Dawn.com reports that Taliban capture Afghan district on Pakistan border: official:
Taliban militants captured the administrative headquarters of a remote Afghan district Saturday, officials said, while a suicide bomber blew himself up near a Nato base in Kabul.
Insurgents had surrounded Bargi Matal district in Nuristan province, which borders Pakistan, on Friday and engaged police in a fierce gun battle, Nuristan governor Jamaludin Badr told AFP.
The fate of police officers guarding the administrative compound -- which houses government, police and judicial offices -- was unclear.
“Since the district headquarters is inside the village in a crowded location we had to make a tactical retreat to avoid casualties to civilians” living in nearby houses, he said.
Afghan authorities often use the term “tactical retreat” when Taliban have overrun police forces and captured districts.
An army border police commander in the area, Mohammad Gul Himat, said police responsible for protecting the district had been missing since Friday and it was not clear if they had deserted or been killed or captured. . .
Bargi Matal is the second district in the province to be captured by the Taliban after Kamdesh -- which also shares a border with Pakistan -- fell several months ago following the withdrawal of international forces.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan has equalled a first milestone noted several years ago in Iraq, as reported in US reaches 1,000 death marker in Afghan war.
The Afpak Journal has a timely and readable pair of articles about the downgraded NATO/US expectations for the previously touted NATO takeover of Kandahar city, in Kandahar Through the Taliban's Eyes and Showtime in Kandahar. Here are two quotes from the latter:
If Kandahar is show time, then Marjah has been the dress rehearsal. It is not going well. The Marjah operation has not been successful in rooting out Taliban elements, which continue to terrorize the population and undermine the Afghan government that was supposed to take root in the ineptly named "government in a box" experiment. . .
With the limited timetable of the troop surge coming up quickly, Gen. McChrystal cannot afford another Marjah experience in Kandahar, a more complex and significant stretch of land. Already there appears to be handwringing over the operations; McClatchy reports that "key military operations have been delayed until the fall, efforts to improve local government are having little impact and a Taliban assassination campaign has brought a sense of dread to Kandahar's dusty streets."
We call it the Afpak region; I call it Pak-ghanistan. Increasingly they look to be separate campaigns. In Pakistan, for now the government is bringing overwhelming force into previously autonomous regions with a modicum of local support, touching off mass murders in various cities as well as targeted attacks on officials, schools for girls, etc.; the government reports (without press verification) an unending string of militant deaths. Who knows what's really happening there? But it appears as though there is an internal Pakistani fight or set of fights with the U. S. working hand and glove via drones (at least).
In Afghanistan, there appears to be a continuation of the push against foreigners that has gone on endlessly there, most recently with the successful battle against the USSR that contributed to its demise.
The cost to the U. S. in treasure and people of chasing locals around their own country on behalf of a corrupt Kabul government is difficult to defend. Barack Obama criticized the Bush surge in Iraq even as it met its goals and turned a disaster-in-the-making into, perhaps, a draw. Now his own surge in Afghanistan is a joke, beginning with the Big Lie in Marja and with the attack on Kandahar already reported to be downgraded to a "process".
The president may have noticed that there are big problems at home. Afghanistan, amongst the poorest countries in the entire globe, no longer hosts Messrs. bin Laden and Zawahiri, we are told. It needn't host us, either.
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