A remote controlled car bomb detonated near a NATO base in Kandahar city Wednesday, destroying dozens of motorcycles and 11 cars, a provincial government spokesman said. There were no report of injuries.
It’s being billed as the biggest military offensive of this eight and a half year war and it could be just weeks away.
The U.S. military is beefing up its troop numbers in and around the city of Kandahar, the spiritual heartland of the Taliban. At the same time the Taliban is moving into the heart of the city. No one knows how many fighters have blended into the crowds in this southern Afghan city but violence has definitely increased in recent weeks.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — It takes guts to be a policeman in Kandahar. You're a prime target for the Taliban, the local population has little trust in you and until recently you were ill-trained and ill-equipped.
All of the above may have changed only slightly but police commanders say things are at least moving in the right direction.
Mohammad Shafiq Afzali is police commissioner in charge of six provinces. Little surprise, he rarely finds time to leave Kandahar. He acknowledges the support of the locals is lacking but insists it's changing as the image of the police is improving.
"Before police were getting $40 to $50 a month, now they're getting around $250. When anyone's financial problems are solved they no longer want to do dishonest things," he says. FULL POST
WASHINGTON - Brushing recent public spats aside, the Obama administration welcomed Hamid Karzai to Washington Tuesday, opening a round of partnership talks with the Afghan president.
At a breakfast meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed Karzai for several days of partnership talks. Later Tuesday, Clinton is expected to hold closed-door bilateral talks with Karzai. President Barack Obama will host his Afghan counterpart at the White House on Wednesday. FULL POST
Washington (CNN) - The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday took stock of the Obama administration's new counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, and examined whether more troops could be deployed if conditions warrant.
The Obama administration has added about 30,000 troops in Afghanistan since December, bringing to about 100,000 the U.S. force there. Some 40,000 NATO troops also are deployed in the conflict.
Lt. Gen. John Paxton, director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked whether Gen. Stanley McCrystal, who is heading up operations in Afghanistan, has so far requested additional troops. FULL POST
U.N. and Afghan officials on Sunday reached an agreement that would keep the world body's national and international staff in Kandahar, said Zaimai Ayoubi, a spokesman for the province's governor.
The deal comes a week after the United Nations announced it was pulling 200 of its staff out of the Kandahar area because of the security situation. FULL POST
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