Taliban across `virtually all` Afghanistan: Report
Kabul: A resurgent Taliban has a significant presence across virtually all Afghanistan, eight years after a US-led invasion ousted the radical Islamist regime from power, a think-tank said on Friday.
The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) said the Taliban had widened its reach across Afghanistan since last November and now had a "permanent presence" in 80 percent of the country.
"The unrelenting and disturbing return, spread and advance of the Taliban is now without question," said Norine MacDonald, president of the London-based policy research group.
ICOS released a map showing the spread of Taliban influence to previously peaceful regions in the west and the north, particularly Balkh and Kunduz provinces that lie on the Uzbek and Tajik borders.
Kunduz was the scene last week of a NATO air strike on Taliban militants who hijacked fuel trucks and where insurgents the following day kidnapped two journalists with the New York Times, one of whom was killed in a rescue raid.
ICOS said another 17 percent of Afghanistan is seeing "substantial" Taliban activity, and added: "Taken together, these figures show that the Taliban has a significant presence
in virtually all of Afghanistan."
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