UN Maps Show Security Worsening in Afghanistan: Report

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Agence France-Presse

UN Maps Show Security Worsening in Afghanistan: Report

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KABUL — Confidential UN maps show a clear deterioration in security in
parts of Afghanistan this year, the Wall Street Journal reported
Monday, as its mission there acknowledged security in some parts had
worsened.

Two United Nations maps, one showing the situation at
the start of this year's fighting season in March and the other towards
its end in October, highlight a particular decline in parts of the north
and east, the paper said.

Kieran Dwyer, communications director
of the UN mission in Afghanistan, acknowledged security had got worse in
some parts, hampering its mission, although he said he had not seen the
maps.

"There are parts of the country that have become increasingly difficult to operate in during 2010 due to insecurity.

"This
includes the targeting of humanitarian workers and government officials
whose jobs it is to deliver services to the people," he told AFP.

"As
the conflict intensifies in certain parts of the country, we're seeing
insurgents bobbing up in districts which have previously not been a
target."

While the situation in the south -- the fiercest
battleground between US-led troops and the Taliban -- remained virtually
unchanged between the two maps at "very high risk", it worsened in 16
districts in the north and east, the paper reported.

These districts were in the provinces of Badghis, Sari Pul, Balkh, Parwan, Baghlan, Samangan, Faryab, Laghman and Takhar.

The
paper added that only two districts previously deemed high risk -- one
in Kunduz in the north and another in Herat in the west -- had received a
safer rating in October.

Earlier this month a US review described
strategy as being "on track" but warned that gains were fragile, a year
after President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 extra troops into battle.

There
are around 140,000 US-led NATO troops in Afghanistan, two-thirds of
whom are from the United States, fighting a nine-year Taliban
insurgency.

A limited withdrawal of troops is expected to start in
July 2011 and foreign troops are preparing for a planned security
handover to Afghan forces in 2014.

Violence in the north has
steadily worsened over the last two years despite the Taliban insurgency
having its powerbase in the south.

The United Nations uses the
maps to assess the dangers of travelling and running schemes across
Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal said.

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