US expects increase in Taliban attacks in Afghanistan

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Washington, Jun 28 (UNI) The Bush Administration expects an expansion in Taliban's terrorist attacks in near future, challenging the control of the Afghan government in rural areas throughout the country.

''The Taliban is likely to maintain or even increase the scope and pace of its terrorist attacks and bombings this year, and to move beyond the south and east, where most of the fighting has been happening,'' said the US Defense Department, in its first formal report on the situation in Afghanistan to Congress.

The Pentagon said the Taliban is able to do this even though US, Afghan and allied operations have killed many insurgent leaders and forced the group out of former safe havens.

It makes it a point to refers to the Taliban's ''safe haven'' in Pakistan, offering ''the greatest challenge to long-term security'' in Afghanistan.

The report makes out a strong case for better Afghan-Pakistani military cooperation but at the same time expresses concern about a new round of agreements the Pakistani government is considering with local tribal leaders. Such agreements in the past have led to an increase in cross-border attacks, it added.

UNI XC MP BST0654

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