Afghan attacks kill 8 u.s. troops

3 sep­a­rate as­saults strike in a bloody 24 hours for amer­i­cans

Austin American-Statesman - - THURSDAYBRIEFING - By Joshua Part­low

KABUL, Afghanistan — A spate of attacks that in­cluded a bomb­ing out­side an Afghan po­lice base in the city of Kan­da­har killed eight U.S. troops and three po­lice of­fi­cers, NATO of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day, re­flect­ing stepped-up re­sis­tance by the Tal­iban to coali­tion ef­forts to se­cure south­ern Afghanistan.

The most brazen at­tack was an as­sault Tues­day night at the head­quar­ters of the Afghan Na­tional Civil Or­der Po­lice, a force that re­cently came to Kan­da­har to work with NATO troops to se­cure the city. About 9 p.m., a car bomb ex­ploded on the base’s perime­ter, fol­lowed by gun­fire and rocket-pro­pelled grenades.

Three U.S. troops were killed, along with five Afghan civil­ians — in­clud­ing four in­ter­preters — and three po­lice of­fi­cers, ac­cord­ing to NATO and Afghan of­fi­cials.

NATO of­fi­cials said the at­tack­ers didn’t breach the com­pound’s perime­ter, but the Kan­da­har pro­vin­cial po­lice chief, Mo­ham­mad Zazai, gave a slightly dif­fer­ent ac­count. He said two sui­cide bombers at­tacked on foot — the first blast­ing a wall and the sec­ond det­o­nat­ing his ex­plo­sives in­side, caus­ing the ca­su­al­ties.

Four other U.S. ser­vice mem­bers died in a bomb­ing Wed­nes­day in south­ern Afghanistan, and a fifth was killed by gun­fire. NATO gave no fur­ther de­tails of those attacks.

So far in July, 45 coali­tion troops have died in Afghanistan, in­clud­ing 33 Amer­i­cans, con­tin­u­ing the up­ward trend of June, which was the war’s dead­li­est for the NATO-led force, with 103 in­ter­na­tional troops killed.

Of­fi­cials on Wed­nes­day con­firmed that the govern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the trou­bled south­ern district of Mar­jah had been re­placed, barely six months af­ter a ma­jor NATO mil­i­tary of­fen­sive to re­take the area from the Tal­iban.

Pro­vin­cial spokesman Daoud Ah­madi said Ab­dul Zahir has been re­placed as district chief in a “re­form pro­ce­dure.” He wouldn’t say if Zahir was re­moved be­cause of con­tin­ued in­sta­bil­ity in Mar­jah. The south­ern farm­ing town — much like the cur­rent Kan­da­har push — was in­tended to be a show­case of good Afghan gov­er­nance af­ter com­bined Afghan and in­ter­na­tional forces ex­pelled the Tal­iban, but of­fi­cials have strug­gled to con­sol­i­date their con­trol.

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Ben Hodges said that Zahir was ousted for re­fus­ing to take a qual­i­fi­ca­tion test re­quired un­der Afghan law. He said he didn’t have de­tails but sus­pected the test re­quire­ment had been waived when Zahir was first re­cruited as Mar­jah’s district chief.

“I’m not sad. I served my coun­try,” Zahir said. “I laid down the foun­da­tion for democ­racy.”

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