Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tight timing for Rolling Thunder

Last week, as we saw, the Canadian Forces undertook Operation Rolling Thunder, aimed at rooting out bomb-making Taliban fighters in Zhari and (perhaps) Panjwai. It was a four-day event, according to the Globe and Mail. CanWest's Katherine O'Neill, who notes she was the only embedded reporter for the operation, writes that it began on Tuesday morning. Thus, Rolling Thunder was over on Friday.

Canadian Press reporter Murray Brewster writes that an "unknown number" of militants were killed, though later the Afghan police claimed that some 18 Taliban had been killed in Zhari and Panjwai over the past few days. And this deed has not gone unanswered by the Taliban it seems. CanWest's Doug Schmidt, reporting on the four Canadian soldiers injured on June 2:

... The Canadian Task Force and Afghan national security forces recently completed a successful operation to neutralize IED production cells in Kandahar Province.

"We have come to expect retaliation from insurgents following their setbacks, and we do everything possible to ensure we are prepared," said navy Lieutenant Al Blondin, spokesman for the task force.

Both attacks occurred in the midst of the so-called days of tranquility, a three-day period when international aid agencies such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) planned to blanket the southern area of conflict with teams to inoculate children under the age of five against polio. UNICEF officials told Canwest News Service earlier yesterday that "access negotiators" had spoken with the Taliban to arrange a temporary cessation of hostilities in the most dangerous areas, which includes Zhari.
The latest days of tranquility, an initiative that has been employed in other global hot spots in order to reach at-risk civilians, was to have run until the end of today. Since Sunday, 8,000 two-man teams have been going door-to-door across the country's violence-wracked south, through mud-walled villages and dusty rural outposts, trying to place two life-saving drops of vaccination on the tongues of young children... (link)
Note that the Days of Tranquility, which began Sunday and included vaccinations in Zhari, was expected to draw violent reprisals, and this just days before aid workers were to arrive.

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