Huffpost WorldPost

Afghan Road Bombings, Kidnappings Doubled In 2008, Says US Diplomat

Posted: Updated:

KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S.-led coalition forces killed 11 militants during an operation just outside the Afghan capital, the coalition said Wednesday.

The operation took place Tuesday about 40 miles (60 kilometers) northeast of Kabul in Surobi district, it said.

The coalition said its forces targeted a commander wanted for trafficking weapons and fighters throughout the region. They killed two militants with gunfire and nine others with airstrikes during the operation, it said.

The coalition does not identify the units involved in its operations. French soldiers are known to operate in the Surobi region, as are U.S. Special Forces on occasion.

Afghanistan's security situation has been deteriorating. The number of roadside bombs and kidnappings doubled in 2008 from the previous year, the U.S. ambassador said Tuesday.

The number of roadside bombs rose from roughly 1,000 in 2007 to 2,000 in 2008, while the number of kidnappings jumped from about 150 to 300, Ambassador William Wood said.

Compiling accurate data for roadside bombs and kidnappings is difficult, he said, and the numbers were approximate.

Speaking at an end-of-the-year news conference, Wood called 2008 a "good year but also a hard year."

Afghanistan, he said, saw progress against opium poppies, the main ingredient in heroin, as land for cultivating them dropped by almost 20 percent in 2008.

International donors also pledged some $20 billion in aid at a conference in Paris, he noted.

But violence also rose and the Taliban insurgency spread throughout southern Afghanistan. Because of that, the U.S. next year plans to send up to 30,000 new forces to the country to reinforce the 32,000 American soldiers already there.