had suffered burns on his face and injuries to his abdomen and other areas.

American forces were helping evacuate casualties, establish security and carry out forensic investigations, military spokesman Lt. Col. Curtis Hill said. …

In the town of Khalis, about 50 miles northeast of Baghdad, a bomb killed six pilgrims taking part in a procession to commemorate the death of a Shiite revered saint, said a Diyala province police spokesman, Capt. Ghalib al-Karkhi. He said the blast also wounded 24 people.


1/7/10 Update

Blasts Kill 6 in Iraq’s Western Anbar Province

By Hamid Ahmed

Jan. 7, 2010

BAGHDAD — A series of blasts killed six people in Iraq’s western province of Anbar on Thursday, a police official said, in the latest attack to hit the province that was once the heartland of the al-Qaida-led insurgency.

Col. Fadhil Nimrawi said one explosion targeted a house belonging to Lt. Colonel Walid Sulaiman al-Hiti, the director of the anti-terrorism unit in the town of Hit, about 85 miles west of Baghdad. A second explosion targeted the home of his father next door. Slaiman was wounded and his mother, two sisters, another family member and a child were killed.

Nimrawi said a lawyer was killed by another bomb at his home and a fourth bomb exploded at the home of a police officer, injuring him as he slept.

Seven people were injured in the bombings, Nimrawi said. …

Thursday’s blasts follow last week’s attack on Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, which wounded the Anbar governor and killed 24. The Islamic state of Iraq, an umbrella group for al-Qaida affiliated insurgent groups, claimed responsibility for that attack.

In a separate incident in northeastern Iraq’s Diyala province, a bomb exploded near a police station, killing one policeman and injuring ten other people near the Iranian border, police and hospital officials said. …


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — December 31, 2008

MN-06: Notable Year in Review

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that Michele Bachmann, Minnesota’s 6th District representative in Congress, made a strong showing in several “Year in Review” lists – no easy feat, considering the U.S. House of Representatives has 435 members, each vying for media attention.

Winner of Indecision 2008 Award for Best Campaign Villain of 2008

The Golden Crookies 2008: Who Was the Year’s Biggest Wingnut?

2008 Golden Crookie Award from Crooks and Liars

Bachmann’s ‘Anti-American’ Comment Makes Best-TV-Moments List

11 Responses to ““Death to Obama””
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