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NATO Chief: More Troops Needed in Afghanistan


NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says more troops are needed in order to avoid a stalemate in NATO's fight against a growing insurgency in Afghanistan.

Scheffer says additional forces are instrumental to counter-insurgency strategy, which includes holding on to conquered Taliban territory in order for local reconstruction projects to begin.

The NATO chief made the comments to reporters on Wednesday following a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

NATO has welcomed U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's plans to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, but the organization, as well as British officials, say European member nations should also increase their contributions.

In other news, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters on Wednesday that a French aid worker kidnapped a month ago in Afghanistan has been released.

Gunmen seized Dany Egreteau in the Afghan capital of Kabul on November 3. The 32-year-old employee of the Paris-based human rights group Solidarite Laique was traveling to work with another French aid worker, who managed to escape.

Witnesses say the gunmen shot dead an Afghan passerby who tried to intervene.

Kidnappings for ransom have spiked in Afghanistan during the past year. Some of them are blamed on Taliban militants and others on criminal gangs.

In other news, Afghan and U.S. military officials say 13 militants were killed in three different incidents across Afghanistan Tuesday.

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