Up to 35,000 insurgents active in Afghanistan: official

17:11, February 09, 2011      

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The strength of Taliban insurgents and other anti-government elements estimated to be between 25,000 to 35,000 in the militancy-hit Afghanistan, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi said on Wednesday.

"There is no accurate statistic on the number of insurgents in Afghanistan, but according to our assessments it could be been 25, 000 to 35,000 persons,"Azimi told a regular weekly press conference here. The number of militants frequently changes, he said.

He also said that Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are ready to take responsibilities of security from NATO and U.S. forces as per scheduled.

"Afghan National Army (ANA) is capable enough to start taking responsibilities from international forces, according to timetable, " he emphasized.

The process of taking security responsibility will start in coming months by ANSF from NATO-led troops and will be completed by the end of 2014, Azimi further said.

"A commission has been set up to assess which areas and provinces would be the first place for Afghan security forces to take the burden on their own," he said.

He also said the strength of ANA currently is over 152,000 personnel and the target is 172,600 by the end of this year.

More than 20,000 ANA soldiers and officers are currently under training in more than 17 training centers across the country, the spokesman further said.

Source: Xinhua

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