4 NATO Troops Killed; Assassination attempt on Rabbani Fails; 50,000 Greet Abdullah in Mazar

Four NATO troops, including one American and three Britons, were killed in Afghanistan on Thursday. The American was killed by small arms fire. The three British soldiers fell victim to a roadside bomb. Nearly 200 British troops have been killed in Afghanistan, and 706 Americans.

Pashtun guerrillas attempted to kill former president Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kunduz on Thursday, sparking a fierce gun battle and the firing of rocket-propelled grenades. Rabbani had been campaigning up north for Abdullah Abdullah. Both are Tajik (Sunni speakers of Dari Persian), while Hamid Karzai is Pashtun. But then, the Taliban have tried to kill Karzai more than once, too.

WaPo: The good news is that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says there will not be a request for further troops in the Afghanistan review being prepared by the Pentagon. The bad news is that Gates sees the US fighting in that country for “a few years.”

In the northern, largely ethnically Uzbek city of Mazar-i Sharif, some 50,000 supporters are reported to have come out to hear presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah speak, according to the Australian Broadcasting Co. As far as I could tell, no major American news organization had a reporter in Mazar to report on this rally. The NYT carried a Reuters dispatch about it. Much rides for the US on who wins this election and there are tens of thousands of US troops in the country, and it isn’t worth covering?

Hajji Hasan Sultani, an independent candidate for president, has pulled out of the race in favor of incumbent Hamid Karzai. He is the fourth to do so in recent weeks.

Election observers are expecting ballot fraud. They point out that in some conservative provinces in the south and east, more women have registered to vote than men. Since in less conservative provinces, the number of women registering is about half that of men, these statistics are suspicious. It is feared that the men in the Pashtun areas may attempt to vote for all the adult women in the family, which is illegal but often winked at in Afghanistan.

Aljazeera English reports on the growing challenge to incumbent Hamid Karzai by former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah

The US Marines in Afghanistan are doing an energy audit. The high price of fossil fuels, the long and vulnerable supply line for gasoline supplies to Karachi, and concerns about climate change appear to lie behind the concern with energy efficiency.

Among Abdullah Abdullah’s campaign platforms is a more wideranging attempt to talke to the Taliban. But the Karzai government has such talks ongoing. From Globalpost: “Talking to the Taliban/Counter insurgency” –

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