Assertions put Western troops in danger: Dunford
KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai's recent anti-American remarks led the US top commander in Afghanistan on Wednesday to issue a strong worded warning to Western troops to intensify security measures as the assertions had put them at greater risk of attack both from rogue Afghan security forces and from militants.
A copy of the advisory from Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. obtained by The New York Times came amid a growing backlash against Karzai's public excoriation of the United States. In a speech on Tuesday, Karzai suggested that the government might unilaterally act to ensure control of the Bagram Prison if the United States delayed its handover.
His remarks also drew criticism from political leaders who on Wednesday issued a joint statement saying Karzai comments did not reflect their views.
"His remarks could be a catalyst for some to lash out against our forces - he may also issue orders that put our forces at risk," Dunford told his top commanders in the advisory.
The New York Times said some senior American military officials confirmed the advisory was genuine, although they said it had not been intended to be released publicly. They said threat advisories were circulated routinely, one directly from the commanding general was unusual.
The threat advisory specifically mentioned Karzai's comments about Bagram Prison, calling it an "inflammatory speech," and warning commanders to be on guard against heightened insider attacks by Afghan forces against Westerners, as well as opportunistic Taliban violence.
An ISAF statement issued to Pajhwok Afghan News said the alliance routinely conducted assessments and adapted its protection posture to ensure the forces were prepared to meet potential threats and that they have a common understanding of the situation in Afghanistan.
"This advisory was prudent given increased coalition causalities in recent days. General Dunford's e-mail is simply an example of this vigilance," the force explained, referring to recent surge in violence including an insider attack that killed two American servicemembers and a bombing that struck the capital just after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived for a visit last week.
In the American threat advisory, Dunford expressed concerns about the strain between the countries, saying they were at a rough point in the relationship. He said the contretemps could encourage insurgents, given that the Taliban and other groups "are also watching and will look for a way to exploit the situation - they have already ramped up for the spring."
In the latest outbreak of violence, a suicide bomber on Wednesday targeted a crowd after a match of buzkashi, in northern Kunduz province. The attack killed the police chief, Abdul Qayoum Ibrahimi, his son, his father and seven other people. Ibrahimi was the brother of the speaker of the Parliament, Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, and of Abdul Latif Ibrahimi, a presidential adviser. They were not present, but their father was also among the dead.
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