A top American general in Afghanistan has expressed serious concern over the continued smuggling of ammonium nitrate, a key ingredient for making bombs, from Pakistan into the strife-torn country.
Army Major General Daniel Allyn, Commanding General, Regional Command East, Afghanistan told Pentagon reporters in a video conference that ammonium nitrate was being smuggled across the border from Pakistan and in large quantities.
"In fact, Afghan Uniform Police this past week conducted two independent operations responding to intelligence from their own sources, and captured two different shipments totaling over 5,750 kilograms of ammonium nitrate," he said. Ammonium nitrate is a key content for explosives and its smuggling to an insurgency-hit country is obviously a matter of worry.
"So those types of operations are focused on interdicting the flow of manpower, weapons and equipment across the border from whatever their originating source might be," he said in response to a question.
Allyn, however, said the Afghan government and security forces in his area of operation continue to grow in capability and confidence, allowing them to build upon security conditions and deliver essential services to the people.
"Tactically, along with our security force partners, we have kept the pressure on insurgent networks, cleared several support zones and, in the process, strengthened the leadership and capability of our Afghan partners," he said.
"A side effect of this pressure on the insurgent networks is the ruthless, desperate and inexplicable actions of insurgents against the people of Afghanistan," he said.
The General said their blatant disregard for the Afghan people manifests itself in suicide attacks that predominantly target innocent civilians, and ill-disciplined direct and indirect fire attacks that brutalise population centres.
"Over the past 90 days, 85 to 90 per cent of Afghan civilian casualties are caused by insurgent violence. As a result, more and more communities are becoming inhospitable to insurgent influence and cohabitation.
"We see increased cooperation between the Afghan people, the local government and the security forces who serve them," Allyn said.
"In terms of stability environment for the international workers, obviously, just as we are focused on providing security for the Afghan people, we are focused on expanding the stable environment for the international workers, as well as the Afghan people, to go about their business and achieve a state of normalcy. And that is improving, albeit not as fast as any of us would prefer," Allyn said.