Aid groups: Not able to operate due to rising violence; al-Qaeda commander killed in US air strike; Australia criticises NATO members for “underwhelming” response
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  • The Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR), an umbrella group of 100 aid agencies, stated on July 31 that it may not be able to operate in parts of Afghanistan due to the intensifying conflict. Noting that violence had increased by 50 percent compared to the previous year (with over 2,500 people being killed, nearly 1,000 of them civilians), the aid grouping pointed out that they were increasingly becoming the targets of militants1. Meanwhile, the French aid organization, Action against Hunger, revealed that two of their workers kidnapped on July 18 from their houses in Daykundi province in Central Afghanistan were released2.

    In continuing violence, one NATO soldier was killed in the southern province of Helmand on July 29. The nationality of the soldier was not confirmed. Three British soldiers were killed in the same province in the previous week3. Al-Qaeda also lost one of its commanders, Abu Abdullah al-Shami, to a US air strike. Al-Shami was one of the four al-Qaeda militants who had escaped from a US prison in Bagram, north of Kabul, in 20054. An explosion near a bus carrying a wedding party in the Spin Boldak area of Kandahar on August 2 killed at least 10 people5.

    Australia's Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon on July 29 meanwhile criticised some NATO member states for their "underwhelming" response to Afghanistan's ongoing problems. In particular, he expressed frustration at the refusal to commit extra troops by some nations, though he did not name them. Mr. Fitzgibbon also indicated that Canberra might be willing to send advisers to Pakistan to help fight the Taliban. Australia currently had about 1,000 troops operating in the country6.