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January 1, 2008 

At least 16 Taliban killed in Afghanistan: officials
HERAT, Afghanistan (AFP) - At least 16 Taliban rebels including a suspected would-be suicide bomber were killed in US-led and Afghan operations across insurgency-plagued Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday........

110 US troops die in Afghanistan in 2007
By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writer Mon Dec 31, 2:04 PM ET
KABUL, Afghanistan - U.S. military deaths, suicide bombings and opium production hit record highs in 2007. Taliban militants killed more than 925 Afghan police, and large swaths of the country remain outside government control.........

New Year's in Afghanistan a quiet affair for troops mourning their slain comrade
Jan 01, 2008 04:30 AM Tobi Cohen The Canadian Press
MA'SUM GHAR, Afghanistan–New Year's approached with little fanfare on the front lines in Afghanistan as Canadian soldiers mourned the loss of a comrade killed near the end of one of the bloodiest years in the five-year-old mission.........

Pakistan says kills 5 militants near Afghan border
01 Jan 2008 15:07:36 GMT
ISLAMABAD, Jan 1 (Reuters) - Pakistani security forces killed five al Qaeda-linked militants and captured 20 in an operation near the Afghan border on Tuesday after insurgents abducted four troops in the area, the military said.........

Afghan war took bad turns in 2007
The year saw record highs in U.S. deaths and suicide attacks. But the Pentagon also sees positive signs.
By Jason Straziuso Associated Press
KABUL, Afghanistan - U.S. military deaths, suicide bombings and opium production hit record highs in 2007 in Afghanistan. Taliban fighters killed more than 925 Afghan police, and large swaths of the country remain outside government control.........

Tripartite Commission discusses Pak-Afghan border security situation
Rawalpindi, Jan 1, IRNA
PTI -- The Tripartite Commission, comprising senior military representatives from Pakistan, Afghanistan and NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, at its 22th plenary meeting Monday discussed matters........

Japan PM Pledges New Anti-Terror Mission
By HIROKO TABUCHI
TOKYO (AP) — Japan's prime minister pledged Tuesday to resume naval operations near Afghanistan after he resolves a political dispute over Tokyo's role in the global fight against terrorist groups.........

Water supply scheme expansion boost revenue in Herat
HERAT CITY, Dec 30 (Pajhwok Afghan News): The revenue of the water department has jumped to 43 millions in last six months due to expansion of Herat city water project with the support of Germany........

Taliban seen losing support of Afghans
Allison Lampert, CanWest News Service Monday, December 31, 2007
Taliban insurgents are depending more on foreign fighters because of increased difficulties recruiting locals, Canadian Brig.-Gen. Marquis Hainse said Sunday.........

3,000 Tonnes Wheat Seed, Fertilizer Delivered To Afghan Farmers
Tuesday January 1, 05:55 PM
ZARANJ, Jan 1 Asia Pulse - More than 2,000 Afghan farmers received some 3,000 tonnes of improved wheat seeds and fertilizers in the southwestern Nimroz province on Monday.........

Premature mine explosion kills 2 Taliban in Afghanistan
www.chinaview.cn  2008-01-01 19:32:00
KABUL, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Two Taliban insurgents were killed as their mine exploded prematurely in Afghanistan's central Ghazni province in the wee hours of Tuesday, police said.........

Government blamed of working against national interests
KABUL, Dec 30 (Pajhwok Afghan News): President of United Afghanistan Party Muhammad Wasil Rahimi Sunday blamed Karzai government of working against national interests on political, military, economic, social and cultural fronts.

Several insurgent leaders captured in Nangarhar, Khost
KABUL, Dec 30 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Afghan security forces have arrested a key insurgent leader and two suspected improvised explosive device facilitators in Sherzad district of the eastern Nangarhar province.........

ISAF commander meets Portuguese defence minister
KABUL, Dec 30 (Pajhwok Afghan News): NATO Commander Gen. Dan McNeill met Portuguese Defence Minister Severiano Teixeira and Chief of Defenc Luis Vasco Valencia Pinto on the ISAF compound here on Saturday.........

Pak nuclear arms not in safe hands: ARSC report
KABUL, Dec 30 (Pajhwok Afghan News): A report issued by Afghanistan Regional Study Center says Pakistan Nuclear weapons are not in safe hands.........

Asadabad Kirali team wins Kunar cricket tournament
ASADABAD, Dec 30 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Cricket competitions launched on the occasion of Eid in Kunar province among 14 districts and provincial capital, ended on Sunday.........


At least 16 Taliban killed in Afghanistan: officials
HERAT, Afghanistan (AFP) - At least 16 Taliban rebels including a suspected would-be suicide bomber were killed in US-led and Afghan operations across insurgency-plagued Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.

A man wearing a bomb-filled waistcoat was shot dead near a police checkpost in the eastern province of Khost on Tuesday, a police official said.

"He wanted to target our police but our guys shot him dead before he succeeded in exploding his bombs," the police official, Mohammad Yaqoub, told AFP.

Meanwhile, the US-led coalition said its troops and Afghan forces killed "several" Islamic guerrillas in an operation in the southern province of Helmand on Tuesday. It did not give an exact figure.

The militants were killed in a gun battle with troops searching a compound for rebels "associated with Taliban and foreign fighters," it said.

"There were no immediate indications of injuries or deaths to civilians not taking part in hostilities," the statement from the coalition added.

A cache of rifles, rockets and explosives was found and destroyed following the battle.

Helmand, Afghanistan's biggest opium-producing province, has been badly hit by the Taliban-led insurgency, which is at its bloodiest since the hardline Islamic militia was ousted in a US-led invasion in late 2001.

Afghan and NATO-led troops last month captured the town of Musa Qala, which the rebels had turned into their biggest base in the country.

In a separate incident linked to the Taliban insurgency, 10 Taliban rebels were killed after attacking an Afghan police checkpost in the western province of Badghis on the Iranian border, the interior ministry said.

One police officer was also killed in the attack late Monday in the province's Balmurghab district, the ministry's spokesman, Zemarai Bashary, told AFP. Two other police were wounded, he added.

Elswhere, in Zabul province, another Taliban-dominated region in the south, two rebels were killed when a bomb they were trying to plant on a road to target security forces exploded prematurely, police official Mohammad Zaman said.

And the defence ministry said three rebels were killed in separate Afghan army operations elsewhere. Two had been captured.

The unrest in Afghanistan last year claimed about 6,000 lives, many of them rebels.
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110 US troops die in Afghanistan in 2007
By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writer Mon Dec 31, 2:04 PM ET
KABUL, Afghanistan - U.S. military deaths, suicide bombings and opium production hit record highs in 2007. Taliban militants killed more than 925 Afghan police, and large swaths of the country remain outside government control.

But U.S. officials here insist things are looking up: The Afghan army is assuming a larger combat role, and militants appear unlikely to mount a major spring offensive, as had been feared a year ago. Training for Afghan police is increasing.

Still, six years after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, violence persists in much of southern Afghanistan where the government has little presence, and recent militant attacks in Pakistan highlight a long-term regional problem with al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Civilian deaths caused by U.S. and NATO forces in the first half of the year rattled the government, and more foreign fighters flowed into the country.

Taliban fighters avoided head-on battles with U.S., NATO and Afghan army forces in 2007, resorting instead to ambushes and suicide bombings, but militants attacked the weakest of Afghan forces to devastating effect.

More than 925 Afghan policemen died in Taliban ambushes in 2007, including 16 killed Saturday during an assault on a Helmand province checkpoint.

"The Taliban attack whom they perceive to be the most vulnerable, and in this case it's the police," said Lt. Col. Dave Johnson, a spokesman for the U.S. troops who train Afghan police and soldiers. "They don't travel in large formations like the army does. That puts them in an area of vulnerability."

Afghanistan in 2007 saw record violence that killed more than 6,500 people, including 110 U.S. troops — the highest level ever in Afghanistan — and almost 4,500 militants, according to an Associated Press count. Britain lost 41 soldiers, while Canada lost 30. Other nations lost a total of 40.

The AP count is based on figures from Western and Afghan officials and is not definitive. Afghan officials are known to exaggerate Taliban deaths, for instance, and NATO's International Security Assistance Force does not release numbers of militants it killed, meaning AP's estimate of 4,478 militants deaths could be low.

Seth Jones, an analyst with the RAND Corp. who follows Afghanistan, said the country's ability to improve governance is vital to defeating the insurgency.

"The thing that concerns me most," he said, "is the general perception in Afghanistan that the government is not capable of meeting the basic demands of its population, that it's involved in corruption ... that it's unable to deliver services in key rural areas, that it's not able to protect its population, especially the police."

The Taliban this year abandoned the strategy of large-force attacks after devastating losses in 2006 and has shown no signs of mass regrouping, but Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, promised an increase in suicide attacks, ambushes and roadside bombs against U.S. and NATO forces in 2008.

"We will gain more sympathies of the Afghan people because the people are upset with this government because this government has failed," he said.

Taliban suicide bombers set off a record number of attacks this year — more than 140 — and in many ways they became more sophisticated.

In February a suicide bomber killed 23 people outside the main U.S. base at Bagram during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney. A suicide bomber in June killed 35 people on a police bus. And in November a suicide bombing that killed six lawmakers also left a total of 77 people dead after security guards opened fire on a crowd of onlookers. Sixty-one children were killed.

The fight against poppies failed: Afghanistan this year produced 93 percent of the world's opium, the main ingredient in heroin.

Despite those developments, Mark Stroh, the spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, said Afghanistan's progress in security, governance and development was promising.

"Last year at this time, there was grave concern that the Taliban were going to overrun large parts of the country. That clearly has not been the case," Stroh said.

U.S. military operations killed or detained more than 50 "significant" militant leaders, said Lt. Col. David Accetta, a military spokesman. The eastern region of the country where U.S. forces primarily operate now has 85 government centers, he said. There were no government centers during the Taliban rule.

"It's a clear example of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan expanding its reach to the people," he said.

Jones, the analyst, said the recent violence in Pakistan — where Taliban and al-Qaida fighters have found sanctuary near the Afghan border — is an ominous sign for the U.S. and NATO.

"Al-Qaida, Taliban and other militants have really become a regional problem," he said. "If in 2008 the U.S., NATO in general, is unable to make any notable differences in the (Pakistani) tribal areas, the situation in Afghanistan will not get better."
___
Associated Press reporter Rahim Faiez contributed to this report.
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New Year's in Afghanistan a quiet affair for troops mourning their slain comrade
Jan 01, 2008 04:30 AM Tobi Cohen The Canadian Press
MA'SUM GHAR, Afghanistan–New Year's approached with little fanfare on the front lines in Afghanistan as Canadian soldiers mourned the loss of a comrade killed near the end of one of the bloodiest years in the five-year-old mission.

The day began with a sombre ramp ceremony at Kandahar Airfield for 27-year-old Gunner Jonathan Dion, killed Sunday when the older-model light armoured vehicle he was in was hit by an improvised explosive device.

Television video showed one of his pallbearers in tears as Dion's coffin was slowly carried onto a plane for his final journey home.

Four others suffered non-life- threatening injuries in the attack just after 9 a.m. along a paved highway 20 kilometres west of Kandahar city.

The plane carrying Dion's body will arrive at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ont., tomorrow afternoon. Defence Minister Peter MacKay will be among the dignitaries at the arrival ceremony.

Dion's parents issued a statement describing their son as a young man who died "doing what he loved best, to be a soldier and serve his country."

"Jonathan had found his rightful place in the Canadian Forces," the statement read.

"Since he passionately believed in his mission in Afghanistan, we supported him when he volunteered for this mission," they said. "Quite recently he was telling us he would like to return should there be a second tour."

Dion lived most of his life in Gatineau, Que., across the river from Ottawa, and "wanted more than anything else to make a difference in the world around him," they said.

"It is never easy for parents to lose a child. We are devastated by the death of Jonathan (but) we are extremely proud of our son."

Dion had been heading to the comparative comfort of the base at Kandahar Airfield for New Year's. It was to be a brief break from the primitive, no-frills conditions at Forward Operating Base Wilson in remote Zhari district, which he typically called home.

By dusk last night, balloons and noisemakers began making an appearance but few soldiers could really get into the spirit.

"I can't believe it's New Year's Eve," one of them said. "... I should be drunk right now."

A group put on party hats and toasted the coming new year with a round of non-alcoholic champagne.
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Pakistan says kills 5 militants near Afghan border
01 Jan 2008 15:07:36 GMT
ISLAMABAD, Jan 1 (Reuters) - Pakistani security forces killed five al Qaeda-linked militants and captured 20 in an operation near the Afghan border on Tuesday after insurgents abducted four troops in the area, the military said.

Pakistani forces pounded suspected militants positions in the restive South Waziristan tribal region with artillery.

"Security forces apprehended 20 miscreants and killed five others," a military spokesman said.

He did not say whether forces had secured the release of four troops kidnapped earlier on Tuesday from a check point near one of the main camps in a region regarded as a hotbed of support for the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Many militants fled to Pakistan's lawless tribal lands after U.S.-backed troops ousted the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan in 2001. They have been conducting raids into Afghanistan and Pakistan from their mountain strongholds.

Hundreds of people have been killed in clashes and suicide bomb attacks in recent months, much of the violence in the restive North West Frontier Province.

Pakistan's opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a gun-and-bomb suicide attack near Islamabad late last week.

The government blames an al-Qaeda linked Pakistani militant for the killing. His spokesman has denied it. (Reporting by Kamran Haider, Editing by Simon Gardner)
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Afghan war took bad turns in 2007
The year saw record highs in U.S. deaths and suicide attacks. But the Pentagon also sees positive signs.
By Jason Straziuso Associated Press
KABUL, Afghanistan - U.S. military deaths, suicide bombings and opium production hit record highs in 2007 in Afghanistan. Taliban fighters killed more than 925 Afghan police, and large swaths of the country remain outside government control.

But U.S. officials here insist things are looking up: The Afghan army is assuming a larger combat role, and militants appear unlikely to mount a major spring offensive, as had been feared a year ago. Training for Afghan police is increasing.

Still, six years after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, violence persists in much of southern Afghanistan, where the government has little presence, and recent extremist attacks in Pakistan highlight a long-term regional problem with al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Civilian deaths caused by U.S. and NATO forces in the first half of the year rattled the government, and more foreign fighters flowed into the country.

Taliban fighters avoided head-on battles with U.S., NATO and Afghan army forces in 2007, resorting instead to ambushes and suicide bombings, but militants attacked the weakest of Afghan forces to devastating effect.

More than 925 Afghan policemen died in Taliban ambushes in 2007, including 16 Saturday during an assault on a Helmand province checkpoint.

"The Taliban attack whom they perceive to be the most vulnerable, and in this case it's the police," said Lt. Col. Dave Johnson, a spokesman for the U.S. troops who train Afghan police and soldiers. "They don't travel in large formations like the army does. That puts them in an area of vulnerability."

Afghanistan in 2007 saw record violence that killed more than 6,500 people, including 110 U.S. troops - the highest level ever in Afghanistan - and almost 4,500 militants, according to an Associated Press count. Britain lost 41 troops, while Canada lost 30. Other nations lost 40.

The AP count is based on figures from Western and Afghan officials and is not definitive. Afghan officials are known to exaggerate Taliban deaths, for instance, and NATO's International Security Assistance Force does not release numbers of militants it killed, meaning AP's estimate of 4,478 militant deaths could be low.

Seth Jones, an analyst with the RAND Corp. who follows Afghanistan, said the country's ability to improve governance was vital to defeating the insurgency.

"The thing that concerns me most," he said, "is the general perception in Afghanistan that the government is not capable of meeting the basic demands of its population, that it's involved in corruption, . . . that it's unable to deliver services in key rural areas, that it's not able to protect its population, especially the police."

The Taliban in 2007 abandoned the strategy of large-force attacks after devastating losses in 2006 and has shown no signs of mass regrouping, but Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, promised an increase in suicide attacks, ambushes and roadside bombs against U.S. and NATO forces in 2008.

"We will gain more sympathies of the Afghan people," he said, "because the people are upset with this government because this government has failed."

Taliban suicide bombers set off a record number of attacks in 2007 - more than 140.
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Tripartite Commission discusses Pak-Afghan border security situation
Rawalpindi, Jan 1, IRNA
PTI -- The Tripartite Commission, comprising senior military representatives from Pakistan, Afghanistan and NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, at its 22th plenary meeting Monday discussed matters of professional interest with particular reference to border security situation on Pak -Afghan border.

The delegates at meeting in Pakistan's garrison city of Rawalpindi were led by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan Army, General Bismullah Khan, Chief of General Staff, Afghan National Army and General Dan McNeill, Commander ISAF.

The participants also reviewed progress made by Border Security Sub Committee, Military Intelligence sharing working group and counter IED group, working under Tripartite Commission and expressed satisfaction on progress made so far.
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Japan PM Pledges New Anti-Terror Mission
By HIROKO TABUCHI
TOKYO (AP) — Japan's prime minister pledged Tuesday to resume naval operations near Afghanistan after he resolves a political dispute over Tokyo's role in the global fight against terrorist groups.

"At this very moment in the Indian Ocean, numerous countries are cooperating carrying on their fight against terrorism," Yasuo Fukuda said in a New Year's message. "I want Japan to be working hard for the world along with other countries as soon as possible."

Japan's naval mission in the region the past six years provided logistical support to forces involved in the war in Afghanistan. It mainly supplied some 132 million gallons of fuel to coalition warships, including from the U.S., Britain and Pakistan, the Defense Ministry says.

The mission was recalled Nov. 1 after Japanese opposition parties raised concerns that the operation did not have explicit support from the United Nations. The opposition also said the mission possibly violated Japan's pacifist constitution.

The retreat was a major embarrassment for Fukuda, who has been a staunch supporter of a continued presence for Japan in the region, and cast doubt on how far Tokyo can back Washington in its global war on terrorist groups.

Fukuda's government has now submitted a bill to parliament to allow the ships to be deployed again, but in a more limited role. The ruling bloc is expected to use its majority in the powerful lower house to push the bill through the upper chamber, which is controlled by the opposition.

Under the new bill, Japan's deployment would be limited to refueling and supplying water to ships used in monitoring and inspecting vessels suspected of links to terrorism or arms smuggling. Ships would not refuel coalition vessels directly involved in military operations inside Afghanistan.

In his New Year's message, Fukuda also promised to spearhead efforts to curb global warming in 2008 after Japan takes over the presidency of the Group of Eight industrial countries from Germany. Japan has fallen far behind its Kyoto Protocol commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"By sharing the world's most advanced technology, Japan is prepared to play a major role" in the fight against climate change, Fukuda said.
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Water supply scheme expansion boost revenue in Herat
HERAT CITY, Dec 30 (Pajhwok Afghan News): The revenue of the water department has jumped to 43 millions in last six months due to expansion of Herat city water project with the support of Germany,

Habibullah Zaworan, head of water department in western Herat city told Pajwhok Afghan News that this amount shows 20 per cent increase compared with last year.

He said the second phase of Herat water expansion project which was launched in 2004 by German at the cost of 5.5 million euros has provided over 30000 families with hygiene water and helped in revenue boost.

Zaworan said over five million cubic meter water has been provided to civilians and public and religious sites in various parts of the city.

He added over 80 per cent of the residence in Herat city has access to clean water in the 10 districts with the total population of over 670000 residents.

He said one cubic meter water cost 20 afghanis for business centers and markets while it cost 6 afghanis for residents.
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Taliban seen losing support of Afghans
Allison Lampert, CanWest News Service Monday, December 31, 2007
Taliban insurgents are depending more on foreign fighters because of increased difficulties recruiting locals, Canadian Brig.-Gen. Marquis Hainse said Sunday.

Coalition forces have observed a greater number of Arabs and other foreign nationals among the insurgents killed recently during battles in Afghanistan's southern provinces said Hainse, the International Security Assistance Force's deputy commander at its regional command south.

While the Taliban has used foreign fighters for years, that reliance is increasing because of a local backlash by Afghans against the militant group, he said.

"There is more evidence of foreign fighters," Hainse told CanWest News Service in an interview. "These are signs for us that they (the Taliban) have a recruiting problem."

The Taliban movement is also said to have been plagued by an increasing number of defectors, even as its upper echelons were shaken by internal squabbles this week.

"Just the fact that the Taliban, or the insurgents, are showing a lot more interest in reconciliating with the government in the last couple of months, to me, is a good sign," Hainse said.

In a flurry of accusations, Taliban regional officer Mullah Mansoor Dadullah was said to have been ousted by supreme leader Mullah Omar for not abiding by the movement's rules. But Dadullah's spokesman, Muhibullah Mahajir, said the order didn't come from Omar, but was invented by rivals within the group, news reports said.

Last May, Mansoor Dadullah's brother -- high-ranking commander Mullah Dadullah -- was killed by NATO forces in Helmand province. Mahajir said the attack was carried out with support from some Taliban commanders, who are now trying to oust Mansoor Dadullah.

Although Mansoor Dadullah has never expressed an interest in abandoning the Taliban movement, the dispute exposes division among its leaders, which could potentially be exploited by coalition forces.
Officially, NATO says its forces won't negotiate directly with Taliban, referring them instead to Afghan government officials.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he would accept reconciling with insurgents who agree to put down their weapons and embrace the country's constitution.

Last week, Karzai's government expelled a senior United Nations official and the acting head of the European Union's mission in Afghanistan for allegedly holding talks with the Taliban and giving the militants money. And in Britain, media reports have suggested the British secret service MI6 initiated talks with certain Taliban commanders last summer.

Hainse emphasized that coalition forces won't negotiate directly with insurgents, but will direct them to talk with Afghan leaders.

"We never get engaged in discussion with Taliban; we will never do this," Hainse said. "We do facilitate, if we hear . . . that certain individuals would like to reconcile."
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3,000 Tonnes Wheat Seed, Fertilizer Delivered To Afghan Farmers
Tuesday January 1, 05:55 PM
ZARANJ, Jan 1 Asia Pulse - More than 2,000 Afghan farmers received some 3,000 tonnes of improved wheat seeds and fertilizers in the southwestern Nimroz province on Monday.

Director of the Agriculture Department Muhammad Alim told Pajhwok Afghan News the main aim of supplying improved wheat and fertilizers to farmers of Khashrod, Chghnasoor and Charburjak districts is to increase the agricultural growth and to discourage poppy cultivation in the area.

He added a 50-kilogram bag of improved grain and two bags of fertilizer (DAP) were given to each farmer.

The seed and fertilizer was provided by a Non Government Organisation named VARA to the agriculture department, he said.
(Pajhwok Afghan News)
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Premature mine explosion kills 2 Taliban in Afghanistan 
www.chinaview.cn  2008-01-01 19:32:00
KABUL, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Two Taliban insurgents were killed as their mine exploded prematurely in Afghanistan's central Ghazni province in the wee hours of Tuesday, police said.

"Some Taliban fighters were busy in planting a mine on a road in Nawa district very early today to target government troops. Suddenly it exploded killing two insurgents on the spot," senior police officer in the province Mohammad Zaman told Xinhua.

However, Taliban purported spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid put the number of militants' casualties three and said three fighters were killed in the premature explosion.

The year of 2007 has been considered the most violent year since the collapse of the Taliban regime six years ago as more than 6,000 people had been killed in conflicts and Taliban-related violence.

While entering 2008, the Afghan and NATO officials are optimistic that the militants would not be able to mount major offensives, but security challenges remain as last year.
Editor: Song Shutao 
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Government blamed of working against national interests
KABUL, Dec 30 (Pajhwok Afghan News): President of United Afghanistan Party Muhammad Wasil Rahimi Sunday blamed Karzai government of working against national interests on political, military, economic, social and cultural fronts.

Addressing a conference on the topic of 'Afghanistan government is responsible for insecurity and crises' here Rahimi lamented that the situation has been deteriorated in each sector as compared to the past.

"The construction of roads is useless if people can not travel on it due to lack of security, we have lost what even we had few years back", he opined.

He said corruption has increased several times as compared to the past governments and the poor has become poorer.

Rahimi said rampant price-hike has made the lives of poor people miserable, in the past people could travel to Herat safely with no roads, but now they even can not go to Ghazni though roads have been paved.

He termed civilian casualties through military operations as the main cause of instability in the country.

The conference also issued a resolution asking the United Nations Security Council to review Afghanistan political situation and hold a special session in this regard.

The resolution said the US and other donor countries should provide more support in equipping and training Afghan National Army and Police.

William Wood, US ambassador to Afghanistan last week told a press conference that attention was paid on training ANA and police during 2007.

President Hamid Karzai had also said that they had big achievements during last six years in politics, economics, and reconstruction and security.
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Several insurgent leaders captured in Nangarhar, Khost
KABUL, Dec 30 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Afghan security forces have arrested a key insurgent leader and two suspected improvised explosive device facilitators in Sherzad district of the eastern Nangarhar province.

In the southeastern Khost province, bordering Pakistan, a combined Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) element, led by the 203rd Commando Kandak, conducted a series of raids in Sabari district earlier in the week.

The force consisting of Afghan National Army, police and border guards captured multiple suspected insurgent commanders without the use of lethal force. The Coalition said the operation reflected excellent cooperation between the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Interior.

Acting on credible intelligence, ANP conducted a security patrol in Nangarhar and searched a compound that served as a suspected insurgent safe house. During the search in Sherzad district, security forces arrested Zabid Zahir - the suspected commander of the Hizb-i-Islami led by Gulbadin Hekmatyar.

Intelligence operatives allege Zahir has significant links to weapons and equipment smuggling in Nangarhar, where the detainee used his safe house to facilitate the movement of foreign fighters into the area.

The detainee is suspected of supplying weapons and improvised explosive devices for use against villagers and Afghan security forces and funding insurgent operations throughout the province. His arrest will disrupt insurgent activities in Nangarhar, hoped provincial police chief Gen. Ghaffar.

The police also arrested an individual suspected of drafting night letters designed to intimidate villagers and spreading insurgent propaganda while searching another compound. A second suspected militant was detained at the same location. Both are thought to have connections to recent IED attacks in the province.

This operation shows the ANSF continue to take the fight to the enemy, keeping the pressure on the insurgency throughout the winter, explained Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman.

In Khost, the combined force acted on credible intelligence to search an area of known insurgent activity near Zambar village in Sabari district, used as a staging area for improvised-explosive-device production.

Arrested in the raid was an insurgent facilitator associated with the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) and believed to have ties to the Haqqani network, the Taliban and al-Qaeda. He is suspected of directing IED attacks, antagonising feuding tribes in the area and facilitating other insurgent activities.

Capturing this terrorist should significantly improve the security situation in Sabari district, said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman. His arrest will help stabilize the area by eliminating an antagonist causing tribal conflicts in the region. Additionally, the IED cell under him will no longer have his level of guidance, logistical support or discrete cover to conduct IED attacks.

Several other insurgents were captured, including a suspected militant responsible for providing financial support to IED cells in the district. Another rebel was implicated in stealing from government employees, transporting weapons, assisting IED-placement facilitators and delivering terrorising night letters to intimidate local villagers.

Another man detained on the evening of Dec. 27 was suspected of facilitating an unsuccessful suicide-bomb attack on the governor of Khost on Aug. 22. He is also suspected of coordinating several insurgent activities and successful attacks against ANP units.

The last suspected insurgent detained on Dec. 27 is believed to be directly involved in attacks on various schools, police checkpoints and government officials. Follow-on operations conducted on Dec. 28 included clearing the Makhtab Bazaar area, suspected of functioning as a base of operations and center for insurgent activities.
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ISAF commander meets Portuguese defence minister
KABUL, Dec 30 (Pajhwok Afghan News): NATO Commander Gen. Dan McNeill met Portuguese Defence Minister Severiano Teixeira and Chief of Defenc Luis Vasco Valencia Pinto on the ISAF compound here on Saturday.

At their meeting, the officials discussed the Portuguese troops and their contribution to the alliance mission, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said late Saturday.

The Portuguese government representatives also held talks with President Hamid Karzai and Defence Minister Farooq Wardak besides visiting the Portuguese troops with ISAF, NATO said in a statement mailed to Pajhwok Afghan News.

Portugal has approximately 150 troops under ISAF command, mostly in Regional Command Capital. The ISAF mission is carried out by 39 nations consisting of approximately 41,000 troops.
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Pak nuclear arms not in safe hands: ARSC report
KABUL, Dec 30 (Pajhwok Afghan News): A report issued by Afghanistan Regional Study Center says Pakistan Nuclear weapons are not in safe hands.

The report which was completed by the Afghanistan regional study center on Sunday was debated in an open discussion here.

The report was prepared about the assassination of Pakistan former Prime Minister and the chairperson of Pakistan Peoples party, Benazir Bhutto and its effects on the region.

The three page report said: "according to analysts Pakistan nuclear arms are not in safe hands anymore and it is imminent that they could fall in hands of extremists"

Pakistan became nuclear power in 1998.

"Insecurity and instability in Pakistan started after the ' Lal Masjid' incident in Islamabad in July this year and now the country has been facing the worst crisis of its history", the report added.

The report adds the mystery about the assassination of Bhutto has further aggravated situation in Pakistan.

The report also discussed the results of a questionnaire provided on Al-Muhit website.

59.5 per cent said Musharaf was responsible while, 30.6% considered foreign terrorist groups, 8.57% held Al-Qaeda while only 2.22 %Pakistani Taliban.

Abdul Hamid Mubariz, the head of Afghan national Journalists association said in the discussion the ongoing situation of Pakistan will adversely affect Afghanistan security and economy.

Mubariz said Bhutto had announced fighting against extremism and if she was alive Afghanistan would have had better chance to overcome its problems.

Mubariz said Taliban are gradually getting out of control of ISI.

He added: "in fact Pakistan have been trapped in the net which they put for Afghanistan"
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Asadabad Kirali team wins Kunar cricket tournament
ASADABAD, Dec 30 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Cricket competitions launched on the occasion of Eid in Kunar province among 14 districts and provincial capital, ended on Sunday.

The competition started after Eid and ended with the victory of Asadabad Kirali team.

Sayed Abdullah Nizami, head of sports in Kunar province told Pajhwok Afghan News 16 teams including two of the provincial capital participated in the game.

He added the final of the tournament was played on Sunday between the Kirali and Dam Kali teams of Asadabad.

Nizami said Kirali batted first and made 70 runs in 10 overs, Mujahid with 17 was the top scorer.

Dam Kali team was unable to get to the target and was all out for 57 in 9th over.

Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, governor of Kunar handed medals to players at the end of the tournament.

The governor asked youth to concentrate on education and sport and avoid using narcotics.

Two players of Afghan National Cricket team are from Kunar province.
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