Explosion at a Shiite mosque in Herat kills 33, injures 66. IS claims responsibility. Herat is a previously largely peaceful city near the Iranian border.
This, combined with an earlier attack on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul, raises fears that IS is essentially shifting the battlefield from Iraq to Afghanistan after its recent defeat in Mosul. However, there is little evidence of fighters relocating. (Few, presumably, were able to escape Mosul alive.)
Suicide bomber strikes a NATO convoy in Kandahar, resulting in an as yet unannounced number of casualties of unspecified nationality. More when information becomes available.
Who could have predicted? SIGAR says a $45 million Pentagon program to improve Afghan intelligence capabilities is a failure.
The report, by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar) said there was “no indication of improvement in overall intelligence operations” as a result of five contracts for training and mentoring, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, run by Legacy Afghanistan R&D and Afghanistan Source Operations Management (Asom). Only 47% of intelligence sites are ready to transfer to the Afghan government.
The watchdog’s audit of training and mentoring contracts awarded to the Afghanistan national defence and security forces (ANDSF) between 2010 and 2013 said it was “almost impossible” to gauge the US government’s return on investment. This was due to a lack of performance metrics to track progress, said the report. Sigar found that neither Imperatis, the contractor, nor New Century Consulting, the subcontractor operating the programme, retained complete training records.
And, of course, the contractors were paid millions for work they didn’t actually do.
I linked to accusations by locals that Iran was backing Taliban fighters in Ghor a few days ago, and I was somewhat skeptical. Now U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also says that Iran is trying to “destabilize” Afghanistan. Iran did not respond to TOLO’s request for comment. Note, however, that Tillerson does not mention Pakistan which is most certainly backing the Taliban.
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