NATO condemns Afghan attacks, says to stay as long as it takes

Other News Materials 11 February 2009 21:10 (UTC +04:00)

NATO strongly condemned Wednesday's terrorist attacks in Kabul, saying they provide further evidence that the Taliban insurgency does not seek the betterment of the Afghan people, dpa reported.

NATO spokesman James Appathurai said the attacks were "a very clear indication of what the Taliban intends for Afghanistan."

"They have slaughtered a number of civilians, they have attacked government institutions, they have made it very clear that their goal is not the betterment of the Afghan people," Appathurai said.

Several blasts and gunfire rocked the Afghan capital, killing at least 26 people ahead of a visit Thursday by US special envoy Richard Holbrooke.

 A senior police official said that a suicide bomber attacked the justice ministry, located in the heart of the city, while gunfire was also heard near the presidential palace.

A separate attack was also carried out against either a police or a foreign convoy in the northern part of Kabul, while witnesses spoke of another suicide bomber who was arrested before detonating explosives at the education ministry.

Asked about comments made to the German press by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who said foreign troops should leave his country by 2015, Appathurai said NATO "has no calendar".

"We want to play the role that we are playing as long as necessary, and not one day more," Appathurai said.

The spokesman also said there could be no direct talks with members of the Taliban who engage in "mass murder".

International troops have been present in Afghanistan under the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) since 2002, and NATO has been leading the operation since 2003.

The United States also runs a separate peacekeeping mission.