Afghanistan: May 21, 2004

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  Coalition raids and patrols continue along the Pakistan border. Some 700 people have died in the last ten months in this area, most of them civilians or Taliban gunmen. The Taliban and al Qaeda groups have not been able to muster more than small raiding parties. These groups make hit and run attacks on police stations or Afghan army bases, and then try to get away before coalition helicopters and warplanes show up. American Special Forces have established a line of villages along the border that they have brought medical and other reconstruction aid to the people. This has resulted in more Afghans along the border reporting the movement of Taliban and al Qaeda gunmen through the area. This is a murky and slow motion war, but it is making it difficult for the Taliban to terrorize Afghans and disrupt the national elections scheduled for this September. The government is preparing to have 24,000 police available to guard the polling places, but wants more foreign troops available to help with security. The government plans to have 50,000 police by the end of 2005. This will include special counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism units. In addition, a 12,000 man border police force is being recruited and trained, but it will not reach full strength until the end of 2006.

 

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