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UN council presses Afghanistan to rein in Taliban

Written by: Staff
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UNITED NATIONS, Mar 23 (Reuters) The UN Security Council, alarmed by rising violence in Afghanistan, pressed the government today to counter a growing threat from the Taliban and other illegal armed groups.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-nation council also urged US- and NATO-led forces in the war-torn central Asian nation to keep helping the authorities address the threat to stability and security posed by extremist groups.

The resolution, which extends the UN assistance mission in Afghanistan for a year until March 2007, expresses ''concern at the increasing threat to the local population, national security forces, international military and international assistance efforts by extremist activities.'' It urges the Afghan government and international supporters to ''continue to address the threat to the security and stability of Afghanistan posed by the Taliban, al Qaeda, other extremist groups and criminal activities.'' UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a progress report submitted to the council earlier this month, said a sharp rise in suicide bombings and attacks on schools in Afghanistan underscored the challenge facing the Kabul government as it struggled to become a viable democratic state.

Taliban guerrillas have been fighting the government since their regime was ousted from power after the September 11 attacks, But Annan's report said attacks by anti-government fighters had soared since mid-2005 and continued unabated throughout the winter, in contrast to previous years, when they tapered off during the harsh cold season.

The UN mission supports and advises the Afghan authorities on economic and political development, justice reform, humanitarian aid and anti-drug programs, with 189 international employees, 795 local staffers, 12 military observers, 8 civilian police officers and 29 UN volunteers.

Reuters DH VP0313

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