Timeline of Afghanistan (March 2003)

__NOTOC__This is a timeline of the history of Afghanistan in March 2003. The list is not complete and you are welcome to expand it.

"Saturday, March 1, 2003"

Two Afghan government soldiers were wounded in a blast in Kandahar.

Thousands of people gathered outside a police station in the Dasht-e Barchi district of Kabul, Afghanistan after claims that a policeman tried to kidnap a woman there. There were also claims that policemen had raped two women. Surrounding the police station, protesters wanted those responsible for the alleged attack to be punished. Protesters also nominated their own candidates to police the district. Some merchants closed shop in solidarity. Police officers were injured by protesters, who attacked them with stones in western Kabul's Dashta-e-Barchi district. Two civilians were also reported wounded. Shots were fired by police.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that 395,752 Afghans had voluntarily returned home from Iran since a UNHCR joint program with Tehran to the effect began on April 9, 2002. (see details of the UNHCR Afghan repatriation programs)

United States troops raided the compound of Haji Ghalib, the chief of security for Ghanikhel District of Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan, arresting him and two others and seizing heavy weapons. Ghalib's son, Mohammed Shafiq, said the U.S. forces also seized missiles, mortars and a large quantity of anti-tank mines during the arrest. The two people detained along with Ghalib were not identified.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was arrested in a joint raid by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents and Pakistani police in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Armed men fired on a United States observation post at the Salerno base in Khost, Afghanistan. U.S. forces returned fire. There were no casualties.

Three Afghan soldiers were wounded when their pickup truck ran over a landmine during a routine patrol at Panjwai district, 30 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of Kandahar.

"Sunday, March 2, 2003"

The "San Francisco Chronicle" reported that Afghan poverty-stricken families earning money by selling their daughters was on the rise.

Germany pulled out its elite KSK anti-terror forces from Afghanistan. The German defense ministry refused to comment on the report.

Afghan border guards arrested a Pakistani man, Sayed Wali, in eastern Afghanistan on charges of illegally entering Afghanistan. They accusing him of spying for his Pakistan. He was arrested in the Shinwar district near Torkham.

"Monday, March 3, 2003"

At 6 a.m., a rocket hit a house in Kandahar, Afghanistan, injuring a man and his wife and causing panic in the area. The wife, Bibi Koh, was in serious condition.

U.S. military aircraft scattered leaflets over southern Afghanistan, according to residents in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan. The pamphlets offered cash rewards for help in arresting Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri. The leaflets did not say how to collect the money or who to contact to inform on bin Laden.

The U.S. military pushed into a new valley in southern Afghanistan in search of fugitive leaders of the ousted Taliban regime. 12 people had been detained over the past three days and more than 60 rifles from two weapons caches were discovered in Baghni valley. One of the weapon caches was found down a well, wrapped in plastic and tied to a rope.

"Tuesday, March 4, 2003"

United States special forces found 96 rocket-propelled grenades, five rifles and ammunition after searching a compound in the southeastern border town of Spin Boldak, Afghanistan.

Two mortars were fired near Bagram Air Base, but the explosions occurred about a mile (1.5 km) away and there were no injuries.

A United States military vehicle struck a four-year-old Afghan boy just west of the southern city of Kandahar, Afghanistan. The boy sustained a severe head injury and was medically evacuated to Bagram Air Base for evaluation. By March 7 he was in stable condition.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, two Danish officers faced preliminary charges of negligence in connection with an April 6, 2002 explosion that killed five bomb squad members in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrived in Qatar to participate in the summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to discuss the crisis in the Middle East.

A U.S. soldier was brought to a hospital facility at Bagram, Afghanistan after being injured when his vehicle rolled over in Bamyan Province. The soldier was in stable condition.

Gunmen killed Sher Nawaz Khan, a Pakistani intelligence official, in a border area near Afghanistan. Kahn was riding a motorbike to work in the border town of Wana, 180 miles (290 km) south of Peshawar. The gunmen followed Khan in a car then shot him repeatedly after knocking him off the motorbike.

Qari Abdul Wali, a military commander in the hard-line Islamic Taliban regime said from a hideout near the southern Afghan town of Spin Boldak the that arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would not weaken the al Qaeda network.

The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) pledged a $50 million line of credit in support of U.S. private sector investment in Afghanistan. This was in addition to the $50 million OPIC line of credit that the Bush administration announced January 2002. One project will be the construction of a five-star international hotel in Kabul to be managed by Hyatt International, to which OPIC anticipates providing $35 million in financing and political risk insurance. OPIC will also provide political risk insurance to enable a U.S. manufacturer to donate a compressed earth block machine for the construction of three schools, at least one of which will be for girls.

"Wednesday, March 5, 2003"

United States and Italian military officials announced that about 500 Italian troops would soon replace a similar number of U.S. soldiers deployed in eastern Afghanistan's Khost region. About 1,000 Italian soldiers from Task Force Nibbio had already arrived at Bagram Air Base. Officials said that 500 Italians will stay at Bagram and the remaining 500 were to take over in mid-March from Americans at Camp Salerno, a coalition base near the eastern town of Khost. To date 8,000 of the 13,000 coalition forces were from the United States.

President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai arrived in India for a four-day visit. Karzai's agenda included boosting bilateral trade and investment and seeking aid for his war-ravaged country.

Near Bagram, Afghanistan, paratroopers from the United States Army's 82nd Airborne Division seized 132 82mm mortar rounds, 34 pieces of unexploded ordnance and "numerous" anti-tank and anti-personnel mines.

One civilian was killed and three were wounded their jeep struck a landmine in Zer-e-Koh, Afghanistan, just south of Shindand Air Base in western Herat Province, said warlord Ammanullah Khan.

Fighting broke out in Gosfandi, Afghanistan in Sar-e Pol Province between two local commanders, both loyal to warlord Atta Mohammed. At least two fighters were dead and three others wounded.

In Zer-e-Koh, Afghanistan, seven children were injured when explosives placed inside a bottle blew up.

Lt. Gen. Norbert van Heyst, commander of International Security Assistance Force, said in Kabul, Afghanistan that war in Iraq could provide an opportunity for remnant al-Qaida and Taliban forces to try to "destabilize" Afghanistan.

Residents of Khost, Afghanistan found 15 kg (32 lb) of explosives under the seat of a motorcycle. They notified U.S. troops at nearby Chapman Air Base. The device, designed to detonate by radio, was dismantled and there were no injuries.

"Thursday, March 6, 2003"

A preferential trade agreement was signed in a ceremony in New Delhi, India attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. The trade pact will enable free movement of goods specified by the two countries at lower tariffs. The volume of trade between the two countries in 2001-02 totaled $41.89 million. Vajpayee also announced a $70 million grant to rebuild a major road in Afghanistan. Included in the pledge was the third of three 232-seat Airbus 300-B4s to help rebuild Ariana Afghan Airlines.

"The Situation of Women and Girls in Afghanistan," a United Nations report revealed that intimidation and violence against women continue without resistance Afghanistan. To date, Afghan women worked, studied and even held some government posts, but in more rural areas they continued to be forced into marriages and were victims of domestic violence, kidnapping and harassment.

United States military coroners ruled as homicides the deaths in December 2002 of two prisoners at a U.S. base in Afghanistan. The two prisoners died at the makeshift prison in the U.S. compound at the Afghan base north of Kabul. The autopsies found that the men had been beaten, and one had a blood clot in his lung.

At least nine suspected al Qaeda members were killed in an operation by U.S. and Afghan troops in the far west of Afghanistan in the Ribat area, where the borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran meet.

"Friday, March 7, 2003"

During his 3-day visit of India, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told a business meeting in Delhi that he hoped India would join an oil pipeline project to ship gas from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan and Pakistan. Later, Mr Karzai flew to the Himalayan town of Shimla, India to pick up an honorary doctorate in literature from his alma mater. Mr. Karzai took a postgraduate course in political science at Himachal University from 1979 to 1983.

Mortar rounds landed about 2.5 km (1.5 mile) from a guard tower north of Bagram Air Base.

In a small village in Vardak Province, three men armed with AK-47s stopped a U.N. World Food Program vehicle and blindfolded its three Afghan occupants. The robbers stole radio equipment, a satellite telephone and money before fleeing into the mountains on foot.

United States soldiers took a 4-year-old Afghan boy from the central Madr Valley to the base for treatment of suspected bacterial meningitis. He was in very serious condition.

United States Special Forces near Spin Majid, Afghanistan in Helmand Province detained seven men suspected of planning attacks on coalition forces. They were detained with bomb-making instructions in their possession. U.S. military spokesman Col. Roger King did not say whether they were suspected of being al-Qaida terrorists or supporters of the former Taliban government.

Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, home minister of Pakistan's Baluchistan province, said two of Osama bin Laden's sons were wounded and possibly held by United States and Afghan troops in Ribat. The White House cast doubt on the report. Later, Zehri would say that he had been misquoted.

A United States soldier sustained head injuries in a road accident on in central Bamyan Province was evacuated to Bagram, which serves as the headquarters of coalition forces in Afghanistan. The soldier was in stable condition.

The third explosion in as many days rattled Jalalabad, Afghanistan, blowing out windows of a government office but causing no casualties. The bomb was hidden in a sewage drain. A bomb detonated near the office of the World Food Program the previous day. The day before that another exploded near a hospital.

The Republic of Macedonia sent 10 soldiers to be stationed, under German command, in the Kabul.

Fighting erupted on when Uzbek warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum's men attacked positions held by supporters of Ustad Atta Mohammad's Jamiat-e-Islami faction in Pashtoon Kot district, south of Faryab's provincial capital, Afghanistan. Several people were killed or wounded.

"Saturday, March 8, 2003"

In Jalalabad, U.S. forces released three Afghans after questioning them at a U.S. detention facility about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. A U.S. helicopter flew them from Bagram to Asadabad. One of the freed men, Saif-ur Rahman, was a border security official in Kunar before he was arrested in December 2002.

U.S. troops took part in operations to destroy 800 "bomblets" from a cluster bomb, discovered near Mazari Sharif.

An explosion in the Baghrami District of Afghanistan about 15 kilometres (9 mile) south of Kabul killed an interpreter working for international peacekeepers and lightly injured a Dutch soldier. Both were airlifted from the scene as International Security Assistance Force troops blocked off the scene of the incident on a street lined by shops and mud houses. The injured man was a 23-year-old corporal with the 11th Air Mobile Brigade. The explosion was detonated by remote control.

Several people were killed or wounded in a fresh outbreak of fighting between supporters of Uzbek warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum and Tajik commander Ustad Atta Mohammad.

Intensifying efforts to capture al-Qaeda members, a patch of some 400 square kilometers around the town of Rabat, Afghanistan was the focus of air and ground operations by Pakistani army and paramilitary forces backed by U.S. CIA communications and tracking experts.

Six medics and three other volunteers in charge of logistics, all from Hungary departed for Kabul, Afghanistan, where they will work at a German military hospital and a Dutch surgery unit as part of International Security Assistance Force.

The first Afghan radio station programmed solely for women began broadcasting in Kabul. The first broadcast was called "The Voice of Afghan Women." Director Jamila Mujahed said one-hour radio programs would be broadcast every afternoon in the local Pashtu and Dari languages in Kabul on 91.6 FM.

"Sunday, March 9, 2003"

Pakistani security forces carried out raids in Jalozai and Shamshatoo, Afghan refugee camps near Peshawar. No one was detained.

Masood, an Iraqi national and two Afghan men were picked up in Hayatabad, Pakistan. They were questioned for involvement in the slaying of a Pakistani intelligence officer (was shot and killed on March 4 in Wana) and suspected al-Qaida links. Computer discs and other unspecified documents were recovered from their possession.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that he hoped war in Iraq could be avoided. But he also said the Iraqi people deserved to choose their own government.

The 22nd suicide attempt by a detainee took place at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. To date, about 650 detainees from 43 countries were being held there on suspicion of links to al-Qaida and the Taliban. To date, the men had not been charged and were not allowed lawyers. To date, five detainees had been released, including three Pakistanis and two Afghans.

One U.S. airman suffered multiple fractures to his right foot after he was struck by a fork lift truck during aircraft-loading operations at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.

A 45-year-old Afghan man to the hospital at Bagram Air Base after he was shot in the leg in a hunting accident near Orgun.

"Monday, March 10, 2003"

Afghanistan officially activated its .af Internet domain name on for Afghan e-mail addresses and Web sites.

The National Democratic Front was officially launched during a ceremony at a Kabul hotel. Its purpose was to foster Western-style democracy and act as a counterweight to Islamic fundamentalism.

The U.S. military denied reports it had stepped up its presence along Afghanistan's northeastern border with Pakistan in its ongoing hunt for al-Qaeda fugitives. Some sources in Pakistan, however, claimed that Osama bin Laden had been in the Siakoh mountain range near Nimroz Province.

Three members of a local council were killed and five wounded in an explosion in the province in the Zale Dasht district of Kandahar in Afghanistan. The bomb appeared to be operated by remote control. Among the surviving casualties were Ziaul Haq and Sher Ali Aqa.

U.S. forces in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan detained a man after finding a cache of anti-personnel mines.

Seeking help in the capture of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammed Omar, U.S. aircraft dropped leaflets in the region of and broadcast radio messages in Spin Boldak.

"Tuesday, March 11, 2003"

President of the United States George W. Bush apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the way Karzai was treated by a U.S. Senate committee on February 26. Some senators said they feared Karzai, by highlighting facts like millions of children returning to school and the government's smooth introduction of a new currency, had put too positive a spin on Afghanistan's problems. One senator said stressing the positive could hurt Karzai's credibility.

A delegation of Afghan legal officials and experts gathered in Washington, DC, completed a four-day conference managed by International Resources Group and hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace. The participants worked by consensus to lay out the future of the justice system in Afghanistan.

Three judges on a U.S. appeals court unanimously dismissed a challenge by Afghan war detainees at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The challenge regarded their being held without access to their family or a lawyer. The judges agreed that the detainees, which include including two Britons, twelve Kuwaitis and two Australians, were not protected by the U.S. Constitution.

In Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan, two rockets fired by unknown attackers hit two houses near the governor's house. No one was injured.

One Afghan militia force soldier was killed in a blast near Barikot on the border with Pakistan. A coalition special forces member and an Afghan interpreter were wounded.

An Afghan man who stepped on a land mine was taken to Bagram Air Base for medical treatment. His right leg was amputated.

"Wednesday, March 12, 2003"

London-based Amnesty International issued a report alleging that Afghan police were ill-equipped, not held accountable and guilty of widespread abuses. Amnesty said it found evidence of torture and ill-treatment by the police. To date, there were some 50,000 police in Afghanistan. The German Government was taking the lead in assisting and training the force.

Two people were arrested after they were caught trying to plant explosives outside the regional headquarters of the U.S. relief organization Mercy Corps in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, a small U.S.-led coalition convoy crossing a mountain pass from Gardez to Khost came under small-arms and machinegun fire. Air support was called in and five attackers were killed and two captured in the three-hour clash. There were no U.S. or coalition casualties.

The UNHCR began repatriating thousands of Afghan refugees from around 200 camps in Pakistan. The goal was to repatriate 600,000 refugees by year's end.

Italian Alpine commandos operating in south-east Afghanistan near Balochistan border regions stepped up their hunt for Osama bin Laden, Mulla Mohammed Omar and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The commandos had bene in action along the border with Pakistan since December 2002.

In Kabul, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullah and Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim.

The World Bank announced a $108 million, 40-year no-interest loan to Afghanistan. The money was to be spent on repairing disintegrating roads, collapsed bridges, damaged tunnels and the runway at Kabul airport.

The United States Agency for International Development announced a new $60 million program to rehabilitate Afghanistan's school system. The money was slated for the printing of 10 million textbooks in Dari and Pashtu languages. The money was also earmarked for the construction or reconstruction of about 1,200 primary schools in every province.

Agha Murtaza Pooya, deputy head of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, told the Pashto language service of Iranian Radio that Osama bin Laden was in custody but he did not know where he was being held. The governments of Pakistan and the United States denied the reports.

"Thursday, March 13, 2003"

Speaking at an international donor meeting in Kabul, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told delegates that $4.5 billion worth of pledges offered at an Afghan reconstruction summit in Tokyo in January 2001 fell far short of Afghanistan's needs. He said Afghanistan would need up to $20 billion to successfully combat the threats of terrorism and the burgeoning opium poppy trade.

A rocket was fired at a coalition base in Asadabad, Afghanistan. No injuries or damage to coalition equipment was reported.

No one was injured when a land mine exploded on a stretch of road in eastern Afghanistan just minutes after a convoy from the British Broadcasting Corporation passed by. They were returning from Tora Bora.

Reports surfaced that increasing numbers of recruits in the Afghan national army were deserting. Low salaries were said to be a primary factor.

After raiding a house in Kandahar, Afghan authorities arrested 10 Taliban suspects and seized arms, explosives, land mines and documents.

In the Jaikhojuk neighborhood of Kandahar, Afghanistan, a bomb exploded on a road that was being repaired. There were no reports of casualties or serious damages.

"Friday, March 14, 2003"

Afghan authorities raided a house in Kandahar, arresting 10 members of the former Taliban regime suspected of plotting terror attacks. Police also seized arms, explosives, land mines and documents.

In Kabul, Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai presented donor countries with the government's US$550 million budget for this year and said the international community needed to pay for more than half of it. Afghanistan itself planned to come up with US$200 million, double the amount it raised for the previous budget. Afghanistan received pledges of millions of dollars, but US$350 million more were needed to meet their new budget.

In Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan, a remote-controlled bomb hidden beneath a cart outside a mosque exploded, wounding three people.

Six Afghan agencies signed an agreement with the U.N. Mine Action Program for Afghanistan to share US$7.5 million of U.S. aid to clear land mines along roads and at school construction sites. The project was to be completed by the end of 2003.

"Saturday, March 15, 2003"

A warehouse filled with gunpowder exploded in the village of Tokhichi, near the Bagram Air Base, killing an Afghan and injuring three others. The burning warehouse created a fiery orange ball that could be seen for several miles.

German's suggestions for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to take over International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the Afghan capital of Kabul received a setback when Belgium joined France in opposing such a move.

In Afghanistan, some 500 Italian troops took over the Salerno military base from U.S. troops.

The first two brigades of the Afghan national army completed 10 weeks of training. To date, around 2,000 soldiers are said to have been trained so far, while thousands of other Afghans carry arms, and local warlords remain powerful figures. To date, attempts to form a national force were hampered by a lack of non-partisan volunteers, and divisions over how much representation different ethnic factions would have.

U.S. soldiers discovered two ammunition caches in mud buildings in Bamyan Province of Afghanistan, including 37 artillery rounds, more than 200 recoilless rifle rounds, a rocket, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

"Sunday, March 16, 2003"

Afghanistan granted the release of all Pakistani prisoners (almost 1,000) held in its jails. No date was given for the release of the prisoners, mainly held in Sherberghan. Less than a week later, the number of prisoners to be released was reduced to 72.

A U.S. armored Humvee was hit by debris from an explosive device near the Afghan city of Kandahar. No one was injured.

In Afghanistan, forces loyal to Uzbek warlord Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum clashed with those of his Tajik rival, Gen. Atta Mohammed in Latti village in Sar-e Pol Province. Five of Dostum's commanders were captured and one soldier was injured. Retreating soldiers loyal to Dostum stole 250 sheep.

At a U.S. special forces base in Gardez, Afghanistan, 18-year-old Afghan Jamal Naseer died after being in custody for nearly three weeks.

"Monday, March 17, 2003"

Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai told a meeting in Brussels he feared that a possible U.S.-led war against Iraq could make donors shift their focus from Afghanistan, with future aid for the country going instead toward helping rebuild Iraq.

The Wheat Disposal Committee announced that Pakistan Agricultural Supplies and Storages Corporation (PASSCO) would export around 300,000 tons of wheat to Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

In Brussels, the European Union pledged 400 million euro (US$432 million) in financial aid to rebuild Afghanistan until the end of 2004. Canada pledged $250 million to Afghanistan for the same time frame.

The United States Trade Development Agency granted $280,081 to Afghanistan's government to study a proposed national high-speed telecommunications backbone. To date, one out of 625 Afghan citizens had access to telephone services.

International explosive ordnance teams near Kandahar, Afghanistan destroyed a weapons cache that included more than 4,000 mortar rounds, 500 artillery projectiles and about 6 million rounds of machine gun ammunition.

In Gardez, a 6-year-old Afghan boy attempted to stab a U.S. soldier with a syringe containing an unidentified liquid, but the needle was blocked by his protective vest. The boy fled the scene.

In Brussels, Afghanistan signed a tripartite agreement with Pakistan and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) calling assistance in the voluntary return of Afghan refugees. Under the agreement, over 1.8 million Afghan displaced persons (DPs) would be voluntarily repatriated to Afghanistan by the end of 2006.

In Kabul, Afghanistan, "The Irish Club" opened, serving only foreigners, specifically aid workers, diplomats and journalists.

"Tuesday, March 18, 2003"

An agreement between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the UNHCR is scheduled to be signed in Geneva the repatriation of 600,000 Afghan refugees from Pakistan.

The Italian Camp Salerno outside Khost, Afghanistan came under rocket-fire and gun-fire. Italian soldiers returned fire at the unidentified attackers, wounding at least one before the assailants fled.

In Afghanistan, gunmen used rockets and machine guns to attack U.S. Special Forces at a separate base about six kilometers (four miles) from Italy's Camp Salerno.

Brigadier Ashfaq-ur-Rasheed Khan of Pakistan's Anti-Narcotics Force forecast that Afghanistan was heading for a record opium poppy crop in the coming summer.

A bomb exploded on the roof of the home of Malik Mohammed Nazeer, the senior bureaucrat in the government of Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. Three other bombs were found, but did not detonate. No one was injured.

Afghanistan's government signed a repatriation agreement in The Hague with the Netherlands, which at the time hosted about 40,000 Afghan refugees.

"Wednesday, March 19, 2003"

About two-hundred United States troops from the 82nd Airborne Division, led by a battalion of 800 known as the "White Devils," were ferried by helicopters into the Sami Ghar mountains, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Kandahar, initiating Operation Valiant Strike. The objective was to locate Osama bin Laden and members of al Qaeda. The U.S. troops were accompanied by Romanian infantry.

Afghan journalist Ahmed Shah Behzad, an employee of Radio Liberty, was detained, beaten and interrogated by local security forces in Herat. Governor Ismail Khan did not like the questions Mr. Behzad was putting to officials during opening ceremonies of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.

More than a dozen 107 mm rockets landed near the U.S. Special Forces in Orgun (in Paktika), Afghanistan.

Suspected Taliban fighters ambushed the Afghan government Sherabik post about 70 kilometers (40 miles) to the southwest of Kandahar, slitting the throats of three Afghan soldiers.

Near Mazari Sharif, Afghanistan, international explosives experts destroyed two weapons caches, including a dozen rockets and four homemade bombs, left behind by suspected enemy fighters. The bombs were originally found in Jalalabad in February near the home of a secretary of Din Mohammed, the governor of Nangarhar Province.

A 20-year-old Afghan militia soldier was flown from eastern Afghanistan to coalition headquarters in Bagram for medical treatment after being shot in the back and foot.

A 12-year-old Afghan boy who stepped on a land mine was rushed to Bagram Air Base for medical treatment. The boy's left leg was amputated.

The United States and Afghanistan asked Norway to organize and lead a border police along the Afghan border. Norway did not give an immediate reply.

Pakistan approved transit facilities for Afghanistan, including deletion of eight items from the negative list of most controversial Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA), reduction in railways freight and new rail and road routes to facilitate the transportation of goods. The items deleted from the negative list are cotton yarn, polyester, metalised film, ball bearings, timers, tape recorders, glass ware/dinner sets, juicers/blenders and videocassette recorders.

Australia announced it would shut down a second detention center on Christmas Island for asylum seekers just a week after it closed the doors of its controversial Woomera camp. The last four detainees were sent back to Afghanistan days earlier.

Expected to replace the 1343 lunar year constitution, a tentative draft of a new Afghan constitution, called "the new constitution for the new Afghanistan", was completed. National unity, ensuring social justice and establishing democracy were stressed and any discrimination in ethnic, racial, religious and linguistic sensitivities would be banned.

"Thursday, March 20, 2003

All U.N. offices and embassies in Afghanistan were closed amid security concerns after the U.S. initiated its war against Iraq. Domestic flights continued, but international flights into Afghanistan were canceled. In Kabul, police stopped and searched most vehicles at major intersections causing mile-long traffic tie-ups. Coalition soldiers maintained a heavy presence on Chicken Street, a popular tourist destination for Westerners.

A bomb hidden in a drainage ditch exploded in Kandahar, Afghanistan and a second bomb was found and defused.

United States Special Forces observed missile fire in Khost, Afghanistan against a border post on the nearby frontier with Pakistan. Fire was returned and close air support from an A-10 aircraft dropped several bombs on the suspected positions of the attackers. There were no US casualties or damage reports.

Attackers fired 11 rockets toward the U.S. base in the eastern town of Orgun-E, Afghanistan, but none landed closer than 500 yards from the base.

At Deh Rawood in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, U.S. Special Forces reported a rocket fired at an observation tower near one of their outpost.

As part of Operation Valiant Strike, U.S. troops poured into the villages of Gari Kaloay and Sekandarzay, Afghanistan, around 140 kilometres (87 miles) east of Kandahar.

"Friday, March 21, 2003"

In Khost, twelve Afghan policemen were arrested and police chief Mohammad Mustafa was dismissed for alleged involvement in corruption, drug trafficking or having links with the Taliban and al-Qaida. The arrests were made by about 50 U.S. and 20 Afghan troops. About 60 police officers were believed to be involved, but when the arrests were made, several fled. Mustafa was replaced by Mohammed Zaman Khan. About 800 officers remain in the force.

A new strategy to disarm militias in Afghanistan will be given to President Hamid Karzai by a team of United Nations and Afghan government officials, when he will announce it to the nation.

The U.S.-backed Afghan government called for a quick end to the war in Iraq, saying President Saddam Hussein should leave Iraq. The statement read: "We want the people of Iraq to be free from despotism...It is in the interest of the Iraqi people for Saddam Hussein to leave power. The interests of the people of Iraq are higher than the interests of Saddam Hussein and his family...We want a united Iraq, with a government representing its people for peace and stability in the region and world."

By the third day of Operation Valiant Strike, U.S. forces had arrested 12 people, including members of Afghanistan's former Taliban regime.

18 Afghan prisoners left Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to be released home.

"Saturday, March 22, 2003"

A large weapons cache was found inside several buildings in a walled compound near the southern Sami Ghar mountains, Afghanistan, where hundreds of U.S.-led troops were hunting for terror suspects as part of Operation Valiant Strike. Two suspected rebels were captured. The cache included 170 107mm rockets, two 82mm mortars and 400 mortar rounds, two heavy machine guns, two antiaircraft cannons, thousands of rocket-propelled grenades with eight launchers, and thousands of machine gun rounds.

In the Wath army post, about 20 miles south of Spin Boldak, attackers opened fire, killing three Afghan soldiers.

Three Afghan soldiers were killed and four kidnapped in two separate pre-dawn attacks on security checkposts near Spin Boldak.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrived in Pakistan for a four-day visit with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali.

The school year in most of Afghanistan officially started, but schools were closed because of a holiday for the Afghan New Year. Education Minister Yunus Qanooni said 5.8 million students would go to school, up from 3.3 million the year before. The United Nations had a more conservative estimate of about 4.5 million. Many villages set up informal schools in mosque courtyards, tents and private homes because they never had schools in the first place or the buildings were destroyed.

"Sunday, March 23, 2003"

A Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed while on a medical evacuation mission in Afghanistan, killing all six people on board. The accident occurred about 18 miles north of Ghazni. The accident brought the number of U.S. military personnel killed in Afghanistan to almost 60, more than half of whom died in noncombat operations.

About 30 new prisoners were taken to Camp X-Ray in Cuba, bringing to about 660 the number of inmates there.

About 1,000 people in Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan demonstrated against the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

In Sato Kandow, Afghanistan, U.S. Special Forces, patrolling a stretch of road from Gardez to Khost, clashed with militiamen loyal to Bacha Khan Zardran, prompting the special forces to call in Apache helicopter gunships. Up to 10 rebels were killed and seven were wounded.

A mediation team, consisting of United Nations officials and military officials from key northern factions, was dispatched to Latti, Afghanistan to stem fighting between Abdul Rashid Dostum and Atta Mohammed.

"Monday, March 24, 2003"

A patrol of U.S. forces from the Shkin base in the Paktika Province of Afghanistan came under gunfire and grenade attack by as many as five militants. There were no injuries. A Humvee, containing three soldiers, was damaged after tumbling into a ditch to evade the fire. A grenade landed underneath the vehicle, but did not detonate.

In Afghanistan, U.S.-led forces participating in Operation Valiant Strike found more than 170 rocket-propelled grenades and scores of land mines and mortar rounds.

In reaction to questions raised by Ahmed Shah Behzad at the opening ceremonies of human rights commission on March 19, the governor Herat, Ismail Khan, expelled the Behzad from the province. Most journalists in Herat protested the move and went on strike to also demand more press freedom in the province.

Afghanistan marked World Tuberculosis Day with a ceremony in Kabul. To date, Afghanistan had one of the highest incidences of the disease in the world, killing 23,000 a year. The disease was mainly the result of poverty and malnutrition.

On a train between the Belarusian capital Minsk and Moscow, Maj. Gen. Viktor Karpukhin died of heart failure. Karpukhin had been a commander of an elite Soviet commando unit that took part in one of the riskier operations of the Soviet Union's 10-year war in Afghanistan.

"Tuesday, March 25, 2003"

In Afghanistan, a group of U.S.-led forces (dubbed Task Force Devil) participating in Operation Valiant Strike captured four suspected rebels and seizing a major weapons cache. The cache included electronic detonators, timers, dozens of mortar and rocket-propelled grenade rounds and land mines.

In Afghanistan, Ammanullah Khan, a Pashtun, said forces loyal to Tajik warlord Ismail Khan, the governor of the Herat Province, began attacking the Pashtun village of Atashan in Badghis Province.

In Jalalabad, more than 2,000 university students protesting the U.S.-led war on Iraq clashed with the security forces. Seven students were lightly injured. The confrontation began when students tried to remove barricades set up to prevent them from blocking the main Jalalabad-Kabul highway. Some students threw stones on two vehicles carrying U.S. special forces on the highway.

A rocket was fired toward the coalition-controlled airport in Khost, Afghanistan.

Three rockets were fired near a U.S. base in Gardez, Afghanistan in Paktia Province and 11 were fired at another base in the province, near the Pakistan border.

Around 20 Canadian troops left for Afghanistan to pave the way for Canadian troops to join the U.N. peacekeeping force International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The Perini Corporation was awarded a contract by the United States Army Corps of Engineers for the design and construction of facilities to support the First Brigade of the Afghan National Army, located near Kabul.

About 400 gunmen attacked a checkpoint in Tora Shaikh in Badghis Province, Afghanistan near the border with Turkmenistan. Seven attackers and six government soldiers were killed.

"Wednesday, March 26, 2003"

Two kilometers from the Kandahar airport, a bomb blew up a tanker carrying 45,000 liters (11,885 gallons) of fuel to a U.S. military base in southern Afghanistan, but there were no casualties.

BearingPoint announced it had been awarded a three-year, $39.9 million contract from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help Afghanistan implement policy and institutional reform measures that will lead to an improved environment for economic development. The agreement includes an option for another two years, for a total award of $64.1 million.

In Afghanistan, Ammanullah Khan said that Ismail Khan's forces captured Atashan and burned scores of houses before advancing toward nearby Mangan.

U.S. soldiers near Jalalabad, Afghanistan found a cache of 800 BM-12 rockets.

The Afghan government trained 20 finance officers to ensure revenues across the country were collected transparently. The officers completed one-month training courses sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development and the World Bank.

Japan donated about US$20 million to Afghanistan. One source claimed the money was meant to help rebuild its transportation infrastructure, including buying new ambulances and buses. The "Japan Times" claimed the money was meant to create jobs, to promote education, and to create a constitution.

U.S. forces detained one person with suspected Taliban ties during Operation Valiant Strike in the Sami Ghar mountains in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan.

U.S. troops treated a 20-year-old Afghan man who was shot in the leg in Deh Rawood. The man was flown to Kandahar, where part of his left leg was amputated. It was unclear how the gunshot was inflicted.

"Thursday, March 27, 2003"

On the dirt road to Kandahar, Ricardo Munguia, an International Committee of the Red Cross water engineer, was fatally shot by gunmen, prompting the humanitarian aid agency to suspend operations across Afghanistan. After intercepting two Red Cross vehicles, the gunmen shot Muguia in the head, burned one car and warned two Afghans accompanying him not to work for foreigners. Abdul Salaam, a witness, alleged that Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah gave the gunmen their orders via mobile phone.

In Khowri Khorah, Afghanistan, a company of 60 U.S. soldiers working in Operation Desert Lion discivered hundreds of mortar and recoilless rifle rounds, rockets and more than 120 cases of ammunition.

Thailand’s government, working with the Asian Foundation for Wheelchair Users and the Thai Foundation for the Disabled, sent 100 wheelchairs to the people of Afghanistan.

Amnesty International expressed concern for the health of Kuchi elder Haji Naim Kuchai, who was detained by U.S. troops in Afghanistan on January 1. Kuchai, whom had had a kidney removed four years prior and whom suffered from diabetes, was being detained at an unknown location.

At least 11 people were killed and 2,000 affected by floods which damaged hundreds of homes in the Kunduz Province, Afghanistan. The district of Khanabad and the major city of Mazari Sharif were affected the greatest. U.N. aid agencies, along with local and national governments mobilized to provide food, plastic sheeting, blankets and other emergency assistance.

U.S. warplanes conducted an air assault in the Kohe Safi mountains of Afghanistan, in the first strike of Operation Desert Lion.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Afghan Ministry for Refugees and Repatriation began a joint registration exercise in the northern provinces of Takhar, Jowzjan, Sar-e Pol, Faryab, Balkh, Samangan, Baghlan, Kunduz and Badakhshan. An estimated 45,000 internally displaced persons were to be registered by 76 registration teams.

In Washington, D.C., Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Dana Rohrabacher introduced the Access for Afghan Women Act into the United States Congress. The intention of the bill was to lay out a roadmap for incorporating women into Afghanistan's development process. Such incorporation would be achieved through funding organizations such as the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA) and the National Human Rights Commission.

Despite Afghan president Hamid Karzai previously ordered that there would be no zones in Afghanistan, deputy defence minister General Abdul Rashid Dostum created an office for the North Zone of Afghanistan. Disobeying Karzai's order, Dostum appointed the following officials to the North Zone: Lt-Gen Mohammad Daud Azizi and Lt-Gen Majid Rozi as deputies of the Control and Management; Lt-Gen Mohammad Shahzada as head of the departments of the Control and Management; Lt-Gen Esmatollah as general head of operations of the Control and Management.

"Friday, March 28, 2003"

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to extend the U.N. assistance mission in Afghanistan for another year, enough time to see the country through to general elections.

Four suspected Taliban were killed and six captured as U.S. special forces and hundreds of Afghan soldiers fought in Sangisakh Shaila against about 100 suspected Taliban holdouts.

Claiming to be somewhere in Afghanistan, senior Taliban military commander Mullah Dadullah told the BBC that the Taliban hoped to regain power in Afghanistan, utilizing popular support. Dadullah said that the Taliban had regrouped under the leadership of Mullah Mohammed Omar and were attacking U.S.-led coalition troops with renewed vigour and ferocity. He added that the Taliban would fight until "Jews and Christians, all foreign crusaders" were expelled from Afghanistan. According to Dadullah, al-Qaeda no longer existed in Afghanistan and that he did not know the fate or whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

The Asian Development Bank forwarded a draft proposal to Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan regarding India's participation in a proposed 1,300 km Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan natural gas pipeline project. The draft was subject to approval of all parties.

"Saturday, March 29, 2003"

A four-vehicle reconnaissance patrol was attacked near Geresk in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, killing two U.S. special forces soldiers and wounding another. Killed were Army Special Forces Sgt. Orlando Morales of Manati, Puerto Rico, and Staff Sgt. Jacob L. Frazier, a member of the Illinois Air National Guard from St. Charles, Illinois. Three Afghan soldiers were also wounded in the attack.

An earthquake of 5.5 magnitude rattled parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The quake, which was centered about 60 miles north of Peshawar, was felt in Kabul for about 30 seconds.

*While on a routine surveillance mission, two Norwegian F-16 fighters were called in to provide air support for U.S.-led alliance forces which were under attack from enemy soldiers in a mountainous area north east of Kandahar. The F-16s dropped four laser guided bombs.

Fighters launched rockets at an air base housing U.S. and Afghan forces near Jalalabad, but there were no casualties.

Afghanistan's government set up a special bank account to channel money for humanitarian aid to Iraq and urged wealthy Afghans to contribute to it. Money from the account, which was opened at the central bank in Kabul, would be delivered to the Iraqi people later by the U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi.

Some 600 Afghan soldiers were sent to Sangisakh Shaila, 75 kilometers (50 miles) north of Kandahar, to take on the suspected Taliban fighters. U.S. helicopters and an aircraft were used in the operation.

"Sunday, March 30, 2003"

U.S. forces called in air support that smashed a cluster of suspected rebel vehicles and killed at least two attackers in the eastern border town of Shkin in Afghanistan.

Six Afghan civilians were killed and six were injured when their taxi hit a landmine 12 kilometers (7 miles) north of Lashkargah. It was alleged that the mine had been laid during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The taxi had left a rutted dirt road apparently to avoid potholes.

Assailants fired about a dozen 82 mm mortar rounds toward a U.S. base near Shkin, Afghanistan, triggering an attack by a United States Marines AV-8 Harrier II jet that dropped a 1,000-pound (454-kilo), laser-guided bomb on three vehicles spotted trying to leave the area. Two AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships were also called in, but they did not fire.

A 122 mm rocket struck the headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul. The explosion sprayed shrapnel across trees and buildings and damaged two ISAF vehicles inside the compound, but no one was hurt.

Attackers fired two rockets at a U.S. base in the eastern town of Gardez, Afghanistan, but there were no casualties.

"Monday, March 31, 2003"

50 reservists of the 321st Civil Affairs Brigade from Fort Sam Houston in Texas were deployed to Afghanistan to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom.

After fierce fighting during a joint operation with U.S.-led coalition forces in central Afghanistan's Oruzgan Province, Afghan government troops captured Mulla Ahdul Razaq, minister of commerce of the former Taliban regime.

About 80 suspected Taliban members were arrested in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.

The participation by Norwegian F-16 fighters in the U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan came to its scheduled end.

At 9:30 a.m., five men armed with AK-47s attacked a car of Afghan border commander Najibullah who was on his way from Kang District to the center of Nimroz. The commander and two of his men were killed. The car was stolen and later found in the neighboring Farah Province, but the attackers had fled.

See also

Timeline of the War in Afghanistan:
<< February 2003 | March 2003 | April 2003 >>


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