- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2003

From combined dispatches — KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan President Hamid Karzai blamed foreigners yesterday for a car bombing that killed four German peacekeepers in Kabul, his latest attempt to dispel the view abroad that the Taliban is making a comeback.

His interior minister pointed the finger of blame for instability in Afghanistan at Pakistan, saying training camps and staging posts for attacks continued to operate there.

Attacks on aid agencies, peacekeepers and U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan since the fall of the hard-line Taliban regime in 2001 show no sign of letting up. The attack Saturday on German peacekeepers was the worst against the security force.

“I am not worried about the resurgence of the Taliban,” Mr. Karzai said at a news briefing at the presidential palace in Kabul. “The Taliban movement as a movement is finished, is gone.”

“Are we concerned about terrorist activities of the kind that occur at the borders or inside Afghanistan, of the kind that happened the day before yesterday? Yes.”

Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali was more specific.

“The one thing we learned so far is that the terrorists and anti-government elements cannot stay for long inside the country, so they take refuge in these areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border,” he said at the same briefing.

“We hope that Pakistan security forces who are also committed to fight terrorism will intensify their activities to go after these terrorist centers, including training areas, staging areas and also areas where some of their leaders are residing.”

The frequency of attacks on foreign and Afghan targets across the south and in the capital in recent months have led many commentators to speak of a Taliban resurgence.

Earlier yesterday, a provincial official in the restive southern province of Zabul said the Taliban was calling on the army and police to join the hard-line Islamic movement in its campaign against Mr. Karzai and U.S.-led forces in the country.

The removal of land mines has been suspended in many areas because of threats and violence. The 5,000-member International Security Assistance Force in Kabul has stopped using buses to transport troops around the city since the incident on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Pakistan yesterday complained to Afghanistan about the bodies of 22 Taliban suspects being dumped on its side of the border.

Afghanistan brought the bodies to the Pakistani town of Chaman after a battle Wednesday in which seven Afghan soldiers and 40 Taliban suspects died.

Afghan officials say they took the bodies to the border to give Afghan refugees living in camps in Chaman a chance to identify them. No one claimed the remains, and Afghanistan took them back.

Pakistan summoned Afghan Ambassador Naunguyalai Tarzi to the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad to protest the action. None of the dead was a Pakistani citizen, a spokesman said.

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