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Palace attack proves Taliban still going strong

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 25th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

With eight people killed, it's clear that the Taliban in Afghanistan is not about to go away. A gun battle at the gates of the Afghan presidential palace this week drives home the fact that the war here is far from over, in spite of the United States' efforts to end the conflict before pulling out troops in 2014.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The incident took place in Ariana square, near the presidential palace, where President Hamid Karzai was reportedly preparing for a speech that day.

Local forces fought off the attackers, killing all eight militants without calling for coalition help. The incident proved that the Taliban's fighting spirit remains unbroken as well as demonstrated their ability to bluff their way past two checkpoints and storm a highly fortified zone of the capital.

The attack is being seen as a setback to U.S. efforts to try to get Karzai's government to sit down with the Taliban to talk peace. U.S. President Barack Obama had a video conference with Karzai. The more than hour-long session touched upon the peace process and the newly opened Taliban political office in the Gulf nation of Qatar.

The Taliban has vowed that they would continue fighting even as they pursued peace talks, and the attack served to drive that home, Moeen Marastial, a political analyst and former member of the Afghan parliament said.

"The main point is the Taliban wants to show to the government of Afghanistan and to the world and to the powers who are working for the peace process that they are in power," Marastial said. "They can come close to the palace, they can come close to the places where NATO is, where American forces are -- they wanted to show to the world that 'we can do it.'"

In an email statement, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility, declaring that "eight of our suicide bombers were able to reach the most secure area of Kabul," identifying them by name and saying they were carrying hand grenades, a machine gun and rocket-propelled grenades.

"The brave mujahedeen, with special tactics and help from inside, were able to reach their target with their weapons and cars," he said. He said their targets were the CIA building, the palace and the Defense Ministry and claimed "a number of foreign invaders were killed and wounded in the attack."

Karzai denounced the attack, saying that the Taliban cannot simultaneously open an office for peace in Qatar and on the other hand kill people in Afghanistan.

"The enemies of the people of Afghanistan once again proved with their failed attack that they are against peace, stability and progress in Afghanistan," he said.

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