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September 1, 2010

Estonian soldier killed in southern Afghanistan

Estonian soldier killed in southern Afghanistan

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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Estonian forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001

An Estonian soldier has been killed in southern Afghanistan. Sgt. Herdis Sikka was on patrol with his unit in Helmand province when he was killed in an explosion. His death was announced by the Estonian Defence Ministry.

20 year-old Sikka had been the driver of the armoured personnel carrier when his unit came under attack. No one else was injured in the attack. Fellow soldiers tried to administer first aid and Sikka was transported by helicopter to Camp Bastion.

A joint statement from Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Minister of Defense Jaak Aaviksoo and Foreign Minister Urmas Paetissued praised his “invaluable contribution to the construction of a secure future.” President Toomas Hendrick Ilves wrote a letter of condolence to Sikka’s family.

With Sikka’s death, the death-toll of Estonian soldiers in Afghanistan has risen to eight.



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July 13, 2010

ARM: 2010 worst year for Afghanistan since US invasion

ARM: 2010 worst year for Afghanistan since US invasion

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010 File:100207-X-XXXXX-4.jpg

NATO soldiers prepare to launch major assaults on Taliban strongholds in Helmand Province in order to increase security in the area.
Image: ISAF Headquarters Public Affairs Office.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

The Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM), an Afghan human-rights group, stated yesterday that 2010 was the worst year in terms of violence for the country since US-led troops occupied the country in 2001.

The ARM says that civilian deaths have risen and that Taliban insurgents have not been defeated despite a surge in troops in Afghanistan. “In terms of insecurity, 2010 has been the worst year since the demise of the Taliban regime in late 2001. Not only have the number of security incidents increased, the space and depth of the insurgency and counter-insurgency-related violence have maximised dramatically,” the ARM said.

ARM’s figures state that over 1,074 civilians were killed and over 1,500 wounded in war violence in the first half of this year, an slight increase over 1,059 deaths in the same time period in 2009. “Up to 1,200 security incidents were recorded in June, the highest number of incidents compared to any month since 2002,” the ARM commented.

According to the ARM, over half of civilian deaths in the first six months of this year were caused by Taliban insurgents that showed “little or no respect for the safety and protection of non-combatants in their armed rebellion against the government and its foreign supporters.” The group also said that the second highest cause of civilian deaths were suicide attacks by the Taliban. The suicide attacks killed 127 people. Also, the ARM reported that a reduction of US and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) air strikes reduced their share of civilians killed. The air strike reduction had been ordered by the former commander of foreign forces, General Stanley McChrystal, who was fired by US president Barack Obama for making rude comments about top White House government officials.

In December of last year, US president Barack Obama sent an additional 30,000 soldiers into the country in an effort to halt the Taliban’s influence in the region. However, the ARM says in its mid-year report, titled “Civilian Casualties of Conflict”, that the move failed to have any lasting effect, and that “the insurgency has become more resilient, multi-structured and deadly”.

According to the ARM, most of the injuries and deaths were attributed homemade bombs — otherwise known as improvised explosive devices. These bombs are considered the Taliban’s main weapon.

140,000 soldiers from both the US and NATO are stationed in Afghanistan; another 10,000 are scheduled to enter the landlocked Asian country in the next few weeks. Over 350 US and NATO troops have been killed so far this year, compared with 520 last year. Over 30 troops have been killed in the first 12 days of July.



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March 22, 2010

Ten killed by suicide bomber in southern Afghanistan

Filed under: Afghanistan,Asia,Helmand Province,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Ten killed by suicide bomber in southern Afghanistan

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Monday, March 22, 2010

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According to officials, at least ten people were killed in the southern part of the Helmand province in Afghanistan earlier today in a suicide bombing.

The suicide bomber was targeting a convoy for the Afghan army situated on a bridge, according to a government spokesman; however, the blast’s victims were civilians.

“An explosion by a three-wheeled motorcycle targeting an Afghan army convoy killed at least ten civilians in a crowded area of Gereshk district,” commented spokesman Daud Ahmadi to the Agence France-Presse news agency, adding that the bomb detonated after the convoy had passed the bridge.

According to media reports, the vicinity near where the bomb exploded was crowded with people celebrating Nowruz, the Afghan new year.



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March 1, 2010

Roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan kills at least eleven

Roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan kills at least eleven

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Monday, March 1, 2010

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Local government officials have said that at least eleven people were killed on Sunday in southern Afghanistan by a roadside bomb.

The governor’s spokesman, Daud Ahmadi, said to media that “a civilian car struck a roadside bomb in Nawzad district.” According to the spokesman, a family was riding on a tractor with a truck-bed hitched on back, when it hit the explosives on a central road; all of the people aboard died, including two children and two women.

Ahmadi blamed the attack on the Taleban.

The incident comes several weeks after soldiers from the US, NATO, and Afghanistan, initiated an offensive against the Taleban in Helmand’s Marjah and Nad Ali areas on February 13.



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February 13, 2010

Landmark coalition offensive launched in Afghanistan

Landmark coalition offensive launched in Afghanistan

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Leaflets were dropped into Marja in preparation for the attack.
Image: US Army.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan has launched a large-scale siege of the town of Marja, currently held by Taliban insurgents. The attacking forces consist of Afghan, American, British, and Canadian troops.

Operation Moshtarak marks the largest Afghan-ISAF joint offensive to-date. The aim of the operation is to wrest control of the town in Helmand Province from Taliban forces.

The operation was announced several days in advance in order to allow the 80,000 civilians in the town an opportunity to leave, or prepare for the siege. Reports indicate over 10,000 citizens subsequently left and the local government is preparing shelter for them in nearby towns. This strategy is hoped to minimise civilian casualties; however, the side-effect is giving Taliban defenders time to prepare.

15,000 troops are involved in the operation, while the Taliban defense is believed to consist of between 1,000 and 2,000 militants. The attack was launched with an initial wave of over 4,000 US Marines, 1,500 from the Afghan Army plus 300 US Army soldiers flying into the city by helicopter at about 2am local time (2130 UTC).

Operation Moshtarak is the first major operation in Afghanistan since the United States sent 30,000 reinforcements in late December. If successful, ISAF hopes it may mark a turning point in the conflict in Helmand, as Marja provides a base of operations for key Taliban figures in the province. Upon securing the town, NATO hopes to quickly restore public service and provide alternative livelihoods for the town’s opium farmers – a bid to win over the population and prevent Taliban resurgence in the area.



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January 25, 2010

Explosion in Afghanistan kills British soldier

Explosion in Afghanistan kills British soldier

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Monday, January 25, 2010

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A soldier from Hereford, Britain died yesterday in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. The incident occurred when the soldier (who belongs to Third Battalion The Rifles) was on foot patrol, and takes the death toll in the conflict to 251, which is four short of the number who died during the Falklands war in 1982.

The soldier, whose name has not yet been released by the UK Ministry of Defence, died due to the wounds incurred when the bomb exploded in the southern part of Sangin, Helmand. Lieutenant Colonel David Wakefield, spokesperson for Task Force Helmand, stated: “He was part of the operations that have been bringing security to the local population. It happened in the ‘green zone’ south of Sangin district centre.”

He further added that “he [the soldier] was on a foot patrol as part of the operations that have been bringing security to the local population in that area.” The soldier’s family has been informed about the former’s death.

Earlier, Peter Aldridge, aged 19, belonging to A Company 4 Rifles, died after a blast in the same place. The teenager’s final words were to express his love for his mother. His family said that their son died a hero and had lost his life “doing what he believed in.” According to them, Peter had earlier stated: “If I’m going to die I want to die a soldier.”



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  • “UK military deaths in Afghanistan reach 250” — Wikinews, January 23, 2010

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Trial begins for Canadian soldier accused of murder in battlefield killing

Trial begins for Canadian soldier accused of murder in battlefield killing

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Monday, January 25, 2010

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A court martial got underway today accusing a Canadian soldier of murder for shooting a member of the Taliban on an Afghan battlefield. Captain Robert Semrau’s case is believed to be a military and legal first.

Semrau, 38, is facing four charges for the 2008 death. He is accused of second-degree murder, attempted murder, behaving in a disgraceful manner, and negligently performing a military duty. It is alleged that he shot the man twice despite him being an unarmed and “seriously wounded” prisoner.

Court documents set a scene in which 36-year-old Semrau was in charge of a small group of soldiers caught in an ambush on October 19 last year. The Canadians were mentoring some new Afghan recruits, who were under British command. A United States Apache assault helicopter provided assistance to the group, who were in Lashkar Gah, Helmand, strafing the area.

After beating back their attackers the soldiers discovered a fighter with injuries deemed to be so severe that medical aid would be ineffective, along with a dead man. He was disarmed, his assault rifle having been captured. Shortly afterwards, with only Semrau near the man, two gunshots were heard. At least one eyewitness claims to have watched Semrau shooting the militant with his field rifle. Troops then moved on and the man’s body was never recovered.

Captain Semrau was not investigated for two months, when his superiors heard of the alleged killing. He was ultimately arrested by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service a month later and charged. He is now set to go on trial before Colonel Mario Duti, a military judge, and a five-member panel.

The Canadian Press contacted Michel Drapeau, a retired lawyer and colonel. He says he believes it to be the first time Canada has launched a court martial for the death of a prisoner on the battlefield. “It’s unprecedented in many, many respects. I can’t remember any such incidents in the past 50 years and in the Second World War, I don’t believe there was such a court martial.”

There are a few recorded instances of alleged extra-judicial killing by Canadian soldiers, but no court martials for murder. Two Canadian soldiers faced a murder charge for the death of a teenager in Somalia in 1993 but the case was dropped; some evidence emerged during the inquiry that suggested another man may also have been killed illegally. More anecdotally, Canadians have been accused of similar murders in Korea and of shooting German prisoners for revenge during the second world war.



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January 2, 2010

Afghanistan\’s parliament rejects Karzai\’s cabinet nominations

Afghanistan’s parliament rejects Karzai’s cabinet nominations

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Afghanistan
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Image: US Federal Government.

The Afghan parliament has rejected president Hamid Karzai’s nominees for his new cabinet. Karzai had nominated 24 persons to fill vacancies, although only seven were approved. Of the nominees rejected include incumbent Energy Minister Ismail Kha, and the incumbent minister of Women’s Affairs. It did however approve the nominees for the positions of Defense, Interior, and Finance ministers.

President Karzai will need to resubmit candidates for the vacant positions so that the government can begin its 2010 workload.

During the confirmation hearings Karzai was in the Helmand province, meeting with US commander General Stanley McChrystal. Karzai told local residents that if they want to be protected, they have to bring their sons to the national army.

“The significance of the rejection has to do with politics and Karzai’s failure to build a cabinet that spoke to a wide enough spectrum of people, and also with the weakening of his political machine,” Alex Thier, the director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan program at the United States Institute of Peace, told The New York Times.

The American embassy released a statement saying that it supports the parliaments decision approve and disapprove the nominaees.

Also announced Saturday, Afghan parliamentary elections will take place May 22, despite corruption allegations from last Augusts presidential elections.



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November 24, 2009

Four US, eight Afghan troops killed in Afghanistan after attacks

Filed under: Afghanistan,Asia,Helmand Province,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Four US, eight Afghan troops killed in Afghanistan after attacks

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

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International security forces in Afghanistan stated today that recent attacks in the country’s south and east have killed four US and eight Afghan soldiers.

A NATO statement said that a bomb killed one US soldier in eastern Afghanistan today; yesterday, three US troops died in gun and bomb attacks in the southern part of the country.

“Four ISAF [International Security Force] service members died in the last 24 hours in Afghanistan,” read the statement.

Afghan officials say a roadside bomb in Helmand province killed three Afghan soldiers and wounded another two others on Sunday. Earlier in the day, a border security commander said a roadside bomb in Kandahar province killed five Afghan soldiers.

The number of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan in 2009 has now risen to 481 with these deaths; this according to a tally by the Agence France-Presse news agency.



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October 22, 2009

British soldier dies in Afghanistan, UK death toll rises to 222

British soldier dies in Afghanistan, UK death toll rises to 222

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

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Cquote1.svg He died doing his duty and we will remember him Cquote2.svg

—Lt Col David Wakefield

A British soldier has been killed in Afghanistan, taking the number of British deaths there since 2001 to 222.

He was a member of the Royal Military Police, and was killed while on foot patrol in the Helmand province, close to the Gereshk district in Southern Afghanistan. The cause of death has been reported to be an explosion, but the source is unclear.

“It is my sad duty to confirm the death of a soldier, a Royal Military Policeman, in an explosion earlier today in Helmand Province,” Lieutenant Colonel David Wakefield said of the incident. ” He died doing his duty and we will remember him.”

The deceased’s family has been informed.



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