Afghanistan: Taliban Offensive Off to Sloppy Start

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April 7, 2006: So far, the much touted Taliban Spring Offensive is a big bust. There is a lot of activity, but not much to show for it. Construction sites and government buildings are being attacked, but often there is no damage. A foreign engineer, a Turk, was kidnapped and killed. Two other construction workers were kidnapped. Some trucks have been burned, but overall, the Taliban threats have been largely empty. In some cases, the police have a hard time determining if some violence was Taliban, or bandits, gangsters or a personal dispute. Afghanistan has always been a violent place, and after two decades of war, it's hard to pick out which violence was planned amidst all the casual stuff.

April 6, 2006: Two suicide bombers died in the south, when their car bomb went off prematurely. Elsewhere in the area, people were injured when roadside bombs also went off at the wrong time, doing less damage than they were meant to. North of Kabul, there was the first attack in over a year, near the U.S. base at Bagram. There, an explosion in a market place left two wounded and one dead. Further north, a bicycle bomb went off, injuring no one.

April 5, 2006: Three bombs went off near Herat, the major city in the west. There were no injuries. One explosion damaged a reconstruction project. In the south, a huge Taliban weapons cache was found, after several Taliban in the area were killed. The cache contained 48,000 rockets of various sizes, 25,000 artillery shells, explosives and bomb making material. The cache dates from before 2001, when the Taliban ran the country. Undiscovered until now, the Taliban were using the material for attacks on the government.

April 4, 2006: In the south, a local Taliban commander surrendered. Morale is low among the Taliban. While an influx of cash has put more people on the payroll, the distinct lack of success, and many failures, has discouraged many of the pro-Taliban tribesmen in the south.

April 2, 2006: Outside Kandahar, five policeman at a checkpoint were killed by Taliban.

April 1, 2006: In the north, gunmen killed Sayed Sadeq, the speaker of the Takhar provincial legislature. This may have been the result of a personal dispute, not Taliban activity. Elsewhere in the north, a Taliban was killed when the bomb he was transporting in a cart went off. In the south, two Romanian soldiers were wounded by a roadside bomb, and six Taliban killed by Afghan troops.

March 31, 2006: Some 9,000 Afghan refugees returned home from camps in Pakistan. Compared to Pakistan, Afghanistan has become more peaceful and prosperous, and thousands of refugees are returning every week.

 

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