'Insurgent attacks in Afghanistan halved'

According to NATO-led force the number of insurgent attacks in southern Afghanistan has halved in the past month.

india Updated: Oct 08, 2006 17:17 IST

The number of insurgent attacks in southern Afghanistan has halved in the past month and the incidents that have occurred have been less ferocious than previously, the NATO-led force said on Sunday.

But the Taliban are still a dangerous threat with their use of suicide and improvised bombings likely to increase even further, NATO spokesman Mark Laity told reporters.

"At the beginning of September there was intense fighting throughout the south. At the end of this month fighting is much reduced," he said.

"Last week the number of incidents was a half. So there we've the actual evidence that in one month the number of incidents has halved in the south," he said.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force launched at the beginning of last month a major anti-militant operation called Medusa in the southern province of Kandahar.

In around two weeks about 1,000 rebels were killed, commanders said, and the others driven out.

Laity said that many of the incidents at the beginning of September were "very serious with many hours of fighting".

"Now many of those incidents are very short and brief - firefights or indirect fire," he said adding there had been reduction in the ferocity and intensity of attacks.

The Taliban-led insurgency traditionally goes through a lull during winter, which is on its way in Afghanistan. But Laity said that was not yet the case this year.

The spokesman stressed the threat from the Taliban - who are waging a guerrilla-style insurgency similar to the one ravaging Iraq - is still high.

"This is not to say they are not dangerous... But they are altogether a different kind of challenge to direct combat," he said, referring to an increase in suicide and improvised bombings.

"They have suffered a severe reverse but they are still there and they are still capable of causing much damage and destruction," he said.

The Taliban were overthrown from power in an invasion launched exactly five years ago and led by a US-led coalition.

The coalition has been in the country since then transferring command of foreign troops to ISAF in a staged process that ended last week when the force assumed authority of the east.

First Published: Oct 08, 2006 17:17 IST