After 11 days of waiting, supplies for NATO troops are on the move again as hundreds of fuel tankers and container trucks roll through the Torkham border crossing toward the Khyber Pass bound for Afghanistan. Pakistan closed the crossing for NATO trucks after a border incident involving Pakistani troops and a U.S. helicopter on September 30 that left two Pakistani border soldiers dead.
But the closure of this main transit route for NATO goods into Afghanistan has left a huge backlog, and American military vehicles continue to sit out in the open with very little security to protect them from attacks.
Pakistan has banned NATO supply convoys from entering Afghanistan after fighting between NATO troops and militants led to the killing of three Pakistani soldiers, according to a military official from the NATO-led command in Afghanistan.
The troops were killed when three NATO helicopters crossed from Afghanistan into Pakistani airspace early Thursday and attacked a military outpost, Pakistani security officials said. Three troops were wounded as well, the officials said.
Improvised explosive devices — or IEDs — are the No. 1 killer of NATO troops in Afghanistan. And although more than 40 nations are fighting in the ISAF coalition there, none of them have the kind of experience and resources the U.S. has in finding and eliminating these deadly bombs by insurgents.
The U.S. military put that expertise to use at a recent conference at the Joint Multinational Training Command in Germany to show dozens of its NATO partners the latest methods of combating IEDs as well as try to standardize the training and gear. 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.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Afghanistan reports more details about the civilians who were killed Sunday when two rockets fired by coalition forces in Marjah missed their intended target. Coalition forces fired two rockets with the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System at insurgents firing upon Afghan and ISAF forces, but they struck about 300 meters off their intended target, ISAF said.
As ISAF and Afghan forces are about to launch a large operation in Helmand province, thousands of people are fleeing the area. We met some refugees who chose dire conditions in a make-shift refugee camp rather than stay and wait for the fighting to begin. ISAF is urging Afghans not to leave their villages, but many say they have already become victims of the violence.
UPDATED 2/11/2010: The death toll from a series of avalanches that struck a mountain pass in northern Afghanistan has risen to 167, with hundreds more wounded, authorities said Thursday. At least 2,100 people have been rescued, said Abdul Basir Salangi, governor of Parwan province.
UPDATE: 2/10/2010: Authorities recovered more than 150 bodies Wednesday from a mountain pass in northern Afghanistan that was struck by a series of avalanches. More than 100 others were wounded and 13 vehicles remained buried under snow three days after the avalanches hit the Salang Pass on Monday, the country's disaster management agency said.
KABUL, Afghanistan – At least 60 people were killed and 60 others injured in an avalanche in a key tunnel in the Hindu Kush mountains connecting northern and southern Afghanistan, an Afghani official said.
More than 40 vehicles have been buried since the avalanche happened Monday morning in the southern part of the Salang Tunnel, said Abdul Matin Adrak, Afghanistan's director of disaster management.
The International Security Assistance Force was attempting to fly victims out in helicopters to hospitals and other safe places, Adrak said. The Afghan National Army, police, Ministry of Health and disaster department staffs are
all working to clear roads and rescue victims still buried, he said.
Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan - Behind the U.S. and Great Britain, Germany has the third highest number of troops in Afghanistan and commands NATO’s operations in the north of the country. Around 4,500 German soldiers are currently stationed in Mazar-e Sharif, Faisabad and Kunduz, where they face a growing Taliban insurgency. In the run-up to the Afghanistan conference in London last week, Germany committed 500 additional soldiers to the International Security Assistance Force.
But the country has also promised a massive shift in its strategy toward a training and mentoring force that will join the Afghan army in combat. I was in Mazar-e Sharif recently to see the soldiers gear up for their new mode of operating. FULL POST