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Terrorism & Security

Taliban announce 'countersurge' in Afghanistan

The militants have vowed to launch a new offensive against US and its allies, which are preparing to increase troop levels.

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The US government and independent analysts said Thursday that violence has risen in the past year and the insurgents have consolidated and expanded their operations, according to the Associated Press. A new State Department study found that the number of insurgent attacks has increased. In addition, the American Security Project, Washington-based think tank, reported on Wednesday that the Taliban is gaining ground in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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"Governmental weakness in both states has created opportunities for radical Islamist groups on both sides of the border," the independent analysts concluded.
"Terrorist attacks are up, but worse, territory controlled by the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban has also increased," said the American Security Project…
The American Security Project attributes the rise in incidents to the spread of the Taliban, which it said has a "persistent presence" in about 75 percent of the Afghanistan. In Pakistan, it noted that the government increasingly has ceded authority to militants in tribal areas, even before turning over the Swat Valley to the Taliban earlier this month.

Western nations are pouring more troops into the beleaguered country in hopes of stemming this violent tide. In addition to the more than 20,000 soldiers that the US has earmarked for Afghanistan, Australia and Britain are also pledging troop increases, The Afghan news website Quqnoos reports:

[The] British Prime Minister [said an] extra 700 troops will be sent to Afghanistan mainly to help provide security during upcoming elections.
Deployment of the new British contingent will [raise the number of] troops to 9,000 stationed in Afghanistan, mostly in Helmand, the stronghold of the Taliban militants.
"For Afghanistan, our strategy is to ensure the country is strong enough as a democracy to withstand and overcome the terrorist threat," Brown said.

In addition, Australia has pledged to send an additional 450 troops. The force increases this year will bring the total number of foreign forces in Afghanistan to more than 90,000.

President Obama is also planning to ask Congress for an additional $83 billion in funding for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, CNN reports.

The request is expected to pay for those conflicts for the rest of the 2009 budget year, two Democratic congressional sources said.
The money would bring the running tab for both conflicts to about $947 billion, according to figures from the Congressional Research Service.
More than three-quarters of the $864 billion appropriated so far has gone to the war in Iraq, the agency estimated.

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