KABUL - Insurgent attacks in Afghanistan from July through September fell by 26 per cent from the previous summer, a senior NATO official said, reasserting the US-led coalitions claims that violence is decreasing a decade into the Afghan war, reported McClatchy Newspapers on Sunday. For five straight months ending in September, the number of attacks by insurgents targeting the Afghan government and coalition forces declined from the previous year, the first time thats happened since at least 2008, said the official, who briefed reporters on condition of being granted anonymity. However, overall attacks remained markedly higher than in 2009, before the US troop surge. What youre seeing is the effect of two hard years of fighting, the official said, referring to the deployment of 30,000 additional US soldiers - primarily in the Talibans traditional southern heartland - whose presence alongside a growing number of Afghan forces disrupted insurgent networks, hideouts and weapons caches. We started to set the conditions, we started to put the pressure and now were seeing this decrease. So I think this is pretty dramatic. The official acknowledged that overall violence nationwide remains high, but the statistics by the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, served as something of a rebuttal to a United Nations report released last month that found that the average number of 'security incidents per month had risen by 39 per cent over the previous year. The UN report also found that civilian casualties had risen five per cent in June, July and August from the same months last year, after a 15 per cent hike for the first six months of the year. The UN data includes some categories of attacks that coalition forces dont count. Asked to explain the discrepancy with UN figures, the NATO official said, I dont know how they collect their data. I dont compare mine to theirs. While the coalitions optimism was certain to be greeted skeptically by war-weary Afghans, NATO said the decline in 'enemy-initiated attacks - including direct and indirect fire, roadside bombs and mine explosions - was mainly the result of US-led forces stepping up operations in southern Afghanistan beginning in the spring of 2010, breaking through belts of roadside bombs laid by insurgents. US commanders expected the insurgency to adapt by carrying out more spectacular attacks such as assassinations and bombings inside the capital, Kabul. More than 130 prominent Afghans - ranging from tribal elders to former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, killed in his Kabul home last month - have been assassinated this year, a 60 per cent spike from 2010, according to ISAF figures. But such high-profile attacks represent just one per cent of the overall violence, the NATO official said. Of 15 high-profile incidents in Kabul this year, he said that 11, including Rabbanis assassination, were 'planned, facilitated and directed by the Haqqani insurgent network based over the border in Pakistan. With 10,000 mostly non-combat US troops withdrawing by years end, and an additional 23,000 departing by next September, the official said that the gaps would be filled by a larger and increasingly capable Afghan army. But he acknowledged that the security gains were tenuous. This is real progress but I still classify it as fragile, he said. If we dont continue to put pressure, then it could be reversible. And durability is the big question.