Accessibility links

Breaking News

BACKGROUND REPORT - April 1, 2003: Afghanistan / Iraq - 2003-04-01

This is a VOA Special English Background Report.

American troops are at war in two places -- Iraq and Afghanistan.

In October of two-thousand-one, President Bush ordered strikes on Osama bin Laden's al Qaida organization and the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan. This followed the al Qaida terrorist attacks against the United States at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September eleventh. By late December, the Taliban no longer held power in Kabul. A Western-supported government took its place.

But fighting continues as troops search for remaining members of al Qaida and the Taliban.

On Saturday, gunmen killed two American soldiers in the southern Afghan province of Helmand. The soldiers came under surprise attack as they inspected a school. These were the first American deaths in fighting in Afghanistan since December. The attack wounded a third American soldier and three Afghan soldiers.

Also, there have been rocket attacks for almost two weeks against American and other forces of the coalition in the war on terrorism. A coalition spokesman in Afghanistan says the attacks may be connected to the war in Iraq.

The International Security Assistance Force in Kabul says two rockets were fired at its bases on Sunday. A German spokesman for the force said the attacks appeared better planned than others so far. No one was hurt and damage was minor. Officials say they suspect fighters loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar carried out the attacks. The rebel commander has threatened to overthrow the current government in Kabul and expel foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Also on Sunday, two coalition bases came under attack, one near the border with Pakistan, the other south of Kabul. No damage was reported.

Troops have not been the only targets. Last week, in southern Afghanistan, armed men killed a Red Cross water engineer. The killing worried other aid and development workers in Afghanistan.

American-led forces say they completed two operations this month against the Taliban and al-Qaida. One took place in the Samighar mountains of Kandahar province in the south. The second took place in the mountains of northeastern Afghanistan. Officials say troops seized a number of suspects and several large supplies of weapons.