BRUSSELS (AFP) - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday hailed the decision by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to transfer control over security in a fresh batch of areas to local forces."With this decision, the Afghan security forces will be taking the lead for security for 87 percent of the Afghan population and 23 of the 34 Afghan provinces," Rasmussen said in a statement."This is a significant step towards our shared goal of seeing Afghans fully in charge of their own security by the end of 2014," he added, referring to the agreed date for final handover of control. There are currently some 100,000 international troops in the country.The latest group of territories will be handed over progressively in the coming months.NATO is aiming to train 350,000 Afghan soldiers and police by the end of 2014 to ensure stability in Afghanistan, but challenges remain.The Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, but have waged an 11-year insurgency against Karzai's US-backed government.More than 1,000 Afghan soldiers died in action this year, the highest since the Taliban insurgency began, officials said Sunday.