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NATO, Coalition Deny Taliban Winning In Afghanistan

Spring has seen an upsurge in fighting in southern Afghanistan, including suicide attacks (epa) June 7, 2006 -- NATO and the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan are denying reports that Taliban are winning the battle for the south of the country.

NATO spokesman Mark Laity said in Kabul today that it is not right for journalists to characterize the violence as worse than any time since 2001. But all agree that there has been an upsurge in Taliban attacks.

"I would slightly challenge the word 'worse,'" Laity said. "I think the situation is probably more difficult and more complicated than in the past because there is an upsurge in attacks."

Laity also noted that militants were taking heavy casualties as a result of their attacks.

U.S. military spokesman Colonel Thomas Collins said coalition forces are initiating most battles. "The initiative is with us," he said, not with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Afghan General Rahmatullah Raufi said 25 Taliban fighters were killed in a recent five-day operation in the southern Oruzgan Province.

Elsewhere in the province, coalition spokesman Major Quentin Innes said five more Taliban were killed in clashes today.

(dpa, Reuters, AFP)