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Karzai faults Afghan intelligence -- and NATO -- in attacks

April 16, 2012 |  7:30 am

Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Monday that a series of tightly coordinated insurgent attacks that rocked the Afghan capital were the result of intelligence failures by his own government but “especially NATO.”

Afghan officials also said the Haqqani network, a virulent offshoot of the Taliban movement, was suspected of carrying out the marathon series of attacks in Kabul, as well as three eastern provinces.

Thirty-six insurgents were killed in the assaults, Karzai’s office said, together with 11 members of the Afghan security forces and four civilians. Dozens of others were injured in the fighting, which ended Monday morning, some 18 hours after the launch of staged near-simultaneous assaults on targets that included Western embassies, the Afghan parliament and the headquarters of the NATO force.

Afghan and Western officials made a point of praising the response of the Afghan police and army, saying they had fought off the attacks with almost no assistance from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. Karzai, in his statement, said the display of “valor and devotion” showed that Afghan forces are “capable of protecting their country.”

Still, the attacks, some of which were mounted from half-finished high-rises in the capital, indicated grave security lapses in what were supposed to have been some of the most tightly guarded areas of Kabul.

Karzai said he had ordered a full investigation of the intelligence failure. The Western military did not immediately respond to queries about the Afghan leader casting blame on the NATO force.

Western officials portrayed the attacks as a sign of inability on the part of the Taliban and other insurgent groups to confront coalition forces militarily. But the Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the assaults, gloated over the “fear and uncertainty” caused by the strikes, saying Afghan and NATO troops cannot guarantee anyone’s safety.

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--Laura King

Photo: Afghan soldiers inspect the scene of a heavy gunbattle between their forces and Taliban militants in the city of Logar on Monday. Credit: Junaid Logari / EPA.

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