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High alert as Holbrooke lands in Kabul

US special envoy Richard C Holbrooke landed in Afghanistan on Thursday to help chart President Barack Obama’s strategy for peace a day after a bold Taliban assault...

Written by Agencies | Kabul |
February 13, 2009 3:18:47 am

US special envoy Richard C Holbrooke landed in Afghanistan on Thursday to help chart President Barack Obama’s strategy for peace a day after a bold Taliban assault demonstrated the insurgents’ ability to wreak havoc even in the tightly guarded capital.

Holbrooke flew in from Pakistan with tight security in the Afghan capital,a day after triple Taliban attacks on Government buildings killed 26 people and eight attackers.

A US Embassy spokesman confirmed Holbrooke’s arrival late in the day,but declined to give further details about his location or the schedule for his multi-day visit.

Holbrooke’s first visit to the country comes amid an increasing sense that the security situation is disintegrating in and around Kabul.

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One of Holbrooke’s roles as envoy to Pakistan and Afghanisatan to help the Obama administration to design a strategy that will combat Taliban regionally. He is set to meet President Hamid Karzai and other high-level officials.

Security forces in Afghanistan remained on high alert on Thursday,not only in preparation for the arrival of the US envoy,but also because a Taliban spokesman claimed eight bombers remained at large in the city and were still “looking for a chance”.

“Security measures have been increased 100 per cent,particularly at the gates of Kabul,” said Abdul Gafar Pacha,the head of the police criminal investigation unit.

In the east,a suicide bomber on Thursday blew himself up outside a police station in Sharan,the capital of Paktika province,killing an officer and wounding 10 others,the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

In Wednesday’s attack,Taliban fighters armed with guns,grenades and suicide vests,stormed through barricades at the Justice Ministry in the heart of Kabul and a corrections department building to the north. One attacker was killed before he could force his way into a third building,the Education Ministry.

Amrullah Saleh,the head of Afghanistan’s intelligence service,said the attackers sent text messages to a militant leader in Pakistan before the attack.

The attack in Kabul will renew the US resolve for a new Afghan policy that includes,among others,dealing with Pakistan. “We’re reminded today of the brutal tactics that extremists like the Taliban wish to employ. It hardens our resolve,but it also hardens our resolve to get the next steps in Afghanistan right,” White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs said on Wednesday.

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