Sunday, February 3, 2008

Afghan insurgency rising: US admiral

The Observer's Jason Burke, reports that 'Taliban attacks on allied troops soar by up to a third':

Attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan surged last year, according to previously unpublished figures from allied military forces fighting insurgents. Statistics compiled by the multinational International Stabilisation Force in Afghanistan show attacks on international troops and the Afghan government have gone up by between a fifth and a third.

But although admitting the figures show a 'significant rise', Nato insists the geographic extent of the violence remains limited. 'Seventy per cent of the incidents took place in just 10 per cent of the country, where no more than 6 per cent of the population live, and many have been initiated by our forces as we engage with the enemy,' a Nato source said. 'That is the same area as in 2006 which shows the insurgency is not spreading.' ...
The BBC carried a report in the same vein the other day:
Why the Afghan Taleban feel confident
By David Loyn
BBC News

In Afghanistan, the Taleban now claim to have influence across most of the country and have extended their area of control from their traditional heartland in the south.

They are able to operate freely even in Wardak Province, neighbouring the capital Kabul, as a BBC camera crew who filmed them recently found. ...

Local people said that they were willing to help the Taleban because they supported their brand of justice.

In one of the villages under their control, people willing to come forward and talk to the BBC said that security was much better now that the Taleban were there. ...

The overall military commander of the Taleban in Wardak, Mullah Rashid Akhond, claimed to have 2,000 active fighters.

He said that he was operating an administrative system with orders coming from Kandahar in the south, just like during the days of the Taleban government that fell in 2001.

He said that the Taleban were running their own courts. "People are taking their cases away from the government courts and coming to us. Now there is no robbery in our area."

Many of the suicide bombers who go to Kabul come from this area, just an hour's drive away. ... (link)
American Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, meanwhile describes the Afghan enemy as "a classic growing insurgency".

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