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See also Pakistan

Jan. 23: A 23-year-old journalist, Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, was sentenced to death for an article he wrote about women in the Qur'an which was deemed blasphemous by the state. According to family members of Kambaskhsh, he had not written the article, but only had distributed it to fellow students. Rahimullah Samandar, leader of Afghanistan's Independent Journalist Association, stated that the case would be appealed and urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai to offer a pardon. [RFE-RL, 1/23]

Jan. 25: One hundred and thirty landmines of Iranian origin were discovered in Taliban commander Mullah 'Abdul Ghani's home in western Afghanistan near the Farah Province, which bordered Iran. Both US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and President Karzai said that there was no evidence linking the Iranian government to the weapons. However, officials were suspicious as to whether the large numbers of weapons could have been brought into Afghanistan without the knowledge of Iranian authorities. [RFE-RL, 1/25]

Jan. 31: An Afghan woman set herself on fire in court after being refused permission to divorce her husband. She was sent to the hospital to recover from serious burn injuries. Although Afghanistan's post-Taliban constitution theoretically granted equal rights to both genders, divorce remained taboo. [ABC News, 1/31]

Feb. 3: The Afghan police lifted a siege placed on the residence of Afghan Army Chief Commander, current presidential advisor, and longtime warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum. The police put the siege in place following an alleged attack by Dostum and some 50 armed men on a former Dostum campaign manager, Akbar Bay. The incident raised concerns about the rule of law in Afghanistan and the impact of former warlords on the government of President Karzai. [RFE-RL, 2/3]

Feb. 19: Three separate back-to-back suicide blasts in the southern Afghanistan province of Kandahar killed over 140 people. The deadliest of the three attacks occurred near a police car at a dog fight with 500 fans in attendance. Officials predicted a further escalation of violence aimed at destabilizing the Kabul government. In the past, insurgents had sought to avoid areas with civilian targets. [IHT, 2/19]

Mar. 2: Taliban militants destroyed a mobile phone tower in the Sangin district as well as telecommunication towers in the Kandahar Province, demanding that all telephone signals be turned off from 5 PM to 7 AM every day. The Taliban stated that their activities were monitored by US and NATO forces, who had launched nocturnal attacks by tracking phone signals. The impact was widely felt by Afghan civilians, who relied heavily on cell phones as one of their few means of communication. [RFE-RL, 3/3]

Mar. 9: Thousands of Afghan students protested the republishing of the Danish cartoons which parodied the Prophet Muhammad and the upcoming Dutch film about the Qur'an by Geert Wilders. Outraged protestors blocked off a highway in the eastern Afghanistan province of Nangarhar and called for an end of diplomatic relations with Denmark and a worldwide Muslim boycott of Danish goods. Similar protests took place throughout the country with the burning of Dutch and Danish flags. [RFE-RL, 3/9]

Mar. 10: The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) began distributing emergency packages of wheat, beans, and cooking oil to millions of people in central Afghanistan. WFP spokesman Ebadullah Ebad was concerned that there would be a humanitarian crisis if remote regions did not immediately receive food. The food predicament was the result of both man-made and natural disasters from war, lawlessness, violence, and abnormally harsh weather conditions. [RFE-RL, 3/10]

Mar. 21: With the approval of President Hamid Karzai, the new Helmand Province Governor Golab Mangal declared his intentions to hold talks with more moderate "second and third-tier" Taliban members. According to Mangal, first-tier members were foreignaffiliated and al-Qa'ida militants. …

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