Taliban power growing in northern Afghanistan

The Taliban’s influence has expanded in recent months in response to NATO’s surge in the south.

Kabul: The Taliban’s influence in northern Afghanistan has expanded in recent months in response to NATO’s surge in the south.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Taliban stops traffic at checkpoints at night on the way from Kabul to Uzbekistan, and frequently blows up fuel convoys and captures government employees and those working for international outfits.

The insurgent group is reportedly running local administrations and courts, and conscripting recruits.

Provinces in northern Afghanistan are considered to be the country’s most strategically important areas. The number of insurgent attacks in Baghlan alone has jumped to 163 in the third quarter, from 73 in the second quarter, according to the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office.

The Taliban`s expansion has caught the US-led coalition and Kabul off guard.

However, senior coalition officials have justified their focus on a counter-insurgency campaign in the south and the east.

NATO Commander General David Petraeus said in a speech in London last week that he expects to show progress in pacifying southern Kandahar and Helmand.

The Taliban has showcased its strength in the north by assassinating the Governor of Kunduz.

Baghlan Governor Munshi Abdul Majid said: "People don`t love the Taliban, but if they compare them to the government, they see the Taliban as the lesser evil."