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Page last updated at 21:57 GMT, Friday, 27 June 2008 22:57 UK

Taleban 'to boost Afghan attacks'

A Taleban fighter in Afghanistan. File photo
The Taleban were ousted from power in Afghanistan in 2001

A resurgent Taleban is likely to step up the scope of its attacks during 2008, the US has warned.

In a report on security in Afghanistan, the Pentagon warned the Islamist guerrillas had "coalesced into a resilient insurgency".

The report said the Taleban was likely to "maintain or even increase the scope and pace of its terrorist attacks".

The Taleban was ousted from power in Afghanistan by a US-led international coalition in 2001.

Earlier this week, the US regional commander said attacks by Taleban insurgents in eastern Afghanistan had increased by 40% compared with the same period last year.

'Syndicate of insurgents'

The Pentagon's first comprehensive report on the security situation in Afghanistan noted that insurgent violence had continued to climb despite efforts to capture and kill Taleban leaders.

Meanwhile, both Afghanistan's army and police force still lack the trainers they need, the report said.

"Generally, police development has been hindered by a lack of reform, corruption, insufficient US military trainers and advisors and a lack of unity of effort within the international community," it said.

On Tuesday, Maj Gen Jeffrey Schloesser warned insurgents were choosing targets to disrupt economic development.

He said attacks on the border with Pakistan accounted for 12% of the total insurgent attacks in eastern Afghanistan.

He blamed "a syndicate" of insurgents, including members of the Taleban and al-Qaeda, and people from both Afghanistan and Pakistan for the attacks.

Afghan officials say Taleban are allowed to shelter in Pakistan's tribal areas on the mountainous border.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, responding to Gen Schloesser's comments, criticised Pakistan for failing to put pressure on Taleban forces along the border, saying it had fuelled a rise in violence.

He said recent efforts by Pakistan to negotiate a peace agreement with tribal leaders had taken the pressure off insurgent groups.

"They've therefore been more free to be able to cross the border and create problems for us," he said.

The report also noted the lack of a comprehensive strategy to combat the illegal poppy trade in Afghanistan.

"There is a clear nexus between narcotics and the insurgency in Afghanistan that threatens US gains in Afghanistan and the region," it added.




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