Fri 19 Oct 2007
JON HEMMING IN KABUL
A CONVOY carrying hi-tech roadside bombs intercepted in Afghanistan originated in Iran, the commander of NATO-led troops said yesterday, adding it was hard to believe Tehran's military did not know about the weapons.
General Dan McNeill said the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had scored tactical successes against Taleban rebels in the past year, but more needed to be done to bring security, development and good governance to Afghanistan.
Weapons from neighbouring countries only exacerbated the problems of achieving those goals, the US general added.
ISAF, Gen McNeill said, intercepted a weapons convoy on 5 September in the western part of this country. "This convoy clearly geographically originated from Iran. This convoy contained a number of advanced technology improvised explosive devices."
US leaders have accused Iran of supplying weapons to Taleban insurgents, but the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has refrained from repeating the charge and insists Iran and Afghanistan enjoy warm neighbourly relations.
Tehran strongly denies the charge. But while there is little love lost between Shiite Iran and the hardline Sunni Taleban, Tehran has an interest in undermining US and Western forces inside its eastern neighbour, security analysts say.
Gen McNeill said his forces had made progress against the Taleban in southern Afghanistan, where the rebels are strongest. "Kandahar is a lot more secure a province than it was last year."
In response, the Taleban has increased the number of suicide and roadside bomb attacks across the country.
Frustration with the slow pace of development and widespread corruption are credited with boosting Taleban support and spreading their influence northwards and closer to the capital - areas considered safe a little more than a year ago.