Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Afghan attacks 'double' in 2008

By Martin Vennard
BBC News

Scene of roadside bomb in Afghanistan
Mr Wood said roadside bomb attacks did not help the insurgents' campaign

The US ambassador to Afghanistan has said the number of kidnappings and roadside bomb attacks in Afghanistan doubled in 2008 compared to 2007.

William Wood said such attacks, often targeting international forces but also civilians, only served to demonstrate the brutality of the insurgents.

Mr Wood also said there had been progress in some areas, such as the battle against drug production.

2008 has seen the worst violence since the overthrow of the Taleban in 2001.

At a news conference in Kabul, ambassador William Wood said the number of roadside bombs, or Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), had doubled this year to around 2,000.

He said the number of kidnappings had also doubled to about 300, adding that it was hard to know if they were criminal or political in nature.

"They don't threaten the government," he said. "All they do is prove to everyone the continued presence and brutality of the terrorist."


Mr Wood summed up 2008 as a hard year, but one in which Afghans and international forces had showed their determination.

He said the year would be remembered as "a terrorist effort... characterised by violence against individuals, both Afghan and international, and clear expressions by the internationals and by the citizens of Afghanistan that they were not intimidated."

Mr Wood said there had been progress in the battle against drugs, as well as continued economic growth and improvements in governance, and welfare and social services.

He said that US plans to almost double the number of American troops in Afghanistan in 2009 to 60,000 were necessary for security.

And he predicated that 2009 would be characterised by the presidential elections, for which more than three million people have already registered to vote.

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