Insurgency Gaining Ground in Afghan North

From the Institute For War and Peace Reporting:

While British and American forces concentrate their efforts in southern Afghanistan, the once-peaceful north is fast spiralling out of control with the Taleban making a number of important gains.

They include the town of Chahrdara in Kunduz province, where a recent visitor reports that the Taleban have set up their own administration to rival that loyal to the central government, complete with tax collection and a court system.

The northern provinces – Balkh, Kunduz, Jowzjan, Faryab, Sar-e-Pul and Baghlan – have seen a surge in violence over the past few months, with suicide attacks, armed assaults and roadside bombs, and the insurgency appears to be gaining ground.

At the same time, the attention of the Afghan and international military remains firmly focused on the south. Last week, the Americans unleashed a major offensive, Operation Khanjar (Dagger Thrust), in the Helmand River valley, the poppy-rich area that supplies more than half the world’s opium.

Also in Helmand, the British are fighting a bitter battle around the capital, Lashkar Gah. Operation Panchai Palang (Panther’s Claw) has claimed the lives of several soldiers, including a high-ranking commander, in the past few days.

But while the war in the south consumes valuable time and resources, the north could spiral out of control, warn international experts.

Read the full article.

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