December 21st, 2010
11:49 AM ET

In Afghanistan, ISAF probes deaths of five civilians

The NATO command in Afghanistan is investigating the deaths of five civilians during a skirmish Tuesday in the south.

The incident occurred in the Sangin district of Helmand province, the volatile region where fighting has raged for years.

The International Security Assistance Force said insurgents with small arms and machine guns assaulted coalition forces.

After troops identified the attackers' positions, they fought back "with direct and indirect fire."

"This is a tragedy," said ISAF spokesman U.S. Army Lt. Col. Patrick Hynes. He said the military is aware that "insurgents purposefully stage attacks against friendly forces" based in the homes of innocent civilians.

The deaths of civilians during fighting have hurt the coalition's efforts to win backing for its efforts, and the forces in recent years have worked to lessen such casualties.

Also on Tuesday, two coalition service member died in the south, both after bombing attacks, ISAF said. The precise locations of the killings and the nationalities of the service members were not immediately made available.

Also, over the previous 24 hours, an ISAF and Afghan border police patrol found 992 pounds of hashish in the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province, also in the south.

In the same district, a police patrol found 33,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, which is used to make explosives, and approximately 1,322 pounds hashish. Several people were detained.

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Filed under: Civilian deaths
December 21st, 2010
11:06 AM ET

Cross-border campaign report questioned by NATO, Pakistani diplomat

The NATO command in Afghanistan and a Pakistani diplomat took issue with a news report Tuesday that said some U.S. commanders are advocating "an expanded campaign" of cross-border Special Operations ground raids into Pakistan's perilous tribal region from Afghanistan.

The New York Times article dated Monday cited American officials in
Washington and Afghanistan and quoted one senior American officer as saying
"we've never been as close as we are now to getting the go-ahead to go across."

The report says there have been only a few American incursions from Afghanistan into Pakistan and that the warfare in Pakistan "has for the most part been carried out by armed drones operated by the CIA."

Filed under: Drone strikes • NATO • Pakistan
Karzai, brothers do not own security firms, official says
December 21st, 2010
11:05 AM ET

Karzai, brothers do not own security firms, official says

Following allegations earlier in the year that Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his brothers owned private security companies, Interior Ministry adviser Abdul Manan Farahi said an investigation by the ministry concluded they did not.

"During the investigation we found out that President Karzai and his brothers do not have any private security companies and no private security companies have any links to them," Farahi said.

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Filed under: Karzai