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U.S. official promises expanded oversight in Afghanistan

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. official promises expanded oversight

President Obama's special inspector general for Afghanistan said in Kabul on Tuesday that his team is boosting its staffing as U.S. aid money into the country grows -- along with the potential for fraud and abuse.

"We are ramping up," retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Arnold Fields said at a news briefing at the U.S. Embassy. He said that his team of investigators and auditors will expand to 118 this year and that he has received preliminary White House approval for 132 personnel next year.

Advertising the team's hotline number and Web site address (http://www.sigar.mil) for the public to report corruption, Fields said, "We are interested in finding any individuals who are bilking the government of the United States, the government of Afghanistan, or any government."

The United States has poured about $40 billion in development aid into Afghanistan since 2001 and the international community has invested about $20 billion.

-- Keith B. Richburg

SRI LANKA

Woman shot dead in election attack

Gunmen sprayed bullets Tuesday at a bus carrying supporters of the main opposition candidate in Sri Lanka's Jan. 26 presidential election, killing a woman, the candidate's office said.

The death of the 60-year-old woman was the first in election-related violence, but the United States expressed concern that such attacks are on the rise.

Nine people were wounded in the attack, which candidate Sarath Fonseka's office blamed on President Mahinda Rajapaksa's supporters.


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