April 15, 2012. David Pugliese - Defence Watch
Natalie Stechyson, Postmedia News, has an update on the attacks in Afghanistan:
All Canadians in Afghanistan are safe and accounted for after a wave of coordinated attacks by the Taliban on Sunday, Canadian officials say.
The attacks in the capital city of Kabul, claimed by Taliban insurgents to be the start of a spring offensive, targeted areas that house Western embassies, government buildings and NATO bases.
“All Canadian personnel, including personnel at the Embassy of Canada, have been accounted for and are safe,” said Emmanuelle Lamoureux, a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and will take appropriate measures to ensure the security of our personnel.”
Explosions and gunfire rocked Kabul as suicide bombers struck across the city.
The German and Japanese embassy compounds were reportedly hit as militants attacked the city’s diplomatic enclave and tried to storm parliament — sparking a gun battle in which lawmakers and bodyguards fired back from the rooftop.
The embassies of the United States and Britain were also targeted, the spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, General Carsten Jacobson, said.
Representatives of those embassies said all of their nationals were accounted for.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai was moved to a safe area and his palace went into lockdown, officials said. The embattled president was discussing the budget with a group of lawmakers when explosions and gunfire rocked three locations in the capital, including an upmarket diplomatic enclave close to his fortified palace, one of his aides said.
The attacks included a failed attempt to target one of Karzai’s deputies.
Outside the capital, militants attacked government buildings in Logar province, the airport in Jalalabad, and a police facility in the town of Gardez in Paktya province.
At least three attackers were killed in Kabul, and three others died when they detonated their car-bomb in Jalalabad — injuring several people — officials and police said, as fighting continued.
A Taliban spokesman said “a lot of suicide bombers” were involved in the attacks, which herald the annual fighting season that follows Afghanistan’s harsh winters.
Zabihullah Mujahed, a Taliban spokesman, told Agence France-Presse by phone from an unknown location, that the attacks were a message to the Kabul government and its Western military backers.
“The Kabul administration and the invading forces had said some time ago that the Taliban will not be able to launch a spring offensive. Today’s attacks were the start of our spring offensive,” he said.
The attacks will raise fears over the precarious security situation in Afghanistan as NATO prepares to withdraw combat troops by the end of 2014.
Canada, like most NATO allies active in Afghanistan, is aiming to wind down its military involvement in that country by that year.
NATO has about 130,000 troops supporting Karzai’s government against the Taliban insurgency, but they will pull out by the end of 2014, handing control of security to Afghan forces.
— With files from Agence France-Presse