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NATO Chief Says Afghan Violence Not Coordinated Threat

30 August 2005 -- The U.S. general in command of NATO's military operations said today that he believes increased violence in Afghanistan stems from varied, unrelated causes and does not threaten the country's political stability.

His comment comes as that country gears up for watershed elections on 18 September to choose national and provincial legislatures.

General James Jones, visiting Kabul, told a news conference he is confident that next month's elections will be a success.

Armed clashes have killed an estimated 1,000 people in Afghanistan this year, including 48 U.S. soldiers. U.S. and Afghan officials said at least four insurgents died today in three separate incidents.

Jones acknowledged that some of the recent Afghan violence could be blamed on Islamic radicals but, he said, it does not appear to be what he called "a coordinated threat" of insurrection.

U.S.-led forces toppled Afghanistan's fundamentalist Taliban government in late 2001. Since then some 10,000 NATO peacekeepers have deployed there as part of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).