They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Monday, February 06, 2006

Afghan fighting escalates as UK deployment looms

guardian: A roadside bomb killed six Afghan policemen and injured five yesterday, sharpening jitters about the impending British deployment to the increasingly dangerous southern provinces.

It was presumed that a landmine ripped through the police jeep as it sped down a road north of Kandahar City, an official said. There was no claim of responsibility but the Taliban was suspected.

Taliban violence in the south has spiked dramatically over recent months as the deployment nears of more than 6,000 Nato troops from Britain, the Netherlands and Canada.

On Friday a 12-hour battle erupted in Helmand province, where 3,300 British troops will be stationed. More than 200 Taliban fighters ambushed a police patrol in Sangin district, north of the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah. American and Afghan troops backed by British Harrier warplanes and American A-10 bombers rushed to the scene. At least 16 Taliban and six Afghan soldiers died in heavy fighting. Sangin is one of Helmand's most notorious pockets of Taliban resistance. Last October a US convoy carrying a British reconnaissance officer came under heavy machine-gun fire and multiple rocket attacks.

Friday's fighting ended when sustained aerial bombardment forced the militants to flee to a nearby town, said a US military statement.

The surging violence has cast doubt on claims that the Taliban is a waning force. It also underscores the challenges facing the British-led Nato expansion into the south this spring, which should allow the US to withdraw about 3,000 troops. Link