When the U.S. military handed over the detention center at Bagram Air Field to Afghan authorities this week, it symbolized an American role that is winding down — and the uncomfortable relationship between the two countries.
The prison, where Taliban and terrorism suspects are housed, has been a sore point for Afghans for years.
At the ceremony, an announcer read the names of Bagram prisoners who the Afghans said were wrongly detained and were now being freed.
Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 1:10 pm
A security official looks at rubble of a building destroyed during a twin suicide bomb attack in Wardak province, Afghanistan, on Saturday.
Credit Stringer/Afghanistan / Reuters /Landov
Update at 10:40 a.m. ET:
NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson tells our Newscast unit the Taliban is claiming responsibility for both attacks, and that two U.S. soldiers are among the injured. One of the bombs exploded about 40 miles west of Kabul, on a road leading to a nearby U.S. military base. The deaths are numerous because there's a busy shopping center there. The other bomb went off near the district governor's compound.
Spc. Ben Purvis (center) helps train Afghan troops on how to use mortars in the eastern province of Kunar in June. The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, points to several factors in the rise of "insider attacks" on American forces. He says relations between U.S. and Afghan troops are good overall.
Gunmen wearing Afghan police and army uniforms have killed 40 U.S. and NATO troops so far this year, and the top American commander in Afghanistan says there is no single reason — and no simple solution.
Taliban infiltrators, disputes between NATO and Afghan security forces, and even the timing of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, are all factors, according to Gen. John Allen.
"We think the reasons for these attacks are complex," says Allen, who spoke by video link from Kabul on Thursday. Ten of the American deaths have come in just the past two weeks.
Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, remain one of the biggest killers in Afghanistan. As NATO forces prepare to withdraw from the country, Afghans are learning the special skills needed to find and disarm these deadly weapons.
The training area near the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif is a large expanse of dirt and gravel, dotted with a few beat-up old taxis and scattered bunkers.