Five Afghan civilians were killed Monday in an explosion that went off in a vegetable market in the southern province of Helmand, according to the provincial governor’s office. This continues what has been a sharp spike in casualties in the first half of 2011.
On Sunday, police killed a Taliban deputy commander on the outskirts of nearby Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. Lashkar Gah is one of the first seven areas in Afghanistan where local authorities have taken responsibility for security from international forces.
Also on Sunday, Afghan police, backed by army and NATO troops, killed six insurgents and captured 57 other suspects around the country.
“Afghan National Police (ANP) with the assistance of the army, NDS or Afghan intelligence agency and Coalition forces launched 11 joint and independent operations over the past 24 hours in Kabul, Kunduz, Faryab, Badakhshan, Kandahar, Helmand and Uruzgan provinces,” said a statement issued by the Interior Ministry on Sunday.”As a result of these operations, six armed insurgents were killed, one wounded and 57 other armed insurgents were arrested,” it said.
President Hamid Karzai on Monday ordered increased security for workers building roads, dams, electricity lines and telecommunications systems in an attempt to revive key projects stalled by insurgent attacks that have killed or kidnapped dozens of laborers. The US has but they have either been halted due to violence or dragged down by corruption and mismanagement.
The continued violence and instability in Afghanistan is a sign of the ongoing nature of the insurgency and the Obama administration’s failure to show results after a major surge over the past two years. Not only have benchmarks for security not been met, but the government is still rife with corruption and dictatorial proclivities.
As further confirmation that the war is far from over, the US and Afghanistan are close to signing a strategic pact which would allow at least 25,000 United States troops to remain in the country at least until 2024. Despite Obama’s promises of full withdrawal by 2014, the new agreement would allow not only military trainers to stay to build up the Afghan army and police, but also American special forces soldiers and air power to remain.