Afghanistan ‘is going down fast’

THE bloodshed in Afghanistan has reached levels not seen since the 2001 invasion as anger at bungling by an ineffective Government in Kabul and its foreign backers stokes support for the Taliban and other extremist groups.The death of Trooper David Pearce underlines the rising dangers for Australia’s 1000 soldiers in Afghanistan, most of them deployed in the Taliban’s southern heartland — a region some of Canberra’s NATO allies consider too dangerous to fight in.

“This place can only go up or down, and it’s going down fast, which is something the international community simply will not understand,” said a security analyst who has been working in and out of Afghanistan for 30 years.

Almost six years after the hardline Islamist Taliban were ousted, their insurgency is gaining strength, fuelled by resentment at NATO bombing of civilians, billions of dollars of wasted aid, a lack of jobs and record crops of opium, the raw material for heroin.

The fighting is spreading to places once relatively safe, including the capital and the western and northern parts of the country.

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