British Soldier, Several Civilians Killed in Afghanistan, Pakistani Troop
Fire Turns Back US Helicopters
British soldier killed in Afghanistan to be named
15. September 2008, 03:01
A British soldier killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan,
becoming the third British casualty there in a week will be named on
Monday, the Ministry of Defence said.
The serviceman, from 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, was killed
while on a routine patrol near Kajaki in the restive Helmand province on
He was not immediately named, but his next of kin have been informed.
He is the second soldier from the regiment to die in Afghanistan in the
space of 48 hours, after Private Jason Lee Rawstron, 23, was killed in a
firefight with Taliban extremists in Helmand on Friday.
Gaz O'Donnell, a 40-year-old father of four, was killed in Afghanistan
on Wednesday as he tried to defuse an explosive device set by the
The deaths bring to 120 the number of British soldiers who have died in
Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in late 2001 that ousted the
Taliban from power in Kabul.
Of these, 93 were killed as a result of hostile action, while the other
27 died either as a result of illness, non-combat injuries or accidents,
or have yet to be assigned an official cause of death.
Britain has approximately 7,800 soldiers in Afghanistan, most of them in
Helmand Province, where the Taliban has mounted a resurgence over the
past 12 months.
The figure is to rise to just over 8,000 by early 2009.
Pakistan troop fire turns back U.S. helicopters
15. September 2008, 03:00
By Zeeshan Haide, Reuters
Firing by Pakistani troops forced U.S. military helicopters to turn back
to Afghanistan after they crossed into Pakistani territory in the early
hours of Monday, Pakistani security officials said.
The incident took place near Angor Adda, a village in the tribal region
of South Waziristan where U.S. commandos in helicopters raided a
suspected al Qaeda and Taliban camp earlier this month.
"The U.S. choppers came into Pakistan by just 100 to 150 meters at Angor
Adda. Even then our troops did not spare them, opened fire on them and
they turned away," said one security official.
Pakistan is a crucial U.S. ally in its war on terrorism, and its support
is key to the success of Western forces trying to stabilize Afghanistan.
But Washington has become impatient over Islamabad's response to the
threat from al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Pakistan's tribal regions
on the border.
At least 20 people, including women and children, were killed in the
South Waziristan raid earlier this month, sparking outrage in Pakistan
and prompting a diplomatic protest.
Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani said in a strongly worded
statement last week that Pakistan would not allow foreign troops onto
its soil and Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity would be
defended at all costs.
Another security official said on Monday that U.S. armored vehicles were
also seen moving on the Afghan side of the border, while U.S. warplanes
were seen overhead.
He said Pakistani soldiers sounded a bugle call and fired in the air,
forcing the helicopters to return to Afghan territory.
Military spokesman Major Murad Khan confirmed that there had been
shooting. But he said the American helicopters had not crossed into
Pakistani airspace and Pakistani troops were not responsible for the
"The U.S. choppers were there at the border, but they did not violate
our airspace," Khan said.
"We confirm that there was a firing incident at the time when the
helicopters were there, but our forces were not involved."
The New York Times newspaper reported last week that U.S. President
George W. Bush has given clearance for U.S. raids across the border.
The raid on Angor Adda on September 3 was the first overt ground
incursion by U.S. troops into Pakistan since the deployment of U.S.
forces in Afghanistan in late 2001.
The United States has intensified attacks by missile-firing drone
aircraft on suspected al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistani tribal
lands in the past few weeks.
Afghanistan: Pakistan fury at US cross-border attacks
14. September 2008, 15:02
By Raymond Whitake, The Independent (UK)
Pakistan's new President, Asif Ali Zardari, is facing demands to
withdraw co-operation with the US in the "war on terror" amid rising
anger at the increasing number of American attacks on Pakistani soil.
There have been four so far this month, including the first acknowledged
ground assault by US special forces based across the border in
Despite official Pakistani condemnation of the strikes, mostly by
missiles fired from Predator drones, Mr Zardari is being accused by
opposition parties of having secretly agreed to them. Equally damaging,
it is possible that Pakistan's military chiefs were aware of US
operations but did not inform him.
The row has intensified in the past week since the disclosure that
President George Bush signed an order in July authorising cross-border
attacks from Afghanistan without seeking Pakistani agreement.
The US has made no secret of its concern at Afghanistan's worsening
instability, emphasised yesterday by the death of a provincial governor
in a suicide bombing 12 miles from Kabul. The US emphasis on the
militant threat from Pakistan's lawless tribal areas, where al-Qa'ida's
top leaders are believed to be hiding, is part of a reassessment of US
priorities in Afghanistan and Iraq.
President Bush said last week that troop levels in Iraq would remain
high, with only 8,000 coming home early next year, and he announced a
"quiet surge" in Afghanistan. A Marines battalion due to go to Iraq in
November will be switched to Afghanistan, and an army combat brigade
will follow, adding about 4,500 US troops to the 33,000 already there.
Mr Bush's statement was followed by congressional testimony from Admiral
Michael Mullen, the top US military commander. He told the House Armed
Services Committee: "I'm not convinced we're winning it in Afghanistan",
but added he was "convinced we can" as long as there is a new strategy
to address the issue of militants in Pakistan.
"These two nations are inextricably linked in a common insurgency that
crosses the border between them," he said. "We can hunt down and kill
extremists as they cross over the border from Pakistan... but until we
work more closely with the Pakistani government to eliminate the safe
havens from which they operate, the enemy will only keep coming."
The recent wave of cross-border attacks raised the question of how much
co-ordination there has been with Pakistan's civilian government. On
several occasions, Pakistani helicopter gunships have swept the area
shortly after US missile strikes, signalling a degree of tacit
acceptance by the military.
However, on 3 September, US special forces crossed near the Afghan
village of Angoor Adda and attacked a Pakistani settlement only a few
hundred yards from the border. At least 15 people were killed, with
local people claiming some were civilians.
The anger caused by this incident grew after The New York Times
disclosed Mr Bush's secret order to permit ground operations in
Pakistan. It quoted a senior US official as saying: "We have to be more
assertive. Orders have been given."
Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, condemned the raids and
denied any "agreement or understanding" that would allow Nato forces to
operate on Pakistan's territory. But he attended a conference aboard USS
Abraham Lincoln in the Indian Ocean last month with Admiral Mullen and
top US commanders in Afghanistan.
If the US has decided to bypass Mr Zardari's civilian government, it
risks exacerbating Pakistan's "significant political uncertainty", the
phrase used by Admiral Mullen in his congressional testimony.
Military analysts expect the bulk of American reinforcements to be sent
to eastern Afghanistan, bordering the tribal areas. But in Helmand
province, where most of Britain's 8,000 troops are stationed, 2,500 US
Marines sent to help early this year will not be replaced.
Bolstered by air power, the Marines drove the Taliban out of the
southern district of Garmsir. They are now handing the district back to
Afghan and British troops, but it remains to be seen whether these
forces have the firepower to maintain the gains.
Six children, three UN staffers die in new Afghan violence
14. September 2008, 14:50
Six children were killed in a bomb explosion in Afghanistan Sunday
while a suicide car bomb blew up a marked United Nations vehicle and
killed two Afghan doctors and a driver, officials said.
Authorities meanwhile reported that seven policemen were dead after
Taliban militants attacked a remote district centre on Saturday, the
same day a British soldier was killed in a bomb blast in the troubled
The bloodshed comes amid growing concern over deteriorating security,
seven years after a US-led invasion ended the Taliban regime, with
top-level talks on rising extremist attacks due in London and Washington
due in the coming days.
The children were killed when a bomb they were playing with exploded in
a village in the central province of Ghazni, Andar district governor
Abdul Rahim Daisiwal told AFP.
Around a dozen more children were wounded in the blast and some are in a
critical condition, he said, adding it appeared the bomb had been
planted and was not one left over from countries decades of war.
Some of the wounded children had been transferred to an international
military base for treatment, the NATO-led force headquarters in Kabul
The Taliban, behind a wave of unrest, denied involvement in the bomb
But the insurgents did claim responsibility for a suicide car bombing
that ripped through the southeastern town of Spin Boldak, hitting a
vehicle of UN staff on a mission to monitor efforts to vaccinate
children against polio.
Afghan doctors Mamoon Tahiri and Shamsulhaque Kakar were killed outright
in the explosion, the Afghan health ministry said in a statement. A
driver died in hospital from his injuries, it said.
The doctors were under contract to the World Health Organisation's polio
campaign, the UN special representative in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, said.
Afghan officials said between 15 and 18 other people, most of them
civilians, were wounded in the blast which struck a UN-marked car as it
drove through a market in Spin Boldak on the Pakistan border.
"This attack was on innocent civilians working only for the people of
Afghanistan, and is beyond comprehension," Eide said.
Health Minister Amin Fatimie condemned the "very horrible incident" in a
statement that called on parties in the Afghan conflict to respect the
impartiality of health workers.
Afghans receive health care without discrimination but health ministry
"staff and clinics are targeted by opposition," Fatimie said in a
"Doctors are kidnapped and killed. This time, unfortunately, suicide
attack has taken lives of two doctors and one driver."
Separately, three policemen wounded in a Taliban attack on a district
centre on Saturday died, taking the toll from the incident to seven,
Ghazni province deputy police chief Mohammad Zaman said.
Another two policemen were missing, he said. A Taliban spokesman,
Zabihullah Mujahid, said his group was holding the men and was "deciding
on their fate."
A British soldier was also killed on Saturday after being caught in an
explosion in Helmand province, the Ministry of Defence in London said.
The province is a Taliban stronghold.
And in another incident blamed on the Taliban, an Afghan interpreter
working for the US military was shot dead as he stepped out of his home
Sunday, police said.
President Hamid Karzai is due to meet US President George W. Bush in
Washington on September 26 for talks to include security issues, the
White House announced this week.
Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari, is to discuss the conflict
with Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants on his side of the border with
British leaders in the coming days.
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