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Attacks Increasing Against Afghan Troops, Foreign Peacekeepers

The commander of the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan says attacks against foreign and local troops have increased during the past five months.

Lieutenant General Norbert van Heyst, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force says the number of attacks against Afghan and foreign troops doubled in May and stabilized "on a very high level" in June. He was speaking at a monthly news conference at his headquarters in Kabul.

The risks were illustrated when Afghan police reported an unknown man was killed Tuesday because a bomb he was carrying went off prematurely on the outskirts of Kabul.

Nearly 5,000 multinational peacekeeping troops are providing security in the Afghan capital. They are under joint German-Dutch command.

General van Heyst reiterated that the peacekeepers will stay in Afghanistan until local security structures are available and operational. The general acknowledges the security situation outside Kabul must be improved if the war-ravaged country is to develop and find stability. Germany is leading efforts to train a new Afghan police force while the Untied States is in charge of building Afghanistan's national army.

A U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition of about 12,000 troops is also deployed across the country to hunt down remnants of the deposed Taleban government and the al-Qaida terrorist network. These fugitives are blamed for plotting attacks against foreign and Afghan government targets. The violence has killed dozens of people, including several foreign troops.

Last month, four German peacekeepers were killed and more than two dozen were wounded in a suicide bomb attack on their bus near Kabul. The bombing was the deadliest against the peacekeepers since they arrived in Afghanistan in late 2001. Last week, an American soldier was killed in a clash in southeast of the country.

Aid workers and human rights groups say the deteriorating security situation has hampered efforts to rebuild Afghanistan.