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Afghan violence peaks ahead of elections

Taliban violence has reached record highs in Afghanistan, the international military says, and
there are fears the trend will continue as insurgents target the August presidential elections.

world Updated: Jun 14, 2009 13:16 IST
AFP

Taliban violence has reached record highs in Afghanistan, the international military says, and


there are fears the trend will continue as insurgents target the August presidential elections.

Thousands of mostly US troops are moving in to secure the polls and to reinforce the turbulent south, a Taliban
stronghold, but regional US commander General David Petraeus has warned of "tough months ahead."

Petraeus said on Thursday that the past week had seen the highest level of security incidents since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban in a US-led invasion, despite intense international efforts to quell the violence.

Insurgent-initiated attacks from January to May this year were about 60 per cent higher than those for the same period last year, Canadian Brigadier General Richard Blanchette told AFP.

This was part of a trend that had seen attacks climb over the past two years, said Blanchette, the spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

"The number of attacks varies significantly across Afghanistan with Helmand province in particular experiencing the highest increase in attacks," he said.

Parts of Helmand, in the south of the country, are firmly in Taliban hands and the province is likely to be one of the
most tense areas around the August 20 presidential and provincial council election.

First Published: Jun 14, 2009 13:13 IST