Afghan Taliban isn't gaining upper hand - Germany

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2007, 16:11 [IST]
 

BERLIN, May 22 (Reuters) - Taliban fighters are not winning in Afghanistan and have been suffering considerable losses, the head of Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency said today.

''I don't see that the Taliban is gaining the upper hand in Afghanistan,'' BND head Ernst Uhrlau was quoted as saying in an interview with daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

''There is no 'decisive year 2007'. The Taliban are incurring sustained losses. At the same time the Taliban remain a relevant security factor in the region which must be taken seriously.'' The Taliban have stepped up attacks in recent weeks, as both sides in the conflict look for a decisive advantage this year.

Uhrlau warned that Germans must not be complacent about terrorist dangers just because Germany was not involved in Iraq.

''You are wrong if you believe Germany is not under threat because we did not take part in the Iraq war. Our soldiers are fighting al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan,'' said Uhrlau.

Germany, home to western Europe's second-biggest Islamic population after France, is worried about growing radicalism among young Muslims and about the possibility of an attack.

Uhrlau said he believed there may be a threat to Germany from Islamist fighters currently in North Africa.

''There are indications that in the past year and a half, Islamist fighters from North Africa have gone to Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of them came back. North Africa is near Europe,'' said Uhrlau.

He said he was reminded of the al Qaeda-inspired 2004 Madrid train bombings which killed 191 people and, he said, had its origins in the Maghreb countries.

Last year, plotters tried to explode bombs in suitcases on two regional trains in western Germany but the devices failed to detonate.

One Lebanese man has confessed to planting a bomb and one suspect wanted in connection with the plot was killed in clashes with the Lebanese army in northern Lebanon yesterday.

Three German soldiers were killed in a suicide bomb in northern Afghanistan on Sunday.

REUTERS SS KN1456


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