TIME Afghanistan

London Condemns Kabul Bombing as Taliban Ups Pressure on Afghan Gov’t

AFGHANISTAN-UNREST
Afghan policemen stand guard at the site of a suicide attack at a foreign guesthouse in Kabul on November 27, 2014. Shah Marai — AFP/Getty Images

The militant group appears to be stepping up its campaign of violence in the Afghan capital as foreign forces prepare to withdrawal

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has condemned the Taliban’s “appalling” suicide attack on a vehicle belonging to the country’s embassy on Thursday that killed six people, including two individuals working for the U.K. mission.

“I am deeply saddened to confirm that a British national civilian security team member and an Afghan national working for the embassy were killed in the incident,” said Hammond in a statement. “We will not allow such inhumanity to deter us from continuing our partnership with the Government of Afghanistan.”

The assault on the British convoy was followed by another attack by two Taliban suicide bombers at a foreign guesthouse in a high-end neighborhood in central Kabul, where myriad embassies and international organizations reside. One foreign national was reportedly injured in the blast and an ensuing gun battle.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for both bombings and described the ambush of the British embassy vehicle as a strike against “foreign invading forces,” reports Reuters.

Thursday’s blasts come as the Taliban appears to be orchestrating an increasing number of acts of sabotage and violence against foreign installations across the Afghan capital, just as a lion’s share of the international troops stationed in the country prepare to pullout after 13 years of war. In the last 10 days alone, Kabul has been rocked by at least eight separate blasts, according to Agence France-Presse.

Earlier in the week, NATO confirmed that two foreign soldiers fighting with the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force were killed on Monday after a roadside bomb detonated near a military convoy traveling in Kabul.

Amid the uptick in violence are signs U.S. President Barack Obama is reevaluating his earlier promise to end combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of the year. The New York Times reported late last week that the White House’s calculus in the country appears to have shifted, after a new plan was authorized that will allow American troops to continue fighting Taliban insurgents there well into 2015.

TIME Afghanistan

5 Dead in Suicide Blast on British Embassy Vehicle in Kabul

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack on a British embassy vehicle in Kabul
Afghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack on a British embassy vehicle in Kabul on Nov. 27, 2014 Omar Sobhani—Reuters

KABUL, Afghanistan — A British embassy worker was among five people killed in a suicide attack in the Afghan capital on Thursday, a senior police official told NBC News. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast which targeted a vehicle on Kabul’s Jalalabad Road. At least 31 others, including three embassy staff, were injured, the senior police officer added. General Ayoub Salangi, the Afghan deputy interior minister, told Reuters the bomber was riding a motorcycle.

A spokesman for the U.K.’s Foreign Office told NBC News that “a British embassy vehicle was attacked in Kabul this morning.” He added: “We are working with Afghan officials to establish details.”…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Afghanistan

Afghan Officials Say Suicide Bomber Kills Some 45

(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Afghan officials say that a suicide bomber has killed “at least 45″ people in an attack on a volleyball tournament in the country’s east.

Mokhis Afghan, spokesman for the provincial governor of Paktika province, bordering Pakistan, says the attack happened during an inter-district tournament attended by a large crowed in the Yahyakhail district late Sunday afternoon.

The suicide bomber was on foot in the crowd, he says.

TIME Terrorism

Terrorism-Related Deaths Up 60% Last Year, Study Says

AFGHANISTAN-UNREST-ATTACKS
An Afghan policeman is seen through the wreckage of a taxi which was destroyed by a suicide attack targeting a vehicle convoy of Afghan lawmakers in Kabul, Afghanistan on Nov. 16, 2014. Farshad Usyan—AFP/Getty Images

More than 80% of the deaths occurred in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria

Nearly 18,000 people were killed in terrorist-related incidents last year, a 60% increase from the previous year, a new study found. Deaths have increased five-fold since 2000.

The report, compiled by the Institute for Economics & Peace, attributes the increased terrorist activity to the growing influence of “radical Islamic groups.” Two thirds of the fatalities came at the hands of ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the report said.

“Given the theological nature of the problem it is difficult for outside actors to be influential,” Steve Killelea, institute executive chairman, said in a statement.

As the number of deaths has expanded, the location of attacks has remained limited. More than 80% of the deaths occurred in just five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria.

TIME Afghanistan

Female Afghan Lawmaker Survives Apparent Assassination Attempt

Afghanistan
Afghan security forces carry the body of a civilian after a suicide attack in Kabul that targeted Shukria Barazkai, a prominent female member of Afghanistan's parliament, Nov. 16, 2014. Rahmat Gul—AP

Shukria Barakzai suffered only "small injuries" after a bomb blast

A prominent female member of Afghanistan’s parliament survived what appeared to be a assassination attempt in Kabul on Sunday, authorities said.

At least three people were killed and 22 injured in a bomb blast targeting the car of lawmaker and vocal Taliban critic Shukria Barakzai, the Los Angeles Times reports.

She suffered “small injuries” after a suicide bomber tried to crash his car into her armored vehicle before detonation, said Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

Sediqqi also dismissed reports that Barakzai’s daughter, who frequently travels with her, was killed in the attack.

A Taliban spokesman denied responsibility for the attack, and no other group has claimed the bombing as their own.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the attack was an act of terrorism and called for an investigation. Women make up approximately one-quarter of Afghanistan’s parliament.

[Los Angeles Times]

TIME Bizarre

Feel Good Friday: 9 Photos to Start Your Weekend

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TIME Afghanistan

Opium Crop at Record High in Afghanistan

An Afghan farmer works on a poppy field collecting the green bulbs swollen with raw opium, the main ingredient in heroin, in the Khogyani district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, April 17, 2014.
An Afghan farmer works on a poppy field collecting the green bulbs swollen with raw opium, the main ingredient in heroin, in the Khogyani district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, April 17, 2014. Rahmat Gul—AP

As US withdraws troops, opium cultivation reaches new levels

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says Afghanistan’s potential opium production for 2014 is set to increase by 27% from the previous year, up to an estimated 6,400 tons. The Afghan poppy crop has provided the bulk of the world’s heroin supply over the past twenty years, accounting for nearly 70% of it in 2000.

The U.S. said in October they had spent $7.6 billion trying to eradicate opium poppies since troops arrived in the country in 2001 to oust the Taliban. As NATO and U.S. forces withdrew from Afghanistan this year, it comes as little surprise that this year’s report is particularly sobering. Opium poppy cultivation has risen by 7% year on year and now covers more than 553,000 acres of land.

The overwhelming majority of cultivation takes place in the Southern and Western provinces, parts of the country which have been subject to the most violence and are the least secure. Opium accounts for nearly $1 billion, roughly 4% of the country’s estimated GDP.

UNODC Director Yury Fedotov said in a statement that illicit drugs have had a disastrous impact on the country, with more than one million Afghans currently drug dependent.

Fedotov met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last weekend to discuss plans to counter the harmful effects of drug production on Afghans and their neighbors. Money from the drug production finances Taliban operations and contributes to a great deal of organized crime and corruption in the Afghan government.

TIME On Our Radar

Battle-Scarred: Sebastian Junger’s Last Patrol Premieres on HBO

The Last Patrol, Sebastian Junger’s third and final chapter in a trilogy of films about war and its devastating effects on soldiers, came to fruition after he and documentary photographer Tim Hetherington made plans to walk from Washington D.C. to New York City along railroad lines.

The trip would mimic the long patrols both men were accustomed to when covering the war in Afghanistan, on embeds with the U.S. military. The only difference being that they wouldn’t be shot at, wouldn’t have to run for cover, wouldn’t fall into an ambush.

Their trip never came to be. In April 2011, Hetherington was killed in Misrata, Libya, while covering the people’s uprising against their dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

Washington, D.C. Amtrak Guillermo Cervera—HBO

Hetherington’s death shocked an entire industry of journalists and photographers, and convinced some of them to give up on war, Junger included.

This year, Junger went on that “last patrol”, reigniting the plans he had made with his friend and colleague to walk along America’s railways. Accompanied by combat veterans Brendan O’Byrne, who appeared in Junger’s Restrepo, and Dave Roels, as well as Spanish photographer Guillermo Cervera, who witnessed Hetherington’s death, he walked from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia and to Pittsburgh.

Together, the four men, all war veterans in their own ways, discussed “why combat is so incredibly hard to give up,” they say. The resulting documentary, which chronicles their “last patrol” premieres on Monday, November 10 on HBO.


The Last Patrol by Sebastian Junger is available on HBO and HBO GO from November 10 at PM (CET).

An exhibition of Guillermo Cervera’s images from The Last Patrol and from 20 years of documenting armed conflicts and social issues around the world is on show at Anastasia Photo in New York City.

Phil Bicker, who edited this photo essay, is a senior photo editor at TIME.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent


TIME Afghanistan

Prince Harry Returned to Afghanistan to Honor Fallen Comrades

British Troops In Kandahar Participate In A Remembrance Sunday Service
Prince Harry joins British troops and service personal remaining in Afghanistan and also International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) personnel and civilians as they gather for a Remembrance Sunday service at Kandahar Airfield November 9, 2014 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Matt Cardy—Getty Images

He laid a wreath and note that read, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends"

Prince Harry delivered an emotional message in support of his fallen comrades Sunday as part of Remembrance Day commemorations.

The fourth in line to the British throne returned to Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he had served two tours of duty as an Army officer, the Express reports.

At a vigil to commemorate the 453 British military personnel who were killed in action in Afghanistan, Harry laid a wreath and a handwritten note that said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. They will never be forgotten. Harry.”

The Remembrance Day service at Kandahar airfield will be the last as U.K. troops are scheduled to completely withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

[Express]

TIME

Pictures of the Week: Oct. 31 – Nov. 7

From Republican wins in the midterm elections and the 1-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, to U.S. troops returning home from Afghanistan and a giant “fallstreak” hole in the sky over Australia, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

 

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