Afghanistan

Insurgents Increase Presence in Afghanistan's Border Provinces

Afghan general blames Pakistanis for pushing fighters across the border

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Insurgents have stepped up operations in Afghan border provinces close to Pakistan, one of Afghanistan's top generals said, with militant numbers up on last summer as government forces work to improve security in the volatile east.

Major-General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, who commands Afghan forces in seven crucial southeast provinces, said insurgent numbers were up around 15 percent on last year's summer fighting months, with an estimated 5,000 insurgents now in his area.

Many were Pakistanis and Chechens, Yaftali said, reinforcing recent assessments by Afghan army chief of staff General Sher Mohammad Karimi that the insurgency's backers in Pakistan had shut Islamic schools to send more fighters across the border.