Brussels : The Taliban insurgency cannot be let off the hook for the devastating attack in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar that killed at least 43 civilians, NATO said Wednesday.
“They do not get to wash their hands of this,” NATO spokesman James Appathurai said, commenting on reports that the Taliban had denied responsibility for Tuesday’s attack.
“The Taliban carry out terrorist attacks on a regular basis throughout the country and host terrorist organisations that carry out terrorist attacks throughout the country. They cannot absolve themselves of responsibility for this attack, either directly or
indirectly,” Appathurai told reporters in Brussels.
A Taliban spokesman, Qari Mohammad Yousif Ahmadi, had earlier Wednesday condemned the attack, telling DPA that the organisation was “not involved”.
The Taliban often deny responsibility for incidents in which a large number of civilians lose their lives.
The blast, which is believed to have been triggered by a truck loaded with explosives, also flattened at least 12 houses and damaged several others. It set alight a wedding hall and broke windows as far as a kilometre away.
“(The attack) was obviously carried out without the slightest regard for civilian life and achieved tragic levels of civilian casualties,” the NATO spokesman said.
According to NATO figures, the Kandahar blast raised the total number of civilians killed by the Afghan insurgency during this week alone to 55.
By contrast, the number of civilians killed by the Taliban during election week was 45.
The number of civilians injured by insurgents totalled 236 last week and 76 since Monday, NATO said.
Security operations by the alliance’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) injured six civilians last week and none since Monday.
“I will continue to put into perspective the civilian casualties inflicted by other parties as opposed to ISAF,” Appathurai said.
This year has already become the deadliest for international forces operating in Afghanistan, with a total of 295 foreign soldiers killed to date, one more than 2008’s total.