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While there has been no final decision on the size of the post-2014 force, U.S. and NATO leaders say they are considering a range of between 8,000 and 12,000 — most of them trainers and advisers.
The Taliban have already sought to disrupt the political process as Afghanistan’s various ethnic groups prepare to field candidates to run in the presidential elections. President Hamid Karzai is banned by the constitution from seeking a third term.
The Taliban have increasingly targeted Afghan government officials in recent attacks, including an assault on Wednesday on a courthouse and government offices in western Farah province. Forty-six people were killed, including two judges, six prosecutors, administration officers and cleaners working at the site.
The Taliban have said civilians working for the government or the coalition are legitimate targets, despite a warning from the United Nations that such killings may violate international law.
They also have been staging complex attacks in Kabul and other urban areas. On March 14, the Afghan intelligence service seized a massive truck bomb packed with 7,257 kilograms (8 tons) of explosives on the eastern outskirts of Kabul. The truck apparently was going to be used in an attack on a NATO facility in the capital.
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