Amid helicopter gunships overhead, men danced and Afghan National Army troops marched during a Kabul ceremony on Wednesday to mark the 1992 toppling of the Soviet-backed regime.
The former Soviet Union, which once shared a border with Afghanistan, invaded Afghanistan and installed a puppet regime in the capital of Kabul in 1979. A long, weary guerilla war between various Afghan resistance groups and Soviet forces ensued. In 1992, the mujahedeen declared Afghanistan liberated. The Taliban gained control a few years later.
The Wednesday ceremonies, which spectators and government officials attended, also included a 21-gun salute and speeches. It was held at a sports stadium in the central part of the city, which was used as a public execution ground by the Taliban regime from the late 90s into 2001. FULL POST
A recent poll found 70 percent of Germans want to pull their troops out of Afghanistan. A majority of Germans favor their army, but outright support of military action is lukewarm, making Germany's Afghanistan policy a political minefield. And so earlier this year, the country leading NATO in Northern Afghanistan pledged only 500 additional soldiers — far fewer than allies have hoped.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — There are "press clubs" the world over, from Hong Kong to Sydney, New York to New Delhi — places where journalists can gather, network, maybe grab a drink.
Some are small and convivial, others large and even ostentatious.
But I can’t think of any with armed guards on the roof, and surrounded by concrete blast walls.
Welcome to the Kandahar Press Club.
Afghanistan is a nation full of risky professions, and being a local reporter is right up there near the top of the list. FULL POST
(Updated at 7:13 p.m.) At least four people were killed and 30 others were injured in the attack, according to Zalmai Ayoubi, the Kandahar governor's spokesman.
(Posted at 1:49 p.m.) KABUL, Afghanistan - At least 10 men were injured Tuesday when attackers targeted a private security company near the Kandahar Airfield, according to Zalmai Ayoubi, the Kandahar governor's spokesman.
Ayoubi said a car bomb detonated at the gate of the security compound and then Taliban militants infiltrated. Another blast then occurred inside the camp and a firefight ensued, he added.
It is not clear whether the blast was caused by a suicide attack, but an ambulance driver said the attackers were wearing suicide vests.
Afghan and NATO-led soldiers have secured the area, Ayoubi said.
KABUL, Afghanistan — The head of Kandahar's provincial council slammed the U.N. decision to pull its local staff out of the southern Afghan region and is hoping the move will be reconsidered.
Ahmad Wali Karzai told reporters Tuesday the decision wasn't "necessary" since the situation in Kandahar province and the city of the same name is "not that bad."
"Everyone knows that people are going about their business and the kids are going to school," he said. "Pulling U.N. staff out of Kandahar will have negative effect on the morale of people in Kandahar and on humanitarian work here and in the area." FULL POST
In Kandahar, where large-scale NATO military operations are expected this summer, some residents say the Taliban is their only option – the Afghan government and justice system are so corrupt they have nowhere else to turn to resolve complaints and get services. Even as they realize living under the thumb of the Taliban is miserable, some Kandahar residents say they would rather live under that than the misery of another military operation. And after previous experiences, they don't expect U.S. forces to stay the course.
Read some of the voices in Kandahar:
Hajji Abdul Ghaffar
Hajji Abdul Ghaffar is a 55-year-old businessman from Kandahar.
"When the Taliban are in our area, it is not easy to live under their conditions. People must know they are not helping us, instead they are disturbing us, it is not something good that we like," says Ghaffar. "They call on us to go to the mosque, and they tell us, don't travel on a certain road, because they have put IEDs there, and then claim 'We declared it to you; if you go you will be responsible for your own death.'" FULL POST
A service member with the International Security Assistance Force died Tuesday as the result of a small arms attack in eastern Afghanistan, the NATO-led command said in a statement.
No further details, including the service member's nationality, were released.
KABUL, Afghanistan — Unspecified "threats" have forced the United Nations in Afghanistan's second biggest city to order its local staff to stay home until further notice.
The order involves more than 200 Afghan employees in Kandahar. Several foreign staffers have been moved to the capital, Kabul.
The action follows what a U.N. source said were "threats against the U.N. operation in Kandahar."
In recent months, violence in the city has escalated, with numerous bombings and assassinations of officials. The uptick comes as U.S. and NATO forces continue operations against the Taliban in Kandahar and surrounding districts. FULL POST