Kandahar security worsened in late 2008: Canada

Wed Mar 4, 2009 5:14pm EST
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OTTAWA, March 4th (Reuters) - Security in the southern Afghan region of Kandahar deteriorated in late 2008 as Taliban militants stepped up their attacks and crime spiked, the Canadian government said in a report on Wednesday.

Canada has 2,700 soldiers in Kandahar city on a combat mission that is due to end in 2011. The government report covered the last quarter of the year.

"In Afghanistan generally, and in Kandahar specifically, security conditions remained especially dangerous and by some measures deteriorated during the quarter," the report said.

"Insurgency activity continued in and around Kabul. Criminal and factional violence compounded the insecurity generated by the insurgency in the capital and surrounding areas."

The report said that in recent polling, more citizens of Kandahar said their security was getting worse.

Increased Taliban attacks meant the civilian and military casualties in the last quarter hit the highest level since 2001, something the report said showed the need to build up Afghan security forces.

"Progress will not come quickly. Afghanistan is a poor country at war against a determined and resourceful insurgency. Its full transition to a more secure and stable society will take decades," the report said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said last week that the Afghan conflict could not be won by military force alone.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)