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Afghan Minister Predicts Taliban's Demise

Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak (epa) July 17, 2006 -- Afghanistan's defense minister says the Taliban resistance in the south of the country will be broken by the end of the year.

General Abdul Rahim Wardak made the comment in today's edition of the "Financial Times" newspaper.

Wardak said the Taliban's command and control structure is fragmenting due to heavy losses and many mid-ranking commanders are fleeing to Pakistan.

His comments come a day after the U.S.-led coalition said it will not end a massive anti-Taliban offensive in southern Afghanistan until Afghan authorities regain control of the insurgent-dominated region.

The coalition's vow on July 16 coincided with 24 hours of violence that left more than 70 Taliban dead in the southern province of Helmand.


Helmand Province Governor Comments

Helmand Province Governor Comments

U.S. Marines operating in Helmand Province in 2002 (epa)

RULING A RESTIVE LAND: On February 12, RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Jawaid Wafa spoke briefly with Helmand Province Governor MOHAMMAD DAOUD about the ongoing violence in his restive region on the border with Pakistan.

RFE/RL: Recently, there have been many clashes and attacks by insurgents in Helmand Province. What in your view facilitates these attacks, especially in Helmand?

Mohammad Daoud: This province has a 160-kilometer border with Pakistan's Baluchistan Province. In reality, armed people, armed terrorists, from the other side of the border cross the border into Helmand. They carry out attacks and return back. It is a serious problem in Helmand that within our borders there is neither tribal good will, nor are there are special military or security measures to prevent enemies from crossing back and forth.

RFE/RL: The attacks and clashes have not only been between government forces and insurgents. There have been various clashes in different parts of Helmand between police and purported drug smugglers. How do you explain this?

Daoud: Drug smugglers also use the border for their own purposes. They have opened markets on the border and process opium there. This is a serious problem along our border. We are in touch with our authorities on this problem.

RFE/RL: There are government border police patrol your border. What is their role in preventing illegal crossings?

Daoud: Along this 160-kilometer border, there are car routes, walking routes. We have border police, but unfortunately, either because of their own problems or because of weak administration, they have not been able to stop the crossing.


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