Karzai chides Nato over attacks as siege ends

Karzai chides Nato over attacks as siege ends

Karzai chides Nato over attacks as siege ends

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Monday that a coordinated Taliban attack showed a “failure” by both Afghan intelligence and especially by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), as heavy street fighting between insurgents and security forces came to an end after 18 hours.

Battles which broke out at midday on Sunday gripped the city’s central districts through the night, with loud explosions and gunfire lighting up alleys and streets.

“The fact terrorists were able to enter Kabul and other provinces was an intelligence failure for us and especially for Nato,” Karzai’s office said in a statement, which also strongly condemned the attack.

Though the death toll was relatively low considering the scale of the assault, it highlighted the ability of militants to strike at high-profile targets in the heart of the city even after more than 10 years of war.

Karzai echoed his Western backers by praising Afghan security forces, saying they had proven their ability to defend their country — a task which will increasingly fall to them as foreign armies reduce the number of their troops in Afghanistan. The president’s office said 36 insurgents were killed in the attacks which paralysed Kabul’s government district, and which targeted three other provinces in what the Taliban called the start of a spring offensive. One fighter was captured.

Eleven members of the Afghan security forces and four civilians were killed in the well-planned attacks in Kabul and the eastern Nangarhar, Logar and Paktia provinces, it said.

The attacks were also another election-year setback  for US President Barack Obama, who wants to present the campaign against the Taliban as a success before the departure of most foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.

Meanwhile, Afghan interior minister Bismillah Mohammadi said the Pakistan-based Haqqani network is suspected to have carried out the brazen suicide attacks on western embassies and Parliament. He said that one of the militants arrested during the latest attacks had told the authorities that al-Qaeda linked Haqqani network was behind the assaults.