Jul 29 2011

Afghanistan Violence Peaks in South; U.S. Claims Taliban Weak

Feature Stories | Published 29 Jul 2011, 10:50 am | Comments Off on Afghanistan Violence Peaks in South; U.S. Claims Taliban Weak -

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hamidiAt least 17 people were killed this morning in Afghanistan when a mini-bus drove over a roadside bomb in the southern Helmand province. Among them were women and children. The violence comes just a day after a triple suicide bombing and shooting in neighboring Uruzgan province claimed the lives of at least 19 people. Among them was a BBC reporter, Omid Khpulwak, and 12 children between the ages of 4 and 13 (according to Reuters). The Taliban took credit for the Uruzgan attacks, one of which was aimed at the security offices of Matiullah Khan, a prominent warlord and U.S. ally who provides protection for NATO convoys traveling from Uruzgan to Kandahar. Khan escaped harm however. The attacks come in the same week as the assassination of the mayor of Kandahar – a province just south of Uruzgan and the traditional stronghold of the Taliban. Ghulam Haider Hamidi, was killed on Wednesday by a suicide bomber who entered his heavily fortified compound with a bomb in his turban. Hamidi worked as an accountant in Northern Virginia for 18 years before leaving for Afghanistan in 2007 to become Kandahar’s mayor. His death is the latest in a string of assassinations of major political figures in and around Kandahar province to be killed in just the past two and a half weeks. Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and Kandahar’s most powerful warlord was fatally shot on July 12th, followed by the suicide bomb assassination of the cleric Hikmatullah Hikmat, the head of the Provincial Ulema Council just two days later, at Karzai’s funeral. Kandahar, the southern-most province which shares a border with Pakistan, is considered the most dangerous in Afghanistan. It is not yet clear who is responsible for Mayor Hamidi’s murder this week. In fact, the forces arrayed against the central Afghan government and their US and NATO benefactors, seem to be spreading faster, even to the capital Kabul. On July 17th, a key senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai, and former governor of Uruzgan province, Jan Mohammad Khan, was killed by armed men at his home in Kabul. Mohammed Hashim Watanwal, a member of the Afghan parliament was killed alongside him. Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, Ryan Crocker, the new U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, claimed in his first press briefing this week that the assassinations represent a sign of weakness for the Taliban.

GUEST: Conn Hallinan, columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus

Read Conn Hallinan’s latest article, about the assassination of Ahmed Wali Karzai here: http://www.fpif.org/articles/afghanistan_anatomy_of_a_hit

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