Taliban ‘hard to combat’ in Afghanistan, US military says

Boston Globe

The US military said yesterday that increased militant violence in Afghanistan was proving ”very hard to combat” as separate attacks killed two police officers and a truck driver delivering food to coalition forces in a former Taliban stronghold in the south.

Gunmen also killed five medical workers before burning down their clinic late Sunday in a rare attack in the normally calm northwest.

The violence follows threats by Taliban militants to intensify attacks against US-led coalition forces and Afghan troops during the spring and summer months.

In Kabul, US military spokesman Colonel James Yonts said Taliban forces have increased their attacks and changed tactics to spread a campaign of fear across the country rather than try to defeat the security forces militarily.

Some of the new tactics include roadside and suicide bombings, which Yonts said were proving ”very hard to combat.”

”They are doing it because it is successful. They have shifted their tactics to something that is successful,” he said at a news conference.

Much of the violence has taken place in the southern and eastern regions where the Taliban are strongest.

But the killing of the medical workers in Badghis, 230 miles northwest of the capital, was unusual because it occurred in a province that has been largely peaceful.

Gunmen stormed the workers’ clinic and killed everyone inside, including a doctor and several nurses, before burning the building down, provincial Governor Hanayatullah Hanayat said.

No patients were in the clinic, and security forces are investigating the slayings.

”This clinic was essential for this area,” Hanayat said. ”It was the only health care there.”

Separately, a bomb blast killed two policemen and wounded two others yesterday during an opium eradication patrol in the southern Helmand province, the country’s main poppy growing region, provincial police chief General Abdul Rahman Saber said.

Afghanistan supplies some 90 percent of the world’s opium and heroin, and some of the profits from the illicit business are believed to go to the Taliban. 

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