July 27 - A southern Afghan mayor is assassinated in a city still reeling from the assassination of Karzai's half brother two weeks ago. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Target Kandahar. A suicide bomber kills the mayor of Kandahar Wednesday. The attack comes as the southern city is still reeling from the assassination two weeks ago of President Hamid Karzai's half-brother. But while the attacks may be high profile, they do not impact the overall security situation says NATO's Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, who was made available to Reuters by the Pentagon. SOUNDBITE: Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, saying (English):"The assassination that we have seen over the past weeks, in particular the two big ones the brother of the president, and today's assassination plus the killing at the rant mosque are serious incidents but they do not really affect the overall security situation in Kandahar." With an increase in foreign troops in Southern Afghanistan insurgent forces have shifted tactics, adopting different methods in their so-called spring offensives. SOUNDBITE: Brigadier General Carsten Jacobsonl, saying (English): "We expected a spring time offensive this year in particular with a higher number of troops that have in there following the surge . We expected an increase in of activities against use out in the field looking at least year awe had opening engagements with ISAf and the Taliban troops and with ANSF forces, we have not seen that year in this respect, And actually, enemy initiated activities are down , and they are down now in successive weeks . So the spring offensive did not materialize. What the terrorist are doing is planting bombs, lining roadside mines, killing innocent civilians." The attacks come as Afghanistan has assumed control of seven areas as part of a transition that is expected to end in 2014. There is still confidence that that target will be reached. SOUNDBITE: Brigadier General Carsten Jacobsonl, saying (English): "We' re optimistic about achieving our aim. And our aim is that we will be able to hangover security responsibility for the whole of Afghanistan through Afghan authorities by the end of 2014. That is a very clearly achievable aim, with all the preconditions that we have at the moment. With transition on its way we know that that there will be set backs, we know that there will attacks. We know that the Taliban will do their thing. We know that the enemy always has a say. And, they will go for it. and we will have counter that.. And we are optimistic that by the end of 2014 we will have achieve the handover of responsibility." In 2010 violence across Afghanistan hit its worst levels since the Taliban were ousted in 2001. The fear is that 2011 appears to be following a similar trend. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters