US says weather behind rise in Afghan attacks
BAGRAM: Attacks on US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan by suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters have increased in recent months, but the trend was partly weather-related, a military spokesman said on Saturday.
US spokesman Colonel Rodney Davis told a daily briefing at Bagram air base, just north of Kabul, that the 11,500-strong coalition force would persist with its hunt for militants in the east and southeast of the country.
“If you look over the last three months there has been an increase,” he said, referring to rocket attacks and small arms fire aimed at US forward bases, many of them close to the Afghan-Pakistan border.
“We have seen an increase in the number of engagements and rocket attacks, indirect fire or direct fire over the last few months, but we believe that there is some seasonality to that.”
The hot spring and summer months in Afghanistan mean passes through rugged mountain ranges that criss-cross the country are easier to negotiate than in winter.
Davis said three rockets had landed close to a base in Asadabad in eastern Kunar province earlier on Saturday, but there were no casualties or damage.
US forces report similar incidents on an almost daily basis, although casualties are rare.
The rise in attacks on the US-led coalition in Afghanistan coincides with increasing violence aimed at Afghan forces, international peacekeepers in Kabul and foreign aid agencies.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said terrorists were to blame for the violence, including a suicide car bomb attack that killed four German peacekeepers in the capital a week ago.
His ministers say Pakistan is not doing enough to stop the flow of militants training on its side of the border and crossing into Afghanistan.
Karzai also says the Taliban as a fighting force is finished, although officials continue to blame attacks on the hard line Islamic regime ousted from power late in 2001.
Davis said the increased threat level would not deter coalition forces.
“I can assure you we are going to...continue to press to kill or capture and deny sanctuary to all anti-coalition, Taliban or Al Qaeda, operatives.” —Reuters