The Pentagon says 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
Fighting in the Afghan capital and three eastern provinces began Sunday
afternoon and ended nearly 18 hours later early Monday.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the multiple assaults on
embassies, government buildings and NATO military bases. But both
Afghanistan's Interior Ministry and the Pentagon blamed the al-Qaida-linked
Haqqani network, which is said to operate out of sanctuaries in
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the attacks represented an
“intelligence failure for us, and especially for NATO,” and demanded a
But NATO and U.S. leaders described the response by Afghan forces as a
“sign of progress,” saying the attacks would not affect the plan to
gradually withdraw foreign troops from the country and transfer security
control to local forces.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard cited that progress on Tuesday when she
announced that her country's troops would begin withdrawing from
Afghanistan one year earlier than planned. Ms. Gillard said – thanks to
the success of the Afghan forces – most of her country's 1,550 troops
there would return home by the end of 2013.
Australia had previously planned to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan
by the end of 2014, when all foreign combat troops are scheduled to
leave the country. NATO and Afghan officials continue to work on a
long-term strategic agreement defining the presence of foreign troops in
Afghanistan following that date.
Meanwhile, 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.