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UN Report Says Suicide Bombings on Rise in Afghanistan

09 September 2007

A United Nations report says the number of suicide bombings in Afghanistan is rising fast and would this year likely reach a record high. As Daniel Schearf reports for VOA from Islamabad, the report says most Afghani suicide bombers were trained, supported, and many recruited, in neighboring Pakistan.

The U.N. report issued Sunday says the number of suicide bombings by insurgents in Afghanistan has rocketed from 17 attacks in 2005 to 123 in 2006.

The report also says that record high number is likely to be surpassed this year. In the first eight months there have already been 103 suicide attacks, with more expected.

The report says most suicide bombers were Afghani nationals but received training or support in neighboring Pakistan's tribal region where many were recruited from Islamic theology schools called madrassas.

Adrian Edwards is the spokesman for the U.N. mission in Afghanistan. He says suicide attacks have grown along with the insurgency.

"They were allowed to strengthen if you like. They, to some degree, seem to have managed to occupy a geographic area along the border between these two countries. And, from there, that gives them a certain ability to carry out their acts with a high degree of impunity," said Edwards.

Pakistan has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers to the region to try to prevent militant activity but has so far failed to stop the training and movement of insurgents across the porous border.

The report, partly based on interviews with alleged failed suicide bombers in jail, said in contrast to most of the world's suicide bombers the majority of those in Afghanistan were young, poor, and uneducated, and often not aware of what they were getting into.

"In some cases they were duped. In some cases coerced," he added. "There were one or two who were committed. But, by and large these were not fantasists."

The report says although the vast majority of suicide bombers are aimed at military and government targets, around 80 percent of casualties are civilians.

It says to curb the growth of suicide bombers the international community needs to bolster the role of Afghanistan's security forces, the building of basic public services, and the rule of law to prevent perceptions of foreign occupation and injustice that can turn people militant.

Afghanistan is facing its most violent period since the overthrow of the Taleban. Thousands have been killed in the last year in fighting between security forces and militants.

This weekend, two British soldiers serving with NATO's mission in Afghanistan were killed and several others wounded in a Taleban attack south of Garmsir in the same province. The U.S. military also reports that U.S.-led coalition forces backed by war planes killed more than 30 suspected militants in the Garmsir area.

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