(KABUL, Afghanistan) — In spite of an intelligence failure that didn’t foresee Sunday’s multi-pronged attack in Kabul and other Afghan cities, President Hamid Karzai praised his forces for repelling the start of the Taliban’s annual spring offensive.
While the coordinated series of attacks appeared to take everyone by surprise, the NATO coalition decided to allow Afghan soldiers and police to take the lead in fighting the militants, much to the pleasure of Karzai and other government officials.
Karzai said on Monday that the response shows that his security forces can handle the enemy once coalition troops begin to leave Afghanistan en masse.
The 18-hour siege across the country was the most extensive since militants attacked various embassies in Kabul last September.
Dozens of enemy fighters were killed Sunday while the Afghan government reported the deaths of eight security forces and four civilians.
Meanwhile, it’s believed that the Haqqani network, a long-established insurgent group from Pakistan that has allied itself with the Taliban, was actually behind Sunday’s long assault, given its history of focusing attacks on Kabul.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta suggested on Monday that the Haqqani network coordinated the attacks.
Karzai acknowledged an intelligence failure on his country’s part but put most of the blame on NATO for not knowing when and where the attacks would take place.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN