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Saturday, January 2, 2010
Bloody start of decade in Afghanistan
By staff and agencies
KABUL - A suicide bomber managed to enter the small Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan’s Khost Province and detonated his explosives, killing eight CIA agents, and injuring six other Americans.
According to report by The Associated Press the Pakistani Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), claimed responsibility for the Wednesday’s attack saying that the bomber, a member of the group working for the Afghan army, was wearing army uniform when he managed to breach security at the base, detonating his explosive belt in the gym.
TTP said it was a revenge for a top militant leader’s death in a U.S. missile strike. This proclamation followed indications that Afghan Taliban may have been involved in the attack.
This was worst attack against U.S. intelligence officials since 1983, when eight officers were killed in an attack on the U.S. embassy in Beirut. According to the Washington Post ninety CIA employees have been killed in the line of duty since the agency’s inception in 1947.
In Kandahar Province, four Canadian soldiers, and a Canadian journalist traveling with them, were killed by an improvised explosive device on Wednesday.
The reporter, Michelle Lang, 34, worked for The Calgary Herald.
“It was a targeted attack, a massive bomb detonated via remote control,” reported the Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper. The daily goes on to question how challenging it’s going to be for Canadian troops to secure stability in the area surrounding Kandahar City -- and how far the troops have to go to win “not only the hearts and minds but the trust of Afghans living there.”
The explosion left a crater two meters deep and three meters wide with blood and gasoline pooled on the road. No survivors were reported.
In all, 32 Canadian service members have been killed in Afghanistan this year and 138 have died over the course of the eight-year war, including one diplomat and now one journalist.
Early Thursday morning in Uruzgan Province, Taliban beheaded six men for cooperating with the Afghan government, attacking them as they slept. The police captured four of the men believed to be responsible, said Juma Gul Himat, the province police chief.
In another incident two French journalists, working for France’s public television broadcaster, traveling with three Afghan guides in Kapisa Province, northeast of Kabul, were kidnapped.
French Defense Minister, Herve Morin, who was Thursday visiting French troops in Afghanistan to mark the New Year, confirmed only that the journalists had bee missing since Wednesday.
French troops deployed in Kapisa have launched manhunt for the five.
The latest media abduction in Afghanistan comes just weeks after two Afghan and an Iraqi journalist working for a British newspaper were kidnapped and freed following a six-day ordeal in a remote region of Afghanistan.
The second episode of civilian deaths within a week was under investigation Thursday by the Afghan government and NATO officials after reports that up to seven civilians had been killed in Helmand Province in a NATO missile strike.
According to reports the latest episode was in Helmand provincial capital of Lashkar Gaah, where seven civilians, including three children, were killed.
The event followed a nighttime raid by international forces last weekend, resulting in 10 deaths, 8 of them school-age boys in Kunar Province. UN special representative to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, in a statement Thursday confirmed that “eight of those killed were students enrolled in local schools.”
A second statement released by President Hamid Karzai asked international troops for turn over of “those responsible for the deaths” in Kunar of the “martyred 10 young men in two rooms of a house although there was no armed resistance.”
The killing of civilians sparked demonstrations and public outcry, as hundreds took part in anti-U.S. demonstrations.
Figures released by the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan last week indicate a 10 percent rise in civilian deaths in the first 10 months of 2009.
Photo: Canadian soldiers carry the transfer cases of four Canadian soldiers and a journalist during a transfer ceremony at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010. (AP photo)