Tenth anniversary of US-led offensive against the Taliban comes amid growing security concerns.Afghanistan
Created on Friday, 07 October 2011 15:44
is marking the 10th anniversary of the start of the US-led invasion of the country against the Taliban, amid growing security concerns and questions over what the next decade will hold.
For some Afghans, the anniversary on Friday marks a time of reflection on what the war has meant for their country.
"I spent a year in the city of Kabul during the Taliban regime and they made life difficult as they banned everything. We were forced to flee the country and live in Pakistan," Abdul Saboor, a 30-year-old cook in Kabul, told the AFP news agency.
"I was very pleased when finally the dark era of the Taliban ended in our country."
However, a day earlier, hundreds of Afghans marched through the capital, Kabul, to condemn the US as occupiers and demand the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops.
About 300 men and women gathered on Thursday with placards and banners accusing the US of "massacring" civilians while denouncing Afghan President Hamid Karzai as a puppet subservient to Washington.
Karzai became Afghanistan's leader in June 2002, seven months after Northern Alliance forces supported by the US entered Kabul and drove the Taliban government from power. Karzai won subsequent elections in 2005 and 2009, though they were marred by fraud.Ousting the Taliban
The US military launched the war in a bid to oust the Taliban for harbouring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden,who plotted the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US, and destroy al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.
On October 7, 2001, just under a month after the 9/11 attacks, US military planes dropped dozens of cruise missiles and laser-guided bombs on strategic targets in Kabul and other Afghan cities.
That was followed by a ground campaign, which toppled the Taliban government within weeks.
Taliban fighters lay dormant in Afghan and Pakistani hideouts for the next few years, severely depleted by the invasion.
US attention then turned to the war in Iraq, but violence flared back up again around 2007 and 2008, prompting a surge in the number of troops sent to fight the Taliban.Civilian toll
As those troops begin to withdraw ahead of 2014, the Taliban have increasingly focused on launching targeted attacks against foreign forces as well as the Afghan military and authorities.
-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) argues this shows it is winning the fight on Afghanistan's battlefields.
Figures from the United Nations indicate this year is on course to be the bloodiest yet for civilians, with 1,462 killed in the first half of this year, 80 per cent by fighters.
ISAF insists it does all it can to minimise such deaths.