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Kabul Gunmen Sit at Table, Order Juice, Attack

9 killed, including 4 foreigners, at the heavily fortified Serena Hotel

(Newser) - One of the few places in Kabul where foreign officials are still permitted to dine was the target of a ferocious Taliban attack yesterday that left nine people dead, including foreigners from Canada, New Zealand, India, and Pakistan. NBC News reports they were largely killed execution-style. Officials say four gunmen,... More »

Karzai: al-Qaeda Is a 'Myth'

Outgoing leader vents frustrations with US

(Newser) - Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai says he's "done enough; it’s time for me to move on." But ahead of April's elections to replace him, Karzai is reflecting on his time as president—and his anger at the US government—in a lengthy Washington Post interview. Furious... More »

Taliban Trick Frees Jailed Afghan Fighters

Prisoner release form was easy to alter

(Newser) - Getting out of prison was even easier than 1-2-3 for a group of Taliban fighters in Kandahar's heavily guarded Sarposa prison, embarrassed security officials say. The numbers 1 and 2 are very similar in the Pashto language, and the prisoners escaped after an official prisoner release form was altered... More »

Taliban Ends Talks With US Over POW Release

Army PFC Bowe Bergdahl has been held since 2009

(Newser) - The Taliban has put the kibosh on prisoner-exchange negotiations with the US, citing the "current complex political situation" in Afghanistan for ending what was considered America's best shot at securing the freedom of POW Bowe Bergdahl, a 27-year-old Idaho native who's been held captive since 2009. The... More »

US Sweetens Taliban Deal in Bid to Get POW Back

Sources say officials are willing to set 5 Gitmo prisoners free at once

(Newser) - Time is ticking away for the US to extract American POW Bowe Bergdahl before the bulk of US forces withrdraw from Afghanistan this year, and the Obama administration is now once again considering a prisoner swap. The administration is looking to re-open talks with the Taliban about trading the Army... More »

Afghanistan Thumbs Nose at US, Frees 65 Detainees

US fears 65 suspected militants will return to battlefield

(Newser) - Afghanistan released 65 accused militants from a former US prison today despite protests from the American military, which says the men are Taliban fighters who will likely return to the battlefield to kill coalition and Afghan forces. The release was ordered by President Hamid Karzai several weeks ago, after his... More »

Afghanistan Hits Ominous New Polio Milestone

Capital sees first case since fall of Taliban

(Newser) - Health workers in Afghanistan are on high alert after a girl was diagnosed with polio in Kabul—the first case the capital has seen since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. An urgent vaccination campaign has been launched in the city, especially in the desperately poor community of former... More »

Taliban Captures Military Dog

New video shows service canine

(Newser) - A new Taliban video shows what might be the world's first canine POW. In the video, the militants claim to have captured a military service dog during a battle with American forces in Afghanistan's Laghman province in December, reports the Washington Post . Both ABC and Fox News quote... More »

US Reining In Drone Strikes in Pakistan—Maybe

But White House official denies claim

(Newser) - With Pakistan looking to forge peace with the Pakistani Taliban, the US is reducing its drone strikes in the country at Islamabad's request, US officials tell the Washington Post : "That’s what they asked for, and we didn't tell them no." The Post sees the fact... More »

Karzai Skirted West to Secretly Deal With Taliban

But officials say no peace deal with Taliban is forthcoming

(Newser) - The latest strain on the tenuous US-Afghanistan relationship: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been secretly negotiating with the Taliban. With no Western involvement, Karzai has been trying to hash out a peace agreement, which, officials say, explains a lot of his recent inexplicable and vexing actions (see: refusing to sign... More »

2 US University Workers Killed in Afghan Attack

Gunmen, suicide bomber hit popular restaurant

(Newser) - The American University of Afghanistan says that two of its US employees were among those killed in a Taliban attack on a popular Kabul restaurant yesterday that left 21 people dead, including 13 foreigners. A spokesperson did not identify the employees out of respect for the families, but he said... More »

First Female Afghan Police Chief: I Am Not Afraid

'I am ready to serve' despite Taliban threat, she says

(Newser) - Kabul's District 1 has a new police chief—and the Taliban has a new target. Col. Jamila Bayaz has become the first Afghan policewoman to run an entire district, and she says she is ready to face the challenge despite the threat from militants, the AP reports. "I... More »

New Video Proves Captive US Soldier Is Alive

But Bowe Bergdahl looks to be in poor health

(Newser) - The US military has received fresh video of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl , who was captured by the Taliban in June 2009 and is the only US soldier currently held in captivity. The "proof of life" video, found on a thumb drive the US obtained last week, is the first glimpse... More »

Failed Suicide Bomber: Afghan Girl, 8

Supposed sister of Taliban commander was to attack border police

(Newser) - Police arrested an unlikely would-be suicide bomber in southern Afghanistan yesterday: an 8-year-old girl. An Afghan soldier spotted the girl in a suicide vest; the BBC reports that she intended to attack border police, but notes it's unclear whether she failed in her task because she had trouble detonating... More »

Insurgents Poised to Reclaim Afghanistan: Report

Kabul will be in crosshairs by 2015 if US leaves

(Newser) - Afghanistan's insurgents are on the verge of a resurgence. If the US fully withdraws from the country next year, militants will swiftly reclaim much of the country, threatening Kabul as early as 2015, according to the latest National Intelligence Estimate. Indeed, experts believe things will get worse even if... More »

Afghan Opium Crop Hits Record High

Withdrawal expected to give drug trade another boost

(Newser) - After more than a decade of international efforts to combat the narcotics trade in Afghanistan—depriving the Taliban of funds in the process—the country is now producing more opium than ever before, a UN reports funds. The harvest this year resulted in a staggering 6,000 tons of opium,... More »

Afghan Interpreters Who Helped US Troops Denied Visas

Gov't says they're not facing 'serious threat'

(Newser) - An increasing number of Afghan interpreters who worked with US troops for years during the war are being denied US visas, because the government doesn't think their lives are in serious danger. Think again, the interpreters tell the Washington Post . "There are tons of [Taliban members] in my... More »

Malala's Book Banned at Pakistan Schools

Officials: she's a 'tool' of the West

(Newser) - Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban and lived to tell the tale—but her peers in Pakistan, at least those who are privately educated, won't be reading it in school. The teen education activist's book, I Am Malala , has been banned in Pakistani private schools, officials say.... More »

Pakistani Taliban's New Boss: Guy Who Targeted Malala

Council appoints Mullah Fazlullah

(Newser) - The Pakistani Taliban needed a new leader after its last chief was killed in a drone strike , and it has chosen the hardline commander who targeted Malala Yousafzai. Mullah Fazlullah's men tried to assassinate the education activist last year, and he will be the "new ameer," a... More »

US Strike on Taliban Leader Kills Peace Efforts: Pakistan

Militants said to have picked new chief

(Newser) - Seeking peace, Pakistani officials were due to meet with Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud today—a day after the US reportedly killed him in a drone attack . Now, Pakistani officials are expressing outrage over the strike, and they've summoned the US ambassador to make their views known, the BBC... More »

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