Madrid – The situation for foreign soldiers in Afghanistan is growing ever more dangerous, according to the Spanish intelligence service.
The Spanish newspaper El Pais on Saturday reported intelligence service sources as warning that the number of attacks by Taliban fighters on NATO troops will rise steeply this year.
If the insurgents in an area come under pressure from NATO or Afghan forces, they move to another area where they meet less resistance, the newspaper quoted an intelligence expert as saying.
To date most of the attacks on NATO troops have been in the southern Afghan provinces but in future attacks on foreign troops may also be increased in other provinces, the sources said.
NATO forces in Afghanistan will repulse any Taliban attempt to launch a spring offensive, Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in a defiant message in Kabul Thursday, amid militant claims that thousands of fighters are ready to engage the alliance.
The Taliban has claimed to have deployed 6,000 fighters in preparation for a spring offensive by the Islamic militia which was toppled from power in 2001.
Last year more than 4,000 people were killed in violence, about a quarter of them civilians and including 170 foreign troops.
NATO leads the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which together with US-led coalition forces has some 46,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan. There are 690 Spanish troops in the ISAF.
A Spanish soldier was killed Wednesday when his convoy hit a mine in eastern Afghanistan. He was the second Spanish soldier to be killed in attacks in the country.
Â© 2007 dpa – Deutsche Presse-Agentur