– Suicide bomber attacks CIA base in Afghanistan, killing at least 8 Americans (Washington Post):
A suicide bomber infiltrated a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least eight Americans in what is believed to be the deadliest single attack on U.S. intelligence personnel in the eight-year-long war and one of the deadliest in the agency’s history, U.S. officials said.
– CIA Officers Are Killed in Afghan Attack (Wall Street Journal)
– CIA workers killed by ‘Afghan soldier’ (BBC News):
Eight Americans working for the CIA have died in a bomb attack in Afghanistan, the worst against US intelligence officials since 1983.
A suicide bomber disguised as a Afghan soldier killed eight US civilians inside base used by the CIA and wounded at least six others, officials said, in an audacious attack that marked a bloody end to 2009.
Reports in the Washington Post suggested that at least four of the dead were agents, but the CIA refused to confirm that any of its staff were involved.
Locals said they heard a massive explosion just before dusk yesterday and saw a huge plume of smoke rising from inside the heavily guarded compound, close to the capital of Khost province, in southeastern Afghanistan.
“We heard firing, but that’s normal,” said shopkeeper Mir Wali, 28, who lives around 200 metres from the camp perimeter. “We thought they were practising on the range.
“But then we heard a loud, loud, really loud explosion. I though a rocket had landed on my house. When I came outside to see what had happened there were helicopters flying over the base, patrolling very close to the ground.”
Eyewitnesses said they saw at least three air ambulances – Black Hawk helicopters marked with distinctive red crosses – landing and taking off from inside the compound moments after the attack.
US embassy officials confirmed eight American civilians were killed in the explosion, but the CIA has neither confirmed nor denied whether its staff were involved.
American newspapers said the bomber detonated his explosives inside the compound’s gym.
If the victims are confirmed as CIA staff, it would mark the worst loss of life for the intelligence agency since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, which it orchestrated in 2001.
In the southern province of Kandahar, a Canadian journalist and four Canadian soldiers were also killed yesterday when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb during a patrol south of the city.
The explosion marked the worst loss of life for Canadian troops in two years.
The journalist, Michelle Lang, 34, was a Health Correspondent with the Calgary Herald on her first visit to Afghanistan. Friends said she was due to get married in July.
The Taleban claimed responsibility for both attacks. They claimed the suicide bomber in Khost was an army officer called Samiullah, but the Afghan ministry of defence insisted their claims were “baseless”.
In neighbouring Helmand province locals said at least four civilians were killed by a rogue Nato air strike, just north of the provincial capital.
The head of the provincial council, Haji Mohammed Anwar, told The Times that four civilians were killed by an explosion in Babaji – where British troops launched Operation Panther’s Claw last summer.
A spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance force said the coalition was aware of the reports and was investigating.
December 31, 2009
Source: The Times
The endless war on terror:
– Obama: ‘I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am President, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.’ (!)
Murray asserts that the primary motivation for US and British military involvement in central Asia has to do with large natural gas deposits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As evidence, he points to the plans to build a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan that would allow Western oil companies to avoid Russia and Iran when transporting natural gas out of the region.
Murray alleged that in the late 1990s the Uzbek ambassador to the US met with then-Texas Governor George W. Bush to discuss a pipeline for the region, and out of that meeting came agreements that would see Texas-based Enron gain the rights to Uzbekistan’s natural gas deposits, while oil company Unocal worked on developing the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.
“The consultant who was organizing this for Unocal was a certain Mr. Karzai, who is now president of Afghanistan,” Murray noted.
“There are designs of this pipeline, and if you look at the deployment of US forces in Afghanistan, as against other NATO country forces in Afghanistan, you’ll see that undoubtedly the US forces are positioned to guard the pipeline route. It’s what it’s about. It’s about money, it’s about oil, it’s not about democracy.”
“I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan,” he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department’s head of personnel. “I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”
“I’m not much for this war. I’m not sure it’s worth all those lives lost,” said Sergeant Christian Richardson as we walked across corn fields that will soon be ploughed up to plant a spring crop of opium poppy.
Opium production rate has soared to 6,900 tons in Afghanistan in the past 10 years ‘despite‘ the presence of 100,000 foreign troops in the country for nearly eight years.
A report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said on Wednesday that Afghanistan produces 92 percent of the world’s opium that has devastating global consequences.
The UN report also noted that Afghanistan’s illegal opium production is worth 65 billion dollars.
The heroin and opium market feeds 15 million addicts, with Europe, Russia and Iran consuming half the supply, UNODC reported.
– Top US commander in Afghanistan: The Taliban have gained the upper hand:
The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home. Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that means U.S. casualties, already running at record levels, will remain high for months to come.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)