By Mustafa Kazemi

Nimruz (Afghanistan) – Five Afghan teenagers are killed during a casual sports match in a shooting by unidentified gunmen in Eastern Afghanistan this afternoon.

Afghan youth play soccer on the outskirts of Herat on January 17, 2014

Afghan youth play soccer on the outskirts of Herat on January 17, 2014 (AFP)

A late Thursday press release from Afghan President’s office said that the teens were playing casual sports with each other when attacked by gunmen on motorbikes in Alingar district of Eastern Laghman province.

“Gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a number of teenagers in Sakhra Roy area of Alingar district, in result of which 5 teenagers playing sports were martyred” – the press release cited Falzlullah Mujadadi, governor of Laghman province.

“Afghan president condemns this attack in the strongest terms” – the statement added.

“Attacks of this sort have been increased recently on the innocent Afghan civilians have increased by the enemies of peace in Afghanistan” – Afghan President Hamid Karzai says while referring to a similar rocket attack on football players in southern Kandahar province.

President Karzai spoke over telephone with Governor Mujadadi and directed him to thoroughly investigate the incident and offer assistance to the victims’ families.

This is the second attack on Afghan civilians during sports matches in one week’s time interval.

On January 18th, a rocket attack on a football stadium in volatile southern Kandahar province’s Maiwand district killed 4 football players and injured 5 others.

All four of the fatalities were Maiwand district’s football team members.

No insurgent group has yet claimed responsibility for either of the attacks.

-End-

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Part of series on Taliban Memories
By Mustafa Kazemi
Nimruz – Afghanistan

 

    It was around late 1998 when my father opened a carpentry workshop for me to keep my head down in there to avoid social immoralities caused by joblessness. As a doctor, my father did use to teach us English and a couple of other science subjects to make sure of our basic literacy, but there wasn’t much he could teach us at home without a proper teacher.

We lived in the border town of Zaranj, capital of Nimruz province and social immoralities were at its height – all transmitted from Iran’s border towns of Zabul & Zahidan. My father practiced medicine but it was sufficient enough to keep a family of 5 going on a day by day basis. Nothing much to save for the future or spend it fancily. I attended this very carpentry workshop with another man from eastern Laghman province but he later found serious issues with his family and decided to abandon the workshop and relocate to his hometown of Laghman.

My father bought this tiny workshop with all its wood and equipment hoping to keep me and my younger brother busy with it. The workshop was in the downtown part of the city and Taliban fighters used to frequently patrol the city center roads and attempt to execute Sharia law on whomever who did not comply by the Islamic sharia rules, i.e. kept long hair, shaved beard, listened to anything but non-Islamic and non-Jihadist songs etc… Certain Taliban teams consisted of at least two and at most five armed people were patrolling the streets while one or more of them often carried on him a lash – usually made of a 1-inch-thick electricity wire – to “punish” those who disobeyed the rules made by themselves only; whether or not Islamic.

It was a widely practiced custom those times that everybody must offer the prayer [Namaz] at a mosque – versus now that it is optional if someone wants to offer prayer at home or work or a mosque. Back then it was to say, forced on everybody to offer prayer at a mosque. As people knew that the Taliban’s “Moral correction” teams will force them to the mosque, the people walked up to a mosque on themselves and avoided resistance or getting head to head with Taliban. Yet again, among the people there were individuals who either hid at their shops or in one way or another, escaped the Taliban’s vision and stayed back, avoiding going to the mosque. In fact there were two groups of people: those who feared god, and those who feared the Taliban.

I was the latter. When prayer time, I closed my carpentry’s shop and walked towards the mosque. The city’s main mosque, now the biggest in the city, was less than half a mile from my workshop; so I always took a walk and went there for prayer. The mosque had three main gates, facing to three directions and one small gate facing west. This little gate was deep inside the mosque’s main hall where people offered prayer – mostly inaccessible for the general public.

One Sunday at around five or so, as usual I closed my shop and walked towards the mosque – but unaware that today was one different Sunday than others. I entered the mosque through its northern gate and offered the prayer as usual. The city was small back then and there were several alternate routes to every place and destination – one of those was my shop.

I left for the mosque from one different route but some wrong sixth sense redirected me to leave towards my workshop through a route different than that I used on the way in. Up until this point I had no damned idea of what was awaiting me.

After leaving the mosque, walking softly on the main road of the bazaar, I confronted four Taliban, one of them carrying a PKM machine gun on his shoulder while the rest carried the customary Kalashnikov rifles that every Taliban member carried. All with white or black turbans.

One of them stopped me and asked if I’ve offered evening’s prayer. “Yes I’m on the way back from the mosque”, I answered.

The other guy interrupted the conversation and said “He is lying. He did not pray”.

Feeling the trouble’s heat, I did not want to negotiate my release or bargain with them.

The gentlemen accompanied me to the very mosque and made sure I stand and begin my prayer.

Furious and upset over this, with feeling of telling myself that ‘praying again is no bad thing’, I quickly finished the prayer and walked to the exit.

This time I thought with myself that exiting from the same door will have its curse – so let’s leave from the other door this time.

I walked out of the eastern gate this time.

After about two hundred meters of walking, I faced another team of Taliban with a collected big bunch of people who had skipped their prayers. Trying to change my route immediately was the first thing that occurred to me – but it was late. They had spotted me and one of them shouted at me.

Seeming from the situation, I did guess that these folks will take me to the mosque again and will not believe if I tell them I already prayed twice. So, for the sake of saving myself a couple of lashes, I said nothing and complied by when one of the Talibs told me to walk towards the mosque along with others.

Third time, I was not offering the occasion’s prayer – I was praying to be able to escape and go home somehow. While standing with the rest of the people and acting like I am offering evening’s prayer, I was designing my escape plan.

My plan was to exit from the northern gate and leave for home instead of workshop because it was almost 6:30 pm and it was time to go home.

I did so – and I failed again.

This third time I was not even able to walk a hundred meters away from the mosque’s vicinity. I again faced a group of Taliban with machine gun on their shoulders and pushing everyone who came on their way towards the mosque.

For the 4th time I stood on the prayer line with everyone else. But this time it was late enough and the time to offer night’s prayer. I offered night’s prayer and intended a strategic escape. I thought I will wait until full dark and then leave from one of the doors – my family will already be worried about me and my father will be already looking for me.

For the final time, I attempted exiting the mosque.

I waited until complete dark – and then left from mosque’s eastern gate and walked towards home.

It is worth mentioning that when I intended to leave the mosque the second time, someone had stolen my sandals. They were a pair of cheap, fake, plastic affordable sandals that was good enough for me because they were washable.

Four times prayer, and loss of one pair of useful twisted washable cheap sandal was the cost of trying to abide by the Taliban’s sharia law 15 years ago.

It is marked as one of the greatest days of my life.

—-

By: Mustafa Kazemi

    

    Kabul (Afghanistan) – Three suicide bombers attacked a Lebanese restaurant in heart of Kabul on late Friday, killing over 14, including women and foreigners.

“At around 7:30 pm three terrorists with suicide bombing vests and combat rifles stormed the Tavern Lebanese restaurant in Wazir Akbar Khan area” General Mohammad Zahir, Police Chief of Kabul, told journalists.

The insurgents continued combating the security guards of the restaurant and the first-responder security forces from the area for nearly three hours.

“Unfortunately around 13 to 14 people have died in the attack” General Zahir added.

There are both local & foreign nationals among the dead and wounded.

Later in the night further details regarding the attack and casualties were revealed to the media.

A Tolo television video feed from the area showed Afghan Police’s Special Unit attempting to storm the restaurant after the attack.

A cook working at the restaurant, speaking on the telephone to one of private TV’s journalists said that the bombers had heavy weaponry with them, including RPGs, RPD machine guns and AK-47 assault rifles.

Speaking on a live feed, the cook further added that the bombers yelled “Allah-u-Akbar” fore to blowing themselves up with the explosive vests they were wearing.

An unconfirmed report later said that there are at least 3 foreigner women among those dead in the attack.

Afghan uniformed Police and Special Police units were in the area until this story was filled.

 

 

By Mustafa Kazemi

    Forward Operating Base Delaram (Afghanistan) – The United States Army released the names of 4 soldiers and 2 pilots who died Dec 17 in southern Zabul province when their UH-60 helicopter crashed, killing all aboard.

Initial reporting indicated an engine failure being the cause of the crash, but various controversial comments from officials including one from Defense Department said the chopper was either fired at, or the soldiers were killed by enemy fire. Department of Defense says their investigations are still ongoing and no definite conclusion can be drawn on the certain cause of the crash.

Killed soldiers are identified as:

 
 

 

Assigned to the 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas:

  1. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua B. Silverman, 35, of Scottsdale, Arizona

Airmen & flight crew

  1. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy L. Billings, 34, of Heavener, Oklahoma
  1. Sgt. Peter C. Bohler, 29, of Willow Spring, North Carolina

Assigned to other units:

  1. Sgt. 1st Class Omar W. Forde, 28, of Marietta, Georgia., assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas
  1. Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams, 30, of Elkhart, Ind., assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.
  1. Spc. Terry K. D. Gordon, 22, of Shubuta, Miss., assigned to 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas

 

 
 

– End –

 
 

 
 

 
 

December 13, 2013
By Mustafa Kazemi

    Kabul (Afghanistan) – The Department of Defense today identified five units to deploy as part of the upcoming rotation of forces operating in Afghanistan.  

 
 

The scheduled rotation involves elements of one infantry brigade combat team (IBCT) with roughly 3,200 personnel (1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division); elements of one cavalry regiment (CR) with roughly 2,050 personnel (3rd Cavalry Regiment); elements of two combat aviation brigades – one with roughly 1,700 personnel and the other with roughly 1,000 personnel (16th Combat Aviation Brigade and 12th Combat Aviation Brigade); a division headquarters element with roughly 350 personnel (1st Cavalry Division Headquarters) to rotate in spring 2014 in support of the combatant commander’s mission requirements. The deploying units include:  

 
 

Brigade Combat Teams/Combat Aviation Brigades:

 
 

1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

 
 

3rd Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas.

 
 

16th Combat Aviation Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

 
 

12th Combat Aviation Brigade, Ansbach, Germany.

 
 

Division Headquarters:

 
 

1st Cavalry Division Headquarters, Fort Hood, Texas.

 

– End –

By Mustafa Kazemi

 

    December 12, 2013 – Kabul (Afghanistan): A suicide bomber attacked a NATO military convoy in Kabul, resulting in no injuries.

The bomber walked towards the convoy crossing a road to Kabul military airport which is managed by ISAF Joint Command & detonated his explosive ordnances, resulting in his own death.

Incident took place near a US & Afghan military base on Northern outskirts of Kabul city.

No insurgent group has claimed responsibility of the attack.

 

– End –

By Mustafa Kazemi

Forward Operating Base Delaram (Southwestern Afghanistan) – The United States Army on Friday released the suicide statistics for the month of September.

Among active-duty soldiers, there were 10 potential suicides:  None have been confirmed as suicide and 10 remain under investigation. 

For September 2013, the Army reported nine potential suicides among active-duty soldiers; however, subsequent to the report, one more case was added bringing September’s total to 10: three have been confirmed as suicides and seven are under investigation. 

For CY 2013, there have been 126 potential active-duty suicides:  67 have been confirmed as suicides and 59 remain under investigation.  Updated active-duty suicide numbers for CY 2012:  186 (172 have been confirmed as suicides and 14 remain under investigation).

During October 2013, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were 12 potential suicides (11 Army National Guard and one Army Reserve): None have been confirmed as suicide and 12 remain under investigation. 

For September 2013, among that same group, the Army reported eight potential suicides: three have been confirmed as suicides and five cases remain under investigation.  For CY 2013, there have been 125 potential not on active duty suicides (82 Army National Guard and 43 Army Reserve):  87 have been confirmed as suicides and 38 remain under investigation. 

Updated not on active duty suicide numbers for CY 2012:  140 (93 Army National Guard and 47 Army Reserve): 140 have been confirmed as suicides and none remain under investigation.

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