NATO’s Secretary-General says an extra 4,000 soldiers are needed in Afghanistan, to provide security for presidential elections in August.Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says four more battalions of troops will be needed for the vote, taking place during a stepped up Taliban-led insurgency. Violence in Afghanistan is at its highest levels since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. According to the United Nations, around 5,000 people, more than 2,000 of them civilians, were killed in fighting last year. “The ISAF coalition and NATO allies will do everything they can to prevent the loss of innocent Afghan life. Every innocent civilian casualty is one too many. And I will be the first to apologise if that happens,” the Secretary-General said. The US has already said it will boost its contingent in the country. An extra 17 000 of its soldiers will arrive in the south— the Taliban heartland— during the year. There are around 70 000 foreign soldiers in all in Afghanistan. NATO commanders have been urging member states to boost their deployment for the elections for some time.
NATO: More troops needed for Afghan election