This week in Afghanistan 5 Feb
Over the past week Afghanistan saw continuing insurgency and insecurity. Despite the winter season, which is usually characterized with temporary ceasefire by the Taliban, was a number of incidents involving terrorist activity in the past several days.
On Monday, 1 February, an ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) soldier was killed in a bomb blast caused by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). IEDs have been causing major troubles on the roads of Afghanistan killing and injuring military personnel as well as civilians and obstructing deliveries around the country.
A new UK Bomb Disposal Squadron has been preparing for deployment to Helmand province in March to join the Counter-IED task force operating there. In 2009, 75 per cent of UK casualties stemmed from IEDs. Helmand province remains under Taliban control and has recently seen a renewed wave of fighting as international forces are trying to take control.
In the last week International donors split with Afghan president Karzai over details on the reconciliation plan for the country. The plan, which offers financial assistance and jobs to moderate Taliban, was officially discussed at a 60-nation conference in London last week. While Taliban refused to strike a deal with the West, the government in Kabul requires to be given more clout by the international donors to distribute funds aimed at tribal leaders.
While political decisions will have long-term implications, the immediate tasks as announced by both US army chiefs and NATO Secretary General remains to get more trainers for Afghan security forces, who would ensure more effectiveness and easier handover to local security management.
At the same time violence spreading to neighboring Pakistan claimed more lives. In the north-western part of the country, close to the border with Afghanistan, another suicide bomber killed seven people, including children and three US soldiers. The major route to supplies for Afghanistan runs through Pakistan. The Northwest of the country has a number of tight mountainous passages on the way to the Afghan capital Kabul and further into the country.
Over the last few days US authorities have claimed that they had neutralized the Taliban insurgents’ leader for Pakistan. Friday 5 February coalition forces killed 12 Taliban – including four foreigners – during the ongoing military operation in Bajaur Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) along the Afghan Border. FATA lies on the way to Karachi sea port which is where most Afghanistan-bound shipments arrive.
Friday afternoon another bomb went off in Pakistan during religious event, killing twelve. A number of injured were sent to hospital where another blast claimed at least ten more lives.