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Instability high

Afghanistan remains unstable

Press TV 7/15 (7/15/10, " Biden: Too soon to assess Afghan war ",§ionid=351020403)
"We don't even have all the troops of the so-called surge in place yet. That won't happen until August," Biden said in an interview with ABC television's This Week, on Sunday. Some 140,000 US and NATO troops are currently stationed in Afghanistan. A further 10,000 are expected to be deployed there in the coming weeks. Biden described US president Barack Obama's timeline to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in July 2011 as the "beginning of a transition" in the war-torn nation. "All of this is just beginning. And we knew it was going to be a tough slog," he said adding that the United States was expecting a rise in the number of casualties during the summer. "And now we're engaging them more and there are more deaths." Biden's remarks come as foreign forces are experiencing some of their bloodiest days in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001. The invasion of Afghanistan was launched with the official objective of curbing militancy and bringing peace and stability to the country. Nine years on, however, Afghanistan remains largely unstable with innocent civilians continuing to pay the heaviest price.

Death toll and instability increasing in Afghanistan

Los Angeles Times 7/18 (Laura King, 7/18/10, "Afghanistan suicide bombing kills at least 3",,0,2976832.story)
Amid sharply heightened security before a major international conference, a suicide bomber on Sunday killed at least three Afghan civilians and injured dozens of others on Kabul's eastern edge, Afghan officials said. The bombing came two days before a gathering of donor countries, expected to be the largest of its kind to take place in Afghanistan since the 1970s. The conference is due to bring together senior diplomats including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and officials from at least 60 nations. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is representing the U.S. Get dispatches from Times correspondents around the globe delivered to your inbox with our daily World newsletter. Sign up » Sensitive issues on the agenda include efforts to woo Taliban foot soldiers away from the battlefield, and the disbursement of foreign aid by Afghan government ministries, some of which are honeycombed with corruption. The target of Sunday's bombing in the district of Macroyan, which took place close to a large hospital, was unclear. Western military officials said there was no military convoy or security checkpoint in the immediate vicinity. It is not unusual for suicide attackers to make their way into the city and seek out targets of opportunity, such as Western convoys. One such attack in May in Kabul killed several high-ranking military officers from the United States and Canada. Civilians often bear the brunt of attacks aimed at Western and Afghan security forces, or at government installations. In addition to the deaths in Kabul on Sunday, a mob attacked a police patrol in the southern city of Kandahar, killing two police officers and a civilian passerby. Any public event is also a tempting target. The Taliban attempted to strike the last large-scale political gathering held in Kabul, a "peace jirga" convened in June by the government of President Hamid Karzai, which brought together tribal leaders and other domestic dignitaries. Insurgents fired rockets at the conference venue while Karzai was speaking. Taliban fighters were expected to make some kind of move against Tuesday's conference as well, a meeting much more high-profile than the one in June. Afghan and Western officials on Saturday reported that they had mounted a raid the previous night that netted an insurgent commander suspected of masterminding a planned attack. Sunday's bombing in Kabul came hours after a brazen jailbreak in western Afghanistan. Authorities in Farah province said attackers apparently managed to smuggle an explosive device into the prison, which housed both captured insurgents and common criminals. Twenty-three prisoners escaped in the wake of the bombing, which destroyed the prison's outer gate shortly after 2 a.m., said Younus Rasouli, Farah's deputy governor. Eleven remained at large after eight of the escapees were captured and four wounded in a gunfight with security forces. One of the prisoners later died of his injuries, as did a prison guard. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the jailbreak, which echoed previous assaults on prisons, including a spectacular attack in June 2008 in Kandahar that freed hundreds of insurgents. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said nearly 300 prisoners had escaped in Sunday's jailbreak, but highly exaggerated claims by the movement are not unusual. The Western military on Sunday also reported the death of an American service member in a roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan. June was the deadliest month of the war for North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces, with more than 100 troops killed, and July appears on track to equal or surpass that toll. Roadside bombs account for the majority of Western battlefield casualties, and most of those deaths and injuries take place in the volatile south. Violence is likely to worsen in coming months. NATO's International Security Assistance Force said it had intercepted an order from the Taliban's supreme commander, Mullah Mohammed Omar, instructing fighters to try to procure heavy weapons, and to step up a campaign of assassinations of Afghans who work with the government or with foreign forces. Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden, in an appearance on ABC's "This Week," said Sunday that it is too soon to determine whether an increase in American troops has been a successful strategy. He also said that the Obama administration plans to hold to its strategy to draw down troops next July. "It could be as few as a couple thousand troops. It could be more. But there will be a transition," Biden told ABC.

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