9 US soldiers die in Taliban attack in Kunar province; NATO denies reports of cross-border operations; Obama in Kabul warns of ‘precarious situation’; 13 civilians killed in NATO and US strikes
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • In a daring attack by the Taliban on an IASF post in the Kunar province bordering Pakistan on June 13, 9 US soldiers were killed1. 15 other American soldiers were also wounded in the attack, along with 4 Afghan soldiers. The post, which was occupied by nearly 70 American and Afghan soldiers a few days before the attack, was immediately abandoned. The US military however vowed to maintain a “strong presence in the area2.”

    Reports also noted that NATO forces had amassed on the border in anticipation of an attack into Pakistani territory. NATO however denied the possibility of an incursion of troops into Pakistan3. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and military chief Adm. Mike Mullen reiterated the need for more allied troops in Afghanistan and for more aggressive action by Pakistani security forces on their side of the border. Adm. Mullen was in Islamabad during the week to drive home the American concerns, his fourth trip to Pakistan since January 2008. President Bush on his part, talking to reporters at the White House on July 15 promised to investigate Kabul's charges that Pakistan had a hand in the recent terrorist attacks inside Afghanistan4. Bush also noted that US military operations in Iraq were faring better than in Afghanistan.

    US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama meanwhile was in Afghanistan during the week and met with President Karzai among others. He termed the situation in the country "precarious and urgent" and called for the injection of more troops5.

    In other developments, at least 13 people were killed in NATO and US missile and mortar strikes in Khost and Paktika provinces on July 19. The dead included 9 Afghan police officers. The humanitarian organization Oxfam warned against the growing human cost of the war and called on all parties to the conflict to “do everything possible to avoid causing harm to civilians6.”

    Reports also noted that the 218-km strategic Delaram-Zaranj road, being built by India, would be ready by July 17. The road would connect landlocked Afghanistan and give Central Asia access to the Arabian Sea, through the Iranian port of Chabahar7.