South Asia News
Petraeus sees modest gains in Afghanistan (Roundup)
Nov 15, 2010, 16:04 GMT
Kabul - The US commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, expressed cautious optimism Monday about developments in the country.
'There is progress, even if it has been hard-earned progress,' Petraeus said during a meeting with German politicians at the headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Petraeus said the coming year would be an important one for Afghanistan, but not necessarily a decisive one.
He said it was important to continue progress in the fight against the Taliban if order for Afghan President Hamid Karzai to achieve his goal of Afghans taking control of all security arrangements by 2014.
Petraeus was speaking after talks with a German delegation, led by Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer, who was in Kabul for a groundbreaking ceremony for new accommodations in the German embassy compound.
Earlier, police reported that eight pro-government militiamen, one policeman and seven suspected Taliban fighters were killed in combat in northern Afghanistan.
A group of insurgents attacked a security post Sunday night in the Qala Zal district of Kunduz province, engaging the militiamen, known as Arbaki, provincial police chief Abdul Rahman SayedKhaili said.
'Eight Arbaki forces were killed and two others were injured in the firefight,' he said.
Police reinforcements were dispatched as the battle went on for hours, killing one police officer and seven of the suspected militants, he said.
The clash took place after 10 people were killed and 18 were injured Saturday by a bomb in the neighbouring district of Emam Saheb.
Taliban militants are most active in Kunduz and the neighbouring province of Baghlan in the relatively peaceful northern region.
The government has enlisted local villagers to defend against the growing numbers of insurgents in the area.
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