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Danish forces likely to face more attacks in Afghanistan    2007-12-19 13:25:16    

Danish forces serving in Afghanistan are likely to continue to be targeted by roadside bombs and other attacks, a government report said Wednesday.
Copenhagen (dpa) - Danish forces serving in Afghanistan are likely to continue to be targeted by roadside bombs and other attacks, a government report said Wednesday.

The report, commissioned by the Foreign Ministry and Defence Ministry, said that in addition to military efforts it was necessary to continue attempts to win "the hearts and minds" of the Afghan population in order to weaken support for the Taliban.

The Danish government said this was possible via programmes to rebuild and repair schools, roads and water supply systems.

Defence Minister Soren Gade told reporters that Danish and other forces risked further attacks from "militants or irregular" forces that resort to terror or suicide bombings.

Denmark has a 500-strong force mainly based in the restive southern Helmand province in Afghanistan.

Non-military targets were also likely to be targeted, the report said, noting that corruption was on the rise fuelled by the proceeds from opium poppy cultivation that also funded the insurgency.

Mogens Lykketoft, foreign affairs spokesman of the opposition Social Democrats, said more funds should be spent on civilian projects while conceding that fighting in Helmand prevented this at present.

The Social Liberal Party agreed with that view and said the report was "realistic," spokesman Niels Helveg Petersen said.

Soren Espersen of the Danish People's Party said it was important to "neutralize" the Taliban before funding reconstruction projects.

Ten Danish soldiers have been killed since 2002 in Afghanistan.

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