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Non-Governmental Security Group Says War in Afghanistan Just Beginning

A non-governmental security group says the war in Afghanistan is just beginning, as Taliban militants gained more ground in 2007.

The Afghanistan NGO Security Office or ANSO released a report Saturday, saying 2007 will be looked upon in the future as the year the Taliban seriously rejoined the fight.

The U.S. ousted the Taliban government in 2001, but the report notes that with the Taliban resurgence, it has become obvious their easy departure was more of a strategic retreat than an actual military defeat.

Taliban-related violence surged in Afghanistan last year, and ANSO says the best case scenario for 2008 was more of the same.

Separately, officials Saturday said Afghan and NATO-led troops killed or wounded more than 20 insurgents in the eastern province of Kunar, bordering Pakistan. Officials say the militants were planning an attack on military targets.

Also Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Muslims to unite against terrorists carrying out suicide attacks in the country. Mr. Karzai made the remarks in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, to mark the Muslim observance of Ashura.

Eight people, including at least three foreigners, were killed when militants carried out a suicide attack at the heavily-guarded, luxury Serena Hotel in Kabul on January 14th.

And, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has announced an additional shipment of much-needed bomb-resistant vehicles to Afghanistan.

Troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are often killed in roadside bombings caused by improvised explosive devices or IEDs.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.