Mon, May 22, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Taliban hiding in Pakistan: Afghanistan


Afghanistan's foreign minister yesterday charged that Taliban leaders are living in Pakistan and coordinating terrorist strikes in Afghanistan from there -- the latest barb between the neighbors who are both US allies in the war on terror.

The comments by Rangeen Dadfar Spanta at a press conference in Kabul came after some of the deadliest violence here since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, including a suspected suicide car bombing in Kabul yesterday that killed at least three people.

"The leadership of the Taliban and other terror groups are living in Pakistan," he said.

Asked if the rebel commanders were coordinating attacks inside Afghanistan from there, Spanta said, "Exactly, that is the case."

"The movement and the communication during these terrorist attacks is from the other side" of the frontier, he said.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao contested the allegation.

"We deny the Taliban leaders are here," he said. "These kind of allegations will not help relations" between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Afghan-Pakistan relations soured earlier this year amid Kabul's accusations that Pakistan was doing too little to stop Taliban and al-Qaeda militants hiding on its side of the border from crossing into Afghanistan to attack Afghan and US-led coalition troops.

Pakistan and Afghanistan share a long border where Afghan and US officials say elements of the ousted Taliban regime are hiding. al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is also believed to be hiding in the mountainous region.

Spanta's comments came three days after President Hamid Karzai claimed Pakistani students were being taught to go to Afghanistan to burn down schools or medical clinics.

The often touchy relations between the neighbors deteriorated in February after Karzai gave Pakistan a list of Taliban figures supposedly hiding inside Pakistan and the locations of alleged terrorist training camps.

After Afghan officials publicized that they had shared the intelligence, President Pervez Musharraf retorted that the information was outdated and maintained that Pakistan -- a former staunch supporter of the Taliban militia -- was doing all it could to stop militants from launching cross-border attacks on Afghanistan.

In related news, a suicide car bomber struck near a coalition military base in Kabul yesterday, killing at least two civilians and wounding two others, police and witnesses said.

The car bomb exploded on a main road about 100m from a coalition military base used to train Afghan security forces.

"Today at 11:20am a Corolla taxi driven by a suicide bomber exploded ... near Camp Phoenix," interior ministry spokesman Yousuf Stanizai said. "As a result the bomber himself, a driver of a truck nearby and a civilian passer-by were killed."

The body of one of the civilians killed in the blast lay on the side of the road amid the remains of a vehicle that had apparently contained the bomb. Pieces of flesh, including a dismembered leg, littered the site.

The blast was on the main road between the capital and the eastern city of Jalalabad.

Most of the other suicide car blasts that have struck the capital in recent months have been on the same road and targeted at Afghan and foreign security forces.

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