OTTAWA (Reuters) - Taliban militants are making ever bigger and more sophisticated bombs to use against Canadian troops in the south of Afghanistan, a development that a top official on Thursday called tragic.
Bombs have killed seven Canadian soldiers in the past three weeks alone and 19 since the start of December. So far, 116 Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan.
“The tragedy is that as we arm and equip and protect our people, insurgents continue to develop more insidious improvised explosive devices,” said David Mulroney, who heads the government’s Afghan task force.
“They’re bigger, they are more complex in terms of the number of people involved in triggering them,” he told a special House of Commons committee looking into Afghanistan.
Canada has around 2,700 troops based in the southern city of Kandahar on a combat mission that is due to end in 2011.
Mulroney — echoing a recent downbeat report by the Canadian government — said the security situation in Afghanistan had deteriorated in many ways as soldiers and officials from NATO nations tried to tackle what he called a very determined insurgency.
“The objective of the insurgency is to undermine public opinion and that is working, but it is not leading to chaos because we are seeing a resolute response by the Afghan national government,” he said.
Canadian officers in southern Afghanistan say polls show that the Taliban attacks are making an increasing number of local people feel insecure about their future.
Mulroney said a planned increase in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan this year, as well as what he called the improved performance of the Afghan national army, would make combating the Taliban easier.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson