Sub-editor, World Desk, London, London
Peter's Feed
Feb 9, 2010

NATO to Afghan assault villagers: keep heads down

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan villagers should stay inside and “keep their heads down” when thousands of U.S. Marines launch a massive assault on a densely-populated district in coming days, NATO’s civilian representative to Afghanistan said Tuesday.

U.S.-led NATO forces are planning one of the 8-year-old war’s biggest offensives to seize Marjah, a patchwork of desert canals and opium fields that is now the last large Taliban-held bastion in Helmand, Afghanistan’s most violent province.

Feb 5, 2010

Delay in Afghan base closure led to 8 U.S. deaths

KABUL (Reuters) – A delay of months in closing a remote combat outpost with “no tactical or strategic value” led to the deaths of eight U.S. soldiers last year in one of the worst battles of the Afghanistan war, a report found on Friday.

The U.S. military’s report into a Taliban assault on Combat Outpost (COP) Keating in Nuristan province last October found the dozens of soldiers defending it fought with “conspicuous gallantry, courage and bravery under heavy enemy fire.”

Feb 1, 2010

No quick breakthrough seen in Afghan talks

KABUL (Reuters) – President Hamid Karzai has launched a high profile push to reconcile with his “disenchanted brothers” in the Taliban, but few in Afghanistan see hope for a quick breakthrough while fighters smell victory on the battlefield.

At a conference in London last week, the international community backed Karzai’s efforts to start talks and donors promised hundreds of millions of dollars for a new fund to pay fighters to lay down their arms.

Jan 24, 2010

Preview: West aims to boost Afghan leader, doubts remain

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai will be greeted with smiles and handshakes at a conference in London this week, but the warm public welcome will mask deep fissures in his relationship with the countries whose troops defend him.

Western governments are determined to use the London conference to rehabilitate the reputation of the veteran Afghan leader, tarnished last year by a botched election, a worsening war and unconvincing measures to tackle corruption.

Jan 24, 2010

Afghanistan delays parliament poll

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan election authorities have agreed to push back a parliamentary election to September from May, pleasing diplomats who wanted time to prevent a repeat of the rampant fraud that plagued a presidential vote last year.

The announcement on Sunday eases one of the main sources of friction between President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers, days before a major conference in London aimed at plotting a course for Western countries to begin withdrawing their troops.

Jan 24, 2010

Exclusive: London draft sees 2011 start to Afghan handover

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan and the international community are set to agree this week a framework for Kabul to take responsibility for its own security at a major conference in London, a draft communique obtained by Reuters showed.

Afghan troops may be managing some provinces as early as 2011, with NATO-led forces in a supporting role, paving the way for the start of a U.S. military draw-down in 18 months.

Jan 21, 2010

Strong NATO Afghan civilian role could go to UK

KABUL (Reuters) – NATO is planning to create a stronger civilian representative post to help lead international efforts in Afghanistan, and the British ambassador in Kabul is a top candidate, a Kabul-based diplomat said on Thursday.

NATO confirmed that it was planning to beef up the post of its civilian representative but did not comment on who was being considered for the job.

Jan 17, 2010

CIA bomber video shows militant links: Holbrooke

KABUL (Reuters) – A video of a Pakistani Taliban leader with the bomber who killed CIA agents in Afghanistan could indicate cross-border links between Afghan, Pakistani and al Qaeda militants, the U.S. regional envoy said on Sunday.

Special Representative Richard Holbrooke told Reuters in an interview in Kabul that “shadowy but unmistakable” links between groups exposed by the video helped explain why the United States and its allies were fighting in Afghanistan.

Jan 16, 2010

NATO, Afghan troops fire on Afghan crowd wounding five

KABUL (Reuters) – At least five Afghan civilians were wounded when a combined force of Afghan troops and U.S. Marines opened fire on a crowd at the gate to a military base in Helmand, Afghanistan’s most volatile province, NATO said on Friday.

The incident, which took place on Wednesday but was not reported until Friday, was the second demonstration to turn violent in two days in Helmand’s Garmsir district, suggesting mounting civil unrest in a part of the country where U.S. Marines under NATO command made major advances last year.

Jan 9, 2010

Afghans agree to take over U.S. prison at Bagram

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan officials agreed on Saturday to take over responsibility for the U.S. military’s Bagram prison north of Kabul, a move that could close a chapter in the troubled history of U.S. detentions since 2001.

The jail at Bagram, where U.S. troops beat to death two prisoners in 2002, stands beside Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Abu Ghraib in Iraq as a symbol of harsh treatment of detainees under the administration of ex-President George W. Bush.