The Taliban is increasing the amount of territory it controls in Afghanistan


Commando Unit Soldiers Afghanistan
Members
of Afghan commando unit arrive at the Qala-i-Zal, the district to
the northwest of Kunduz, Afghanistan May 16,
2017.

REUTERS/Nasir
Wakif


  • The Taliban has increased the amount of territory it
    has influence in or controls in Afghanistan.
  • The security situation in the country remains
    precarious.
  • Afghan and Western security officials have said in
    recent days that they expected more attacks in Kabul.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Taliban has increased the amount of
territory it has influence in or controls in Afghanistan in the
past six months, a U.S. watchdog agency reported on Tuesday, a
sign the security situation there remains precarious even as the
United States has committed several thousand more troops to the
war-torn country.

As of August 2017, 13 percent of the 407 districts in Afghanistan
were under Taliban control or influence, compared with 11 percent
in February, according to a report from the Special Inspector
General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR.
That means an additional 700,000 people now live in districts
where the Taliban at least has some influence.

Afghanistan’s worsening security situation was highlighted on
Tuesday when a suicide bomber in the capital, Kabul, killed as
many as eight people and wounded many others.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

Security had already been stepped up considerably following a
devastating truck bomb attack outside Germany’s embbady on May 31
that killed at least 150 people, with a series of barriers and
checkpoints across the central area of the city.

Afghan and Western security officials have said in recent days
that they expected more attacks in Kabul in response to pressure
being exerted on the Taliban and other insurgent groups by
increased U.S. air strikes.

The increase in the campaign of U.S. air strikes in recent months
is part of a new strategy aimed at reversing Taliban gains and
forcing the insurgents to seek peace talks with the Afghan
government.

The SIGAR report also said there had been a 52
percent increase in civilian casualties from coalition and Afghan
air strikes in the first nine months of 2017 compared with the
same period in 2016.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)


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