Southwest Asia: US Counter-Drug Contractor Killed as Afghan Fighting Intensifies 5/19/06

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An American civilian anti-drug contractor was killed and two other Americans wounded in a suicide bombing in western Afghanistan Thursday. The attack comes amidst a week of heavy fighting that has left at least 13 Afghan police officers, a Canadian soldier, and as many as 100 Taliban fighters dead. There are increasing reports of large numbers of Taliban fighters moving through southern and eastern Afghanistan.

westerners-only supermarket, Kabul, with security guard
photo by Drug War Chronicle editor Phil Smith
"We confirm that a US citizen contractor for the State Department Bureau of International Narcotic and Law Enforcement, working for the police training program in Herat was killed in a vehicle-borne IED attack," Chris Harris, an American Embassy spokesman, said, referring to an improvised explosive device. "Two other Americans were injured; one critically and one has minor injuries," Harris said.

The Americans were driving in a three-vehicle convoy on the main road north out of Heart when they were attacked, Afghan officials told the New York Times. The suicide bomber wore a long beard but was otherwise unidentifiable, the official said.

The Associated Press identified the dead American as Ron Zimmerman, 37, a former eastern Indiana police officer. Zimmerman quit his police job in March to join DynCorp International, which has a contract with the State Department to train police in anti-drug activities.

More than four years after American troops invaded Afghanistan to displace the Taliban, the group is back and stronger than ever. In fighting Thursday, hundreds of Taliban fighters clashed with Afghan and Canadian forces in Panjwai province. A day earlier, there was heavy fighting in Helmand province. Both are areas of significant opium production and are populated with Pashtuns, the same ethnic group as most Taliban.

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Issue #436 -- 5/19/06

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Editorial: Border Fears | Feature: Dramatic Death Toll in Sao Paulo as Drug Gangs, Police Clash | Feature: New Jersey Medical Marijuana Bill to Get Hearing | Feature: Marijuana Reform Emerges in Ireland | DRCNet Book Review: "Between Two Pages: Children of Substance," by Susan Hubenthal and GriefNet Parents (2003, 1st Books, $22.95, pb.) | Offer and Appeal: Important New Legalization Video and Drug War Facts Book Available | Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle? | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Search and Seizure: Bush Nominees Could Provide Swing Votes in Supreme Court Search Warrant Case | Europe: British Police Demand Bar Patrons Submit to Drug Tests | Southwest Asia: US Counter-Drug Contractor Killed as Afghan Fighting Intensifies | Australia: Lone South Australia Democrat MP Even Lonelier -- But Unbowed -- After Coming to Ecstasy's Defense | Australia: Health Minister Says Marijuana as Dangerous as Heroin -- Calls for National Toughening of Laws | Web Scan: Shipping Off Hawaiian Women Prisoners, Two Very Different District Attorneys, Drug Truth Network | Weekly: This Week in History | Job Opportunities: Syringe Exchange Program Coordinator and Specialist, Harm Reduction Coalition, Oakland, California | Job Opportunity: Program Manager, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, Washington, DC | Job Opportunity: Program Coordinator, Sensible Colorado, Denver/Boulder | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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