NATO troops claimed to have killed 150 ill-equipped and ill-trained insurgent recruits sent to fight by Jalaluddin Haqqani whom senior US officials lives in Pakistan even as there is a surge of Taliban fighters crossing the border to fight coalition troops. A Taliban spokesperson denied that these were fighters and claimed that those killed were civilians. He however did not explain how there was a large amount of weapons and military supplies among the dead bodies.
Maj. Gen. Benjamin Freakley said that Haqqani “operating from inside Pakistan” recruited and sent 130 unemployed and untrained men to fight in Afghanistan. NATO sources say that this is the largest battle event since the Taliban was ousted from Afghanistan in 2001. Western and Afghan officials accuse Pakistan of not doing enough to stop Taliban fighters using Pakistani soil as a training ground from crossing the border into Afghanistan. Pakistan says it does all it can to stop the fighters. Islamabad claims that it is doing all it can do stem the flow and violence.
Disagreeing with Musharraf’s protestations, new US Defense Secretary Robert Gates visiting Afghanistan said that the US must engage Islamabad to curb an increasing flow of Taliban fighters across the border into southern and eastern Afghanistan and hinted that US troop levels may be increased beyond the 24,000 in the region. Faulting one of Musharraf’s “out of the box” solutions making peace with the Pakistani Taliban for the increased incursions, Gates said that “The border area is a problem” because “More attacks” are from “across the border” and that they have origins in “al Qaida networks operating across the border.” He rejected Pakistani claims that the September deal was assisting coalition efforts in Afghanistan.
Topmost US Army official Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry grimly predicted that it will be a “violent spring” and that he sees no prospect of reducing troop levels in 2007 and anticipates an increase in force levels. In a clear indication of being overstretched militarily, Eikenberry revealed that he has proposed to his bosses not to move out the infantry 10th Mountain Division out of Afghanistan to troublesome Iraq since the Taliban attacks surged 200% in December and since the peace deal in September, the attacks in the border had grown by 300%. American sources were cited in newswires citing statistics that suicide attacks in 2006 was at 139, up from 27 in 2005, and the number of attacks with roadside bombs more than doubled, from 783 in 2005 to 1,677 last year. The number of "direct attacks" by insurgents using small arms, grenades and other weapons surged from 1,558 in 2005 to 4,542 in 2006. Further, Army officials say that the insurgents were now launching more sophisticated and coordinated attacks.