U.S. warns Pakistan after suspected Haqqani attack

SAN FRANCISCO Thu Sep 15, 2011 11:19am IST

NATO and Afghan troops attend to casualties during a battle with Taliban insurgents who took over a building near the U.S. embassy in Kabul September 14, 2011. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

NATO and Afghan troops attend to casualties during a battle with Taliban insurgents who took over a building near the U.S. embassy in Kabul September 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Ahmad Masood

Related Topics

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Defence Secretary Leon Panetta warned Pakistan on Wednesday the United States would "do everything we can" to defend U.S. forces from Pakistan-based militants staging attacks in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials, including Panetta, suspect militants from the Haqqani network were behind Tuesday's rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul [nL3E7KE0HW], as well as a truck bomb last Saturday that wounded 77 American forces.

"Time and again we've urged the Pakistanis to exercise their influence over these kinds of attacks from the Haqqanis. And we have made very little progress in that area," Panetta told reporters flying with him to San Francisco.

He added, "I think the message they (the Pakistanis) need to know is: we're going to do everything we can to defend our forces."

Panetta, who was CIA director until July, has long pressed Islamabad to go after the Haqqanis, perhaps the most feared of the Taliban-allied insurgent factions fighting U.S.-led NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.

He declined to answer questions about what steps the United States might take to defend U.S. forces. But Panetta said he was concerned about the Haqqanis' ability to attack American troops and then "escape back into what is a safe haven in Pakistan."

"And that's unacceptable," Panetta said.

The CIA has had success targeting militants in Pakistan using pilotless drones, and Navy SEALs killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May during a covert raid in Pakistan. Last month, Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer, cited progress curtailing Haqqani movements within Afghanistan.

"I'm not going to talk about how we're going to respond. I'll just let you know that we are not going to allow these kinds of attacks to go on," Panetta said.

Pakistan's Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, has long been suspected of maintaining ties to the Haqqani network, cultivated during the 1980s when Jalaluddin Haqqani was a feared battlefield commander against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

While based in Pakistan's North Waziristan area on the Afghan border, Haqqani refrains from attacking the Pakistani state and is seen as a way to maintain Pakistani influence in any future political settlement in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials including Panetta have played down the significance of Tuesday's attack on Kabul's diplomatic enclave, which showered rockets on Western embassies in a dramatic show of insurgent strength.

It was the longest and most audacious militant attack on the Afghan capital in the decade since the Taliban was ousted from power and a stark reminder of insurgents' resources and reach as Western forces start to return home.

Panetta stressed the attacks themselves were repelled by Afghan forces and inflicted a limited number of casualties. The U.S. military has cited gains against the Taliban in the past year, particularly in southern Afghanistan.

"These kinds of attacks -- sporadic attacks and assassination attempts -- are more a reflection of the fact that they're losing their ability to be able to attack our forces on a broader scale," Panetta said.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Economic Pulse

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Deregulation Impact

Deregulation Impact

Private fuel retailers to dip toe, not dive back, into India.  Full Article 

Control The Message

Control The Message

Modi chooses state media as his brand of choice.  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

Nigeria declared Ebola-free, holds lessons for others.  Full Article 

Inside Kobani

Inside Kobani

Turkey to let Iraqi Kurds reinforce Kobani as U.S. drops arms to defenders.  Full Article 

Apple Earnings

Apple Earnings

Apple's iPhone sales beat Street but iPad volumes slide.  Full Article 

Lingering Issue

Lingering Issue

Unfinished war in Sri Lanka threatens paradise regained.  Full Article 

Royal Baby

Royal Baby

UK's Prince William and wife Kate expecting baby in April.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage