By AMIR SHAH, Associated Press Writer
KABUL, Afghanistan – U.S. military successes in Iraq have forced sophisticated and well-trained insurgents to pour into Afghanistan instead, part of the reason violence has spiked in Afghanistan, the Afghan defense minister said Tuesday.
In a demonstration of the increasingly deadly attacks, a roadside blast in the east where U.S. soldiers operate killed three NATO troops, while two separate roadside bombs in the south killed 16 Afghan civilians, officials said.
The Afghan defense minister, Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, said terrorists who would have once fought in Iraq have been “diverted” to Afghanistan.
“The success of coalition forces in Iraq and also some other issues in some of the neighboring countries have made it possible that there is a major increase in the foreign fighters,” Wardak told a news conference. “There is no doubt that they are (better) equipped than before. They are well trained, more sophisticated, their coordination is much better.”
The top U.S. commander in eastern Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, told The Associated Press last month that he is seeing a spike in the number of foreign militants — including Arabs and Chechens — flowing into Afghanistan. He said militant Web sites have been encouraging fighters to go to Afghanistan instead of Iraq.
“I can’t prove they are coming from Iraq to Afghanistan, but I’ve seen it on Web sites that that’s what they’re being told to do,” Schloesser said.
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