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Afghanistan News Update July 8

By: AP
By: AP
US troops score win against IEDs in Afghanistan...Roadside bombs kill 14 in southern Afghanistan...US concerned by rise in Afghan insider attacks...Karzai urges other countries not to abandon Afghanistan

Afghan special forces are seen outside the Spozhmai hotel at Lake Qargha where security officials say Taliban insurgents have killed at least 17 people, most of them civilians, in an attack that began before midnight on Thursday, just north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, June, 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. troops in Afghanistan have quietly achieved one small but important victory over the past year: They are finding and avoiding more improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, than a year ago.
That's thanks to a surge in training, equipment and intelligence.
Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero is director of the Pentagon's effort to defeat the bombs. Barbero says half as many bombs hit their mark from January through March as during the same time last year.
Bomb-planters have picked up the pace again during the summer months, planting explosives along roadsides or footpaths.
But new figures released to The Associated Press show a slow, steady decline over the past three years in the effectiveness of IEDs, which had been the leading cause of death and injury in Afghanistan.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghan authorities say two roadside bombs have killed 14 civilians in southern Afghanistan.
Ahmad Jawed Faisal, the spokesman for Kandahar province, says a minivan ran over one bomb in Arghistan district.
Other civilians, who were riding on a tractor, arrived to help the dead and wounded, but the tractor struck a second bomb in the road.
It's not known how many people died in each blast on Sunday.
The U.N. says last year was the deadliest on record for civilians in the Afghan war, with 3,021 killed.
The number of Afghan civilians killed dropped 36 percent in the first four months of this year compared with last year, but the U.N. says that too many civilians are still being caught up in violence.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon says an attack in eastern Afghanistan that wounded several American soldiers appears to have been perpetrated by an Afghan soldier.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kirby, said Thursday that the attacker fled the scene and is still at large.
Kirby said the wounded are in stable condition at a medical facility. He didn't disclose their numbers or nationality, but other officials said the five shot were all Americans.
The attack Tuesday was the 19th so far this year in which an Afghan soldier or policeman has turned his weapon on members of the international military coalition. Kirby said a total of 26 coalition members have been killed in those attacks, including 13 Americans.
Kirby said U.S. officials are deeply concerned by this year's increase in insider attacks.

TOKYO (AP) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai is urging the international community not to abandon his country.
He spoke at a gathering in Tokyo of international donors who are pledging $16 billion in development aid for Afghanistan over the next four years, when most foreign troops will be leaving. The United States and about 70 other countries and organizations at the conference are setting aid levels for that period.
In his opening statement, Karzai asked for the country's "friends and partners" to reassure the Afghan people "that you will be with us."
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the Obama administration is looking to sustain U.S. assistance for Afghanistan at about the average amount that has been given over the last decade. It's ranged from $1 billion to this year's high of $2.3 billion.
Japan, the second-biggest donor, says it will provide up to $3 billion through 2016.
The donors are expected to set up monitoring measures to make sure the aid is used for development, and that it isn't wasted by corruption or mismanagement.


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