WASHINGTON: The number of Taliban attacks in Afghanistan has declined for the first time in a “welcome” trend in the ten-year-old war, an officer with the Nato-led force said Tuesday.
Overall insurgent attacks are down in the past two months compared to last year and the Taliban has failed in recent months to seize back territory lost in US-led offensives in the south, said Major General Michael Krause, an Australian officer who serves as deputy chief of staff for International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
“Every year there have been more violent activities in Afghanistan since the previous year except this one,” said Krause by video link from Afghanistan.
“Over the last two months the violence trends in Afghanistan have reduced compared with last year,” he said.
ISAF statistics showed insurgent assaults were down in 17 of the last 22 weeks, he said.
“Now, that's a trend. And although we still face tremendous challenges and we always must remain realistic about our objectives and goals, that's a very, very welcome trend and the first year that we've seen that trend,” said Krause, on his second tour in Afghanistan.
But despite the upbeat assessment, the course of the war remains the subject of debate and a United Nations report last month showed the total number of security incidents up 39 percent in the first eight months of 2011, compared to the previous year.
Krause said the discrepancy between the ISAF and UN tallies could be explained by a difference in how the two organizations calculate violence trends.
The UN counts all security-related incidents, including reported threats and street demonstrations, while the NATO-led coalition only tallies confirmed violent attacks, he said.
Recent high-profile attacks by the insurgency, including a 19-hour-long assault on the US embassy in Kabul and a truck bombing that wounded 77 American troops, had obscured broader progress in the war effort with Nato now seizing the momentum, he said.
The Australian general did not outline the total number of insurgent attacks this year or in 2010.