Chronology: Afghanistan

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July 23: Unidentified gunmen shot dead a District Judge in Kandahar, the latest in a series of attacks on Muslim clerics critical of the Taliban. In another incident, an explosion killed a District Administration Chief. [DAWN, 7/24]

July 25: In an audiotape delivered to news agencies in Kandahar, a man claiming to be Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Umar called on supporters to unite and continue fighting Afghan and foreign troops. Umar, one of the most wanted fugitives sought by US forces, also asked Taliban fighters not to harass Afghanistan's civilian population. [BBC, 7/25]

July 26: At least 1,000 protesters staged a demonstration outside the US Airforce base at Bagram in response to the arrest of a number of villagers the previous day. The US said the villagers would be handed over to local authorities. [WP, 7/26]

In southern Afghanistan, 50 suspected insurgents and two Afghan soldiers died in an overnight battle. It was one of the deadliest clashes between the government and militants in months. [WP, 7/26]

July 29: Ronald E. Neumann was sworn in as the new US Ambassador to Kabul. Neumann, who worked previously as a political and military counselor in Iraq and as the US Ambassador to Algeria and Bahrain, replaced Zalmay Khalilzad, who was named the US Ambassador to Iraq. [BBC, 7/29]

Aug. 2: Fifty gunmen attacked a checkpoint in the eastern province of Nuristan, killing eight members of the Afghan security forces. In a separate incident, gunmen shot dead a poll worker in the southern province of Helmand. [BBC, 8/4]

Aug. 4: An Italian unit took command of the NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. The NATO command changes every six months, and the Italian unit was tasked with leading the effort to secure the country for the September legislative elections. [BBC, 8/4]

Aug. 5: Al-Arabiya, an Arabic television station, aired an al-Qa'ida video confirmed by US authorities to show the gunning down of a US Chinook helicopter on June 28. The helicopter crash, which killed all 16 troops on board, was the deadliest day for the US military since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. [BBC, 8/5]

Aug. 7: US and Afghan troops killed eight suspected Taliban militants in a lengthy gun battle in southern Afghanistan. Meanwhile in the northern city of Omer Safi, a candidate in the September parliamentary elections escaped unhurt from an attempt on his life by a gunman who was later arrested. [BBC, 8/7]

Aug. 9: An Afghan woman accused of spying for the US was killed by suspected Taliban militants in the southern province of Zabul. The gunmen burst into her house, dragged her to the street, shot her, and then kidnapped her brother and father. She was one of the first women civilians targeted by militants since the Taliban fell in 2001. [BBC, 8/10]

Aug. 10: NATO sent more than 2,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, bringing the total to approximately 11,400, in the runup to parliamentary elections scheduled for September 18. According to senior NATO and US officials, the increased troop presence was in anticipation of an upsurge in violence similar to that before the presidential election in 2004. [Reuters, 8/10]

Aug. 16: Seventeen Spanish NATO peacekeeping soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash. Some reports blamed the crash on mechanical failure but Spanish Defense Minister Jose Bono said he would not rule out the possibility that enemy fire was to blame. Spain had about 850 troops deployed in the country. [BBC, 8/16]

Aug. 17: Official campaigning began for the September parliamentary elections, the first in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Almost 2,800 candidates registered for election for 249 seats in the lower house of the National Assembly. More than a quarter of the seats were reserved for women and 10 for nomads. Due to Taliban threats to anyone connected to the elections, candidates in much of the country refused to campaign in public. …