Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Occupation701 - Violence in Afghanistan

Violence in Afghanistan has spiked to its highest level since the 2001 US-led invasion, with an Asssocioted Press count of insurgency related deaths this year surpassing the 5,000 mark and a U.N. report finding that attacks have risen by 20 percent.

A suicide attack Tuesday on a police bus in western Kabul killed 13 officers and civilians, including a woman and her two children who boarded the vehicle seconds before the explosion.

The bombing, which ripped the roof off the bus, was the second to target a bus in Kabul in four days. It came as insurgents turned up attacks against Afghanistan’s security forces during a year of record violence.

Left: German soldiers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)-led International security Assistance Forces stand near a Tornado jet at an airbase in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.A new U.N. report found that while 76 percent of all suicide bombings in the country have targeted international and Afghan security forces, 143 civilians were killed by those bombs through August. The report, released in New York last week, also found that Afghanistan has averaged 550 violent incidents per month this year, up from 425 last year.

Left: Much of Afghanistan is like a scene from Mad Max or some futurist post-apocalypse movie". This graveyard of Russian tanks will soon feature a new generation of military hardware that too, will rust in the desert.

An AP count of insurgency-related deaths, meanwhile, reached 5,086 so far this year, the most deaths in Afghanistan since the invasion to topple the Taliban. The AP counted some 4,000 deaths in 2006, based on reports from Western and Afghan officials.

The AP tally counts more than 3,500 militants among the dead, but also more than 650 civilians killed either by militant violence or U.S. or NATO attacks. Almost 180 international soldiers have died in Afghanistan this year, including 85 Americans, a record pace. Last year, about 90 U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan.

Left: Afghan locals and morgue employees check dead bodies lined up at Ghazni hospital, in Ghazni province, 25 September 2007. At least 25 people were killed 24 September, in a head-on collision between two buses on one of Afghanistan's main roads, an Afghan news agency cited police as saying. Another 35 people were wounded in the crash on the main road linking Kabul and the southern city of Kandahar, Ghazni province police chief Alishah Ahmadzai said.

Insurgents have also launched a record number of suicide attacks — more than 100 — including two bus bombings in Kabul since Saturday that killed 43 people between them.

Four children were among the 13 people killed in Tuesday’s suicide attack by a man wearing a pakul — an Afghan hat commonly seen in the country’s north — and a shawl around the upper half of his body called a chador, said Amin Gul, who owns a metalworking shop next to the blast site.

“When the bus came, an old man got on, then a woman with two children, then the guy wearing the chador entered, and then a big boom,” said Gul, who witnessed the attack.

Left: Afghan people look on as a vehicle destoyed in a suicide attack is loaded onto a truck in Kabul, 29 September 2007. A suicide bomb that ripped through an army bus in the Afghan capital killed at least 27 military personnel and wounded 21 more, the ministry of defence said.

The seats in the front of the bus were covered in blood and small body parts, and workers washed blood from nearby trees after the attack. Ten people were wounded in the bombing, Health Minister Mohammad Amin Fatemi said.

Ahmad Saqi, a 20-year-old mechanic, said he helped put seven people in vehicles for runs to the hospital, and that several of the wounded had no legs.

“One woman was holding a baby in her arms, and they were both killed,” Saqi said. “Half of the woman’s face was blown off.”

The blast killed eight police, the mother, her baby and another child, as well as two unaccompanied children who had been heading to a special school for handicapped students, Fatemi said. The children ranged in age from 2 to 8.

“The woman’s husband is working at the Health Ministry. How do we tell the father his wife and two kids are dead?” asked Fatemi. “This attack goes against all of Islam. There is no reason to blow up Muslims, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. My message to these people: Please stop killing Muslims.”

Tuesday’s explosion is the third attack in four months against police or army buses in Kabul.

On Saturday, a suicide bomber wearing an army uniform blew himself up in an army bus, killing 30 people. In June, a bomb ripped through a bus carrying police instructors in Kabul, killing 35 people in the deadliest insurgent attack since the 2001 invasion.

A coalition soldier was killed by gunfire Tuesday morning while conducting combat operations in the northeastern province of Kunar. Three other soldiers were wounded, the coalition said in a statement. The nationalities of the soldiers weren’t provided, but most soldiers in eastern Afghanistan are American.

Left: French soldiers of NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) secure the site of a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, 02 October 2007. A suicide bomber, apparently targeting a police bus today detonated explosives strapped to his body killing 11 people, six of them police, and wounded seven others in Kabul, the second deadly attack in the capital within a week.

Militants in Kunar attacked a border security post, killing three police, said Zargun Shah Khaliqyar, a spokesman for the provincial governor. It was not clear if the two incidents in Kunar were related.

Canadian troops in Kandahar shot and killed a 35-year-old man and wounded a child in what NATO’s International Security Assistance Force called an “accidental discharge” by a weapons system.

The Afghan Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said Afghan and coalition soldiers battled insurgents in Uruzgan province on Sunday, killing 26 of the militants. There was no way to independently verify the claim.

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