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Pentagon: Haqqani Network Behind 18-Hour Afghan Assault

April 16, 2012

VOA News

The Pentagon said Monday the Pakistani-based militant Haqqani network was likely behind the coordinated attacks across Afghanistan that claimed the lives of four civilians, 11 Afghan security personnel and 36 insurgents.

Fighting in the Afghan capital and three eastern provinces, Nangarhar, Logar and Paktia, began Sunday afternoon and ended nearly 18 hours later early Monday, when Afghan troops backed by NATO helicopters attacked a building in Kabul where the last militants were hiding.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the multiple assaults on embassies, government buildings and NATO military bases. But both Afghanistan's Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi and the Pentagon blamed the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network, which is said to operate out of sanctuaries in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region.

    Haqqani Network

  • FOUNDER: Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former anti-Soviet resistance commander.
  • BASE: North Waziristan, Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan.
  • TOP COMMANDERS: Siraj Haqqani, son of founder Jalaluddin Haqqani. Haji Mali Khan, uncle of Siraj Haqqani.
  • LINKS: U.S. officials have linked the network to Al-Qaida, Pakistani Taliban, and the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency.
  • THREAT: U.S. considers it one of the biggest threats to the U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan. It is blamed for many high-profile attacks, including last year's attack on a NATO base that wounded 77 U.S. soldiers, and the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

General Carsten Jacobson, the spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said the coordinated attacks all employed the same tactics. He said the goal of the attacks was not to militarily defeat the Afghan forces, but to shake people's confidence and instill fear.

Jacobson joined Afghan President Hamid Karzai in praising Afghan security forces' courage and their ability to defend the country that battled and defeated the insurgents. But Karzai also said the attacks were an "intelligence failure for us and especially for NATO" and demanded a full investigation.

The attacks came at a time of increased tension between coalition and Afghan forces over incidents, including the accidental burning of Qurans and a deadly attack by a U.S. soldier that killed 17 Afghan villagers.

NATO and U.S. leaders say that despite some setbacks, they are pushing toward completion of a long-term strategic agreement defining the U.S. presence in Afghanistan once all foreign combat troops leave the country by 2014. They described the response by Afghan forces to the latest attacks as "a sign of progress."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed the Afghan attacks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in a telephone call Monday. The State Department said Clinton underscored the "shared responsibility for robust action" by the United States, NATO, Afghanistan and Pakistan to confront militants.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks in the strongest possible terms. He noted the Afghan forces' efforts in responding to the attack and called on all parties to do everything possible to protect civilians.

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