A day in the life of the Afghan war

The Guardian Weekly - - Inside - AFGHANISTAN 17 YEARS ON By Emma Gra­ham-Har­ri­son, Abi­gail Field­ing-Smith and Jes­sica Purkiss

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

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