Italy to keep troops in Afghanistan

Italy has agreed to keep Italian troops in Afghanistan despite opposition from pacifists in the coalition government who have threatened to vote against the mission in parliament.

    The decree still needs parliamentary approval

    The government of Romano Prodi, the Italian prime minister, unanimously adopted a decree on Friday that extends financing for Italy's overseas military operations after it expires at the end of June.

    The debate over Italy's troops in Afghanistan has exposed divisions in Prodi's disparate coalition, which ranges from Catholic centrists to communists, less than two months after he assumed power following a razor-thin election victory.

    The decree will need parliamentary approval, and eight pacifists in Prodi's centre-left coalition have threatened to vote against the measure in the Senate, where the new prime minister has just a two-seat majority.

    "As far as I'm concerned, my vote stays decidedly 'no'," said Gigi Malabarba, a communist senator. But he said he would wait to see the text of the measure.

    Arturo Parisi, the defence minister, who had previously alarmed some allies by refusing to rule out troop increases, said on Friday there would be no increase in troops or financial obligations in Afghanistan.

    The government is expected to put the Afghanistan mission to a vote in parliament in mid-July. If the motion fails, it could trigger a government crisis.

    Italy has 1,300 troops in Afghanistan under a Nato-led mission.

    Attacks

    On the ground in Afghanistan on Friday, coalition forces attacked a Taliban safe house and killed 14 insurgents.

    Italy has 1300 troops under Nato
    command in Afghanistan

    A coalition statement said that soldiers tracked a group of insurgents to a compound in the Kamdesh district of Nuristan province in eastern Afghanistan.

    "The extremists were observed hiding and then coalition forces attacked them once they reached their safe house, destroying two buildings in the compound," the statement said.

    The statement said soldiers discovered the bodies of 14 fighters inside the compound. The coalition gave no details on the nationality of the soldiers.

    In a separate incident, Afghan and coalition forces raided a village in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar early on Friday, killing one suspected insurgent and detaining eight others.

    The military said that the raid in Gapozal village occurred after coalition officials obtained information from detained insurgents on where others might be hiding.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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