Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

As US Troops Move into South, Taliban Strike Elsewhere

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

As US Troops Move into South, Taliban Strike Elsewhere

Article excerpt

Insurgents in Afghanistan killed seven US soldiers Monday, signaling an asymmetric strategy for countering the expanded American presence there.

Over the weekend, the Taliban had offered only light resistance in Helmand Province. The southern region became the scene last week of the first major ground assault by US forces since President Obama ordered 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

But on Monday, insurgents dealt US forces around Afghanistan one of their deadliest days since 2001, with roadside bombs and a firefight in three separate parts of the country. The Taliban also delivered propaganda barbs, claiming to be holding a missing US soldier and outlining a strategy in an Agence France-Presse interview to use "mines and guerrilla attacks" to punish the marines in Helmand.

Analysts suspect that US and NATO troops in Helmand will continue to see mostly the backs of Taliban fighters during the ground offensive, only to have guerrillas retaliate elsewhere. And American casualties could rise given the drive to take back Taliban regions and to do so with less reliance on air power and mortars.

"I don't think it's any coincidence: This is a response to the major operation. And it's one where the types of attacks we saw yesterday we will see again, it's not a one-off," says Sajjan Gohel, a security analyst with the Asia-Pacific Foundation in London.

On Monday, roadside bombs killed four US soldiers in the province of Kunduz and another two in southern Zabul Province. An insurgent attack killed another soldier in eastern Paktia Province. Meanwhile, three NATO soldiers (one British, two Canadian) died Monday when a helicopter crashed; officials said insurgent fire wasn't involved. And today, a hand grenade tossed into a police vehicle in eastern Khost Province killed one civilian and wounded 28 others. …

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