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May 17, 2012

Afghanistan mulls Islamic bonds, fearing Western cash cutback

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan, which has only a semblance of a capital market, intends to sell Islamic bonds as it braces for a possible sharp fall in Western financial support as the war against the Taliban winds down, a senior central bank official said this week.

The official said the sale of short-term Islamic bonds, also known as sukuk, is still in the planning stage, but could be a new way of raising money for the government.

May 11, 2012

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan fall 20 percent, says U.N

KABUL (Reuters) – After five years of rising deaths, civilian casualties in Afghanistan dropped 20 percent in the first four months of the year, the United Nations said, a rare piece of good news as foreign combat forces prepare to pull out by the end of 2014.

The killing of civilians has soured the feelings of many ordinary Afghans towards foreign forces and has been a constant strain on ties between the Afghan government and its Western backers in the increasingly unpopular war.

May 11, 2012

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan fall 20 percent: U.N.

KABUL (Reuters) – After five years of rising deaths, civilian casualties in Afghanistan dropped 20 percent in the first four months of the year, the United Nations said, a rare piece of good news as foreign combat forces prepare to pull out by the end of 2014.

The killing of civilians has soured the feelings of many ordinary Afghans towards foreign forces and has been a constant strain on ties between the Afghan government and its Western backers in the increasingly unpopular war.

May 8, 2012

Afghan opium price hike to stir violence: minister

KABUL (Reuters) – The price of opium cultivated in Afghanistan is set to rise as the security forces step up their eradication efforts and a fungus ravages the poppies that yield it, squeezing supply and stirring violence, the country’s drug chief said on Tuesday.

Zarar Ahmad Muqbel Osmani, the Minister of Counter Narcotics, said the expected price rise coupled with increasing demand from regional nations would make poppy cultivation more attractive to cash-strapped farmers, forcing the government to intensify its fight against the trade.

Apr 18, 2012

U.S. troops pose with maimed Afghan insurgent bodies

KABUL/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – American troops are seen posing with the maimed bodies of suspected Afghan insurgents in photos published on Wednesday by a newspaper in an incident that threatened to further fray U.S. relations with Afghanistan’s government and prompted the Pentagon chief to issue an apology.

U.S. officials quickly condemned the behavior seen in the pictures published by the Los Angeles Times. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also said he regretted the decision of the newspaper to publish some of the photos, which he said might trigger retaliatory violence against foreign soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.

Apr 15, 2012

Taliban blitz Kabul with “spring offensive” attacks

KABUL (Reuters) – Heavy explosions, rockets and gunfire rattled Kabul on Sunday as Afghanistan’s Taliban launched a “spring offensive” with multiple attacks targeting Western embassies, the NATO force’s headquarters and the parliament building.

The assault, one of the most serious on the capital since U.S.-backed Afghan forces removed the Taliban from power in 2001, highlighted the ability of militants to strike the heavily guarded diplomatic zone even after more than 10 years of war.

Apr 12, 2012

Afghanistan’s Karzai considers change in election timetable

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Thursday he was considering changes to either the 2014 timetable for a presidential election or the transition of security to Afghan forces that year to avoid overburdening the country.

Fear is mounting among Afghans and foreign governments alike that the planned pullout of most NATO combat troops by the end of 2014 and an election in the same year could see the country engulfed in conflict and authorities too stretched.

Apr 10, 2012

Afghan security forces worry over fratricidal brothers-in-arms

KABUL (Reuters) – While NATO soldiers worry whether an Afghan partner might turn from an ally to a lethal foe, Afghan soldier Sayed Rahim says he’s afraid his own comrades at a small outpost in eastern Paktika province will kill him.

“There are some soldiers who have Taliban war songs on their cellphones,” Rahim said. “Do we do our duty, or should we watch out for these guys who will kill us one day?”

Apr 5, 2012

Afghans store opium as hedge against uncertain future: U.N.

KABUL (Reuters) – Opium is emerging as a new gold standard in Afghanistan, where traders and farmers are hoarding the drug as a source of ready cash t o hedge against the risk of a power vacuum when foreign troops leave, the country’s U.N. drugs tsar said.

Fear is mounting amongst Afghans and foreign governments alike that the planned pullout of most NATO combat troops by the end of 2014 and Afghan national elections in the same year could see the country engulfed in more conflict.

Apr 2, 2012

Stress and gripes, not Taliban, drive Afghan insider attacks: NATO

KABUL (Reuters) – Personal grievances, battle stress, and domestic problems are behind more attacks by rogue Afghan security forces on NATO troops than are Taliban infiltrators, the coalition said on Monday.

Western forces have stepped up security to prevent more attacks, after the killing of 17 foreign soldiers by Afghan security personnel this year, NATO spokesman Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson told reporters.

    • About Jack

      "Jack covers commodities, economics and politics in Colombia. He joined Reuters in 2006 and has since worked throughout east Africa including Kenya, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and Uganda. He has also done stints in Iraq."
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