2004 in Afghanistan - March

March

Monday, March 1 - During public ceremonies in Kabul, of Shia Muslims commemorating the slaying of their leader Imam al-Husayn, an Afghan National Army cadet shouted abusive language and spat at a banner, prompting the Shia Muslims to throw stones at the soldiers. The cadets then fired into the crowd, killing one and injuring sixteen.

Tuesday, March 2 - A voluntary repatriation program for Afghan refugees run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees resumed after a four-month hiatus following the murder of a staff member in November.

  • In Zabul Province, Afghan forces arrested four Taliban suspects, including commander Mullah Nahim.
  • 750 policemen from five Afghan provinces began a three-week training course at the Gardez Police Academy to assist in administering a fair election.
  • In the tribal South Waziristan region of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan, over a dozen rockets were launched on Pakistani bunkers and checkpoints. The Pakistani troops were engaged in a hunt for Al-Qaeda members.

Wednesday, March 3 - At a ceremony held in the Chinese embassy in Kabul, Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan Sun Yuxi and Afghan Irrigation, Water Resources and Environment Minister Mohammad Yusuf Nooristani signed a contract detailing China's assistance in a major irrigation re-build project near the capital. The project was supposed to be finished in early 2006.

  • In a remote border region near Afghanistan, Pakistani authorities detained at least 15 Ahmadzai Wazir tribal leaders for failing to turn over suspected al-Qaeda fugitives. The leaders had agreed to help trace foreigners suspected of terrorismbut did not live up to the deal.

Thursday, March 4 - Rebels attacked a border post in Maruf district in Kandahar Province, killing seven members of the Afghan National Army.

  • Near Khost, fourteen suspected militants were captured during a U.S. air assault on a compound.

Friday, March 5 - U.S.-led forces killed nine rebels in a gun battle in near Orgun, near the border with Pakistan.

  • In the Shah Joy district in Zabul Province, a Turkish engineer and a local security guard were murdered; a second Turkish worker and another local security guard were kidnapped. The Turkish men were working on a project to resurface the Kabul-Kandahar highway.

Saturday, March 6 - Near Qalat, Zabul Province, Mohammad Isah, a director of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, was murdered by men who stopped his car.

  • West of Ghazni, three U.S. soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division were wounded when their vehicle struck a landmine. Three local men were detained.
  • In Uruzgan Province, three Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. soldiers. The soldiers' vehicle had struck an explosive device.
  • In Afghanistan, two operations involving U.S. and Afghan forces resulted in the deaths of nine rebels and the capture of fourteen.

Sunday, March 7 - Afghan government officials announced that Afghan Planning Minister Haji Muhammad Mohaqiq resigned from the cabinet. Mohaqiq said he was fired after announcing his intention to run against interim president Hamid Karzai in the June 2004 elections. Mohaqiq was replaced by Ramazan Bashardoost.

  • The United States began Operation Mountain Storm across southern and eastern Afghanistan; the aim was to further destroy the al-Qaeda and Taliban infrastructure.

Monday, March 8 - Human Rights Watch published Enduring Freedom - Abuses by US Forces in Afghanistan, which criticizes the United States' actions in Afghanistan. The report cites excessive force, arbitrary detentions and the mistreating people in custody as prominent abuses.

  • Under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, volunteer Afghan refugees began repatriation from different parts of Balochistan in Pakistan.
  • An Afghan National Army soldier was killed and another injured when rebels opened fire from a vehicle at a checkpoint near Maywand.

Tuesday, March 9 - In Ankara, Turkey, Afghan Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Mohammad Fahim Khan met with Turkish National Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül.

  • Using rockets and rifles, at least a dozen rebels attacked the U.S. outpost in Nangalam, Kunar Province. U.S. forces summoned a A-10 Thunderbolt II for assistance. An Afghan civilian was wounded in the crossfire.
  • In Afghanistan, Kabul-area warlords and commanders turned over more than a dozen tanks to the Afghan Defense Ministry, placing them under the control of ISAF and the Afghan National Army.

Wednesday, March 10 - Three rockets were fired at the U.S. base at the airport near Kandahar. There were no casualties.

  • The United Nations reported that 28% of the 1.4 million Afghans registered to vote were women. This percentage was up dramatically from the 16% registered in December 2003.
  • About 100 British special forces soldiers arrived in Kabul and then disembarked to an unknown location in Afghanistan.

Friday, March 12 - Dodsal, a Dubai-based construction company, signed a US$230 million contract to set up a modern petroleum infrastructure in Afghanistan. The deal entails the construction of 700 retail outlets.

  • About 2,000 ethnic Hazara supporters of Haji Muhammad Mohaqiq staged a march in Mazari Sharif, demanding that president Hamid Karzai re-instate Mohaqiq. On March 7, Karzai removed Mohaqiq from the post of planning minister.
  • In Tehran, Iran, Iranian Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari and his Afghan Interior Minister Ahmad Jalali signed a security pact which focused on border protection and the fight against drug trafficking.
  • In Kabul, the National Unity Party of Afghanistan, led by former General Nur-al-Haq Olomi, announced its political campaign.

Saturday, March 13 - In Kandahar Province, rebels attacked a government office. In the battle, three rebels and one Afghan National Army soldier were killed.

  • In the capital of Laghman Province, two rockets landed, killing one civilian.
  • In Kabul, a rocket fired flew over a U.N. compound and the U.S. military headquarters. The rocket did not detonate when it landed.
  • In Kabul. a rocket flew over the center of the city and exploded on hillside.
  • U.S.-led troops surprised eight insurgents in caves southwest of Qalat, Zabul Province, prompting a gunbattle in which three of the guerrillas were killed and five others were wounded.
  • U.S.-led coalition troops detained five rebels in caves southwest of Qalat, Zabul Province. Anti-coalition propaganda was also found.

Sunday, March 14 - Three rockets landed in Jalalabad. There were no injuries, but windows shattered and some walls crumbled.

  • Eight suspects were detained by U.S.-led coalition troops southwest of Qalat, Zabul Province.
  • Rocket-propelled grenades were fired at a United Nations team trying to organize voter registration.

Monday, March 15 - The United States initiated Operation Mountain Storm, which intended to drive from inside Afghanistan into a region of rebel sanctuaries and meet the Pakistani military driving from the opposite direction.

Tuesday, March 16 - In an iris verification center in Quetta, Pakistan, 174 Afghan refugees were processed. Each refugee older than six years underwent a computerized iris scan to determine if they had previously been checked and received a repatriation package. The refugees then entered Afghanistan through the Chaman border.

  • Pakistani forces began an operation against suspected Al-Qaeda rebels in the mountainous region of South Waziristan, close to the border of Afghanistan. Fifteen Pakistani troops were killed and 22 wounded; twenty-four rebels were killed.

Wednesday, March 17 - In Kabul, United States Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Afghan interim President Hamid Karzai to discuss security and preparations for the June elections.

  • Jordanian Army special forces arrived in Afghanistan.

Thursday, March 18 - Pakistani forces re-engaged an operation against suspected Al-Qaeda rebels in the villages of Azam Warsak, Shin Warsak and Kaloosha in the mountainous region of South Waziristan, close to the border of Afghanistan. Each side utilized heavy weaponry. 24 rebels and 16 Afghan troops were killed there during a sweep March 15. The U.S. deployed 13,500 soldiers on the Afghan side.

  • U.S. and rebel forces clashed in the Tarin Kowt District of Uruzgan Province.
  • 250 more Afghan National Army troops were sent to Khost.
  • Two U.S. Army soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division (Sgt. Michael Esposito and Staff. Sgt. Anthony Lagman) died when their 11-man unit came under fire in the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan. At least five rebel fighters died in a heavy exchange of fire. The mission was part of Operation Mountain Storm.

Friday, March 19 - A U.S. airstrike on a village in the Charcheno district of Afghanistan killed six civilians and injured seven.

  • About two dozen rebel fighters with heavy weapons launched an attack in the Barmal district of Paktika Province, but they were repelled after four hours of fighting. Three rebels were killed and the rest fled into Pakistan when U.S. helicopters fired on them.
  • Pakistani troops were engaged in a pitched battle with an estimated 400 rebels near the Afghan border.

Saturday, March 20 - Taliban forces threatened to kill a Turkish highway engineer kidnapped three weeks earlier, demanding that Afghan authorities release two Taliban militia members who were sentenced to death for the November 16 murder of Bettina Goislard.

  • Heavy U.S. forces were deployed to the Afghan border near Waziristan, Pakistan to assist in an offensive against an estimated 400 rebels suspected of harboring Tohir Yo‘ldosh.

Sunday, March 21 - Afghan Civil Aviation Minister Mirwais Sadiq (son of governor Ismail Khan) was killed by a rocket propelled grenade during a gun battle in Herat. Two police officers also died in the attack. Herat military commander Zaher Naib Zada claimed responsibility for the assassination. Zada had earlier been fired by Sadiq's father. Factional fighting between supporters of Zahir Nayebzada and of Ismail Khan involving tanks and guns ensued in the region, leaving more than 100 people dead. Days later, president Hamid Karzai would say Sadiq's death was caused by a "small accident."

  • Interim Afghan President Hamid Karzai called an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the assassination of Mirwais Sadiq. Karzai dispatched Afghan National Army troops to Herat.
  • Afghan TV reported a failed assassination attempt on Ismail Khan, but Khan's spokesman denied the report.
  • An unmanned NATO spy plane crashed on the grounds of the presidential palace in Kabul.
  • A U.S. B-1 Lancer and a B-52 Stratofortress flew over Herat as a reminder, according to Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, of the presence of U.S. forces and to "rest calm."
  • U.S. troops stationed at the military base in Herat provided shelter to German and Italian diplomats after fighting erupted near the German Consulate.

Monday, March 22 - Afghan defense minister Mohammad Qasim Fahim and interior minister Ali Ahmad Jalali arrived in Herat to assess tensions.

  • Six-hundred troops of the Afghan National Army arrived in Herat to contain violence between warring factions.
  • Zahir Nayebzada fled Herat.
  • United States special forces set up a remote post in Orgun.
  • In Kabul, the Afghanistan International Bank, managed by ING-IGA, began operation.

Tuesday, March 23 - In Herat, a public burial took place for Mirwais Sadiq. The body was taken by tank to its resting place on a hill overlooking the city. Thousands were in attendance.

Friday, March 26 - The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1536 which extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for another full year.

Saturday, March 27 - In Afghanistan, three hand grenades were thrown at homes of Afghan National Army soldiers. No one was injured.

  • Iran exported 32,000 vases of flowers to Afghanistan.

Sunday, March 28 - Afghan interim president Hamid Karzai announced that the national elections scheduled for June would be delayed until September to give the U.N. more time to prepare.

  • In the Deh Rawud District of Uruzgan Province, at least ten Afghan National Army soldiers were killed in an ambush by rebel fighters.
  • A suicide bomber was killed when his bomb exploded early as he tried to attack a military base in southeastern Afghanistan.
  • Six people were wounded in a rebel attack in a southeastern Afghan town.
  • In Khost, a rocket injured six civilians, including one child, in a restaurant near the U.S. Airbase.
  • Hikmet Cetin, NATO's Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, departed Kabul to attend in Berlin, Germany a two-day international conference on reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan.
  • Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali announced the establishment of a new province, Daykundi. The province would be entitled to its own governor, a security commander, more police and funds.

Monday, March 29 - In Kandahar, militia corps commander Khan Mohammed oversaw hundreds of his fighters giving up their assault rifles, machine guns, and rockets to the Afghan National Army.

  • U.S. troops searched several villages southwest of Khost, searching for weapons and information.

Tuesday, March 30 - In a raid in southern Afghanistan, U.S. troops detained six suspected Taliban members.

  • A 30-year-old Afghan man died after being struck by a Canadian G-Wagon.

Wednesday, March 31 - In Berlin, Germany, a two-day international conference on reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan began. The conference was attended by 65 countries. Alastair McKechnie, the World Bank country director for Afghanistan, hoped to accumulate during the conference donations of US$27.5 billion (to be granted over seven years). Afghan interim president Hamid Karzai and United States Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that the United States had, on top of the US$1.2 billion already promised, pledged an additional US$1 billion in aid for 2004. Japan promised US$525 million dollars more over the next two years. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder pledged (in addition to US$391 million promised at a conference in Tokyo in 2002) US$391 million over the next four years.

  • The first wave of 2,000 new U.S. Marines arrived in Afghanistan to participate in the hunt for al-Qaeda and Taliban rebels.

Read more about this topic:  2004 In Afghanistan

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