Video: Coping in Kandahar

  1. Transcript of: Coping in Kandahar

    ANN CURRY, anchor: And the other big story of this day, the growing toll in the war in Afghanistan , the lives lost and disrupted. In Kabul today a crowd of angry Afghan citizens took to the streets shouting, ` Death to America ,' throwing stones and setting cars on fire after four Afghans were killed in an accident involving an SUV driven by US contractors. And today we learned that six more American troops died in Afghanistan . That brings American deaths in July to at least 66, making this the deadliest month of the war. This year, 264 Americans have died in Afghanistan . More than 1100 have died since the war started nearly nine years ago.

    Source: Associated Press Since 2001 1122

    CURRY: Meanwhile, NBC 's Jim Maceda spent two weeks on a mission with one unit that has suffered tremendous losses, and he has this report now from the volatile Zhari district of Kandahar .

    Offscreen Voice #1: Ambush!

    Offscreen Voice #2: Move it!

    Voice #1: Two-two! Am I clear on the left?

    Offscreen Voice #3: Ready to go!

    JIM MACEDA reporting: Under attack with nowhere to hide.

    Offscreen Voice #4: Don't! Step out!

    MACEDA: US Army Sergeant Greg Lucas cheated death when his squad was ambushed by the Taliban just days ago.

    Sergeant GREG LUCAS: We're, like, 10 feet away from them, and they starts firing at us from the side. And so how they didn't hit us, who knows.

    Unidentified Man: Go, go, go, go, go.

    MACEDA: The 2nd, or Strike Brigade , of the 101st Airborne has seen at least 75 casualties since landing in the heart of Kandahar late May. Already a big part of their battle is learning how to cope.

    Sergeant EDWARD BILBO (1-502 Strike Brigade): We grieve together, we rejoice together. Like, the bonds you make in the good times help you get through the -- like, the not so good of times.

    MACEDA: And in a not so good place to fight a war, Zhari district , one of the most Taliban -contested in southern Afghanistan . Milwaukee native Johnny Davis has had his own brush with death, leaving a wife and five daughters back home to lead his men from the front and wearing the shrapnel holes left in his flak vest after his armored vehicle hit an IED last month.

    Lieutenant Colonel JOHNNY DAVIS (1-502 Strike Brigade): It was very close call. Six wounded, and four are returned to duty and two are doing extremely well.

    MACEDA: Cooling down however they can from the 120-degree heat helps soldiers like Private 1st Class Adam Wagner stay focused on the mission.

    Private 1st Class ADAM WAGNER: We want to push through these villages and, you know, seek out the Taliban and just get rid of them.

    MACEDA: And what about more casualties?

    Pfc. ADAM WAGNER: I just hope that, you know, doesn't come to us.

    MACEDA: Still, flags are flying more often at half-staff these days as the unit pays tribute to more lost comrades, this time platoon Sergeant John Jarrell from South Carolina and Florida -born medic Michael "Doc" Winters. But many of these veterans of the surge in Baghdad say this surge has just begun; there will be more fighting and dying ahead. Jim Maceda, NBC News, Kandahar .

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/30/2010 11:54:52 AM ET 2010-07-30T15:54:52

Afghan police fired shots on Friday to disperse hundreds of people protesting the deaths of civilians in an accident involving a U.S. Embassy vehicle, officials said.

A crowd of angry Afghans shouted "Death to America," hurled stones and set fire to two SUVs after the crash on a road leading to Kabul's airport, according to the capital's criminal investigations chief, Abdul Ghaafar Sayedzada.

A NATO official told AFP the vehicles involved in the crash belonged to the U.S. Embassy.

A police official at the scene said four Afghan civilians were killed in the accident, while the U.S. Embassy said there were fatalities and serious injuries.

AFP reported that a NATO quick-reaction force was sent to the area, which is not far from the U.S. Embassy.

The accident, near the Masood Circle landmark in the airport/diplomatic area, sparked anger among local residents who torched two embassy vehicles and pelted police with rocks when they tried to intervene.

"The civilian vehicle was trying to get into the main road when the two foreign vehicles hit it and killed all four occupants," local resident Saleh Ahmed told AFP. "People gathered around the crash site to see what had happened, got angry and started attacking the foreigners."

Civilian casualties caused by foreign troops in Afghanistan is one of the most sensitive issues between the government of Hamid Karzai and its foreign backers and has sparked violent street protests in Afghanistan in the past.

A fatal traffic accident caused by a U.S. military convoy in 2006 triggered an anti-American riot in Kabul that left at least 14 people dead and dozens injured.

Dead delisted
Meanwhile, five Taliban were struck off a U.N. Security Council list of people subject to sanctions — a move sought by Kabul to ease reconciliation talks with insurgents, a U.N. diplomat said.

The move followed a review of the list of Taliban and al-Qaida members maintained by a Security Council committee. Two of the five were delisted because they were dead, the diplomat said.

Afghanistan had pressed the committee to take some names off the list as part of a scheduled update. A "peace Jirga" in Afghanistan last month recommended negotiations with moderate Taliban leaders and other insurgents to end a worsening nine-year war in the country.

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Diplomats said Karzai had been seeking the delisting of about a dozen Taliban, either because they had joined the government side or because they were dead.

But Russia, which sits on the committee along with other Security Council members, had been cautious about deleting names, they said.

The diplomat named the five delisted as Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad Awrang, a former Afghan ambassador to the United Nations, Abdul Salam Zaeef and Abdul Satar Paktin, as well as Abdul Samad Khaksar and Muhammad Islam Mohammadi, who have both died.

The Associated Press, Reuters and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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