Fighting in Afghanistan continues as the worst violence there in five years intensifies. In Kandahar, two NATO soldiers were injured along with nine civilians when a suicide bomber drove his car into a military convoy. The south of the country is becoming an increasingly hostile stronghold of the Taliban as the former governing militant Islamists return to the field of combat in numbers. Today, British forces in Helmand province launched a major offensive, backed by Apache helicopters and B1 bombers.
One British Royal Marine has been killed in the push and another injured so far. British forces are moving into the heart of the poppy-growing area, which churns out a third of the world’s opium crop. Moving into the southern Helmand valley, the British are treading warily after the summer offensive created local discontent. Controversially, the army brokered deals with village elders they said would keep the Taliban away. But attacks continue. Now commanders say they know an attack is coming when they see a village’s women and children moving out.