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Taliban losing ability to attack broadly, Panetta says
Insurgent attacks like
the one at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan’s capital of
Kabul yesterday indicate the Taliban are losing their ability
to attack coalition forces on a broad scale, Defense Secretary
Leon E. Panetta said today.
The attack was a concern, Panetta told reporters, but the Afghan
security forces responded well.
“Any time [insurgents] can make their way into Kabul or
into the capital, that’s cause for concern,” the
secretary said, “but at the same time, the force … responded
quickly, casualties were limited, and we were able to basically
defeat their effort.”
Seven insurgents were killed during clearing operations, along
with four insurgent suicide bombers. Five Afghan National Police
officers and 11 Afghan civilians, about half of them children,
also were killed in the attack, and another 19 Afghan civilians
A small number of coalition forces were injured, but none fatally,
Panetta said he was participating in a secure video teleconference
with Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, the top U.S. and NATO commander
in Afghanistan, when the attack began.
“In talking to General Allen and asking him for an assessment,” Panetta
said, “he basically said that overall we have continued
to reduce the violence level in Afghanistan, [and] we continue
to seriously weaken the Taliban through our operations.”
Allen’s view, “and I share it,” the secretary
said, “is that these kinds of attacks -- sporadic attacks
and assassination attempts -- are more a reflection of the fact
that they are losing their ability to attack our forces on a
The attackers, Panetta said, may be from the Taliban-affiliated
“We obviously suspect that the Haqqanis were involved,” he
said, “but we’re still trying to get clear evidence
The Haqqani network claimed credit for a large truck bomb that
exploded Sept. 10 near a combat outpost in Afghanistan’s
Wardak province, he added, wounding 77 U.S. soldiers and killing
five Afghans, including a child.
Panetta said he’s concerned about the Haqqani attacks
because they’re killing people and because the attackers
escape into a safe haven in Pakistan.
“That’s unacceptable,” the secretary said,
adding that members of the network need to know that the United
States is going to do everything it can to defend its forces.
U.S. officials have made little progress as they’ve urged
the Pakistani government “time and again” to exercise
its influence over the Haqqani network, he told reporters.
“We are not going to allow these kinds of attacks to go
on,” Panetta said.
The secretary arrived here today to participate in the annual
U.S.-Australia Ministerial Consultations.
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