KABUL Suspicion falls on Haqqani
As the guns fell
silent on Monday and Afghans returned to the
streets in the capital and other cities targeted
in daring weekend attacks by militants, United
States and Afghan officials pointed a finger of
suspicion at the Pakistan-based Haqqani network.
The seemingly coordinated incidents, in
Kabul and three eastern provinces, killed at least
11 Afghan government troops and four civilians and
resulted in the death of 36 attackers, the
Targets in the capital
included the British and German embassies,
prominent hotels frequented by Westerners, the
headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO), and the Afghan parliament.
In the incidents in the provinces, the
attacks appeared aimed at
Afghan security forces
The day after the
attacks were launched, Afghan President Hamid
Karzai said they represented an intelligence
failure on the part of both Afghan and "especially
Tracking down the culprits
Interior Minister Besmillah Mohammadi said a
militant arrested by Afghan police had confessed
that the Haqqani network - which has reported
links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban and is thought
to have been involved in the assassination in
September of High Peace Council head and former
Afghan president Burnahuddin Rabbani - launched
The Haqqani network is also
thought to have been complicit in a June attack on
the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in which 12
people were killed.
United States Defense
Secretary Leon Panetta also said the Haqqani
network was behind the attacks. Speaking to
reporters at the Pentagon, Panetta also said there
had been "a great deal of intelligence" indicating
that the Pakistan-based militant group was
planning a large-scale attack.
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General
Martin Dempsey, said the intelligence was not
specific enough to have thwarted the assault,
however. He also said there is currently no
indication that the attacks were planned on
United States Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton called for "robust action"
by Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US to put an end
to such terror attacks.
Clinton called Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina
Rabbani Khar to underscore that the three
governments had a shared responsibility "to
confront and defeat terrorists and violent
In October, Clinton told the
US Congress that she and other US officials had
urged Pakistan's civilian and military leadership
to "join us in squeezing the Haqqani network from
both sides of the border and in closing safe
United Nations secretary general
Ban Ki-moon said on April 16 that he "condemn[s]
these attacks in the strongest possibility terms",
adding that the United Nations Assistance Mission
in Afghanistan was "monitoring the situation".
"We need to strengthen the capacity of
counter-terrorism efforts and of Afghan national
security," Ban said. "These issues will be
discussed in detail at the forthcoming NATO summit
in Chicago in May. The UN remains committed in
supporting the efforts of the government to
consolidate peace and democracy."
Cities under siege In Kabul, a
battle lasting around 17 hours came to an end in
the early hours of April 16 after raids on
militant positions in the Afghan capital involving
The militants' assaults
in the capital included the use of rockets and
mortars as well as suicide bombers.
government forces say they took control of Kabul's
Shirpoor and Darulaman districts early on April 16
- the last areas of fighting.
Interior Ministry says that, in all, 36 militants
were killed, along with eight members of the
government's security forces and three civilians.
Afghan General Mohammad Ayub Salangi, the
Kabul security commander, told RFE/RL's Radio Free
Afghanistan that the raid early on April 16 saved
dozens of civilians who were trapped in a building
seized by militants.
"The situation has
returned to normal in this area," Salangi said of
the area of Darulaman. "The last remnants of the
insurgents resisting in a building were killed.
The good news for us is that about 35 people -
including workers and a woman who were stuck
inside the building - were saved unharmed. Only
the woman was injured, and she was taken to the
hospital. About five attackers were killed
The Taliban have claimed
responsibility for the attacks, calling it the
start of their spring offensive and saying they
had help from allied militant groups.
Kabul residents have expressed shock at
how dozens of armed insurgents managed to
infiltrate the heavily fortified capital.
Officials of NATO's International Security
Assistance Force were quoted late on April 15 as
saying Afghan forces had handled the response to
the Kabul attacks on their own.
Western observers say the use of NATO helicopters
in the final assault raises questions about
whether Afghan security forces would be able to
handle a similar battle without NATO support after
the scheduled withdrawal of foreign forces from
Afghanistan by the end of 2014.