Fears Taliban expanding in Afghan north, west

Eight Afghan police gunned downward at a checkpoint. Movement workers abducted. Spanish trainers shot dead on their base.

A gush of violence this week in provinces far from the Taliban's chief southern strongholds propose the insurgency is spreading, even as the top U.S. leader insists the coalition has upturned the militants' impetus in key areas of the ethnic Pashtun south where the Islamist pressure group was born.

Assault in the north and west of the country — though not militarily important — demonstrate that the Taliban are flattering a threat across wide areas of Afghanistan even as the United States and its associates mount a major effort to turn the tide of the near 9-year-old war in the south.

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