August 2003 in Afghanistan
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2003 in Afghanistan. A list of notable incidents in Afghanistan during 2003
August 1: Afghan] Education Minister Yunis Qanooni and Herat province governor Ismail Khan in separate announcements denied Human Rights Watch allegations that they and other Afghan leaders were involved in human rights abuses.
- In response to a July 29 rebel ambush that killed at least two Afghan soldiers, roughly 500 Afghan troops backed by U.S.-led forces and helicopters entered the Tora Ghar District east of Sha Wali Khot, 10 km (6.2 mi) north of Kandahar. The operation against an estimated 100 rebels netted three Taliban commanders, Mullah Abdul Hakim, Mullah Abdul Hamid and Mullah Abdul Zahir.
August 2: Afghan Deputy Defense Minister Abdul Rashid Dostam launched a drive to disarm thousands of his militiamen in Jawzjan province. Around 1,000 of his fighters were disarmed. The disarmed men were to be sent to Kabul to join the Afghan National Army.
August 3: UN special envoy for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, met for the first time with the six-member Afghan electoral commission. Atop the goals of the commission is to register millions of potential voters. To date, free elections had never been held in Afghanistan.
- U.S. bases in Paktika province and Kandahar province came under rocket attacks, but there were no casualties.
- Thirteen Afghan militiamen were killed and twenty-one were injured when a truck loaded with 800 rifles, light machine guns, tank rounds and other ammunition exploded in Aqcha District, Jawzjan province.
- In Nangarhar province, a demining vehicle, from the Mine Clearance Planning Agency, was shot at twice, but there were no casualties.
- In Miranshah, Pakistan, authorities arrested Haji Jamil, a former Afghan mujahideen commander loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
- A press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan held by Pakistani Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz and Afghan Finance Minister Dr. Ashraf Ghani marked the end of a three-day Joint Economic Commission between their countries. The ministers announced that Pakistan pledged to remove six more items from its negative list of exportable items, to reduce railway and port charges, and to simplify custom procedures. The two countries also agreed to enhance bilateral air-traffic, open bank branches of each other, and start railway traffic between Chamman and Kandahar.
- At the Afghan Ministry of Women's Affairs in Kabul, thirty Afghan women graduated from a business-training course run by the Afghan Women's Business Center. The teachers had been trained in the U.S. and Kabul. The program was run by the smallNGO Freedom Medicine and funded by the United States State Department.
August 6: The first civilian passenger plane since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to fly non-stop from Europe to Afghanistan landed in Kabul. The German airline LTU thus began a regular schedule by which an Airbus 330-200 would leave Düsseldorf each Tuesday evening and arrive in Kabul Wednesday morning after a 6½-hour flight.
- In a press conference in Peshawar, Pakistan, the chairman of the Afghan Organization of Human Rights and Environmental Protection, Abdul Rehman Hotaki, revealed that 495 Pakistani POWs remained in Afghanistan since end of Talibanrule. Most of the POWs were overcrowded in unhygienic conditions in the Shibarghan jail, and not treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. He also asserted that some warlords had Pakistani captives in private jails.
- Four Afghan government soldiers were wounded in an attack on a government 70 km (43 mi) from Kandahar.
- Fifteen miles (24 km) north of Spin Boldak, in Kandahar province, Taliban forces attacked with rockets a government vehicle, killing five Afghan government soldiers and wounding three.
- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released a report that concluded there were, in Kabul at least 24,000 hashish users, nearly 11,000 opium users and 7,000 heroin users and roughly 7,000 alcohol imbibers.
- Canadian Forces bought four French-built unmanned aerial vehicles (called Sperwers) for use in its deployment to Afghanistan. The $33.8-million contract was awarded to Oerlikon-Contraves Corporation, of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.
- In Balkh province, a rocket hit a parked vehicle belonging to the Halo Trust, a British demining agency, but broke in half on impact and did not explode.
- In Asadabad, a rocket landed about 400 metres (yards) from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
- The Islamic Development Bank agreed to provide $4.7 million in financial aid to Afghanistan to set up a women's hostel for Kabul University.
- In Paktika province, U.S. military planes, called in by U.S. ground troops patrolling the border, opened fire on what were believed to be attackers fleeing towards the border, killing two Pakistani guards and wounding a third.
- Asian Cricket Council development officer Iqbal Sikander, also representing the International Cricket Council, met Afghanistan to discuss development of cricket in Afghanistan.
- Leaflets, containing a death threat against all Afghans who supported the U.S., were distributed near Spin Boldak and Pakistan's southern town of Chaman.
- A report issued by the United Nations stated that Afghanistan had re-emerged as the world's leading source for opium and heroin. The report estimated that 500,000 people were involved in Afghanistan's trafficking chain and estimated an annual income at $25 billion.
- In northeastern Kunar province, rebels fired two 107 mm rockets at a U.S. coalition base in Asadabad. There were no casualties.
August 13: President Karzai decreed that officials could no longer hold both military and civil posts. The move stripped Ismail Khan of his post as military commander of western Afghanistan.
- Lakhdar Brahimi, the head of the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, urged the Security Council to expand peacekeeping forces across the country.
- A bomb exploded on a bus in Helmand province, Afghanistan, killing at least 17 people including eight children.
- U.S.-led coalition forces in Khost province, killed 16 insurgents. Five border guards died.
- In Uruzgan province, at least 25 people died after fighting broke out between supporters of Amanullah, the former ruler of the remote district of Kajran, and his successor, Abdul Rahman Khan.
- In western Kabul, two men were killed when a bomb they were making went off, leaving twisted wreckage of two small cars strewn across their walled compound. A man who survived the explosion later told police they were constructing car bombs to attack "the slaves of the United Nations and the foreign invaders."
- Eight suspected Taliban were killed after they attacked Afghan border forces in southeastern Khost province. Two others, who were not Afghans, were arrested.
- In a meeting at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, Afghan National Security Adviser Zalmay Rasul, Pakistani Maj. Gen.Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and U.S. Maj. Gen. John Vines agreed to establish a hotline to step up communications between the three nations.
August 14: Southwest of Kabul, two aid workers from the Afghan Red Crescent Society were killed and three others injured when five armed men on two motorcycles fired on their convoy.
- After a rocket was fired near one of its compounds on August 10, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced that it was suspending operations in Kunar Province.
- The Afghan Ministry of Health began chemically treating thousands of shallow wells in Kabul.
August 15: The United Nations announced that it and the Afghan government approved a $7.6 million project to register voters for national elections in 2004. A board of six Afghans and five international members was to oversee the registration of an estimated 10.5 million people over 18.
- More than 1,600 soldiers Canadian soldiers arrived in Afghanistan to start their tour of duty at Camp Julien, outside Kabul.
August 16: In a ceremony at the governor's residence in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Gul Agha Sherzai handed gubernatorial power to Yusuf Pashtun. The change in power occurred in response to President Hamid Karzai's decree of August 13 that officials could no longer hold both military and civil posts. Sherzai became a federal minister of urban affairs.
- General Baz Mohammed Ahmadi was appointed as the new corps commander for Herat. He had previously been commander of the Rushkhar military barracks in southern Kabul.
- In Barmal, Paktika province, fifteen insurgents and seven Afghan government soldiers were killed in a clash.
August 17: Over 200 insurgents crossed the border from Pakistan and overran the police station in Barmal District, Paktika province, killing eight officers. Afghan security forces killed 15 of the attackers, who later fled the area.
- A large group of insurgents set fire to a police station at Tarway, Paktika province. Four officers were captured by the attackers, who retreated to Pakistan.
- In the northern town of Balkh, Jawzjan province, two Afghan workers for the Save the Children Fund were injured when armed men opened fire on their vehicle.
August 18: Three Afghan government soldiers were killed in an attack in Paktika province.
- Twelve suspected Taliban insurgents ambushed and killed nine policemen near Kharwar in Logar province.
- In Wardak province, 20 armed men stormed a compound belonging to the Mine Dog Center. The attackers beat five employees with rifle butts, fired a rocket-propelled grenade at one of their vehicles and set a mine-clearing ambulance on fire. Police later arrested eight suspects.
- About a dozen Canadian specialists, Led by Col. Mark Hodgson, visited three Kabul-area villages (Qalae Bakhtiar Khan, Qalae Muslim, Qalae Badur Khan) largely ignored by the hundreds of aid organization.
- Low-key celebrations took place in Afghanistan to mark Afghan Independence Day. The holiday commemorates the day in 1919 when the UK gave up control of Afghanistan.
- In Kandahar, An explosion occurred in the house of Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of President Karzai. The government said the explosion was caused accidentally when some weapons were being moved. One man was injured.
- Attackers fired three rockets at a coalition base in Asadabad, Kunar province. There was no damage.
- A bomb exploded near coalition troops on patrol at Bari Kowt, in Kunar province.
- Nine policemen were killed in Logar province, Afghanistan.
- In Afghanistan, a U.S. special operations service member died as a result of injuries received during operations in the vicinity of Orgun, Paktika Province.
- A U.S. soldier was slightly wounded by a bomb while on patrol near the U.S. base at Shkin, Paktika Province.
- At least three Afghan civilians were hurt when a U.S. military helicopter fired on their car, near Urgun District, Paktika Province.
- In Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, at least 20 people were killed and 25 others wounded in fighting between rival militias.
- Opponents of the Afghan government torched the coed Abu-Sofyaan School in Musai district, Logar province. The attackers warned the girls studying at the school not to return.
- Over a two-day period in Kabul, Afghanistan, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri met separately with Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, President Hamid Karzai and Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim. Among other things, they agreed to increase number of flights between their nations. The Afghan government raised no objection with 640 Pakistani prisoners being released by Afghanistan, but U.S. authorities still had not investigated them for any links to terrorist groups.
- U.S. and Afghan forces destroyed three heroin factories in Nangarhar province.
August 22: Pakistan released forty-one men who had fought for the Taliban. Authorities had determined the men did not have ties to terrorist groups.
- Two Afghan soldiers and four rebel fighters were killed in a clash involving a group of 250 to 300 suspected Taliban fighters in Uruzgan province. Nine suspected Taliban members were captured along with documents, assault rifles, shoulder-held rocket launchers and ammunition.
August 23: Five Afghan government soldiers were killed in an ambush in Zabul province. At least three rebel fighters were killed in the battle that followed.
August 25: In the Dozi area of the Dai Chopan district, Zabul province, a joint Afghan-U.S. military operation, which involved F-16s and A-10s, killed over a dozen rebel fighters. The incident was part of Operation Warrior Sweep.
- Alexander Mikhailov, deputy head of Russia's drug control committee, stated that heroin from Afghanistan was sweeping through Russia.
- A two-day meeting in Kabul between among Afghan, Pakistan and UNHCR authorities began to discuss the fate of the Afghan refugees. In the meetings it was agreed that four refugee camps near the border would close down, and repatriation of some 50,000 Afghans would take place. Two of the camps were in the Chaman area of Balochistan and two camps were in Shalman on the Khyber Pass.
August 27: A group of insurgents attacked U.S.-led coalition forces near the village of Shkin, Paktika province.
- German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Security Cabinet approved sending a possible 250 troops to the Kunduz province of Afghanistan to help maintain order and aid civilian relief organizations. However, the decision required parliamentary approval.
- Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah visited Kiev, Russia. In a press conference he said that drug trafficking jeopardized the postwar construction of Afghanistan; he urged the international community to increase the resources needed to fight the flow of narcotics.
August 28: In Zabul province, U.S. fighter jets and helicopters bombed suspected Taliban hideouts. One U.S. soldier was wounded in related clashes in the Tangi Chinaran area of Dai Chopan district that left up to 40 insurgents dead.
- British SIS Agent Colin Berry is released from captivity after negotiations between the British and Afghan Governments finally meets a head. Berry had been held since 25 February 2003. Throughout this time he had been 'moved' from location to location following questioning by the Afghan Ministry of Interior Secret Police. Berry reported that during his detention he had been routinely tortured or beaten during questioning by his captors. These allegations were confirmed by a British FCO Consulate by way of photographs taken after one such occasion where Berry had been repeatedly whipped with a metal cable. Berry stated that the line of questioning throughout his captivity had been centered on the concerns of his captors and the intelligence agencies knowledge of their activities. Berry was never officially detained and his captivity was always described as routine whilst helping enquiries. General Jellali stated that 'Mr Berry was our guest'. Berry was moved around by night and 'off the radar screen' for 7 months.
- Farooq Wardak, director of the Afghan Constitutional Commission, announced that they would postpone adopting a new constitution by two months, delaying the adoption until the end of December 2003.
August 29: Three Afghan government soldiers were killed and one Afghan commander, Haji Wali Shah, was kidnapped by rebels near the Spin Boldak. Four rebels were wounded, but escaped.
- U.S.-led forces came under fire in the Dai Chopan district of Zabul province. Eight suspected Taliban fighters were captured and at least twelve were killed. A U.S. special operations soldier died in an accidental fall during a nighttime assault.
- An Afghan presidential palace vault was opened for the first time in an estimated 15 years revealing Afghanistan's 2,000-year-old Tillya Tepe Bactrian gold treasures.
- Pakistan detained 26 suspected Taliban members in a raid on an Islamic seminary near its border with Afghanistan.
August 30: Afghan soldiers swarmed over remote mountain peaks in an ongoing battle with suspected Taliban holdouts, killing and capturing several enemy fighters.
- In a new offensive dubbed Operation Mountain Viper, U.S. planes launched a second night of bombing in the Dai Chopan area of Zabul province.
- Pakistan announced that it had set up 23 new check-posts over a 60 kilometer region along the Durand Line border with Afghanistan.
- A grenade was thrown at the Indian consulate in Jalalabad. No one was injured in the explosion.
- U.S.-led troops launched a new offensive against suspected Taliban forces in Zabul province.
August 31: Two U.S. troops were killed and three were wounded in a clash with rebel fighters in Paktia Province. Four insurgents were also killed in the 90-minute firefight.
- In Zabul province, U.S. warplanes and helicopters continued to bomb suspected Taliban hideouts in the mountains of the Dai Chopan region.
- A large group of suspected Taliban fighters raided an Afghan government checkpoint along a highway to Kabul, killing four policemen and taking two captive.
- In the Shajoi region of Zabul province, a police checkpoint near a camp for Indian and Afghan highway workers were attacked by armed men on motorcycles. Six of the sleeping guards were killed, several others were kidnapped and two vehicles were incinerated by rockets and gunfire.
- In Uruzgan province, Afghan soldiers and three supsected Taliban fighters died in a clash.
- In Kabul, Commander Qalam of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami faction was arrested in a raid along with four colleagues