Monday, March 10, 2008

Insurgent attacks: up or down?

Several authorities have different assessments of how active the insurgency has become:

Afghan clashes up in 2008 but in fewer places: NATO

Jon Hemming
Monday, March 10, 2008

KABUL (Reuters) - NATO forces in Afghanistan have clashed more times with Taliban insurgents in the first two months of 2008 compared to last year ...

In the first two months of 2008, there have been 595 armed clashes in 101 districts in Afghanistan, compared to 550 clashes in 88 districts in the same period last year, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.

The increase in clashes was due to greater activity by troops going after Taliban rebels, an ISAF spokesman said. ...

Meanwhile, the United Nations said there had been fewer security incidents this year, compared to the same period in 2007. ...

[An ISAF spokesman cited statistics which] showed fighting had taken place in fewer districts as evidence of improving security.

But an organization which monitors security for the dozens of non-governmental organizations said there had been a marked increase in Taliban attacks so far this year.

Data collected by the Afghanistan NGO Security Office (ANSO) said there had been a 39 percent increase in Taliban attacks until March this year compared to the same period in 2007.

The biggest increase had been in armed attacks rather than in suicide and roadside bombs, ANSO said, contradicting ISAF which has repeatedly said the Taliban are relying more on so-called asymmetric suicide and roadside bomb tactics due their inability to take on NATO and Afghan troops head on.

While there was a divergence in the figures, the perception among many Afghans and of Western public opinion is of a conflict still dragging on more than six years after U.S.-led and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban with no foreseeable end. ... (link)

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