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Fighting with Taliban flares in the west, and east, of Afghanistan

The clashes, described as the worst since 2001, have intensified concerns about a resurgent Taliban.

By / November 1, 2007



Intensified fighting in two parts of Afghanistan in the past few days is being described in press reports as the most serious in those locations since the US-led invasion of that country in 2001, and raising concerns about a resurgent Taliban movement.

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Agence France-Presse reports on fighting in the western Gulistan district in the past three days as NATO and Afghan government troops have sought to "retake" the area from the Taliban.

An operation by local and NATO troops to retake a district in the increasingly troubled Farah province from the hardline rebels entered its third day, provincial police spokesman Mohammad Gul Sarjang said.
On Wednesday Afghan police said up to 40 Taliban militants were killed and 20 wounded. Taliban militants have taken over several districts in Afghanistan for brief periods of time but have kept control of only one, Musa Qala district in southern Helmand province, which they captured almost a year ago.
Helmand, Afghanistan's biggest opium growing region, borders Farah and hundreds of militants from the province crossed over into Gulistan district during the current bout of fighting.

The New York Times, citing Canadian and Afghan officials, says that for the first time since 2001, Taliban fighters have moved in force just north of the city of Kandahar, once a Taliban stronghold, sparking fierce fighting with Canadian-led forces in the area. The paper also notes that the death of a powerful pro-government warlord in the area has enabled the Taliban offensive, underscoring the fragility of security efforts there.

Control of the area, known as the Arghandab district, would allow the Taliban to directly threaten Kandahar, southern Afghanistan's largest city.
Sarah Chayes, an American journalist and aid worker who has lived in Kandahar since 2001, said a powerful pro-government leader in the district, Mullah
Naqibullah, died of a heart attack two weeks ago. Over the last several years, Mullah Naqibullah survived multiple attempts by the Taliban to kill him, shesaid, and was "the bulwark" that blocked the hard-line Islamic group from entering Kandahar from the north.
But in a sign of the weakness of President Hamid Karzai's government in the area, joyous Taliban fighters seized control of Mullah Naqibullah's home village in Arghandab within two weeks of his death.

The Associated Press reports that two Afghan children died in fighting overnight in Nangarhar Province, as US and Afghan forces raided a suspected militant safe house.

The latest civilian casualties came as U.S. and Afghan troops were raiding a compound suspected of harboring militants belonging to a suicide bombing network.
"It is regrettable that the civilian lives were put in danger by the militants and our sincere condolences goes to the families of the deceased and wounded," said (US-led coalition spokesman Maj. Chris) Belcher, noting the military has launched an investigation.
Violence in Afghanistan this year is the deadliest since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban militant movement from power in the country.
More than 5,600 people have died this year due to insurgency-related violence, according to an Associated Press count based on figures from Afghan and Western officials.
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