Panjwaii security improving: Canadian officer

Security is improving in the Panjwaii district near Kandahar city, the chief of staff for Canada's Task Force Afghanistan says.

Security is improving in the Panjwaii district near Kandahar city, the chief of staff for Canada's Task Force Afghanistan says.

"It's been a challenging summer, we know that," Lt.-Col. Doug Claggett said. "But the way we look at things right now and the situation on the ground is that we've got a lot of positive indicators."

Claggett pointed to the Sept. 18 election as reason for some optimism. While the International Security Assistance Force reported more attacks by insurgents that day than on any other, the Panjwaii district where Canadian soldiers are most heavily concentrated saw no significant attacks on polling stations.

With the surge in U.S. troop strength, Canadian forces have narrowed the geographical scope of their operations. More soldiers are in a far smaller area, and Claggett said this is improving overall security.

"We have not seen as much insurgent activity in the area of operation where we have our security forces right now. And we think that is due to the increased presence that we've had in the area."

In a quarterly report released Sept. 22, the Canadian government said the period from April 1 to June 30 saw an escalation of violence in Afghanistan.

"This was marked by a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, with increasing insurgent violence and intimidation targeting civilians, the assassination of several officials from Afghan government institutions and civil society, and an early escalation of the fighting season," the report said.

The report also noted that June proved to be the deadliest month for NATO forces in Afghanistan. The government pointed out that the Afghan National Army doubled its strength in the Zhari district, while the overall capacity of the Afghan army remained unchanged from the previous quarter.