The U.N. refugee agency says fighting between NATO-led forces and suspected Taleban insurgents has displaced 80,000 to 90,000 people in southern Afghanistan.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Wednesday up to 15,000 families have been affected in the insurgency-hit provinces of Kandahar, Uruzgan and Helmand.

In Washington, the top U.S. intelligence official told VOA the Afghan government must expand its authority over more of the country to stem the resurgence of the Taleban.

John Negroponte attributed the increase in attacks partly to more aggressive actions by NATO forces, which have increased efforts to fight the insurgency along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Meanwhile, the Afghan intelligence agency says officials have arrested 17 would-be suicide bombers who allegedly trained in Pakistan. A spokesman says security agents detained the suspects before they had a chance to strike targets in Afghanistan.

Pakistani and Afghan authorities have been accusing each other of not doing enough to combat the Taleban-led insurgency in Afghanistan.