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From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Fri May 26 2006Afghanistan in Turmoil: 330+ Killed in One Week
Fri May 26 2006US military massacres 80 villagers in Afghanistan
May 29th, 2006: US forces opened fire on thousands of Afghans protesting a fatal traffic incident involving a US convoy. The incident sent hundreds of men rampaging through the streets of Kabul, hurling stones at the US convoy and smashing vehicle windows. Afghan police also opened fire when they came to the assistance of the US troops. Altogether 14 people died and over 100 were wounded.
May 25th, 2006: As many as 350 people have been killed this past week in Afghanistan in an explosion of violence, the most severe since the US invasion in October 2001. On Monday, U.S. A-10 fighter jets and Apache helicopter gunships bombed homes in the village of Azizi, west of Kandahar. The air strikes, which lasted for hours, killed about 100 people including as many as 30 civilians. More than 3,000 civilians have fled their homes in southern Afghanistan over US assaults and Taliban attacks. The increase in fighting comes just two months before the United States is scheduled to hand over command of southern Afghanistan to NATO forces. Fighting has greatly increased in southern Afghanistan as the Taliban have moved out of the mountains and seized large areas of the region.
US air strike on Taliban kills Afghan civilians | US-led attack kills 76 in Afghanistan | Afghanistan gripped by worst fighting since 2001 | Afghanistan sees violence upsurge | Fighting on Afghan Time: The Other War Heats Up | Taleban Call the Shots in Ghazni | More than 40 die in Afghan clash | Eric Margolis: Myths About Afghanistan | Another War Bush Can't Win: The Fifth Afghan War
A law and order vacuum has allowed an increasingly well-organised drugs cartel, a corrupt local government and resurgent Taliban to structure the poppy cultivation of the province as never before. Country-wide it is now clear the poppy harvest will be close to record levels again. Warlordism and a revived poppy trade are intertwined with the problems in the south. The small Taliban revival is being funded by opium and heroin. Half of Afghanistan's GDP is probably from the drug trade and some of the recent clashes may be in reaction to poppy eradication campaigns, which are deeply unpopular with farmers, who are seldom properly compensated.
Afghan poppy farmers expect record opium crop and the Taliban will reap the rewards | Opium wars | Between Opium and Taliban
While the US celeberated last years Parliamentary Elections as a success, the new government consists largely of factions tied to warlords from Afghan's previous civil wars.
The official Afghan Army is headed by Abdul Rashid Dostum and much of the recent fighting in the south of the country has been between forces loyal to him and groups he claims to be the Taliban. Dostum fought alongside the Soviet-backed government in the 1980 and later allied himself at various times with Ahmed Shah Massoud, Hekmatyar, and even the Taleban. Dostum has been accused of numerous human rights abuses and human rights groups have demanded that he and others be brought to trial for their actions during the civil war years.
The most radical and powerful of Afghanistan’s Islamic movements, Hezb-e-Islam, is now an officially recognised political party which claims to be one of the largest blocs in parliament. Party leaders say they are poised to sweep to power in future elections now that they are able to campaign openly. Hezb-e-Islam was founded by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In early May 2006, Hekmatyar appeared on Al Jazeera, pledging his allegiance to Bin Laden. Back in the 1980s, Hekmatyar was supported strongly by the Reagan administration and received on the order of a billion dollars from the CIA to fight the Soviets. In the 1990s, he became "prime minister" but fell out with "President" Burhan al-Din Rabbani, and the two of them fought a war over Kabul that killed thousands and destroyed much of the city. Hezb-e-Islam now claims to have broken ties with Hekmatyar, but connections may still exist.
The “Miracle” or a Mockery of Afghanistan? | Afghanistan's new militant alliances | Hekmatyar goes Al-Qaeda | Have Hekmatyar’s Radicals Reformed? | The General and the Taleban