A Royal Air Force Westland/Aerospatiale SA 330E Puma HC.2 medium transport helicopter crashed attempting to land at the Resolute Support Mission HQ in Kabul, killing 5 of the 10 people on board. Recent information is that the dead are 2 British personnel from the 230 and 33 Squadrons, Royal Air Force; and 2 U.S. service members and 1 French civilian. Officials state that the incident was not due to hostile action.
A United Nations employee is murdered in Kandahar in a street ambush. As the victim, Torpikai Alfat , was a woman, a provincial official speculates that this is part of the Taliban's ongoing campaign to terrorize working women.
Two police are killed and 2 injured by an IED attack on their vehicle in Wata Pur, Kundar.
A UN report, which has not been publicly released, finds the Taliban insurgency more widespread than at any time since their downfall in 2011. Among the key points:
This contrasts with Gen. Campbell's recent testimony before Congress, in which he said specifically that Afghan forces hold Musa Qala and other districts that are not really under government control.
- United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has over the past two weeks evacuated four of its 13 provincial offices around the country.
- Highway One, a ring road connecting all of Afghanistan's main cities, has long suffered repeated Taliban ambushes and roadblocks in southern Afghanistan. Government officials generally avoid much of the route.
- In many districts that are normally [probably meant "nominall" -- C] under government control, like Musa Qala in Helmand Province and Charchino in Uruzgan Province, government forces hold only the government buildings in the district center and are under constant siege by the insurgents.
Taliban close the Kabul-Kandahar highway near Ghazni City, and issue threats:
Noorullah, a resident of Ghazni City who left for Kandahar in the morning, was stopped along with other passengers by the insurgents in Shahbaz area. Hundreds of the guerrillas had gathered to intercept a large number of vehicles on both side of roads, but there was no sign of the presence of security forces in the locality, he claimed.
A resident of Andar district said: “We were going to Ghazni City but the Taliban stopped us on our way. They told us to inform our relatives in the city to leave because they wanted to attack the city.”
Most shops in the city are closed, and officials refuse to discuss the situation with media. Reuters has further discussion of the Ghazni situation.
I do not know the truth of these accusations by retired State Department employee Peter Van Buren, but as you await the investigation of the U.S. attack on the hospital in Kunduz -- the investigation of the perpetrators by themselves, that is, keep in mind the following factual points.
- The Taliban commit atrocities -- as do Afghan government forces, to a lesser degree. But that is beside the point, we're talking about the U.S.
- An attack by an AC-130 is not like an attack by a jet bomber, which drops bombs from high in the air which land in a general area. The AC-130 precisely hits what it targets. In this case, it hit the same building, quite precisely, in 5 separate attacks.
- We do not know what the crew of the gunship thought the building was, or far more importantly what their commanders thought it was they had ordered the gunship to attack. However, the U.S. command possessed the information that it was a hospital, and it's hard to see what else they might have thought it was.
- It is clear, from statements by Afghan government officials, that they requested the strike on the hospital because they knew, or believed, that senior Taliban personnel were there. (In fact they have bragged about it.) This may well be true, but if so, they were receiving treatment for their injuries, alongside civilians and Afghan government forces, and they were unarmed.