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New US Bases in Afghanistan Aim to Create Safer Conditions for Aid Workers - 2003-12-21

The new U.S. military commander in Afghanistan says the United States will set up bases in the south and east of that country to make conditions safer for aid workers.

Lieutenant General David Barno told reporters Sunday that those bases, a significant alteration of American strategy and tactics, will likely draw a strong reaction from insurgents behind attacks in those areas.

He added that new civilian-military units being set up by the United States and its allies across the country will help distribute reconstruction aid.

Meanwhile, at least seven Afghan soldiers have died in two separate incidents. Taleban officials have claimed responsibility for an ambush that killed at least five soldiers late Saturday at an army post near the Pakistani border.

And two other soldiers died late Saturday in an explosion along a road in the eastern Khost province. The cause of the blast is not yet clear.

Security continues to be tight in and around Kabul as Afghan lawmakers meet to discuss a new constitution that is expected to set the stage for presidential elections in June. President Hamid Karzai has said he hopes the assembly will complete its work on the constitution by the end of the month.