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Sweden's Afghan forces face increased threat

Sweden's Afghan forces face increased threat

Published: 05 May 2011 10:19 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 May 2011 10:19 GMT+02:00

The threat facing Swedish troops stationed in Afghanistan has been ratcheted up following a call by the Taliban for a spring offensive against foreign troops.

"The threat is general and stretches over the whole of Afghanistan. The state of readiness has been raised and is now at a significantly higher level than it was just a few weeks ago," lieutenant-colonel Peter Nilsson told the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper via telephone from Mazar-i-Sharif.

According to Nilsson, there have yet to be any incidents near the northern Afghan city which serves as the headquarters for about 600 Swedish soldiers deployed to take part in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan.

However, he added that there have been suicide-bomber attacks along the border to Pakistan and in Kabul.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid announced the offensive on Sunday in connection with a suicide bombing that killed four people and injured twelve.

The same day, Swedish troops were called in to support an Afghan military unit outside of Mazar-i-Sharif.

The Swedish soldiers faced small-caliber arms fire and rocket launchers in what became an intense firefight, according to GP.

On Tuesday, a Taliban commander referred to Rasiullah in Jowzjan province, where members of a Swedish Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) are stationed, and told the Expressen newspaper that while his comrades mourn the recent death of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader's passing wouldn't stop the Taliban from continuing its fight.

"It doesn't matter if he's dead. We're going to continue to fight until the intruders have left Afghanistan," he told the newspaper.

Sweden lost its fifth soldier in October 2010 since it first deployed troops in Afghanistan at the start of 2002.

In December, the Riksdag, voted to extend the country's military mission in Afghanistan until the end of 2011.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:50 May 5, 2011 by Grindsprint
God I´m thankful that we have no religious parties in sweden. Religion belongs in the dark ages
11:19 May 5, 2011 by HYBRED
Your telling God that religion belongs in the dark ages? Aren't you risking getting a bolt of lightning up your @ss?
11:45 May 5, 2011 by Grindsprint
Haha yeah, maybe... but so far nothing. Btw I posted my above comment to the wrong article. I have no idea how that happened :P
12:37 May 5, 2011 by countrysidedrive
Over the years I always admired that Sweden had no enemies. Sweden was neutral. Now I fear that Sweden is starting to make enemies. Its understandable to be apart of the EU for economic reasons but why does Sweden need to be in Afghanistan. I truly do not believe it is in the best interest of Sweden to take sides. I wish Afghanistan all the best but it is a crappy place and nothing anyone does will ever change that.
15:43 May 5, 2011 by Rishonim
Countrysidedrive, Sweden is a very large player in the weapon industry and most of their military technology is not for domestic use. They sell instruments to kill people so by definition they are involved whether you like it or not.
15:56 May 5, 2011 by Kevtravels
The Swedish govt should definitely consider sending more troops to increase their contingent in the North. They need more helicopters, some tanks, definitely more troops enabled for combat. At the very least they need more troops to train their Afghan counterparts.

It's a very interesting thing as the Swedes have no requirement to even have troops in Afghanistan since they're not a part of NATO but at the same time, they need to have enough capabilities. They're in the North which is tons safer than the South/East but at the same time their RoE is very limited and their German counterparts don't have enough capabilities to come to their rescue if it's needed.
16:29 May 5, 2011 by Rishonim
Why should their German counterparts would need to come to their rescue? All the need is to be armed and tons of cans of surströmming and they should be OK. They are in the military right?
17:09 May 5, 2011 by AHA
Bring our boys and girls back home before more lose their lives. There is absolutly nothing we can achieve there. People in military uniforms are always considered as a threat to the locals. And hey, bring back our planes and pilots from Libya too.
21:42 May 5, 2011 by Kevtravels
@Rishonin,

Well I can imagine the average Swedish soldier serving in Afghanistan haven't had much combat service at least compared to those of say the Danish or Norwegians or even the Germans. It's just a helpful note for the Swedes to have enough resources for their commitment. It's not like they'll send a thousand troops, but even a hundred more would help with their mission.
00:31 May 6, 2011 by Bender B Rodriquez
@ Kev: ISAF was initiated by the UN but is led by NATO. Sweden and other non-NATO nations are in Afganistan because it is a UN sanctioned operation.

The Danes operate alongside the British and have had the most casualties so far. The Norwegians operate alongside the Swedes and the Finns in Mazar-i-Sharif. In 2010 Swedish troops were involved in about 60 gunfights.
23:23 May 7, 2011 by wenddiver
Sweden is doing as much as the Germans, the Danes are a whole another war. They have gone after the Taliban like Terrier Dogs after rats. The Danes man for man may be the Best Army in Europe, very Battle Ready, or as the US says "ain't Scared". That said the British and Canadians were really great too.

The Brunt of the fighting has been with the US Divisions. They simply have the heavy lifting ability to get things done and hate the Talliban to a man.

Spring Offensive, ha, ha, the US would send them trucks to drive to battle in to get them to come out and fight. Every time they engage US Infantry Divisions they get slaughtered. Every time they plant a bomb, it is an admission they are unable to win a fight against US forces. They are losing in the actual fihting.
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