US General Abizaid says Pakistan Not Aiding Taliban

Abizaid says Pakistan not aiding Taliban
Online News, Islamabad

KABUL: A coalition air strike in southern Afghanistan killed a Taliban commander and 15 other militants, the U.S. military said.

A top American general, meanwhile, said insurgents are still using neighboring Pakistan as a base for infiltration.

Insurgents killed a NATO-led coalition soldier in southern Helmand province Sunday, NATO said. It did not provide the soldier’s nationality or details of the clash. Another NATO soldier and six Afghan troops were wounded when mortars hit their base in neighboring Kandahar province Sunday, NATO said.

Two French soldiers were killed and two others were wounded in the volatile east on Friday, while at least 13 other insurgents were killed in clashes with police and NATO in the south, the U.S. military said.

On Saturday, Canadian troops in the south mistakenly killed a policeman and wounded six other people, including two civilians, according to NATO.

Afghanistan is experiencing its worst bout of violence since the late-2001 ouster of the Taliban regime for hosting al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. More than 1,600 people, mostly militants, have died in the past four months, according to an Associated Press tally of violent incidents reported by U.S., NATO and Afghan officials.

Four rockets slammed into west Kabul on Sunday, one landing near a police station and another damaging a house, but nobody was injured, police said.

Gen. John Abizaid, commander of the U.S. Central Command, said militants are using Pakistan as a base from which to infiltrate into Afghanistan, but he said the Pakistani government is not conspiring with them.

"I think that Pakistan has done an awful lot in going after al-Qaida and it’s important that they don’t let the Taliban groups be organized in the Pakistani side of the border," he told reporters in Bagram, where the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan is located.

Abizaid said he "absolutely does not believe" accusations of collusion between Pakistan’s government and the resurgent Taliban rebels or other extremists.

"You do not order your soldiers in the field against an enemy in order to play some sort of a game with neighboring countries," he said.

Afghanistan repeatedly has criticized Pakistan for not doing enough to prevent Taliban militants and other rebels from crossing the poorly marked border.

Pakistan, a former Taliban supporter but now a U.S. ally in its war on terrorism, says it does all it can to tackle insurgents and has deployed 80,000 troops along the frontier.


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