NATO-led peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan have begun expanding security operations
beyond the capital, Kabul. More than two dozen German troops arrived in the northern
town of Kunduz to shore up security, and more are to be deployed in the coming
The deployment of German troops in the northern Afghan town of Kunduz is
part of international efforts to improve security for aid workers, and help
in reconstruction outside the capital, Kabul.
By the middle of next year, Germany plans to send up to 450 soldiers to Kunduz.
The region is relatively free of political and ethnic tension, which plagues
southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan.
Aid workers and diplomats say the current security situation is eroding,
with attacks continuing by members of the ousted Taleban and operatives from
the al-Qaida terrorist network.
They said thousands more peacekeepers will be needed, if the country is to
hold elections in June.
But so far, Germany is the only nation to have agreed to send significant
numbers of troops to expand the NATO-led multinational peacekeeping operation.
The U.N. Security Council earlier this month approved expanding the mandate
of the international force outside Kabul, where about 5,500 troops from 30
countries are currently deployed.
On Friday, the transitional government of President Hamid Karzai formally
launched a national program to disarm about 100,000 Afghan militia fighters
across the country.
The U.N.-backed disarmament campaign also took off from the northern town
of Kunduz, and is aimed at reducing the power of some of Afghanistan's notorious
warlords who run these armed fighters. They are seen as the biggest obstacle
to efforts to extend the authority of President Karzai's government beyond
the Afghan capital.