updated 10/7/2003 6:21:32 AM ET 2003-10-07T10:21:32

Taliban militants may launch “more spectacular attacks” against American-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, a U.S. envoy warned Tuesday before calling on neighboring Pakistan to provide more help fighting the insurgents.

InsertArt(2034697)TALIBAN REBELS HAVE dramatically increased operations in recent months, attacking American soldiers, Afghan government officials and international aid workers, who have been forced to suspend reconstruction projects in several parts of the country.

“We know the Taliban have been more active in recent weeks and months and there are indications that they may be planning even larger attacks, more spectacular attacks,” said envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said.

“Our forces and our coalition partners are prepared to prevent and respond to any increased Taliban activity.”

But Pakistan needs to do “a lot more” to clamp down on Taliban sheltering on its side of the border, he said.

“Pakistan cannot become a sanctuary for the Taliban and al-Qaida people who want to attack Afghanistan,” Khalilzad said.

InsertArt(2034698)Pakistan’s army swooped down Thursday on a suspected al-Qaida mountain hideout in the country’s northwest — the military’s largest-ever offensive against Osama bin Laden’s network. Eight suspected terrorists were killed and 18 others were captured.

But Afghan and Western officials have long complained that the country’s porous border regions are a safe haven for militants, who cross back and forth to launch attacks.

TALIBAN THREATENED BY REBUILDING

The Taliban see the rebuilding of war-shattered Afghanistan as a threat, and that was the main reason for the recent spate of attacks, Khalilzad said.

“The Taliban see the building of roads and schools as a weapon against themselves,” he told Afghan journalists. “This indicates the kind of people they are and what they want for Afghanistan. They want to take it back. We will do everything we can to prevent them from succeeding.”

Khalilzad is in Afghanistan for about 10 days to meet with President Hamid Karzai and other officials concerning security and the political situation. He has been nominated by President Bush to be America’s next ambassador to Afghanistan.

There still are 11,500 U.S.-led coalition troops in the country, hunting down Taliban and al-Qaida militants holdouts who appear to have regrouped.

A separate, 5,000-strong NATO-led peacekeeping force is restricted to Kabul. Karzai’s government wants the force to deploy to other areas largely controlled by warlords and their private militias.

NATO leaders in Brussels, Belgium, are reviewing plans to deploy up to 10,000 peacekeepers to major provincial cities.

© 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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