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Afghanistan Detains Two on Suspicion of Spying for Pakistan

Afghan officials have detained two men, accusing them of spying for Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. Afghanistan has repeatedly accused the spy network of supporting Taleban insurgents, and relations between the two countries have been increasingly confrontational. VOA correspondent Benjamin Sand reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.

The detainees are an Afghan army general and a man suspected of being an ISI officer operating in the eastern province of Kunar.

Presidential spokesman Mohammed Karim Rahimi told reporters Tuesday the general, a reserve officer with the Ministry of Defense, has already confessed to selling secrets to the ISI.

He says the investigation is still under way but the general was arrested "red-handed" and will almost certainly be charged with espionage.

Local media report General Khair Mohammed is accused of providing the ISI with detailed information on U.S. and NATO troop locations in Afghanistan.

More than 40-thousand foreign troops are deployed in an effort to defeat the Taleban insurgency.

This has been the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001. More than four-thousand people have been killed and the Taleban appears to be gaining ground in many areas.

Both U.S. and Afghan officials say the Taleban's resurgence is, at least in part, being fueled by support from inside Pakistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly accused Islamabad of allowing Taleban insurgents to operate bases in Pakistan's tribal areas along the Afghan border.

Western intelligence agencies also allege the ISI is funneling money to pro-Taleban forces on both sides of the border.

Pakistan has a long record of involvement in Afghanistan's internal affairs.

The spy agency provided critical support for the Taleban during its rise to power in the 1990's. At the time it was considered a reliable ally and effective bulwark against outside influence in the region.

Pakistan officially severed ties with the Islamic hardliners in 2001 following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf insists his country is now doing everything it can to help defeat the Taleban.

Nevertheless, relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to deteriorate and both sides accuse the other of destabilizing the region.