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'Afghan security not as bad as portrayed'

world Updated: Jan 03, 2009 23:49 IST

The deputy head of the NATO-led force that has more than 50,000 soldiers in Afghanistan helping to fight extremist insurgents has said security did not deteriorate last year as much as portrayed.

A few “spectacular attacks” by the insurgents in 2008 had fed perceptions that security was worsening, British Lieutenant General Jim Dutton said, answering questions from the media in a video posted on the Internet this week.

However there had been some improvements with violence in the capital Kabul “much lower” than in 2007, the International Security Assistance Force deputy commander said. He added: “There is no evidence of a coordinated effort by insurgents to try to encircle the capital city despite what we sometimes read.”

Top Taliban leader held

Pakistani security agencies arrested a senior Afghan Taliban official who had been released from prison in Afghanistan in 2007 in exchange for a kidnapped Italian journalist.