4 years in Afghanistan, Turks suffer only 1 attack
A top U.S. general says violence has reached on all-time high in Afghanistan, but Turkey's foreign minister said Saturday that his troops have suffered only one attack in almost four years, AP reported.
Turkey, the Muslim nation with the highest number of troops and civilian workers in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, has some 800 troops in the country. A separate team of about 140 civilians carries out aid projects in a violent province just west of Kabul, a region where U.S. troops have faced dozens of attacks this year.
But Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkish troops and civilians face little danger here because of the relations that Turkish citizens have built with Afghans. The fact that the two countries share a common religion plays a part but is not the only reason, he said.
"If you give confidence to the people that you are here for civilian purposes, not just for security and you are not ... seeing them as a threat, this physical relationship is very important," he told The Associated Press in an interview. "We shouldn't give the impression to the people of Afghanistan that we see (them) as a possible threat."
The Turkish provincial reconstruction team based in the capital of Wardak province conducts reading, writing and computer courses for women. Turkey has also built 42 schools and about 25 hospitals in Afghanistan, Davutoglu said.
Davutoglu's advice to U.S. and other NATO nations seeking to tamp down rising violence in their regions of Afghanistan: ramp up nonmilitary projects.
"We see nonmilitary measures as important, even more important than the military and security issues," he said. "Sustainability of security could be achieved only through economic development, political stability and cultural coexistence."
The NATO-led force has a network of provincial reconstruction teams around the country manned by various countries. The teams concentrate on aid and construction projects.
Militant attacks have risen steadily in the last three years and have reached a new high. U.S. Gen. David Petraeus said Afghanistan saw 400 insurgent attacks during the first week of June. In comparison, there were less than 50 attacks per week in January 2004.