By Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times, April 22/23, 2013
KABUL, Afghanistan — An emergency landing by a helicopter ferrying foreign engineers in eastern Afghanistan turned into a mass abduction by the Taliban, officials said Monday [....]
In all, 11 people were abducted, according to reports from the Turkish foreign ministry and Afghan government officials. They included eight Turkish engineers, one Afghan man and the two pilots of the Russian-made helicopter. One pilot was confirmed to be Russian, and the other was either Russian or perhaps Kyrgyz, said a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Kabul.
“It’s a lot of people to take hostage — a lot of civilians,” said a senior Western official here, speaking on condition of anonymity “It gives the Taliban bargaining chips, no question about that.” Afghan officials, one of whom described the abductions as “very terrible” said they were worried that the hostages might be taken to Pakistan, where many international terrorist groups are based. The area where the helicopter landed is less than 20 miles from the Pakistani border [....]
Study Finds Sharp Rise in Attacks by Taliban
By Rod Nordland, New York Times, April 19/20, 2013
[.....] No one doubts that the Taliban have stepped up their attacks, but what is less clear is whether they are trying — or able — to mount an all-out attempt to test the Afghan security forces as they begin to take over completely from withdrawing foreign forces. By early summer, Afghan forces plan to be in charge throughout the country, with American and other allies in a supporting role.
The American military, which last year publicized data on enemy attacks with meticulous bar graphs, now has nothing to say. “We’re just not giving out statistics anymore,” said a spokesman, Col. Thomas W. Collins, suggesting that the Afghan Ministry of Defense might do so. [.....]
According to a respected independent group, the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, the recent increase in violence has been dramatic, based on data for the first quarter of 2013, which the organization released Thursday.
There were 2,331 attacks by armed opposition groups in the first quarter, compared with 1,581 in the same period last year, an increase of 47 percent, the statistics show [.....]