Monday, October 26, 2009

...and counting...

(Occasional sobering thoughts.) Recent news has focused on Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's incumbent President, who acceded to a November 7 runoff to decide an election contest tainted by charges of massive vote fraud in the 1st round, held back in August. Karzai's opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, "is considering boycotting the upcoming runoff if his demands are not met to remove the leaders of Afghanistan's election commission who he believes are biased against him," according to the latest Washington Post dispatch. Hinging on this controversy is not only the political future of Afghanistan, but also the next move respecting troops from the United States and the NATO coalition it has forged in Afghanistan.
Also in the news was Pakistan, where more than 100,000 civilians have been fleeing government counterattacks on militant strongholds, according to a Canadian Broadcasting Co. report.
Yesterday, though, it was Iraq that reclaimed the headlines: "Iraq Ministries Targeted in Car Bombings; Over 130 Dead," wrote The New York Times. The story's 1st paragraphs elaborated on this "deadliest coordinated attack in Iraq since the summer of 2007":
For the second time in two months, two synchronized suicide car bombings struck at the heart of the Iraqi government, severely damaging the Justice Ministry and provincial council complexes in Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 132 people and raising new questions about the government’s ability to secure its most vital operations.
The bombers apparently passed through multiple security checkpoints before detonating their vehicles within a minute of each other, leaving the dead and more than 520 wounded strewn across crowded downtown streets.

With this grim reminder that conflict continues on multiple fronts, here's the casualty count since our post 6 weeks ago:
► Iraq Body Count reports that between 93,571 and 102,096 Iraqi women, children, and men have died in the conflict in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 (tallies most likely not including yesterday's death toll), representing an increase of between 490 and 518 deaths in the last 6 weeks. According to the U.S. Defense Department, 4,351 American servicemembers have been killed in Iraq, representing 8 servicemember deaths in the last 6 weeks. (As posted, U.S. troops are the only foreign forces remaining in Iraq.)
► Respecting the conflict in Afghanistan, our DoD websource appears to be using a new counting method. It reports that military casualties in Afghanistan stand at 886 Americans, 222 Britons, and 361 other coalition servicemembers. The site includes a number of new charts, including places where death occurred "in and around Afghanistan," deaths from improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and the pie chart above, which depicted countries from which fallen servicemembers hailed. The total servicemember casualty count in the Afghanistan conflict is 1,469.

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