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Taliban leaflets urge uprising

11,500 foreign troops are in Afghanistan looking for al Qaeda and Taliban members

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KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan's deposed Taliban regime has called on the police and army to join the hardline group in its campaign against President Hamid Karzai and U.S.led forces, said an Afghan official on Monday.

Leaflets urging an uprising have been distributed in the southern province of Zabul -- the former strong-hold of the toppled Taliban, said Mohammad Omar, deputy governor of Zabul.

"For the past several days we have been seeing these leaflets here," Omar told Reuters news agency.

"They have called on the army and police force to join the Taliban to fight Karzai's government and coalition forces instead," he said.

The pamphlets threatened that those who failed to follow the Taliban's orders would be killed, said Omar.

"At the beginning, the wording is very mild and encouraging, but by the end they threaten death to those who do not listen to the Taliban," Reuters quoted Omar as saying.

Taliban guerillas and supporters have grown in numbers and confidence in the south of the country in recent months, causing concern to Western officials.

Although Omar believes that no one has defected from the police and army to the Taliban, numbers in the forces have decreased due to unpaid salaries since the arrival of Karzai in 2001 -- after the Taliban was overthrown by U.S.-led coalition forces.

Last week, Khalid Pashtun, a senior government official, said that Taliban fighters had been conducting small-scale operations in the region for the past few months.

Afghan officials are convinced an increase in attacks on troops and aid workers in Afghanistan this year has been masterminded in Pakistan, and have urged Islamabad to do more to catch Taliban and al Qaeda members hiding on its territory.

On Saturday, four people were killed -- including three German peacekeepers -- in a suicide attack on a bus near Kabul.

U.S. Central Command said 36 people -- including eight members of the International Security Assistance Force -- were injured when a suicide bomber's vehicle approached the bus and detonated.

An estimated 11,500 foreign troops are in Afghanistan searching for remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda -- the group blamed for the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

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