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Holbrooke damns ‘desperate, ruthless’ Taliban


New Delhi : US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke Monday strongly condemned a wave of suicide blasts in the heart of the Afghan capital, saying it was the handiwork of “ruthless Taliban” and extremist groups operating in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Well, it’s not surprising that the Taliban do this sort of thing. They are desperate people, they are ruthless,” Holbrooke, on a brief visit to India, told reporters when asked about Monday’s blasts in Kabul that killed and wounded a number of people.

“The people who are doing this will certainly not survive the attack, nor will they succeed. But we can expect this sort of thing on a regular basis…” he said.

“They are part of a set of extremist groups operating in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and they do these desperate things all the time, everyone here in India knows,” he stressed.

A massive explosion shook the Afghan capital Monday morning at 11:20am amid a wave of gunfire and bomb attacks and clashes between Taliban-linked militants and security forces.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. “It is our work, the targets are the (presidential) palace, the finance, justice and mines ministries, and the central bank,” a purported Taliban spokesman, Baha’ullah Mustachio, told an international news agency by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Holbrooke Monday met External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and discussed ways of stabilising Afghanistan ahead of the London conference Jan 28. The conference will be co-hosted by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.