Kabul: Three international service members
and at least 11 civilians died in violence across southern
Afghanistan, including one attack in which a suicide bomber
wearing a burqa blew himself up in a bazaar.
Violence has spiked recently in Afghanistan`s volatile
south as Taliban insurgents step up attacks ahead of a planned
major operation by NATO forces to secure the main city of
Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban.
Gen Stanley McChrystal, the US and NATO commander in
Afghanistan, said in Brussels yesterday that insurgents have
killed 59 Afghans during the past seven days, 54 of them in
Kandahar. He told NATO ministers that insurgents also wounded
116, including 94 in Kandahar.
Separately, NATO announced yesterday that it has
opened an alternate supply route to Afghanistan via Russia and
central Asia- a critical development that gives the alliance
the ability to bypass the previous ambush-prone main routes
Although Russia offered to open its
territory to NATO as a whole, negotiations over transit rights
between the alliance and central Asian states took several
months to complete.
The development is important because it signals
Russian willingness to indirectly support the NATO-led
mission. Moscow has been warmer to the mission`s success in
recent years, fearing that a NATO defeat in Afghanistan would
cause further problems for Russia.