By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 22, 2012 – Defense Department and International Security Assistance Force officials have condemned the brutal attack in Afghanistan on the lakeside Spozhmai Hotel west of Kabul in which terrorists killed civilians and took hostages.
Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, ISAF commander and commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, said in a statement issued today that the Haqqani terrorist network is linked to the attack.
“Afghan National Security Forces and coalition military sources acknowledge that this attack bears the signature of the Haqqani network, which continues to target and kill innocent Afghans and blatantly violate Afghan sovereignty from the safety of Pakistan,” Allen said.
"Our condolences go out to the families and loved ones of those defenseless Afghans who were murdered in their sleep during the early morning hours of Jum'ah [Friday of the Muslim week] by the enemies of peace in Afghanistan,” the general added.
Allen said he was extremely impressed with the Afghan police and special-response units who arrived quickly to secure the scene and liberate civilian hostages.
“While we provided minimal support at the request of the Afghan security forces,” the general said, “there should be little doubt about their ability and capability to protect the Afghan people in the years ahead."
At the Pentagon, Press Secretary George Little and Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kirby condemned the brutal attack in the strongest terms.
“We’re talking about civilians who were merely trying to enjoy some time beside a lake,” Little told reporters here. “This is yet again a barbaric act perpetrated by the Haqqani network. And I would also note, as Gen. Allen at ISAF did, that the [Afghan National Security Forces] responded effectively.”
Kirby said Allen has been very aggressive, “particularly in the last several months, on targeting the Haqqanis inside Afghanistan.” Kirby added there were no reported ISAF casualties during the attack.
The Haqqani network, based in Pakistan, is allied with the Taliban and it often targets Afghan and coalition troops in Afghanistan, officials said.
Little said defense officials have “continued to press the Pakistanis to take action on their side of the border to prevent the safe haven [there] from remaining a safe place for terrorists to operate.”
“We would like for [Pakistanis] to do more,” he added. “We’ve communicated that, and we’d like to cooperate with them in finding ways to pursue militants that threaten Afghans, threaten ISAF forces and threaten Pakistanis.”
At this stage in negotiations with the Pakistani government, Little said, “the real focus is on trying to drive closer U.S.-Pakistani cooperation to bring pressure to bear against the Haqqani network and other militants who operate along the Afghan-Pakistan border.”