Afghanistan attacks ‘at new high’
A top American general says violent attacks by insurgents in Afghanistan have risen to their highest level since the Taliban were toppled in 2001.
Gen David Petraeus, who commands US forces in the region, said things had worsened over the past two years and reached a new high in the past week.
Speaking in Washington, Gen Petraeus warned of difficult times ahead.
He said this was partly because US forces were targeting what he called militant sanctuaries and safe havens.
There are currently more than 70,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, mostly under Nato command.
The Obama administration plans to send an additional 21,000 troops.
There were more than 400 insurgent attacks last week, compared with less than 50 per week in January 2004.
“Some of this will go up because we are going to go after their sanctuaries and safe havens as we must,” Gen Petraeus, who heads US Central Command, said in a speech at the Washington think-tank Center for a New American Security.
“But there is no question the situation has deteriorated over the course of the past two years in particular and there are difficult times ahead.”
Gen Petraeus said he was facing challenges in Afghanistan which had not featured during his time in Iraq and which included difficulties in relations with local people.
He stressed the need for “being good partners and good neighbours and having enormous concern, needless to say, about civilian casualties in everything we do”.
Correspondents say civilian casualties are causing growing public outrage throughout Afghanistan and friction between the US and Afghan governments.