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Taliban IEDs still a major threat in Kandahar: NATO commanders

By Nairita Das

Washington/Kandahar, Nov.18 (ANI): Soldiers from the US Army's Charlie Company recently spotted a D-cell battery hidden under a pile of rocks, a telltale sign of an improvised explosive device, or IED.

They began to backtrack from the dirt field. On that day, according to the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), Charlie Company emerged unscathed, but it added that situations just like that occur daily across Kandahar, sometimes with deadly outcomes.

"You never know if today is going to be your day," the CSM quoted Lt. Mark Anderson, Charlie Company platoon leader, as saying.

Though the coalition forces say the level of violence in Kandahar has decreased and the areas outside of the city are largely under coalition control, they warn that the Taliban has placed a number of sizeable obstacles, including IEDs, beneath the surface.

According to recent reports, US officials in Washington are dubious about the prospect of Kandahar's stability continuing into spring 2011, when the fighting season resumes after the cold winter months.

The officials point to an ineffective Afghan police force, poor governance, Taliban sympathizers, and Taliban IEDs as barriers to long-term stability in Kandahar.

According to icasualties.org, an independent website that tracks deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, IEDs were responsible for 60 percent of all coalition fatalities so far this year.

In fact, according to the site, IEDs caused 33 of the 50 American deaths in Afghanistan in October.

During a recent interview with CSM, General Ben Hodges, then the highest-ranking US officer in Kandahar (he was replaced Nov. 2), said that continued success in the region was dependent upon Afghans filling the void created by the offensive with government institutions and a strong police force and army.

Without this, Hodges said, and with US troop withdrawals coming next summer, a favorable outcome will be difficult. (ANI)

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