Haqqanis behind attacks: Panetta
WASHINGTON (PAN): US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday said intelligence information available led to the belief that the Haqqani Network was responsible for the coordinated multiple suicide attacks in Afghanistan on Sunday.
“The intelligence indicates that Haqqanis were behind the attacks that took place. And we had received a great deal of intelligence indicating that Haqqanis were planning these kinds of attacks,” Panetta told a news conference.
After clashes ended on Monday morning, the government announced that 47 people, including militants, were killed and 65 others injured during the 19-hour fighting.
“Though the evidence leads us to believe that Haqqani network was involved in this, it doesn't lead back into Pakistan at this time. The Haqqani network exists on both sides of the border, so we're not prepared to suggest this emanated out of Pakistan. I mean, the evidence may at some point lead us there, but we're not there yet,” said Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“But there is a concern that they continue to find safe haven back in Pakistan. And that's the kind of situation that has concerned us and that we have made very clear to the Pakistanis it's not tolerable,” he added. Dempsey said Haqqanis have been in Pakistan for 20 years now.
Panetta said: “I think that there's no question that the Haqqanis have a base in Pakistan, but they also have, you know, moved across the border and have operated in enclaves in Afghanistan, as well.”
He added the US had always been concerned about the attacks that took place. “They reflect that the Taliban are resilient, that they remain determined.”
The secretary said the US policy in Afghanistan was on the right path, despite recent challenges. “I believe this relationship is on the right path. We are continuing to make progress on the strategic partnership agreement, as well.”
“There will be challenges, continuing challenges, as we saw over the weekend, but our partnership remains strong. The Afghans are providing greater security, and the strategy that Gen. Allen (commander of NATO-led troops) has put in place is succeeding,” he concluded.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.