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Afghanistan timeline March 16-31, 2003

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Afghanistan timeline

Contents

March 31, 2003

March 30, 2003

  • U.S. forces called in air support that smashed a cluster of suspected rebel vehicles and killed at least two attackers in the eastern border town of Shkin in Afghanistan.
  • Six Afghan civilians were killed and six were injured when their taxi hit a landmine 12 kilometers (7 miles) north of Lashkargah. It was alleged that the mine had been laid during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The taxi had left a rutted dirt road apparently to avoid potholes.
  • Assailants fired about a dozen 82 mm mortar rounds toward a U.S. base near Shkin, Afghanistan, triggering an attack by a U.S. Marine AV-8 Harrier II jet that dropped a 1,000-pound (454-kilo), laser-guided bomb on three vehicles spotted trying to leave the area. Two AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships were also called in, but they did not fire.
  • A 122 mm rocket struck the headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul. The explosion sprayed shrapnel across trees and buildings and damaged two ISAF vehicles inside the compound, but no one was hurt.
  • Attackers fired two rockets at a U.S. base in the eastern town of Gardez, Afghanistan, but there were no casualties.

March 29, 2003

March 28, 2003

  • The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to extend the U.N. assistance mission in Afghanistan for another year, enough time to see the country through to general elections.
  • Four suspected Taliban were killed and six captured as U.S. special forces and hundreds of Afghan soldiers fought in Sangisakh Shaila against about 100 suspected Taliban holdouts.
  • Claiming to be somewhere in Afghanistan, senior Taliban military commander Mullah Dadullah told the BBC that the Taliban hoped to regain power in Afghanistan, utilizing popular support. Dadullah said that the Taliban had regrouped under the leadership of Mullah Mohammed Omar and were attacking U.S.-led coalition troops with renewed vigour and ferocity. He added that the Taliban would fight until "Jews and Christians, all foreign crusaders" were expelled from Afghanistan. According to Dadullah, al-Qaeda no longer existed in Afghanistan and that he did not know the fate or whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.
  • The Asian Development Bank forwarded a draft proposal to Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan regarding India's participation in a proposed 1,300 km Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan natural gas pipeline project. The draft was subject to approval of all parties.

March 27, 2003

March 26, 2003

March 25, 2003

March 24, 2003

  • A patrol of U.S. forces from the Shkin base in the Paktika Province of Afghanistan came under gunfire and grenade attack by as many as five militants. There were no injuries. A Humvee, containing three soldiers, was damaged after tumbling into a ditch to evade the fire. A grenade landed underneath the vehicle, but did not detonate.
  • In Afghanistan, U.S.-led forces participating in Operation Valiant Strike found more than 170 rocket-propelled grenades and scores of land mines and mortar rounds.
  • In reaction to questions raised by Ahmed Shah Behzad at the opening ceremonies of human rights commission on March 19, the governor Herat, Ismail Khan, expelled the Behzad from the province. Most journalists in Herat protested the move and went on strike to also demand more press freedom in the province.
  • Afghanistan marked World Tuberculosis Day with a ceremony in Kabul. To date, Afghanistan had one of the highest incidences of the disease in the world, killing 23,000 a year. The disease was mainly the result of poverty and malnutrition.
  • On a train between the Belarusian capital Minsk and Moscow, Maj. Gen. Viktor Karpukhin died of heart failure. Karpukhin had been a commander of an elite Soviet commando unit that took part in one of the riskier operations of the Soviet Union's 10-year war in Afghanistan.

March 23, 2003

  • A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed while on a on a medical evacuation mission in Afghanistan, killing all six people on board. The accident occurred about 18 miles north of Ghazni. The accident brought the number of US military personnel killed in Afghanistan to almost 60, more than half of whom died in noncombat operations.
  • About 30 new prisoners were taken to Camp X-Ray in Cuba, bringing to about 660 the number of inmates there.
  • About 1,000 people in Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan demonstrated against the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
  • In Sato Kandow, Afghanistan, U.S. Special Forces, patrolling a stretch of road from Gardez to Khost, clashed with militiamen loyal to Bacha Khan Zardran, prompting the special forces to call in Apache helicopter gunships. Up to 10 rebels were killed and seven were wounded.
  • A mediation team, consisting of United Nations officials and military officials from key northern factions, was dispatched to Latti, Afghanistan to stem fighting between Abdul Rashid Dostum and Atta Mohammed.

March 22, 2003

  • A large weapons cache was found inside several buildings in a walled compound near the southern Sami Ghar mountains, Afghanistan, where hundreds of U.S.-led troops were hunting for terror suspects as part of Operation Valiant Strike. Two suspected rebels were captured. The cache included 170 107mm rockets, two 82mm mortars and 400 mortar rounds, two heavy machine guns, two antiaircraft cannons, thousands of rocket-propelled grenades with eight launchers, and thousands of machine gun rounds.
  • In the Wath army post, about 20 miles south of Spinboldak, attackers opened fire, killing three Afghan soldiers.
  • Three Afghan soldiers were killed and four kidnapped in two separate pre-dawn attacks on security checkposts near Spin Boldak.
  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrived in Pakistan for a four-day visit with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali.
  • The school year in most of Afghanistan officially started, but schools were closed because of a holiday for the Afghan New Year. Education Minister Yunus Qanooni said 5.8 million students would go to school, up from 3.3 million the year before. The United Nations had a more conservative estimate of about 4.5 million. Many villages set up informal schools in mosque courtyards, tents and private homes because they never had schools in the first place or the buildings were destroyed.

March 21, 2003

The Afghan New Year
  • In Khost, twelve Afghan policemen were arrested and police chief Mohammad Mustafa was dismissed for alleged involvement in corruption, drug trafficking or having links with the Taliban and al-Qaida. The arrests were made by about 50 U.S. and 20 Afghan troops. About 60 police officers were believed to be involved, but when the arrests were made, several fled. Mustafa was replaced by Mohammed Zaman Khan. About 800 officers remain in the force.
  • A new strategy to disarm militias in Afghanistan will be given to President Hamid Karzai by a team of United Nations and Afghan government officials, when he will announce it to the nation.
  • The U.S.-backed Afghan government called for a quick end to the war in Iraq, saying President Saddam Hussein should leave Iraq. The statement read: "We want the people of Iraq to be free from despotism...It is in the interest of the Iraqi people for Saddam Hussein to leave power. The interests of the people of Iraq are higher than the interests of Saddam Hussein and his family...We want a united Iraq, with a government representing its people for peace and stability in the region and world."
  • By the third day of Operation Valiant Strike, U.S. forces had arrested 12 people, including members of Afghanistan's former Taliban regime.
  • 18 Afghan prisoners left Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to be released home.

March 20, 2003

  • All U.N. offices and embassies in Afghanistan were closed amid security concerns after the U.S. initiated its war against Iraq. Domestic flights continued, but international flights into Afghanistan were canceled. In Kabul, police stopped and searched most vehicles at major intersections causing mile-long traffic tie-ups. Coalition soldiers maintained a heavy presence on Chicken Street, a popular tourist destination for Westerners.
  • A bomb hidden in a drainage ditch exploded in Kandahar, Afghanistan and a second bomb was found and defused.
  • U.S. Special Forces observed missile fire in Khost, Afghanistan against a border post on the nearby frontier with Pakistan. Fire was returned and close air support from an A-10 aircraft dropped several bombs on the suspected positions of the attackers. There were no US casualties or damage reports.
  • Attackers fired 11 rockets toward the U.S. base in the eastern town of Orgun-E, Afghanistan, but none landed closer than 500 yards from the base.
  • At Deh Rawood in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, U.S. Special Forces reported a rocket fired at an observation tower near one of their outpost.
  • As part of Operation Valiant Strike, U.S. troops poured into the villages of Gari Kaloay and Sekandarzay, Afghanistan, around 140 kilometres (87 miles) east of Kandahar.

March 19, 2003

  • About two-hundred U.S. troops from the 82nd Airborne Division, led by a battalion of 800 known as the "White Devils," were ferried by helicopters into the Sami Ghar mountains, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Kandahar, initiating Operation Valiant Strike. The objective was to locate Osama bin Laden and members of al Qaeda. The U.S. troops were accompanied by Romanian infantry.
  • Afghan journalist Ahmed Shah Behzad, an employee of Radio Liberty, was detained, beaten and interrogated by local security forces in Herat. Governor Ismail Khan did not like the questions Mr. Behzad was putting to officials during opening ceremonies of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.
  • More than a dozen 107 mm rockets landed near the U.S. Special Forces in Orgun (in Paktika), Afghanistan.
  • Suspected Taliban fighters ambushed the Afghan government Sherabik post about 70 kilometers (40 miles) to the southwest of Kandahar, slitting the throats of three Afghan soldiers.
  • Near Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, international explosives experts destroyed two weapons caches, including a dozen rockets and four homemade bombs, left behind by suspected enemy fighters. The bombs were originally found in Jalalabad in February near the home of a secretary of Din Mohammed, the governor of Nangarhar Province.
  • A 20-year-old Afghan militia soldier was flown from eastern Afghanistan to coalition headquarters in Bagram for medical treatment after being shot in the back and foot.
  • A 12-year-old Afghan boy who stepped on a land mine was rushed to Bagram Air Base for medical treatment. The boy's left leg was amputated.
  • The United States and Afghanistan asked Norway to organize and lead a border police along the Afghan border. Norway did not give an immediate reply.
  • Pakistan approved transit facilities for Afghanistan, including deletion of eight items from the negative list of most controversial Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA), reduction in railways freight and new rail and road routes to facilitate the transportation of goods. The items deleted from the negative list are cotton yarn, polyester, metalised film, ball bearings, timers, tape recorders, glass ware/dinner sets, juicers/blenders and videocassette recorders.
  • Australia announced it would shut down a second detention center on Christmas Island for asylum seekers just a week after it closed the doors of its controversial Woomera camp. The last four detainees were sent back to Afghanistan days earlier.
  • Expected to replace the 1343 lunar year constitution, a tentative draft of a new Afghan constitution, called "the new constitution for the new Afghanistan", was completed. National unity, ensuring social justice and establishing democracy were stressed and any discrimination in ethnic, racial, religious and linguistic sensitivities would be banned.

March 18, 2003

March 17, 2003

March 16, 2003

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