Bamiyan (Afghanistan), Aug.20 : The resignation of President Pervez Musharraf on Monday has created a major political vacuum in Pakistan, and this, according to the New York Times, is escalating the war in neighboring Afghanistan
According to the paper, Taliban insurgents have mounted their most serious attacks in six years of fighting in Afghanistan over the last two days, including a coordinated assault by at least 10 suicide bombers against one of the largest American military bases in the country, and another by about 100 insurgents who killed 10 elite French paratroopers.
The attack on the French, in a district near Kabul, has added to the sense of siege around the capital and is said to be the deadliest single loss for foreign troops in a ground battle since the United States-led invasion chased the Taliban from power in 2001.
The paper further claims that the insurgents have seized a window of opportunity to take their campaign to oust foreign troops forward, taking advantage of a wavering NATO commitment, an outgoing American administration, a flailing Afghan government and a Pakistani government in deep disarray.
As important, the officials say, is the fact that Pakistan's military has agreed to a series of peace deals with the militants under which it stopped large-scale operations in the tribal areas in February, allowing the insurgents greater freedom to train, recruit and carry out attacks into Afghanistan.
The push by the insurgents has taken a rising toll. Before the attack on Monday, 173 foreign soldiers had been killed in Afghanistan this year, including 99 Americans. In all of 2007, 232 foreign troops were killed, the highest number since the war began in 2001.
The latest casualties bring to 24 the number of French troops killed in Afghanistan since they were first sent there in 2002.
The increase in insurgent activity northeast of Kabul is part of an attempt by the insurgents to encircle the capital and put pressure on the Afghan government and the foreign forces, some NATO and Afghan officials say.
Insurgent activity has also increased sharply in recent months in Logar and Wardak Provinces, south of the capital, sometimes making the main roads impassable.