Security is on full-alert in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, as US-led forces prepare a new offensive against the Taliban. Hundreds of militant fighters are reported to be laying mines and blowing up bridges in the south, following their audacious attack to free prisoners at Kandahar jail. NATO and Afghan forces aim to drive the Taliban out of nearby villages, and have dropped leaflets warning local people to expect fighting.
Kandahar was the birthplace of the Taliban, and after their comeback in 2006, they have shown they are still capable of staging military attacks. The renewed fighting comes despite the presence of some 60,000 US and NATO soldiers, and the newly-trained 150,000-strong Afghan army. Britain yesterday agreed to increase its Afghan force to more than 8,000.