Taliban hit Kabul, 7 dead after Obama visitAgence France-Presse . Kabul
Taliban bombers attacked a heavily fortified guesthouse used by Westerners in Kabul on Wednesday, announcing the start of their annual ‘spring offensive’ in defiance of calls from visiting US president Barack Obama that the war was ending.
Seven people were killed after attackers in burqas detonated a suicide car bomb and clashed with guards at the ‘Green Village’ complex of guesthouses used by the European Union, the United Nations and aid groups, officials said.
The assault raises fresh concern about the resilience of the insurgency on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death as NATO winds down its combat presence in the next two years and hands over responsibility for security to Afghan forces.
The Taliban said the assault was a riposte to Obama, who just hours earlier signed a new partnership pact in Kabul to govern Afghan-US relations after 2014 -- a deal the insurgents dismissed as ‘illegitimate’.
In an election-year address, Obama presented himself as a commander-in-chief capable of ending two long wars, following the US withdrawal from Iraq, and crushing al-Qaeda, and tried to conjure up a new dawn for a US public exhausted by conflict and recession.
‘This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end,’ Obama said, recalling a decade-long ‘dark cloud of war’ after bin Laden plotted the September 11 attacks in 2001.
‘Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon,’ said Obama, seeking a second White House term later this year.
Obama flew into Kabul in secret in the dead of night and signed the deal with President Hamid Karzai, cementing 10 years of US aid for Afghanistan after NATO combat troops leave in 2014. Most Afghans were asleep and he left after about six hours.
‘We look forward to a future of peace. We’re agreeing to be long-term partners,’ Obama said at Karzai’s palace.
The Taliban said Karzai had no right to sign the deal and accused him of selling Afghan sovereignty to the Americans.
The militants vowed to continue their armed struggle ‘against all the contents of this illegitimate document until the full withdrawal of all invading forces and their puppets’ — referring to the Karzai government.
The Green Village assault began around two hours after Obama left. Police said suicide attackers wearing burqas struck at 6:15am (0145 GMT), detonating a car bomb before clashing with guards. The interior ministry said seven people were killed, including at least six Afghans.
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