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Afghan attacks on media shows jihadists are weak:…

Afghan attacks on media shows jihadists are weak:…

Pakistan has strongly condemned twin suicide attacks in Kabul on Monday that claimed the lives of 25 people and injured 45.

One American soldier was also killed, and another wounded, during a combat operation in eastern Afghanistan, US Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement.

That was a drop of 10.6 per cent compared with the same month previous year.

U.S. Forces Afghanistan "reported that the actual assigned strength of the [Afghan National Defense Security Force] as of January 2018 was 296,409, which includes 165,622 [Afghan National Army] and 130,787 [Afghan National Police] personnel".

The attacks came just a week after a blast at a voter registration centre killed 60 people, in the wake of warnings by security officials against the risk of increasing attacks ahead of parliamentary elections planned in October.

The report also notes that in the two months between December 15, 2017 to February 15, 2018, the United Nations "recorded an average of 55.9 security incidents per day - almost four incidents per day higher than the same period two years ago".

"Building up the Afghan forces is a top priority for the USA and our worldwide allies, so it is worrisome to see Afghan force strength decreasing", John Sopko, the head of SIGAR, told Reuters.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Macedonian Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska right stand at attention during a ceremony welcoming Sekerinska at the Pentagon Tuesday

Publicly, US officials have presented an optimistic view of the situation in Afghanistan.

"We are extremely concerned about our safety and security", said Farida Nekzad, chairperson of Afghanistan Female Journalists Association. "The murder of journalists and other innocent people is a great testimony to what we stand for, more importantly what we stand against".

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday the United States would stand by the Afghan people and the Kabul government, a day after attacks killed dozens of people including 10 journalists.

Privately, however, United States officials have been more circumspect.

"While Afghan forces are stronger now than they were a decade ago, they continue to struggle in a big way".

"I dont know thats been the message from this building, I would not subscribe to that", he said in response to a question.

31, "14.5 percent of the country's total districts were under insurgent control or influence - the highest level recorded since SIGAR began receiving district control data - and 56.3 percent of districts were under Afghan government control or influence", the report, released May 1, states.

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