Afghan and coalition forces battled Taliban militants who launched a brazen assault against high-profile coalition targets in central Kabul Tuesday.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told CNN that they targeted "the U.S. Embassy, governmental organizations and other foreign organizations."
"Our insurgents attacked in Kabul city," Mujahid said as reports surfaced of violence in other parts of the city as well.
The strike occurred amid intelligence that insurgents might launch a high-profile attack in the capital around the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States, a coalition officer and a senior ISAF official confirmed to CNN.
Militants opened fire near the U.S. Embassy and NATO's International Security Assistance Force headquarters after they stormed a nearby abandoned building, U.S., NATO and Afghan officials said.
(CNN) - The use of powerful improvised explosive devices - IEDs - by militants in Afghanistan has caused a "dramatic" hike in "conflict-related civilian deaths" in the first half of the year, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a report Thursday.
The war-weary nation "experienced a 15 per cent increase" mainly because of "the use of landmine-like pressure plate improvised explosive devices by anti-government elements," according to the UNAMA's Mid-year Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. FULL POST
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.
The United States has escalated its unmanned aircraft strikes at militant targets in Pakistan since seven Americans were killed in a December 30 suicide attack at a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan, statistics from two informed research outlets show.
And analysts believe "revenge" could be a top motivator.
A forthcoming study from the New America Foundation, a public policy institute, said there have been 64 strikes since President Obama took office, 51 in 2009 and 13 in 2010. Fourteen of them occurred since the late December CIA suicide attack, it said.
There were 45 such attacks during the Bush administration, with most occurring since August 2008, said Peter Bergen, a fellow at the foundation and CNN terror analyst, and Katherine Tiedemann, a foundation policy analyst. FULL POST
(CNN) - Sgt. Stephanie Cole joined Britain's Royal Air Force more than three years ago to fly into battle - and not, as she says, to stay on the ground and "fly a desk."
Soon, she'll finally get to do what she signed up for - working on a helicopter crew in dusty and rugged southern Afghanistan, where British, U.S., other international forces and Afghan soldiers are slugging it out with Taliban militants.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Cole, 24 (on the far left in the photo above).
She will be among four female air crew members deployed to a pool of more than 100 pilots and loadmasters beginning New Year's Day to handle the newly-deployed Merlin helicopters in battle-scarred Helmand province, a haven for insurgents and an illegal drug trade.
More than 1,000 troops have started a big push against insurgents in a militant stronghold of southern Afghanistan, the U.S. Marines said Friday. Around 900 American and British troops and more than 150 Afghan soldiers and police are working to clear militants from the Now Zad Valley of northern Helmand province in an operation called Khareh Cobra, or Cobra's Anger.
Maj. William Pelletier at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province said helicopter and ground operations began around 3 a.m. local time Friday to take hold of "key terrain."