Deadly Attacks Surge as U.S. Troops Prepare to Leave Afghanistan
(Bloomberg) -- Violence surged in war-torn Afghanistan in the first quarter of the year as U.S. forces prepared to leave the country after two decades.
Attacks by the Taliban and other militant groups surged 37% in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to a report that cited both U.S. forces and the United Nations. As many as 643 people were killed and 1,395 injured, the U.S. forces reported, while the UN recorded 572 deaths, according to a report by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, a Pentagon watchdog.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw troops by Sept. 11 will remove military support to Afghanistan’s government and strengthen Taliban militants just as the nation’s President Ashraf Ghani struggles with a food security crisis that’s affected nearly 17 million people, or about half of its population.
The U.S. withdrawal “would leave the Afghan security forces without vital support, especially for its air force, which relies on contractors to maintain its planes and helicopters,” the report cited General Austin Scott Miller, commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, as saying.
As many as 5.5 million people are in dire need of food, the second highest in the world, according to the report, which cited the International Organization for Migration.
Meanwhile, peace talks with the Taliban militants have stalled. The U.S. plans to complete the final withdrawal of the remaining 2,500 troops from the country by Sept. 11. NATO’s 7,000 troops who train and advise Afghan forces will also follow the US.
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