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| 1 Jul 2016
Parliament 13 June voted against President Ghani’s 5 March decree on electoral reform, sent to parliament late April, which had enabled release of international aid for elections to be held Oct; vote makes it highly unlikely elections will be held in 2016. Main opponent to decree Farah province MP Abdul Sabur Khedmat argued Ghani had no intention of holding elections and sent decree to Wolesi Jirga intending to deceive nation and block reform. Sirajuddin Haqqani, deputy to new Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhunzada, 15 June said Taliban only open to peace talks if international community agreed negotiations would conform to Sharia. Defence ministry 7 June said Afghan air force strike in Nangarhar province killed five Islamic State (IS) loyalists; U.S. drone strike in Paktika province 9 June killed alleged Haqqani Network facilitator. Military 14 June reported operation targeting Taliban hideouts in Jawzjan province killed fifteen insurgents; defence ministry 18 June said army released nine Taliban hostages in Helmand province. Police commander 3 June claimed Taliban hideouts installed 500m from Baghlan-Kunduz Highway, requiring large-scale operation to secure it. Taliban 30 June staged twin bomb attack on police convoy outside Kabul 30 June; reports of death toll vary from 27 to at least 40. Ghazni province officials 8 June said Taliban executed eleven security personnel who they had kidnapped 4 June. Explosion in Nangahar province mosque 10 June killed four civilians, wounded 50. Special representative on reform and good governance 4 June reported thousands of acres grabbed across country and major embezzlement in fuel contracts, but govt lacked political authority to tackle corruption. Report by NGO Global Witness 6 June said lapis lazuli mines driving corruption and extremism, earning Taliban and other armed groups up to $20mn annually.
| 1 Jun 2016
Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour killed in U.S. drone strike in Pakistan near Afghan border 21 May. Taliban 25 May named new leader Haibatullah Akhunzada; CEO Abdullah Abdullah called on new leader to join peace talks. High Peace Council (HPC) 18 May signed draft peace agreement with Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) insurgent group; includes govt commitment to make efforts to remove HIG and leaders from UN blacklist if HIG ends armed struggle, enters political process; agreement reportedly being verified but not yet signed by President Ghani. National Security Advisor 2 May said Islamabad should act against Afghan Taliban in Pakistan. Gains made against insurgents included: officials 7 May said at least 28 Taliban killed as security forces repelled major offensive in Ghaziabad district, Kunar province; security forces 22 May killed Taliban shadow governor of Helmand; National Directorate of Security 4 May reported it had foiled Haqqani Network plot in Kabul, arrested three suspects; Afghan National Police 11 May arrested suspected Taliban financial officer. Officials 17 May said Taliban cleared from Yakhchal area in Grishk district, Helmand. However Taliban spring offensive continued: officials 18 May reported Taliban capture of Baghlan province’s Surkh Kotal area; at least ten killed 10 May in suicide attack on pro-govt militia commander in Nangarhar province; one killed by rockets fired at Herat governor’s building 22 May; over 50 police reported killed 29-30 May in heavy fighting in Helmand; Taliban killed at least nine and kidnapped dozens of bus passengers in Kunduz 31 May. Several killed in clashes between Jamiat and Junbish party supporters in Almar district, Faryab province. Ethnic Hazaras protested in Kabul 16 May against late April cabinet decision not to route Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TUTAP) powerline through Hazara-majority Bamiyan province; Hazara leader and second deputy to CEO Adbullah 6 May threatened to stop cooperating with govt.
| 2 May 2016
Taliban 12 April launched start of spring offensive “Operation Omeri”, with clashes throughout month further dimming hope of Taliban participation in peace process and contributing to increasingly strained relations between Kabul and Islamabad. In deadliest insurgent attack on Kabul since 2001, Taliban 19 April detonated car bomb and launched gun attack on National Directorate of Security office killing 64; CEO Abdullah Abdullah postponed Pakistan trip following attack. U.S. special envoy 10 April encouraged Pakistan to use influence to bring Taliban to negotiations. Govt 11 April said Taliban should join peace talks or face military action by Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) states; 28 April criticised Pakistan for reportedly allowing Taliban delegation visit to Islamabad. Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) insurgent group 2 April said govt elements trying to sabotage peace process, rejected allegations that its talks with High Peace Council (HPC) were aimed at obtaining ministries; 5 April dropped precondition of troop withdrawal, 18 April insisted on removal of leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s name from UN and U.S. blacklists. President Ghani 4 April said govt facing threats from al-Qaeda, Islamic State (IS), Taliban; acting defence minister warned al-Qaeda expanding. Taliban resumed attacks on police check points in Dand-e-Shahabuddin area, Baghlan province; five militants and two security forces killed 4-5 April. At least 45 IS loyalists reported killed in Nangarhar province by Afghan National Security Forces and U.S. drone strike 5-6 April. Dozens killed in other attacks during month, including twelve army recruits killed in 11 April suicide attack in Jalalabad; at least seven killed in suicide attacks in Parwan and Kandahar provinces 5-6 April. U.S. 29 April released report detailing events of 2015 Kunduz hospital bombing.
| 1 Apr 2016
Taliban 5 March announced it would not participate in direct talks with govt until all preconditions have been met, including foreign troop withdrawal, release of Taliban prisoners, removal of Taliban names from UN sanctions list. President Ghani addressing parliament next day warned Taliban must “choose whether they want peace or war”. Hizb-e-Islami insurgent group representatives 17 March met with High Peace Council, maintained demands for foreign troop withdrawal and “establishment of legitimate Islamic system”. Ghani 5 March issued long-awaited constitutional decree on electoral reform to enable release of international financial assistance urgently needed for elections to be held in Oct. Afghan and Pakistani border forces 6 March exchanged mortar and rocket fire across border in Nangarhar province. Clashes between rival Taliban factions led by Mullah Akhtar Mansour and Mullah Mohammad Rasool in Herat’s Shindbad district 10 March reportedly resulted in 100 deaths. Over a dozen security forces killed in clash with Taliban in Uruzgan province in south 29 March; two police and several insurgents reported killed in fighting in Balkh province in north 30 March; Herat provincial officials reported some 100 militants killed during security operation to regain control of Shindand district late month. Thirteen Taliban killed 23 March in Ghazni province during clash with security forces. Multiple suicide attacks included: attack near Indian consulate in Jalalabad 2 March killing two; attack in Kabul 5 March reportedly killed three people. In Helmand province, ten Taliban and three police killed in attack on govt buildings 9 March. New commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan 22 March issued formal apology for 2015 Kunduz hospital bombing. UN SRSG Nicholas Haysom 15 March warned UNSC that Afghan govt’s survival in 2016 “will be an achievement”.
| 1 Mar 2016
Fighting continued to worsen ahead of proposed talks between govt and Taliban early March. Officials 20 Feb reported Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) pulled out of Helmand’s Musa Qala district after dozens of police and soldiers were killed across province mid-month. Several police killed in heavy fighting in Sangin district 14 Feb. Badakhshan provincial governor 18 Feb reported Jurm and Yamgan districts completely under Taliban control. MPs from Baghlan province 3 Feb said Sept 2015 deal between Dand-e-Ghori regional govt and Taliban led to increased insecurity in N Afghanistan and Baghlan. CEO Abdullah 5 Feb said continued NATO troop support for ANSF essential. U.S. National Intelligence Director 10 Feb warned Afghanistan at “serious risk of political breakdown” in 2016; UN 14 Feb reported 2015 saw highest number of civilian casualties recorded since 2009. Taliban splinter group 6 Feb released video calling new Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour puppet of Pakistani intelligence agency, declared nationwide military campaign against Mansour. Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and U.S. met in Islamabad 6 Feb, discussed Afghan peace process; Afghan officials 23 Feb said govt expects to meet with Taliban early March. At least 26 people killed in two separate suicide bombings 27 Feb in Kumar province and Kabul; Taliban claimed responsibility for Kabul attack. Five ICRC staff kidnapped 16 Feb in Ghazni province, released three days later. President Ghani 9 Feb approved mass media law seeking to promote freedom of speech, but prohibiting content contrary to Islam, offensive to other religions, or defamatory.
| 1 Feb 2016
Afghan, Pakistani, U.S., Chinese delegates met in Islamabad 11 Jan and Kabul 18 Jan to discuss mechanisms for reviving talks with Taliban, following late Dec meeting between President Ghani and Pakistani army chief. CEO Abdullah’s deputy spokesman said Pakistani officials had pledged to provide Kabul with list of Taliban leaders willing to negotiate, and that Islamabad had agreed to cut off financial support to Taliban. Nangarhar governor 12 Jan said twelve-member Taliban group joined govt-initiated peace process in his province. Independent Election Commission 18 Jan announced long-delayed parliamentary and district council elections to be held 15 Oct; CEO Abdullah’s deputy spokesman called decision illegitimate. Rival Taliban factions reportedly agreed to end violent infighting 1 Jan. Insurgents continued to made gains in south and north, as heavy fighting continued in Helmand, Takhar and elsewhere. Unidentified gunmen 4 Jan attacked Indian consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh province; three insurgents and one police killed. One U.S. soldier killed by Taliban in Marjah, Helmand 5 Jan; U.S. conducted airstrikes in area 6 Jan. Seven journalists killed in Taliban suicide car bomb attack in Kabul 20 Jan. Helmand police chief claimed around 120 Taliban insurgents killed 4-6 Jan in Marjah. Taliban and Islamic State (IS) clashed in Batikot and Chaparhar of Nangarhar province early Jan, dozens killed. Suicide attack on Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad 13 Jan killed seven police, IS claimed responsibility. U.S. 21 Jan said military authorised to target IS in Afghanistan. Security officials 2 Jan reported ten-day operation against IS in Nangarhar killed 150 fighters. Suicide bomber 17 Jan killed at least thirteen at home of tribal elder in Jalalabad.
| 4 Jan 2016
Fighting raged between govt forces and Taliban in Helmand province. Deputy governor of Helmand 20 Dec said province “on the brink” of Taliban takeover; also reported Taliban had taken control of Sangin district. UK 22 Dec announced deployment of troops to Helmand in advisory role, U.S. 23 Dec launched airstrikes in Sangin district. Taliban 8-9 Dec attacked airport and military base in Kandahar, leaving over 40 killed; 11-12 Dec attacked Spanish embassy guesthouse, killing two Spanish security officials, four police. Six U.S. troops killed by suicide bomber near Bagram air base 21 Dec; three rockets hit govt area of Kabul same day. New Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour reportedly wounded in argument with rival commanders in Quetta, Pakistan 2 Dec; Taliban denied, released audio message reportedly of Mansour 5 Dec. Clashes reported between Taliban factions in Shindand district 8 Dec, at least 54 reported killed. Senior U.S. commander Gen. John Campbell 15 Dec warned of Islamic State activity in Jalalabad, Nangarhar; Attending “Heart of Asia” conference in Islamabad 8-9 Dec, President Ghani appealed to neighbours to help contain terrorism. Meeting in Paris 1 Dec, Ghani and Pakistani PM Sharif agreed to resume talks with Taliban. National Directorate of Security chief resigned 10 Dec over disagreement with Ghani on forging closer ties with Pakistan. Pakistan army chief Raheel Sharif held talks in Kabul on ways to revive talks with Taliban 27 Dec. One killed, thirteen wounded in Kabul suicide attack 28 Dec. Ghani pledged to hold parliamentary and district council elections in 2016. First new opposition party in fourteen years “Council of Protection and Stability in Afghanistan” formed 18 Dec.
| 1 Dec 2015
As Taliban infighting continued over opposition among many high-ranking members to Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Mansour as new leader, prominent commanders 2 Nov created new faction headed by Mullah Mohammed Rasool Akhund, representing first formal split in movement. Clashes between rival factions broke out in Zabul province early Nov, killing 100 from both sides. Mansour 24 Nov appointed new head of Taliban political office in Qatar. President Ghani and Pakistani PM Sharif met in Paris 30 Nov to discuss ways to revive peace talks with Taliban, improve relations. Amid ongoing fighting between Afghan forces and Taliban, Badakhshan provincial official 18 Nov reported Taliban insurgents attacked and took control of parts of Yamgan district. 88 killed in fighting between Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and Taliban in Sangin district, Nangarhar 14 Nov; at least 65 ANA soldiers reportedly surrendered and defected to Taliban. Two Afghan soldiers and a foreign national killed, eighteen captured by Taliban following helicopter crash in Faryab province 24 Nov. Kunduz military commander 16 Nov said Afghan forces had made major gains against insurgents in Dasht-e-Archi district. Nangarhar province officials 5 Nov claimed at least 26 IS fighters killed during Afghan/U.S. military operation in Achin district. Ethnic Hazara protests reportedly numbering some 10,000 broke out in Kabul and other cities demanding justice and improved security following beheadings by Islamist militants 8 Nov of seven Hazara hostages in Jaghori district including three women and a nine-year-old girl. Unidentified gunmen 21 Nov kidnapped fourteen bus passengers, reportedly Hazaras. U.S. military inquiry 25 Nov determined “human error” behind 3 Oct airstrike on Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, with hospital mistaken for nearby Taliban-held govt building; MSF said investigation needed. NGO Democracy Watch Afghanistan 2 Nov warned against splitting election commission between loyalists of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah; also warned delays in parliamentary elections would undermine stability.
| 2 Nov 2015
Taliban 13 Oct withdrew from Kunduz city amid counteroffensive by Afghan forces, U.S airstrikes and Special Forces on the ground; in two weeks following 28 Sept capture of city, Taliban reportedly destroyed govt offices and facilities, seized military hardware, attacked opponents, freed inmates from two prisons. During operations to help Afghan forces retake city, U.S. airstrike 3 Oct hit Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital, killing at least 22; MSF condemned incident as “blatant breach of international humanitarian law”, called for independent investigation. Senior U.S. commander Gen. John Campbell called attack “a mistake”, President Obama 7 Oct issued apology, promised investigation. Obama 15 Oct announced U.S. to halt withdrawal of troops, with current 9,800 remaining through most of 2016, reducing to around 5,500 by end of 2016; NATO countries including Germany, Turkey, UK and Italy announced they will also remain in Afghanistan. Gen. Campbell 30 Oct reported multi-day operation including airstrikes early month in Kandahar targeted “probably the largest” al-Qaeda training camp discovered since 2001. Head of lower house Mirdad Nejrabi 18 Oct attributed Taliban capture of Kunduz to intelligence failures, Taliban infiltration into security forces. President Ghani 3 Oct rejected call from former mujihadin leaders and political leaders for govt to provide framework for using non-state militias against Taliban. Renewed clashes between Afghan govt forces and Taliban, including in Northern provinces Baghlan, Takhar, Faryab; fighting also reported between Taliban and govt forces in Helmand’s provincial capital Lashkar Gah, and in Herat, Uruzgan and Ghazni provinces. Taliban 14 Oct claimed control of Faryab province’s Bala Baluk district, local officials denied. Border police 5 Oct reported 25 border police killed during clashes in eastern Nangarhar province, 268 Islamic State casualties. Interior Ministry 8 Oct reported over 5,600 Taliban and over 2,100 police killed in clashes during last six months. Former National Directorate of Security chief 7 Oct urged UN to investigate Taliban crimes against humanity. Earthquake hit north 26 Oct, killing around 400, mostly in Pakistan; Taliban 28 Oct reportedly took control of Darqand district in Takhar province, on border with Tajikistan.
| 1 Oct 2015
Taliban seized control of northern city Kunduz after launching attack 28 Sept; as fighting raged between insurgents and govt forces seeking to regain city with assistance from U.S. airstrikes and German military advisors, MPs called for resignation of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah. Govt counter-offensive drove back Taliban from Kunduz airport, where some 5,000 troops awaited reinforcements. Taliban issued statement 16 Sept claiming former leader Mullah Omar’s family had pledged allegiance to new leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Mansour, in attempt to reduce worsening internal clashes following 29 July announcement of Mullah Omar’s death and his hasty replacement by Mullah Akhtar Mansour. Some Taliban remain opposed to Mansour’s leadership, claim Pakistan’s military intelligence agency was behind selection. Representatives of 60 donor countries attending Kabul summit 5 Sept pledged continued support for Afghanistan, conditional on key reforms ahead of planned donor meetings in Brussels and Warsaw in 2016. Members of lower house 16 Sept said Electoral Reform Commission (ERC)’s work incomplete, called for computerised identity cards to enable transparent elections. Earlier in month, security official 7 Sept said operation in central Logar province resulted in deaths of 70 Taliban, four soldiers, many civilians. Taliban reportedly attacked village in Nangarhar province 8 Sept, captured several civilians as the insurgents searched for Islamic State (IS) fighters. Local official 10 Sept said IS running three private jails in Achin district of eastern Nangarhar province, holding 127 people, including nineteen soldiers. Taliban 14 Sept attacked Ghazni city prison and freed over 400 prisoners; four police killed. At least 300 IS fighters reportedly attacked checkpoints in Nangarhar province in east 27 Sept.
| 1 Sep 2015
Spate of insurgent attacks targeted Kabul, including bombings 7 Aug inflicting over 350 casualties, 50 killed. Govt blamed Pakistan for violence, claiming some bombs used military-grade explosives; senior delegation visited Islamabad 13 Aug for tense meetings with Pakistani officials about Kabul attacks. Acting defence minister 18 Aug said Pakistan had declared war against Afghanistan. Both sides also accused each other of initiating cross-border artillery exchanges: Afghanistan claimed eight security personnel killed in Kunar province, Pakistan accused Afghan forces of killing three paramilitaries, later in month said militants firing from Afghan territory killed four Pakistani soldiers. Govt 19 Aug lodged formal complaint with Pakistan’s ambassador, Pakistan 20 Aug summoned Afghan ambassador. Amid increased tensions with Pakistan and Taliban leadership struggle following disclosure of Mullah Omar’s death, fledgling peace process under which Pakistan had planned to host negotiations between Kabul govt and insurgents stalled. Officials 1 Aug reported at least 44 militants killed during clashes with security forces in NW Faryab province. Nangarhar province official 5 Aug reported at least 56 Taliban and Islamic State (IS) fighters killed in drone strikes. Residents of Dasht-e-Archi district, northern Kunduz province 10 Aug said Taliban forcing them to join their ranks, extorting money. Official 16 Aug said militants had blocked main route leading to Shohada district in N Badakhshan district. At least 29 members of pro-govt militia killed in Taliban suicide attack in Kunduz 8 Aug. Taliban 24 Aug captured Helmand’s Musa Qala district HQ; district recaptured by govt forces backed by NATO airstrikes 30 Aug. Two NATO forces killed in Helmand province 26 Aug; twelve people killed in bomb attack on NATO convoy in Kabul 22 Aug.
| 3 Aug 2015
Govt officials met with Taliban leaders outside Islamabad 7 July, marking minor breakthrough in President Ghani’s efforts to restart peace talks. Senior Pakistani official said talks conducted with approval from Taliban leadership, apparently confirmed by 15 July statement signed by Mullah Omar; however, several insurgent commanders expressed scepticism. Second round of talks scheduled for end-July, but Taliban 30 July rejected participation after govt claimed to have “credible information” that Mullah Omar died in April 2013. Ghani facing continued opposition from lawmakers, who 5 July rejected his third nominee for defence minister. Security continued to deteriorate, with unprecedented number of insurgent attacks. Eighteen Afghan Local Police (ALP) members killed 3 July as insurgents overran outposts in Wardak province. In Faryab province hundreds of Taliban reportedly attacked parts of Qaisar, Almar and Pashtun Kot districts, took control of part of Almar district. Taliban reportedly captured Sar-e Pul province’s Kohistanat district late month. Khost provincial officials 12 July reported 27 civilians killed in suicide car bomb outside Khost city. Residents in northern Kunduz province 5 July complained about behaviour of some 7,000 irregular armed militiamen raised to block Taliban in north. Fighting between insurgent groups also reaching unprecedented intensity as Taliban battled self-declared Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) factions in east. Number of U.S. drone attacks doubled in July, with over 100 strikes, most prominently against IS targets. Avowed IS groups reportedly seized control of several Taliban enclaves in Nangarhar province but subsequently lost most to Taliban counter-offensives.
| 1 Jul 2015
Taliban captured and maintained control of district administration centres (DACs) in north for first time since beginning of insurgency, including Yamgan, Chardara and Dashte Archi districts, increasing military pressure on govt positions near Kunduz and underscoring intensity of 2015 fighting season. Afghan security forces fighting to regain lost territory late June, re-captured Yamgan. Interior minister 14 June said foreign militants, having fled Pakistan, infiltrated northern provinces including Baghlan, Takhar, Faryab, Kunduz and Badakhshan. Uruzgan province official 7 June said Taliban had captured twelve security outposts, warned insurgents could take control of entire district; Sar-e Pul province officials 9 June said Taliban captured thirteen villages in Sozma Qala district. At least seventeen police reported killed in Taliban attack on police post in Musa Qala, Helmand 12 June. Eleven soldiers reported killed in clash with militants in Herat 28 June. Suicide car bomb attack in Kabul 30 June killed one civilian. Fighting also reported in east between Taliban and rival insurgent groups swearing allegiance to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL). NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg 25 June said alliance would decide how quickly to scale back Afghan forces training mission in function of their performance during 2015 fighting season. Confirmation hearing of acting Defence Minister Masoom Stanekzai interrupted 22 June by Taliban attack on parliament, killing two and injuring 40. President Ghani 19 June issued decree extending term of parliament, originally set to expire 22 June; new election date yet to be announced. Chairing 1 June Council of Ministers meeting, Abdullah denounced MoU on information sharing/cooperation between National Directorate of Security and Pakistan military’s intelligence agency, implying it would undermine national security. Urging Taliban to agree to ceasefire 17 June, Abdullah said fighting and peace talks could not happen simultaneously. Leaked UN report on police corruption heightened debate over control of donor funds for police salaries, to be transferred to Kabul under 29 June agreement.
| 1 Jun 2015
Tens of thousands fled fighting outside northern provincial capital Kunduz early month amid deteriorating security situation, as govt 7 May launched major counteroffensive against Taliban’s Azm offensive, which was launched late April and quickly advanced on outskirts of Kunduz, routing several hundred Afghan security personnel in three districts. Situation in Kunduz stabilised end-May, but further unrest expected after planned withdrawal of two battalions of Afghan soldiers deployed to counteroffensive. More than two dozen security forces killed in Taliban attacks in Helmand, Paktika and Wardak 25-26 May. Govt organised militias to bolster security in Kunduz and other provinces, raising concerns about irregular/semi-regular forces. Govt worried about risks of district centres falling to insurgency in Kunduz, Badakhshan, Baghlan, Ghor, Badghis, Uruzgan and Helmand provinces, reflecting broad geographic spread and unprecedented intensity of fighting. Insurgents reportedly aided by foreign fighters, including Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). First deputy chief executive Mohammed Khan 3 May warned Lieutenant-General Carsten Jacobson, commander of NATO's Resolute Support mission, that insecurity in north would spread if not contained with active support of international forces. Ministry of Interior 12 May said security forces had regained control of Jawand district of Badghis province, which fell to Taliban 10 May, but many parts of province remain contested. Delegation of Taliban leaders met with govt representatives for informal talks, hosted by Pugwash, 2-3 May in Qatar; participants expressed desire for political solution to conflict, agreed on shared opposition to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL), Taliban reiterated demand for complete withdrawal of international forces. Meeting condemned by Afghan leaders concerned that peace talks would mean surrender; criticism of negotiations intensified after Afghan and Pakistani govts 18 May announced as yet informal intelligence cooperation agreement. NATO 13 May said it will maintain presence in Afghanistan even after current training mission ends late 2016, to “advise and instruct”. Five killed in Taliban attack on Kabul hotel 14 May. Kidnappers 11 May released nineteen of 31 passengers seized in southern Zabul province in Feb, in apparent prisoner swap for Uzbek militants held by Afghan govt.
| 30 Apr 2015
Lower house of parliament 18 April confirmed all President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah’s sixteen ministerial candidates, bringing protracted process of finalising govt formation near completion; defence now only portfolio without minister. Second VP Mohammed Sarwar Danish 1 April announced parliamentary elections scheduled for 2015 would be postponed for a year to allow for electoral reforms. Senate chairman Fazl Hadi Muslimyar 12 April said electoral reform commission illegal, national assembly would have no legal status if parliamentary elections are postponed. MP Ghulam Hussein Nasiri 11 April argued weak govt performance and differences between Ghani and Abdullah had created conditions for rising insecurity and emergence of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) in Afghanistan. 2015 reportedly most violent spring season since 2001. Violence during month included 2 April suicide attack in Khost province killing seventeen; 10 April attack in which insurgents overran army outposts in Badakhshan province, killing at least eighteen soldiers and reportedly beheading some; and 18 April suicide bombing in Jalalabad that killed 38. President Ghani blamed IS for Jalalabad attack; Ministry of Defence spokesperson and NATO officials refuted IS involvement in or support of attack. District police chief in NW province Faryab 9 April said group of insurgents had seized control of three areas, displacing thousands of families.
| 1 Apr 2015
Govt and international backers hopeful of kickstarting peace talks with insurgents: President Ghani's special representative on reforms and good governance 12 March said Taliban had shown willingness to meet officials. Ghani 14 March reportedly visited Riyadh to consult with Saudi govt on potential talks; Pakistan and China also reportedly taking steps to facilitate process. Taliban deny taking part in negotiations. Ghani visited U.S. late month, addressed Congress; President Obama 24 March announced U.S. will slow withdrawal of troops, to train and assist Afghan forces in face of increased Taliban aggression: will maintain 9,800 troops till year-end, stick to 2017 exit plan. Series of kidnappings targeting Hazaras raised concerns about sectarian conflict and extremist groups claiming to have connections with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL). Zabul province’s police chief 3 March said at least 60 militants killed/wounded in operations to rescue 31 Hazaras kidnapped 26 Feb. Other insurgent attacks included: over a dozen killed in/around Lashkar Gar 10, 18 March; at least seven police killed in Kunduz province ambush 12 March; gunmen shot dead at least thirteen on Kabul-Kandahar highway 24 March; nine killed in two suicide attacks in Kabul late March. Govt reported army killed ten insurgents in Helmand 15 March; authorities reported U.S. drone strikes killed twenty Pakistani militants in Nangarhar province late March. Independent Electoral Complaints Commission 1 March said at least 10,000 temporary and twenty permanent officials of Independent Election Commission involved in fraud during 2014 elections. Visiting Indian FM Jaishankar reportedly reiterated plans to develop mineral resources. Deputy chairman of High Peace Council 11 March complained body being sidelined by presidential palace amid preparations for peace talks with insurgents.
| 2 Mar 2015
Delay in forming new unity cabinet continued, paralysing parts of administration and reducing customs revenue representing key source of govt income. New Interior Minister Nur-ul-Haq Ulumi early Feb travelled to outlying provinces to review security situation following parliament’s rejection of President Ghani’s defence minister nominee; Ulumi 14 Feb promised reform to stem rising police combat deaths. President Ghani 4 Feb threatened to fire any defence officials not ensuring weapons supplies and logistical support for soldiers, reflecting widespread concerns about lack of battlefield supplies. Govt forces mid-month launched major operation against insurgents in Helmand province. Turkish soldier killed in Taliban suicide attack on NATO vehicle in Kabul 26 Feb. Pakistani military officials 18 Feb claimed Taliban ready to begin peace talks with Kabul as early as March. UN 18 Feb reported 25% increase in civilian deaths in 2014 over 2013; ICRC reported collecting twice as many bodies from battlefield in 2014 than 2013.
| 2 Feb 2015
Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) 1 Jan assumed formal responsibility for all combat missions following conclusion of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission and its transition into follow-up mission “Resolute Support”. President Ghani 12 Jan announced cabinet nominees after months of delay; proposed cabinet seen as implying reduced influence of former mujahidin figures, increasing influence of former members of Soviet-backed govt. Several candidates mid-month withdrew nominations, some claimed parliamentarians demanded bribes or jobs for constituents in exchange for approval. Eight nominees approved by parliament late Jan including for interior, foreign affairs and finance ministries; approval process expected to continue into Feb. Violence continued across country including Taliban deputy shadow governor for Kapisa province reported killed 15 Jan. Army commander 18 Jan confirmed some insurgent factions swore allegiance to jihadi group Islamic State; observers estimated factions only loosely affiliated with militants in Iraq and Syria, play limited role in insurgency.
| 5 Jan 2015
Unprecedented wave of insurgent attacks continued in Kabul, raising concerns over viability of new govt: suicide bomber 11 Dec killed German citizen, mortally wounded Afghan journalist at French cultural institute; suicide bombers killed at least thirteen Afghan troops in attacks on military transport vehicles 11 and 13 Dec; two NATO troops killed in suicide bombing outside Bagram airbase north of Kabul 12 Dec. UN 20 Dec said record number of civilians killed in 2014: death toll up 19% by late Nov compared to 2013. U.S. Sec Defence Hagel 6 Dec announced 1,000 additional U.S. troops to remain in country past 2014, raising total to 10,800. Delay in naming new cabinet persisted, indicating continued tensions between supporters of President Ghani and govt “chief executive” Abdullah. Two Taliban leaders reported killed in Baraki Barak district, Logar province 7 Dec; militants next day killed eleven when storming administration complex in Kandahar’s Maiwand district. Security forces mid-Dec began operation in eastern border areas after Pakistani army requested help targeting Pakistani Taliban (TTP) hideouts in response to deadly mid-Dec TTP attack on Peshawar school (see Pakistan); four TTP militants, seven others reported killed in U.S. drone strike 16 Dec.
| 1 Dec 2014
Month saw series of Taliban attacks on foreign targets in Kabul: seven killed, including one Briton, in attacks on UK embassy vehicle, foreign compound 27 Nov; three South Africans killed in attack on foreign guest house next day; four suicide bombers killed 19 Nov in attack on “Green Village” international zone. President Ghani 30 Nov dismissed caretaker govt amid continued delay in formation of new unity cabinet, reflecting difficulty of reaching compromise between opposing factions supporting Ghani and govt “chief executive” Abdullah. Ghani, Abdullah continued to insist on formation of technocratic administration with educated candidates in senior positions despite perceived risks of excluding influential powerbrokers lacking formal education. International donors urged formation of govt before London conference to review funding commitments 5 Dec; several parliamentarians warned delay causing insecurity. Parliament late Nov approved Sept agreements allowing U.S., NATO troops in country beyond 2014. Parliament’s lower house 5 Nov criticised Independent Election Commission (IEC), Independent Electoral Complaint Commission (IECC) for refusing to brief lawmakers on allegations of widespread fraud in provincial council elections; acting Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor 9 Nov accused IEC, IECC of committing fraud, accepting bribes. Violence continued across country including at least 62 reported killed by suicide bomber at volleyball match in Paktika province 23 Nov; thirteen militants reported killed by police 10 Nov in Kunduz province, including Taliban shadow governor for Takhar province.
| 1 Nov 2014
Cohesion of new unity govt remained uncertain following late Sept inauguration of Ashraf Ghani as president, appointment of runner-up Abdullah Abdullah as “chief executive officer”; sides yet to agree on appointments of cabinet members, other key positions. Ghani 1 Oct promised merit-based appointment of governors, mid-Oct promised same for senior military officials. Police 11 Oct arrested seven in connection with 2010 Kabul Bank collapse after Ghani instructed attorney general’s office to reopen investigation; special tribunal formed 29 Oct to review case. Head of Independent Electoral Complaint Commission (IECC) 9 Oct described holding presidential and provincial council elections simultaneously as failure, suggested future rounds should be separate. Independent Election Commission (IEC) 10 Oct confirmed receiving IECC’s decision on final results of provincial polls, said IECC's ruling needs further clarification. Defence ministry late Oct reported 23% increase in casualties among soldiers, police over past six months, making 2014 deadliest year since U.S.-led invasion. Violence continued across country including: seven killed in twin Taliban suicide bombings in Kabul 1 Oct; Taliban next day claimed control of Registan district, Kandahar province; scores of Taliban, govt forces reported killed in clashes in Sar-e Pul province 13 Oct.
| 1 Oct 2014
Presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah 21 Sept signed agreement on unity govt: Ghani to assume presidency, Abdullah new position of chief executive officer. Independent Election Commission (IEC) same day declared Ghani winner of June run-off vote, said no formal result will be announced. Ghani, Abdullah inaugurated 29 Sept; new govt next day signed long-delayed Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with U.S.. Deal followed pressure from international donors for negotiated settlement rather than outright victory partly due to threats of violence from Abdullah’s supporters and flawed ballot audit. Members of parliament’s lower house 8 Sept urged candidates to end electoral crisis citing economic and security implications of continued deadlock; Balkh provincial governor and prominent Abdullah supporter Atta Mohammed Noor 11 Sept accused President Karzai of colluding with IEC and Ghani in rigging vote, said unwilling to accept govt elected through fraud. Independent Electoral Complaint Commission (IECC) 15 Sept announced 1,683 of 2,200 complaints registered by Abdullah’s team legitimate; finding not enough to put Abdullah in lead. Violence intensified with months-long political deadlock boosting insurgency: attacks escalated over past months despite previous years seeing decrease in late summer. Interior ministry 1 Sept reported at least 41 Taliban killed across country; officials 4 Sept claimed 22 insurgents killed in Logar province, Taliban said dozens of police killed or injured; at least 48 insurgents reported killed in Balkh province 7 Sept. Taliban fighters 14 Sept entered main bazaar, attacked administrative HQ in Helmand’s Sangin district; local officials warned district could fall to insurgents. Similar warnings from Ghazni officials after more than 100 reported killed in Ajrestan district during late-month Taliban assault. Seven killed in Taliban suicide attack near Kabul airport on inauguration day 29 Sept.
| 1 Sep 2014
Election stalemate continued despite U.S. Sec State Kerry early Aug persuading presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani to sign statement pledging support for outcome of ongoing ballot audit process, renewing commitment to July political deal; Ghani campaign days later expressed doubt about power-sharing aspects of deal, Abdullah-supporter Balkh Governor Atta Mohammed Noor warned of possible civil uprisings. Abdullah 27 Aug boycotted audit protesting process for invalidating votes; pledged to rejoin if demands met in talks with UN. Security forces 11 Aug started disarming armed groups in central Parwan province, stronghold of Abdullah support. Economic effect of political deadlock underscored by govt’s 17 Aug announcement of at least 50% decline in revenue since first election round in April. Pakistani newspaper 4 Aug reported Hezb-e-Islami insurgent faction negotiated joining new govt with Abdullah, Ghani; both candidates denied claim. Ministry of Defence 17 Aug rejected talks with Taliban, disavowing statement by special forces commander in Helmand announcing pursuit of local deal with insurgents. Kandahar chief of police, Brigadier-General Abdul Raziq, 7 Aug said 171 insurgents killed in recent operations, Taliban suspects killed rather than captured. Nangarhar province security officials 14 Aug claimed 145 Taliban killed in operation, including 23 Pakistanis.
| 1 Aug 2014
Election crisis deepened after presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah rejected preliminary results of second round of voting, announced by Independent Election Commission 7 July: former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani received 56.4%, Abdullah 43.6%. Abdullah’s supporters next day urged him to declare parallel govt. U.S. Sec State Kerry 11-12 July met candidates, agreement reached on 8-point technical framework for auditing all ballot boxes. Audit began 17 July, complicated by delays, procedural disagreements between candidates; postponed 26 July until early Aug. Agreement also reached on political plan for national unity govt with representatives of losing team in key positions; details, including possibly including revived slot of PM, still to be settled. Violence continued across country including: 8 air force personnel reported killed in suicide bombing 2 July in Kabul; 4 insurgents killed in suicide attack on Kabul airport 17 July; suicide bomber 22 July killed 4, including 3 foreign advisors, outside airport. At least 14 Taliban reported killed 5 July after storming security base in north-eastern Badakhshan province; 5 NATO troops among 16 killed in 8 July suicide attack in eastern province of Parwan; at least 28, mostly insurgents, killed 9 July in attacks on governor’s house, police HQ in Kandahar.
| 1 Jul 2014
Political crisis ignited by dispute over result of 14 June runoff presidential vote: leaked, unconfirmed results suggested former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani won 59%, first-round winner and opponent of President Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah, took 41%; IEC claimed more than 7 million participated despite reports of turnout being lower than during first round in April. Abdullah threatened to reject result: alleged 1 million fraudulent ballots counted, 18 June requested Independent Election Commission (IEC) stop vote-counting, executive director Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhil be suspended; next day rejected IEC’s legitimacy, accused President Karzai of engineering post-election “stalemate”. Several pro-Abdullah street protests late month. Amarkhil 23 June resigned; Abdullah responded by declaring openness to talks with IEC but persisted with demands for overhaul of fraud adjudication process; IEC 29 June rejected demands. Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan 12 June alleged govt resources used by both candidates during campaign. 33 civilians, 18 Afghan National Army soldiers and 14 Afghan National Police killed in election-day violence. Abdullah 6 June survived assassination attempt, 12 others killed when bomb attack targeted convoy after Kabul campaign rally; at least 28 insurgents reported killed by security forces 1 June; scores reported killed in coordinated Taliban assault across Helmand province late month.
| 1 Jun 2014
Final results from April presidential election announced 15 May: former FM Abdullah Abdullah won 45%, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani second with 31.6%; second round runoff scheduled for 14 June. Western observers estimated fraud tainted 8-9% of votes, down from 25% in 2009. Independent Election Commission dismissed over 5,000 staff over fraud allegations, announced plans for thousands of additional polling stations in populated areas; observers raised concern about security forces’ ability to protect additional sites. Violence continued including: 13 killed in Taliban attack on Nangarhar provincial justice department 12 May; security forces next day killed senior Taliban member Mullah Abid Rahmani in Zabul Province; militants 23 May attacked Indian consulate in Herat, 3 assailants killed; suicide bomber 26 May killed at least 2 Afghan soldiers in Kabul. U.S. President Obama 27 May announced plans for 9,800 troops to stay after end-2014 expiry of NATO mandate, to be largely withdrawn over 2 years.
| 1 May 2014
Millions voted in presidential and provincial council elections 5 April; early reports suggest fewer irregularities than previous polls. Insurgent attacks remained near seasonal levels in south and west, but escalated sharply in east making 5 April most violent election day so far; absence of high-profile attacks in urban areas and self-censorship by Afghan media gave appearance of peaceful voting day. Taliban mainly targeted Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) guarding voters and polling sites, few reports of direct interference with electoral process. Several polling sites closed due to security threats, mainly in rural areas. Preliminary result announced 26 April: former FM Abdullah Abdullah led with 44.9%, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani second with 31.5%. Several deadly incidents before and after election day: 17 Taliban reported killed in airstrike 8 April, subsequent reports suggested 11 children also killed; 3 Americans killed by security guard at Kabul hospital 24 April. Large attack on army base in SE reportedly repelled late month, 60 militants killed.
| 1 Apr 2014
Insurgent attacks continued ahead of 5
April presidential polls: Taliban 10 March threatened to “use all force” to
disrupt polls, warned Afghans not to vote; official 12 March reported 3
campaign workers shot dead; Taliban 20 March attacked Serena hotel in Kabul,
killed 9 including 1 international election observer; 2 foreign election
observation missions pulled out staff. Taliban attack killed 11 police in
Jalalabad 20 March. Taliban 25 March attacked Independent Election Commission
(IEC) office in Kabul,
killing 5, and IEC HQ 29 March; security forces killed at least 4 attackers.
President Karzai announced support for former FM Zalmai Rassoul in elections
after brother Qayum Karzai withdrew 6 March. Former Defence Minister Abdul
Rahim Wardak also pulled out 16 March. Karzai 12 March reiterated opposition to
signing Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with U.S. before elections, said country
does not need troops. Govt 20 March released another 55 detainees from Bagram
prison. 6 March NATO air strike accidently killed at least 5 Afghan soldiers,
injured 8 in eastern Logar province. Anti-insurgency operations continued: 16
insurgents killed 14 March; govt 3 March said Taliban insurgents driven from
strongholds in Helmand province.
| 1 Mar 2014
Presidential election campaign began 2 Feb, first televised debate held 4 Feb with 5 out of 11 candidates. Taliban 18 Feb attacked presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah’s convoy in Surobi, Kabul; 2 elections campaigners killed in Herat 1 Feb. Govt 13 Feb released 65 Bagram prison detainees despite U.S. objections; President Karzai accused U.S. of not respecting Afghan sovereignty. Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with U.S. still unsigned; NATO Sec Gen 20 Feb said Karzai’s successor likely to sign deal. U.S. President Obama 25 Feb informed Karzai plans underway for full U.S. troop withdrawal by end 2014; NATO 27 Feb agreed to plan for all options, including full withdrawal. Hezb-i-Islami suicide bomb attack in Kabul killed 2 NATO contractors 10 Feb; 2 U.S. troops killed, 4 injured 12 Feb in attack in E Kapisa province. Roadside bomb 9 Feb killed 7 Afghan soldiers in Farah province. Taliban killed 21 Afghan soldiers, kidnapped 7 after storming army outpost in Kunar 24 Jan. Karzai 17 Feb ordered last-minute changes to domestic abuse law after pressure from Western, Afghan women’s rights activists.
| 1 Feb 2014
Taliban attack on restaurant in Kabul 17 Jan killed at least 21, including 13 foreigners, among them IMF country head and 4 UN staff members, in worst attack on foreign civilians since 2001. Taliban attacks continued: suicide bombers 4 Jan attacked NATO HQ in Shinwar district, killed 1; assault on NATO base outside Kandahar 20 Jan killed 1; suicide bomber detonated bomb next to police bus in Kabul 12 Jan, injuring 6 police. National Directorate of Security 8 Jan reportedly averted assassination attempt on deputy director, arrested 3 suspects. Internal political pressure on President Karzai to sign Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with U.S. continued; tensions between U.S. and Afghanistan increased 25 Jan when Karzai said would not sign deal unless peace talks with Taliban restarted. Karzai 9 Jan defied U.S. by authorising release of 72 prisoners from former U.S.-run Bagram prison.
| 2 Jan 2014
President Karzai continued to refuse to sign Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with U.S.; Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of Hezb-e-Islami insurgent faction, said group would stop fighting if Karzai continues to refuse to sign. Several leading political figures, civil society groups urged Karzai to sign BSA quickly. Pakistan National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz 15 Dec said Taliban not ready for talks with Afghan High Peace Council, emphasised need for informal discussions. Leading presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah 14 Dec accused certain groups of stoking linguistic, ethnic and sectarian tensions. Security services 10 Dec said it had foiled 9 coordinated explosions in Kabul, detained 22 Haqqani militants. Hundreds protested 11 Dec in Kabul on “National Victims’ Day”, called for justice for war criminals, criticised NATO and U.S. forces for civilian deaths.
| 1 Dec 2013
Politicians, elders, scholars and other leading figures gathered 19-24 Nov for Loya Jirga (traditional council), endorsed Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with U.S.; President Karzai 24 Nov said will not sign deal into law until after 5 April presidential polls, but later backtracked, leaving his intentions unclear. Karzai 28 Nov condemned NATO airstrike in Helmand province that reportedly killed child, said will not sign BSA if killings continue; NATO apologised 29 Nov. Insurgent attacks continued: uptick in explosions, suicide attacks to coincide with Loya Jirga including at least 6 killed 17 Nov in explosion in central Kabul. Intelligence services 7 Nov reportedly foiled suicide attack on senior govt official in Kabul. Security forces 3 Nov seized some 50 tonnes of explosives in Paktia province. Pakistan PM Sharif visited 30 Nov, discussed peace efforts, bilateral relations. Independent Electoral Complaints Commission 19 Nov said only one disqualified presidential candidate, Daud Siltanzoi, reinstated to final list.
| 1 Nov 2013
Independent Election Commission 22 Oct announced 16 of 27 presidential candidates disqualified. U.S. Sec State Kerry visited 11 Oct, discussed with President Karzai bilateral security agreement setting out plan for some U.S. troops to remain after 2014 NATO withdrawal; agreed remaining U.S. troops would not conduct unilateral operations, could not agree on immunity for U.S. soldiers. Foreign ministry 27 Oct urged Pakistan to facilitate direct talks with deputy Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, reportedly recently freed to encourage Afghan peace process; govt 29 Oct announced meeting with Baradar agreed during London talks. Senior Pakistani Taliban commander Latif Mehsud reportedly seized 12 Oct by U.S. forces in East. Logar province governor and close Karzai ally Arsallah Jamal killed, 15 wounded in bomb attack on mosque 15 Oct. Roadside bomb killed 18 civilians on way to wedding in east 27 Oct; 3 killed, 15 injured 29 Oct in Quetta bombing. 4 coalition soldiers killed 6 Oct during operation in Zhari district, Kandahar province; suicide bomber 18 Oct attacked Green Village foreign compound on outskirts of Kabul.
| 1 Oct 2013
Preparations for 2014 polls continue: parliamentarians from eastern provinces 9 Sept announced formation of alliance ahead of presidential elections, did not name candidate. New Harakat-e-Milli (National Movement) party emerged 4 Sept. Former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani 30 Sept announced candidacy. Head of Independent Election Commission (IEC) secretariat 3 Sept said half of Afghanistan’s voting centres seriously vulnerable after opposition expressed concerns about security in run-up to polls. Pakistan 7 Sept released 7 Afghan Taliban detainees, ostensibly to advance peace process, but did not hand them over to Afghan authorities; political opposition, civil society expressed concerns released detainees will rejoin insurgency; senior Taliban leader Mullah Baradar released from custody 21 Sept, reportedly to safe house in Karachi. Foreign ministry official 1 Sept said several Taliban leaders in secret talks with govt. 22 insurgents killed 8 Sept in Wardoj district, Badakhshan province; National Security Forces 17 Sept announced Wardoj cleared of insurgents. 18 insurgents reportedly killed 11 Sept in Helmand, 2 Taliban commanders arrested and weapons seized. Insurgents 2 Sept attacked U.S. base in Nangarhar province, 13 Sept attacked U.S. consulate in Herat killing 10 and injuring 30; 4 Afghan soldiers injured 10 Sept in suicide bomb attack on military installation in Logar province.
| 1 Sep 2013
Negotiations intensified ahead of Sept opening of presidential nominations for 2014 polls as parties discussed coalition-forming and selection of candidates: Hezb-e-Wahdat Islami party, headed by 2nd VP Karim Khalili, and party’s political arm, led by Minister of Economy Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, agreed to support single unnamed candidate in 2014 polls; Omar Daudzai, ambassador to Pakistan, 17 Aug announced intention to run; President Karzai 24 Aug denied reports he suggested candidacy of Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, former mujahidin leader accused of human rights violations. UN SRSG Jan Kubiš 27 Aug said “encouraged” by progress following meeting with elections commission (IEC) chairman. Opposition parties 7 Aug expressed concern over Strategic Cooperation Agreement between Afghanistan and Iran. Major offensives in eastern districts continued: defence ministry 9 Aug said nearly 200 insurgents and some dozen Afghan troops killed in operation in Azra district, Logar province. National Directorate of Security (NDS) 4 Aug said 52 Pakistani insurgents arrested in previous 4 months. Taliban attacks continued including: bombing of army base in eastern province Kapisa 26 Aug killing 1 soldier, 5 Taliban killed in ensuing firefight; 6 govt workers executed by Taliban in Herat 27 Aug; 15 police killed 28 Aug in Farah province; district governor killed 30 Aug in Kunduz. NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. Joseph Dunford 14 Aug said Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) able to independently maintain security for 2014 polls, 2014 fighting season.
| 1 Aug 2013
Insecurity continued ahead of 2014 NATO withdrawal and election, including series of bombings in south 20 July that killed at least 15. Interior ministry 1 July announced police death tolls rising, 300 police killed in June. UN 31 July reported nearly 25% rise in civilian casualties in 2013. Govt said some 29 Taliban militants killed 19-20 July in military operations, 29 July said 83 militants killed in week-long operation in east. President’s National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta 5 July defended govt decision to suspend talks with U.S. on Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), said talks meaningless without shared view on peace strategy. Several political parties including Rights and Justice Party, Afghan Millat and National Coalition of Afghanistan 10 July raised doubts over President Karzai’s decision to call consultative “Jirga” on BSA. Hundreds attended rally in Ghor province 14 July, called on govt to sign BSA amid rumours U.S. considering fast-tracked full pull-out. Karzai 8 July called for Taliban to renew peace talks, renounce war during Ramadan. Karzai 17 July signed law establishing roles of Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), 20 July signed law setting out April 2014 elections procedures, 29 July appointed 9 new members to IEC.
| 1 Jul 2013
Militant attacks continued including attack on presidential palace in Kabul 25 June, Taliban ambush 27 June that killed 5 police in Herat. Afghan security forces officially took lead on all military operations 18 June; govt 23 June said 38 militants killed in military operations 22-23 June, 30 June said over 100 killed in military operations in Nangarhar province. Taliban 18 June held press conference, flag-raising ceremony in Qatar to mark reopening of office there; Kabul condemned move, said U.S. had assured Afghan govt that Taliban office would not have embassy trappings; govt 19 June suspended Bilateral Security Agreement talks with U.S. in protest. VP Fahim 11 June said govt ready to negotiate settlement to Durand Line dispute with Pakistan. President Karzai 17 June said Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies using extremist proxies to destabilise Afghanistan, 29 June accused other countries including Pakistan of seeking to divide Afghanistan into “fiefdoms”. Key opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah 6 June accused govt of trying to rig April 2014 presidential elections.
| 1 Jun 2013
Security situation continued to deteriorate, including up to 10 killed when police opened fire on protesters in Kandahar province 9 May; suicide bombing in Baghlan province 20 May that killed chief of provincial council and 12 others; 13 killed 16 May in suicide bombing targeting NATO convoy in Kabul; 7 police killed 28 May by colleagues in Kandahar; suicide bombing by Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Taliban in Panjshir valley targeting governor’s compound 29 May. Taliban 24 May launched 5-hour attack on International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Kabul killing 3 and wounding 3; 29 May attacked ICRC compound. Taliban leader Mullah Agha Jan Mutasim 14 May called on U.S. to support peace process, warned of renewed instability if parties do not agree on reconciliation talks. Defence Ministry 1 May said Afghan forces will take lead in all military operations in coming 2 months. Opposition 1 May accused President Karzai of interfering in elections through changes to law governing elections commission (IEC) and Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), said IEC chairan Fazl Ahmad Manawi weak. IEC voter registration started 26 May. Indian govt delegation visited early May, discussed mining and other issues; Karzai 20-21 May visited India, discussed military and strategic cooperation. Intelligence agency (NDS) 8 May arrested man for plotting assassination of opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah and former VP Ahmad Zia Massoud; NDS reported detainee confessed Pakistan behind plot.
| 1 May 2013
April marked deadliest month of 2013: over 50 killed in Taliban attack on Farah city, Farah province 3 April; 7 killed 15 April by roadside bomb in Herat; 7 killed 13 April in roadside bombing in Zabul province; 3 NATO soldiers killed 30 April by roadside bomb in Helmand. Taliban 28 April announced spring offensive. President Karzai 29 April said National Security office received monthly cash payments from U.S. following reports U.S. CIA secretly paid tens of millions of dollars to Karzai over past decade. U.S. diplomat, 4 Americans delivering textbooks to school killed in bomb attack 6 April, Qalat, Zabul province. Up to 11 civilians, including 10 foreigners, abducted 22 April by Taliban in Logar province. 3 policemen killed 28 April in bomb attack in Ghazni province. Talks led by U.S. Sec State Kerry 24 April between Karzai and Pakistan Army chief Kayani in effort to ease bilateral tensions, increase cooperation on promoting reconciliation process with Taliban, produced no substantive results. Elections preparations continued: opposition alliance 9 April boycotted consultative session on appointment of Independent Election Commission (IEC) chief; govt 14 April approved law on structure and authorities of IEC and Electoral Complaints Commission; Wolesi Jirga 22 April approved articles of election law, rejected more proportional voting system.
| 1 Apr 2013
U.S. 9 March cancelled transfer of Bagram prison detainees to Afghan custody citing concerns over most dangerous prisoners; Bagram eventually transferred to Afghan control 25 March during 2-day trip by U.S. Sec State Kerry to discuss bilateral relations. Ulema Council 16 March backed call by President Karzai for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Wardak province following abuse allegations, full transfer of Bagram (in Wardak) to Afghan control; 300 demonstrators protested in Kabul same day against U.S. military presence in Wardak; govt reportedly reached agreement with U.S. forces 20 March on U.S. withdrawal from province, no specifics on timelines. UNSG Ban 19 March called for UN support for stability, peace in Afghanistan, expressed concerns over increased civilian casualties among women and girls. Opposition 18 March claimed talks with Taliban underway. Karzai 10 March said U.S. held talks with Taliban in Qatar; claim rejected by U.S. and Taliban. Karzai 31 March met Qatari leaders in Doha, discussed peace process and bilateral cooperation. Presidential spokesman 18 March said some countries sabotaging peace process, noting that 18 Taliban officials who wanted to join peace process killed or detained in Pakistan in last month. Govt 28 March cancelled military visit to Pakistan in protest at “unacceptable Pakistani artillery shelling” across border 25-26 March; Pakistan said army responding to “intrusions” from Afghanistan. Kabul Bank former chairman Sherkhan Farnood and former CEO Khalilullah Ferozi sentenced 5 March to 5 years’ prison for corruption; no action taken against Karzai’s brother, Mahmoud Karzai, a major bank shareholder. 7 killed, including 4 family members of Afghan parliament speaker Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi, in suicide bomb attack in Kunduz province 13 March; 5 police killed in attack by 8 suicide bombers on police compound in Jalalabad 26 March. UNSC extended mandate of UNAMA to March 2014.
| 1 Mar 2013
National Security Council 24 Feb ordered all U.S. special forces to leave eastern Wardak and Logar provinces within 2 weeks over allegations of torture, murder in region. NATO and Afghan forces 19 Feb reportedly killed at least 25 insurgents and 3 commanders in joint strikes in south and east. Taliban suicide bombers 24 Feb killed 3 in 3 separate attacks in Logar province and Jalalabad. 20 policemen killed in 2 attacks 27 Feb in SE; 7 police killed 28 Feb by roadside bomb in Kunar province. Security forces 26 Feb said at least 48 militants killed or injured during operation in Herat province. Govt 22 Feb refused Pakistan extradition request for senior Pakistan Taliban leader Maulvi Faqir, arrested in border region mid-month. U.S. President Obama 12 Feb announced 34,000 troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan in next year. UN report said crimes against women and girls increased by 20% in 2012.
| 1 Feb 2013
President Karzai 11 Jan met with U.S. President Obama during 3-day visit to U.S., discussed future bilateral security agreement, transfer of prisoners currently in U.S. custody ahead of third round of security talks late Jan; Obama announced accelerated troop withdrawal to begin spring 2013, said continued U.S. troop presence after 2014 would depend on whether Afghan govt grants immunity from prosecution; Karzai 14 Jan said only Loya Jirga could decide on immunity issue. Parliamentarians 10 Jan warned withdrawal of all troops after 2014 would result in civil war following reports U.S. considering “zero option”. At least 10 security officers killed, 20 injured 26 Jan in suicide bombing in Kunduz; 13, including 11 police, killed in 2 bomb attacks in Kandahar and Helmand provinces 27 Jan. Former foes Ustad Atta Mohammad Noor, governor of Balk province, and Abdul Rashid Dostum, leader of National Front party, met 5 Jan to discuss strengthening relations, 2014 elections.
| 30 Dec 2012
UK PM Cameron 19 Dec announced UK withdrawing 3,800 troops by end of 2013; President Karzai welcomed move, said Afghan security forces ready to take over from NATO. 4 Afghan police shot, 3 wounded 19 Dec in suspected insider attack, Kandahar province. Nadia Sediqqi, acting head of women’s affairs in Laghman province, shot dead 10 Dec. 1 killed, dozens injured 17 Dec in car bomb attack on U.S. military contractor compound in Kabul; 4 killed, 18 injured 13 Dec in Taliban car bomb attack on convoy outside U.S. army base, Kandahar; 4 Afghan soldiers killed, several injured 2 Dec in attack on U.S.-Afghan airbase; 3 killed 26 Dec in car bomb attack on U.S. base in Khost. Afghan security forces clashed with armed militants mid-month in Du-Aab district. U.S. army 19 Dec announced it will seek death penalty against soldier accused of March 2012 village massacre.
| 1 Dec 2012
Govt mid-month welcomed Pakistan’s decision to release several detained Taliban leaders (see Pakistan); FM Zalmai Rasoul 29-30 Nov visited Pakistan, discussed partnership agreement, bilateral cooperation on terrorism, narcotics trade. UNSC 5 Nov added militant Haqqani network to sanctions list. Govt officials 15 Nov began talks with U.S. counterparts on bilateral security accord. Trial of officials charged with involvement in Kabul Bank fraud began 14 Nov. Human rights groups late Nov criticised spate of death penalty executions; 2 people executed over previous 4 years. At least 20, including 12 civilians, killed 8 Nov in 4 separate militant attacks. 17 civilians killed 16 Nov by roadside bomb in Farah Province. 3 killed, at least 90 injured 23 Nov by suicide bomber in Wardak province. 10 killed, 8 wounded 29 Nov by roadside bomb in Oruzgan Province.
| 1 Nov 2012
President Karzai 18 Oct said security forces ready for NATO handover amid rumours of accelerated NATO withdrawal; French FM Fabius 21 Oct said French troop withdrawal may happen “more quickly than anticipated”. Govt 31 Oct announced April 2014 presidential election date. Suicide bomber 26 Oct killed at least 35, wounded dozens attending mosque to celebrate Eid al-Adha holiday in Maymana, Faryab province. 19 wedding attendees killed 19 Oct by roadside bomb in Balkh province. 17 killed 31 Oct in series of roadside bombings in south. Police 23 Oct announced capture of Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Rahman in joint Afghan-NATO operation in Kunduz province. Pakistan FM Khar 21 Oct called on Kabul to arrest, extradite Maulana Fazlullah, Pakistan Taliban leader who claimed responsibility for shooting of teenage activist in Pakistan (see Pakistan); Fazlullah believed to be in Afghanistan. Taliban 25 Oct claimed responsibility for killing 2 U.S. troops in southern Uruzgan province in suspected insider attack. Authorities 11 Oct reported expulsion of 31 Pakistani, 4 Iranian clerics, accused of encouraging jihad against govt.
| 1 Oct 2012
Spate of insider “green-on-blue” attacks curtailed ISAF partnering operations with Afghan forces, increased distrust between Afghan, U.S. military leaders; U.S. Special Forces 2 Sept announced halt in recruitment, training for Afghan Local Police program. UNSG report 17 Sept expressed concern over cross-border violence, corruption, lack of respect for legislature, stressed importance of 2014 elections to political transition. Protests erupted mid-month over anti-Islam film, scores of police injured 17 Sept in protester attack on Kabul U.S. military base. 12 civilians killed, some 60 injured in 1 Sept twin suicide attack on ISAF base, Wardak province; Taliban fighters 14 Sept attacked Helmand NATO military base, destroyed 8 fighter jets; Hizb-e Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) militants 18 Sept killed at least 12 foreign aviation contractors, injured scores in suicide blast near Kabul airport. 2 Americans, 3 Afghan soldiers killed 29 Sept in shootout at checkpoint in Wardak province following “misunderstanding”. UN SRSG Kubiš 20 Sept warned of “even greater fragmentation of security environment”, noted Aug second deadliest month for civilians since 2007. President Karzai 2 Sept presented new security team including controversial former Kandahar and Ghazni governor Assadullah Khaled as Directorate of Security chief, former Interior Minister and Northern Alliance heavyweight Bismillah Khan Mohammadi as Defence Minister, and Maj. General Ghulama Mujtaba Patang, long-serving police official, as Interior Minister; all 3 approved 16 Sept at Wolesi Jirga. Second round of Trilateral Summit on Afghanistan held on sidelines of UNGA late month.
| 1 Sep 2012
21 Aug drone strike in Pakistan’s North Waziristan Agency killed Badruddin Haqqani, brother of Haqqani leader Sirajuddin and network’s operations commander. At least 50 killed, 110 wounded 14 Aug in series of bombs across country; 23 injured 15 Aug in grenade attack on Khost mosque compound, bomb attack on Herat city market. 6 U.S. troops killed 10 Aug, 3 killed 17 Aug, 1 killed 19 Aug in “green-on-blue” attacks by Afghan colleagues; 3 Australian soldiers killed in similar attack 29 Aug; Afghan govt promised to improve recruit vetting to prevent attacks. Kandahar Police Chief Abdul Raziq survived 27 Aug bomb attack, 4 others killed. President Karzai replaced Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, Interior Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi after Parliament 5 Aug voted to remove Khan citing security lapses, cross-border fire from Pakistan, corruption; Warkdak subsequently appointed senior military advisor to President.
| 1 Aug 2012
International donors 8 July pledged $16bn over 4 years conditional on reform, counter-corruption efforts; donors called for govt to set election date by early 2013, indicated aid will be withheld if President Karzai fails to appoint replacements for Supreme Court Justice Azimi, 2 other judges whose terms expire Nov 2012. Karzai 26 July issued decree listing reforms aimed at tackling corruption. French troops 30 July handed Nijrab base to Afghanistan as part of withdrawal, transition. 23 killed, including several suicide bombers, 9 July in series of attacks on security installations, Kandahar. Department of Women’s Affairs chief, 7 others killed 13 July in car bombing. At least 22 killed 13 July in Samanfan province including former Junbesh leader and MP Ahmad Khan Samanfani, provincial head of security service and deputy police chief in suicide bomb attack on wedding of prominent MP. Independent Human Rights Commission 16 July expressed concern over civilian casualties in northern provinces. Karzai 19 July met with UK PM Cameron, Pakistan PM Ashraf in effort to reopen Islamabad-Kabul dialogue.
| 1 Jul 2012
Month saw increased violence: 21 killed 6 June in suicide bomb attack, Kandahar; 3 gunmen dressed in police uniforms killed 1 U.S. soldier, wounded 9 others in Zhari, Kandahar; roadside bomb killed 3 women, 4 children 20 June, Logar province; suicide bomber killed 21 including 3 U.S. soldiers and Afghan interpreter at checkpoint in Khost, 20 June; at least 18 killed in Taliban assault on hotel outside Kabul, 22 June. 10 Afghan policemen killed 26-27 June in insurgent attacks. NATO airstrike 6 June killed up to 18 civilians celebrating wedding in Logar province; President Karzai 7 June condemned strike; NATO commander General Allen visited area 8 June to apologise. Ministry of Justice mid-month suspended left-wing Solidarity Party for organising protest calling for accountability for war crimes; move followed calls by Upper House of Parliament for investigation, possible prosecution of group leaders; activists claimed decision contravened Afghan law, freedom of speech. U.S. Defense Secretary visited early month, called for India to play “more active role”. Govt 19 June accused Pakistan of involvement in Dec 2011 attack on Shiite Ashura procession in Kabul.
| 1 Jun 2012
NATO summit late-May focussed on Afghanistan said 2014 withdrawal “irreversible”, reaffirmed commitment to long-term strategic partnership. Govt 13 May agreed border control mechanism, discussed restoration of NATO supply with ISAF, Pakistan at Tripartite Commission meeting. ISAF 29 May announced al-Qaeda second-in-command killed in 28 May air strike, Kunar province. 2 NATO soldiers killed, 6 injured 18 May in rocket attack on base in Kunar; 13 killed 19 May in suicide bomb attack on police checkpoint, Khost province; 6 police, 1 civilian killed 17 May in multiple suicide bomb attack on govt compound, Farah province; 8 police killed 20 May in clash with Taliban, Badakhstan; at least 11 police, one NATO soldier killed 31 May in Taliban bombings. ISAF 3 May reported capture of Islamic Movement of Uzebkistan (IMU) leader in Kunduz province.
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