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Afghan Poll Shows Increasing Optimism, Opposition to Taliban

VOA News 11 January 2010

A new survey of public opinion in Afghanistan indicates that most Afghans are now optimistic about their future and the leadership of President Hamid Karzai.

The poll, sponsored by American, British and German broadcasters, says 70 percent of Afghans believe the country is headed in the right direction. Last year, just 40 percent of those polled reported a similar optimistic outlook.

About 72 percent of Afghans rated President Karzai as excellent or good. The poll also notes solid support for U.S. troops and widespread opposition to the Taliban, with 69 percent of the respondents calling the group the "biggest danger" to Afghanistan.

NATO on Monday reported the deaths of six foreign troops in Afghanistan, including three U.S. soldiers, one French serviceman and one British bomb disposal expert. The nationality of the last NATO soldier killed was not revealed.

NATO says the U.S. troops were killed in southern Afghanistan and the other two foreign troops were killed in clashes in the east.

French officials say their soldier was killed and another seriously wounded in an attack northeast of Kabul, while Britain's Defense Ministry said the British soldier was killed in southern Helmand province.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, said there is evidence the U.S. troop surge is turning the tide against the Taliban. He said the U.S. military also is making progress convincing Afghans that foreign troops are there to protect them.

In other news, NATO said one of its patrols discovered a ton of opium in a vehicle in southern Helmand province. The driver and two passengers tried to escape but were caught and taken into custody.

In western Herat province and in Helmand, NATO and Afghan forces found large caches of weapons, including rockets, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank mines, and artillery and machine gun rounds.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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