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NATO chief condemns Taliban strike on Kabul

RIA Novosti


BRUSSELS, January 19 (RIA Novosti) - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has condemned a series of attacks by Taliban militants in the Afghan capital of Kabul that killed at least five civilians and police officers and wounded over 70 others.

"Those who committed them made it clear, in their choice of targets, that their aim is to reverse the progress that Afghans are making in building better lives and a better future...They also illustrated their total disregard for the lives of Afghan citizens," Rasmussen said.

According to local police, some 20 Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers attacked on Monday a number of buildings in downtown Kabul, including the Afghan finance and justice ministries, a bank, a cinema and two shopping centers.

At least 10 militants were killed in the ensuing 6-hour gun battle with security forces in the heart of the Afghan capital.

Violence surged in the country in 2009, with the radical Islamic Taliban group staging regular attacks on provincial government officials, police and civilians and planting roadside devices as part of its fight against U.S. and NATO troops.

As of October 2009, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) comprised about 67,700 troops from 42 contributing nations to defeat the Taliban and establish law and order in the war-torn Central Asian country.

A separate U.S. contingent, involved in Operation Enduring Freedom, has a total of 68,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Last December, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States would send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in the first part of 2010.

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