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Pakistani Militants Capture Southern Afghan District --> A Chinook helicopter arrives at the British base in Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province (file photo) (AFP) PRAGUE, July 18, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Afghanistan's deputy interior minister says Pakistani militants have overrun a district in Helmand Province, in the south of the country.

Abdul Malik Sidiqi says the district of Garmser was seized on July 16 by militants from the Pakistan-based Islamic groups Lashkar-i-Tayyaba and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islami.

Helmand's deputy governor, Amir Mohammad Akhund, says up to 400 Afghan soldiers are currently being deployed there with orders to recapture the district.

Sidiqi says Afghan government forces reclaimed the town of Naway-i-Barakzayi in Helmand Province after a battle late on July 17 against about 100 militants. The militants had captured the town on July 17.

Afghanistan And Pakistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (left) with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad in October 2005 (epa)

ACROSS A DIFFICULT BORDER. The contested border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is some 2,500 kilometers long and runs through some of the most rugged, inhospitable territory on Earth. Controlling that border and preventing Taliban militants from using Pakistan as a staging ground for attacks in Afghanistan is an essential part of the U.S.-led international coalition's strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan. Officials in Kabul have been pointing their fingers at Pakistan for some time, accusing Islamabad or intelligence services of turning a blind eye to cross-border terrorism targeting the Afghan central government. Many observers remain convinced that much of the former Taliban regime's leadership -- along with leaders of Al-Qaeda -- are operating in the lawless Afghan-Pakistani border region.... (more)


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