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NATO Chief Says Alliance Could Help With Afghan Election Security


NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels on April 26.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels on April 26.

NATO says it could provide additional security during Afghanistan's parliamentary elections, amid increasing attacks in the country ahead of the October polls.

"Our main contribution to make sure that the elections can be held in a safe and secure way is to continue to provide support to the Afghan security forces with training, with advice and also with funding," alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels on April 26, on the eve of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

But Stoltenberg said NATO's involvement would be limited.

"Having said that, I also envisage a limited role for NATO forces to help to make sure that elections can be held in a safe way," he said.

Stoltenberg was speaking after 60 people were killed in a suicide attack on a Kabul voter registration center on April 22, and just one day after the Taliban announced their annual spring offensive.

The Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups since NATO's mission handed over responsibility for security in Afghanistan to local forces at the end of 2014.

The alliance still maintains a 13,000-strong training and support mission in the country, and it is also in the process of expanding its Resolute Support mission by 3,000 troops.

"The Taliban have to understand they can never win at the battlefield," Stoltenberg said.

"We will continue to train, to advise and to support Afghan national security forces and that will provide the framework, the conditions for the Taliban at some stage to sit down and negotiate for a peaceful solution."

Highlighting security concerns surrounding Afghanistan’s election process, Taliban militants ambushed and killed the deputy governor of the eastern province of Logar on April 26.

The attack that killed Qamar-u-din Shakeb and at least one of his bodyguards occurred in the Mohammad Agha district of the province, police said.

"He was on his way to Kabul when he was attacked," police official Asmatullah Alizai told RFE/RL, adding that his bodyguard was also seriously injured.

The Taliban insurgents, who control large swaths of Logar Province, claimed responsibility for the assault.

In another attack claimed by the Taliban, at least seven security officers were reported killed in raids against military checkpoints in the northern province of Kunduz.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and dpa