On the morning of September 26, Linda Norgrove was in an unmarked Toyota Corolla traveling from Asadabad to Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan, a spectacular route with towering mountains to the right and a broad river to the left. Spectacular but also very dangerous - ambush country in a part of Afghanistan where many different groups, including criminal gangs, the Taliban and al Qaeda - have a presence.
Norgrove, who was British, worked for Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a U.S. company that handles a number of substantial contracts for the USAID in Afghanistan. An experienced development worker who understood the risks of being in this volatile part of Afghanistan, she was wearing a burqa to better blend in and was traveling in a two-car convoy with local staff. But gunmen abducted her that day, on the very same stretch of road where two months earlier a U.S. military convoy had been ambushed.
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Even as NATO military officials try to minimize public attention on their role in assisting the Afghan government's meetings with Taliban and insurgent leaders, there are growing indications the program is now part of official NATO and U.S. policy.
There is extreme reluctance to spell out exactly how troops are helping.
A top International Security Assistance Force military officer told CNN
Wednesday "this issue has gotten too much over-emphasis of our role."
The goal now is to draw a picture showing an Afghan government-led peace
process as the only hope for the Taliban and insurgent fighters looking for a
way to escape further bloodshed at the hands of the coalition.
A vehicle headed to a wedding party and a school bus carrying students hit insurgent-planted bombs in southwestern
Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing 22 people and wounding 20, authorities said.
The incidents, which occurred in different districts of Nimruz province,
are the latest in Afghanistan to result from improvised explosive devices -
regarded as the top killer of civilians in the war-weary nation.
Democrat Tommy Sowers is an underdog in his election fight against seven-term Rep. Jo Ann Emerson in Missouri's 8th Congressional District, a sprawling, heavily-Republican territory in the southern part of the state.
He's also a veteran of Green Berets, and in a time when questions about jobs and the economy are consuming the political dialogue, Sowers is calling for an end to the conflict in Afghanistan and making the war a central plank of his campaign.
Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission released preliminary results of the September 18 parliamentary elections stating that 1.3 million votes of the total of 5.6 million ballots have been cancelled out because of fraud.
That means about 23 percent of the total votes were tossed out, the election commission said Wednesday.
On Monday, the election commission announced that 10 percent of the votes in the election would be thrown out because of suspected fraud.
Prior to a suicide attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan last December, some people within the CIA and the Jordanian intelligence service were skeptical about the reliability of a Jordanian informant, but those concerns were not passed on to officers on the base, according to a U.S. intelligence official.
A Jordanian intelligence officer told his U.S. counterpart in Amman, Jordan, that Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi might be working for al Qaeda and could be attempting to lure the Americans into a trap, but "unfortunately, some of those concerns weren't properly documented or conveyed through formal channels," the U.S. official said.
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