MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (Reuters) – It is late afternoon and slivers of sunlight stream in through an exhaust fan, cutting through multicolored strobe lights and shisha smoke in a basement karaoke club, one of more than a dozen in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
About a dozen young men lounge around on sofas, belting out ballads in Dari and clapping along to the music.
KABUL (Reuters) – Explosions and bursts of gunfire were heard near Kabul International Airport in the Afghan capital after dawn on Thursday and black smoke rose above the facility, which is used by civilians and the military.
The attack on the airport comes at a time of great uncertainty for Afghanistan as votes from the second round of a disputed presidential election are to be recounted. The poll is meant to mark Afghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power.
KABUL (Reuters) – The Afghan government released 65 detainees on Thursday who the United States has warned pose a serious security threat, a move that further strains already tense U.S.-Afghan ties as the international mission in Afghanistan winds down.
Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi said the prisoners had been released from a detention facility near the Afghan capital, Kabul, and would be sent back to their respective home areas throughout Afghanistan.
KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai stepped up criticism of Western institutions and military forces on Tuesday, accusing them of acting at crossed purposes and deepening rifts reopened by a spate of civilian casualties.
The criticism came on the second day of a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates intended to assess security progress but clouded by Afghan anger over the mistaken killing of nine boys in a NATO air strike last week.
Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah quit an election run-off on Sunday (Nov 01) after accusing the government of not meeting his demands for a fair vote, leaving a cloud over the legitimacy of the next government.A weakened Afghan government under President Hamid Karzai would also be a blow for U.S. President Barack Obama as he decides whether to send up to 40,000 more U.S troops to fight a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.Election officials said hours later that the Nov. 7 vote would go ahead with both names on ballot papers but with Karzai as the only candidate.
KABUL OCT 24 – (REUTERS) Afghan election workers load ballot boxes onto a vehicle bound for provinces in northern and eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, ahead of the presidential run-off, scheduled for Nov. 7 when incumbent, President Hamid Karzai faces his rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah.