Update 12/31/2009: The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing Wednesday that killed eight Americans believed to be CIA employees. In a message posted on its Web site, the Taliban said an Afghan National Army soldier detonated his explosives-packed vest, killing 20 people and injuring 25 others. A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force's (ISAF) Joint Command would not comment on the claim that a soldier was involved, saying the force was still gathering information. More details
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) - Eight Americans were killed in a suicide bombing Wednesday at a military base in eastern Afghanistan, according to a U.S. military official and a U.S. Embassy official.
A suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest attacked Forward Operating Base Chapman near the district of Khost in Khost province, said a third official, who asked not to be named. The military official said the eight people were not from the military.
There were conflicting reports as to whether the bomber walked into the dining facility or the gym at the base.
The Economist has a feature on Waziristan, an area between Pakistan and Afghanistan that the magazine calls the “headquarters of Islamist terror.”
“Waziristan, home to 800,000 tribal Pushtuns, is a complicated place. It is the hinge that joins Pakistan and Afghanistan, geographically and strategically,” the Economist writes.
"Split into two administrative units, North and South Waziristan, it is largely run by the Taliban, with foreign jihadists among them. If Islamist terror has a headquarters, it is probably Waziristan.” FULL POST
A CNN cameraman details some of his experiences since arriving in Afghanistan in December. Read Part 1 on arriving in Kabul, Part 2 on decorating a Christmas tree in Afghanistan and Part 3 for a behind-the-scenes look at a presidential press conference.
An early wake-up call. At 5am it is still dark outside. First priority: a morning coffee. I boil a whole kettle of water, enough to fill my thermos.
Today, we are traveling to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. (See more photos of Kandahar) Before departure I check e-mail, my Facebook page and watch the news. No breakfast. I'm still stuffed from yesterday's Christmas dinner. We had turkey, baked potatoes, various veggies. All topped with gravy. Mashed potatoes were on the menu, but at the last minute they ended up on the kitchen floor. An accidental drop while taking a hot plate out of the oven. A bit of a disappointment but the rest is more than enough to feed us and a few guests.
We depart early. At this time of the day the traffic is light. The air is crisp. A smog hangs over the streets. Before the sun comes out, it's cold. We arrive at the airport and load our bags onto a trolley manned by a grubby-looking porter. Our driver negotiates the fee. FULL POST
KABUL, Afghanistan - In a written statement, the Taliban calls 2009 "a successful year for mujahedeen" and says it is determined to drive coalition forces out of Afghanistan in 2010.
"Last year the guerrilla warfare, frontline war, attacks and road mines against the invaders increased as the enemy began to cry out for reconciliation," said the statement, obtained by CNN on Wednesday.
"The enemy does not have a constant policy," the unsigned statement said. "Sometimes they talk about sending more soldiers and other times they speak of an early withdrawal. Their thinking is irrational."
This is the latest example that the Taliban has stepped up its propaganda efforts in recent months. The group launched a Web site in Pashto, Dari and English. It also released a 37-minute documentary in English on Christmas, purportedly showing a captured American soldier in Afghanistan. FULL POST
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) - An Afghan presidential team looking into claims of civilian deaths in a weekend U.S.-led operation said Wednesday that it has confirmed 10 deaths - all of them civilians and eight of them schoolchildren.
The result of the investigation contradicts a statement by a U.S. military official that nine people were killed in the raid in eastern Afghanistan and that they were all members of an insurgent network.
The attack took place in the Narang district of Kunar province. Asadullah Wafa, a senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai, said he talked to village elders, family members of the victims and the principal of a school in Narang. Among the victims were eight middle school and high school students, he said. FULL POST
KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan and international forces killed "several insurgents" in a northeastern province after militants attacked Afghan soldiers and police, the NATO-led command said Wednesday. The incident occurred on Wednesday in the Baghlan Jadid district of Baghlan province. The insurgent ambush left left two Afghan service members dead and others wounded, but there were no civilians or international force casualties.
U.S., British and other international troops have teamed up with Afghan security forces throughout the country to fight Taliban militants, especially in the south and the east. But violence hasn't been as widespread in Baghlan and the country's other northern provinces.
Also on Tuesday, a U.S. service member died in western Afghanistan after a shooting, military authorities said. The service member is under NATO's International Security Assistance Force command.