Friday, September 08, 2006


**The Taliban are operating out of safe bases in Baluchistan, particulary the capital, Quetta**

'Taliban Taking Over'
Sanjay Suri

LONDON, Sep 5 (IPS) - The Taliban have regained control over the southern half of Afghanistan and their frontline is advancing daily, a group closely monitoring the Afghan situation said in a report Tuesday.

The report on the reconstruction of Afghanistan marking the fifth anniversary of 9/11 is based on extensive field research in the critical provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Herat and Nangarhar.

"The Taliban frontline now cuts halfway through the country, encompassing all of the southern provinces," the Senlis Council report says. The Senlis Council is an international policy think tank with offices in Kabul, London, Paris and Brussels.

Some 20,000 NATO soldiers and a similar number of U.S. forces are in Afghanistan trying to crush an emboldened Taliban insurgency. The heaviest fighting takes place across vast desert plains in southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces, also center of the country's massive opium trade.

'I think the development in Afghanistan now is at a tipping point; it could go either way,' Rolf Tophoven, a German terrorism expert, recently told United Press International in an exclusive interview. 'The Taliban have come back better equipped... We know that because of the type of bombs now used there, and the types of ambushes that are set. The Taliban now fight against battalion-sized international units.'

He added the focus of insurgents had moved from Iraq to Afghanistan.

The situation is most critical in the southern provinces of the country, around Kandahar, where British, Canadian and Dutch troops are facing an ever-mounting death toll.

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