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No Relief in Afghan Violence Ahead of Summit

Monday, 15 Nov 2010 07:47 AM

KABUL — Nine security guards were killed and a Taliban rocket attack on a military base destroyed six armoured vehicles in Afghanistan on Monday, after another deadly weekend for foreign forces and civilians.

Insurgent violence showed no sign of letting up in the build-up to a key NATO summit, where the continued presence of foreign forces in the country -- and the timetable for their withdrawal -- is likely to be high on the agenda.

The deadliest strike came when militants attacked a telecommunications tower in northern Kunduz province. Nine guards, an Afghan police officer and seven Taliban were killed, local police said.

Telephone antennae have become a target for the Taliban and other insurgents since the militant group banned mobile telephone communications at night in areas they control.

The rebels maintain that the Afghan security forces and their international backers in the 150,000-strong US-led NATO force track down militants using mobile phone signals.

Residents say that all mobile phones go down after dark in Kunduz, where the Taliban have a strong presence.

NATO leaders gather in Lisbon on Friday for a two-day meeting that is likely to be dominated by the conflict in Afghanistan, amid calls for foreign troops to begin handing over security powers from next year.

There are indications that there is a growing recognition within the 28-member bloc that a full withdrawal is likely to come later rather than sooner, with the end of 2014 -- or beyond -- seen as more realistic.

"From Lisbon on we will be on a transition strategy with a target date of the end of 2014 for Afghanistan taking over responsibility for leading the security," said the US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke.

"You can be sure there will be some drawdowns in July next year although the size and pace is something the president will decide... next year," he told reporters in Islamabad on Monday.

Relations with Kabul though are increasingly strained.

President Hamid Karzai at the weekend called for the US military to scale back operations and "intrusiveness" into everyday life in Afghanistan or risk fuelling the Taliban insurgency.

US lawmakers reacted with dismay and Karzai's comments stand at odds with US and NATO commander General David Petraeus, who has made capturing and killing militants a key priority.

Meanwhile, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said Monday that a Taliban small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenade attack caused a fire on a military base in the Asadabad district of eastern Kunar province.

The fire, caused when a rocket hit a fuel tank, destroyed six mine-resistant armoured protected vehicles (MRAPs) used by the US Army and designed to protect against roadside attacks. No casualties were reported.

Seven foreign service personnel were killed in the east and south on Sunday in the worst day for coalition fatalities since October 14 when seven troops also died. Three soldiers were also killed on Saturday.

Some 643 international troops have now died so far in 2010, making it the deadliest year for coalition forces in Afghanistan since operations began in late 2001, according to an AFP tally based on the icasualties.org web site.

The last two days have also seen three police officers and 14 civilians lose their lives in a string of bomb blasts.

The worst was on Sunday in a remote town in Kunduz, when a motorcycle packed with explosives went off in a market, killing 10, including three children. Eighteen people were injured.

A child died and another was injured when they were "inadvertently caught" in the crossfire between NATO and Afghan army troops and militants in Kandahar province on Saturday.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
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KABUL — Nine security guards were killed and a Taliban rocket attack on a military base destroyed six armoured vehicles in Afghanistan on Monday, after another deadly weekend for foreign forces and civilians.
afghan violence us
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2010-47-15
Monday, 15 Nov 2010 07:47 AM
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