A day in the life of the Afghan war
The first death happened soon after midnight, a policeman killed on night watch near the Tajik border. The bloodshed continued as the sun rose, and as night fell again. Three beheadings at a school, and an airstrike after 11pm were the last of the conflict-related violence recorded in Afghanistan on 30 June.
¶ Taking place on the first day after a three-day ceasefire, these incidents were the culmination of a day of murder and maiming, shootings, explosions, aerial bombardments and one unclaimed political assassination.
¶ For everyone except the injured survivors and families of the dead, it was an unexceptional day in a conflict that much of the world appears to have forgotten. There were no such attacks in big cities, no key battles, just the ceaseless grind of war.
Sunday 7 October marked 17 years since US troops launched Operation Enduring Freedom to topple the Taliban government in Kabul.
In the intervening years, foreign troop numbers have surged and been cut back again; leaders in the US and the UK have declared “our war” in Afghanistan over, and their “mission accomplished”.
Yet the Taliban keep fighting and a regional affiliate of Isis has joined them on the battlefield. Today, insurgents control or threaten more territory than they have done since 2001, and civilian casualties are setting grim records.
In a bid to illustrate the relentless nature of violence, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Guardian and Observer have compiled a list of all attacks reported on a single day – using unpublished official documents and on-the-ground reporting to give a snapshot view of the war.
The day 30 June is particularly poignant because it was the first day of fighting after an unprecedented and unexpectedly successful threeday ceasefire between government and Taliban forces ended. Desperately weary of war, many Afghans were hopeful that the truce would be extended. It was not.
The following timeline details the death of 60 people, and the numbers wounded, in attacks across 16 provinces – or nearly half the country.
Every outbreak of violence that we were able to identify – from a few shots fired at a police station in eastern Ghazni, to an airstrike on Taliban positions in western Farah – is listed.
By its nature, this snapshot provides a partial picture of the violence. Beyond that, the list is likely incomplete, and the toll may be higher. Even so, it is an important catalogue of forgotten violence. Only one of the dozens of attacks on 30 June was reported internationally, and just a handful of others featured in the Afghan press.
Until today, most have gone unnoticed beyond the military units or local communities they affected. As on so many other days, the bloodshed continued, the war churned on and the world looked away. EGH