Terrorist attacks rising in Pakistan: US State Dept report

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Washington, May 1 (UNI) Terrorist attacks against noncombatants have more than doubled in Pakistan from 2006 to 2007, while deaths from such attAcks have quadrupled to 1,335 fatalities, according to a report released by the US State Department.

The new statistics showed that terrorist strikes against nonmilitary targets worldwide remained virtually unchanged in 2007 from 2006, at roughly 14,500 attacks, but the number of deaths from those attacks increased to 22,685 from 20,872, according to statistics compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center.

''It's a fair statement that around the globe, people are getting increasingly efficient at killing other people,'' Russ Travers, deputy director of the counterterrorism center, told reporters.

Iraq alone accounted for nearly half of all attacks and two-thirds of fatalities globally, although attacks in Iraq declined by nine per cent in 2007 after an infusion of more than 20,000 American troops, according to the report, ''Country Reports on Terrorism, 2007,'' posted yesterday on the US State Department's Web site..

Fighting in Afghanistan intensified over the past year, partly because of attacks from militants based in Pakistan, resulting in a 16 per cent increase in strikes there, the report said.

The report recognised the enduring threat of Al Qaeda, whose leaders, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri, were believed to be in hiding in the borderlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

It also acknowledged the growth of Qaeda affiliates in the West Asia, North Africa and Europe, including the Algeria-based Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which claimed responsibility for the suicide-bombing last December of the United Nations office in Algiers that killed 17 staff members.

''Core elements of Al Qaeda are adaptable and resilient, and Al Qaeda and associated networks remain our greatest terrorist threat to the United States and its partners,'' Dell L Dailey, the department's top counterterrorism official, told reporters.

''By making use of local cells, terrorists have been able to sidestep many of our border and transportation security measures,'' the New York Times quoted him as saying.

The report has chided Saudi Arabia for not clamping down on terrorism financing more aggressively.

The Saudi government froze the bank accounts of some people suspected of financing terrorists, the report said, but the United States was urging the Saudis to ''pursue and prosecute terrorist financiers more vigorously,'' it added.

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