A recent round of bloody attacks in Afghanistan is aimed at disrupting the ongoing peace efforts in the country, with Taliban extremists and their allies focused on keeping the country in turmoil through the pullout of NATO forces, according to U.S. and Afghan officials.
On Sunday, six Afghan police officers were targeted and killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan. On Friday, insurgents attacked guests and security at a lakeside hotel on the northern outskirts of the nation's capital, Kabul, killing 18 people.
The attacks are expected to escalate in the upcoming months as the commander of the U.S.-led coalition, Marine Corps. Gen. John Allen, prepares to withdraw 23,000 American troops by the end of September.
That will leave roughly 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
"[The Taliban] know Americans are drawing down and they are working to shake the foundation of the country," said an Afghan official in Kabul. "People are afraid of the uncertainty, and the Taliban is moving deeper and deeper into secured areas of the country."
At least four American soldiers were killed and nine others wounded in insurgent attacks at checkpoints last week.
In a worrisome trend, many of the recent attacks have been perpetrated by the Afghan security forces that are supposed to take over for withdrawing NATO troops.
Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said that so far this year there have been 17 attacks, in which 24 NATO soldiers were killed.
A U.S. military official said the "attacks reflect increased capabilities, as well as desperation, of the insurgents, who have been infiltrating secured areas over the past year with more frequency in preparation for NATO withdrawal."
Sara A. Carter is The Washington Examiner's national security correspondent. She can be reached at email@example.com.