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NATO Says Taliban Orders Attacks on Civilians

  • Sean Maroney

Coalition officials in Afghanistan say they intercepted a message from Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, ordering his followers to never surrender and kill any civilians suspected of helping the coalition forces. Earlier, a suicide bombing killed at least three people and wounded 35 others in Kabul.

Officials with the international forces in Afghanistan released details of a letter they say they intercepted from Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in early June.

According to the spokesman for the NATO-led ISAF forces, General Josef Blotz, Mullah Omar sent the letter from his alleged Pakistani hideout to his fighters in Afghanistan.

Blotz says the letter encourages Taliban insurgents to fight coalition forces to the death without surrender or withdrawal, attempt to capture coalition forces whenever possible, recruit anyone with access to the coalition and work to get more heavy weapons.

He also says part of the new orders target Afghan civilians. "Capture and kill any Afghan who is supporting and/or working for coalition forces or the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Capture and kill any Afghan women who are helping or providing information to coalition forces," he said.

Blotz says these new orders reverse Mullah Omar's edict from last year to avoid civilian casualties. "This proves the Taliban are willing to ignore their own code of conduct when they sense that they are losing influence and control. And make no mistake, that is what is happening as more Afghan National Security Forces take to the streets and more ISAF forces arrive to assist them," he said.

The Taliban did not immediately comment on the coalition statement.

Hours earlier, a suicide bomber attacked a little more than a kilometer away from the location of the ISAF press conference in Kabul. Afghan authorities say the attacker was on a bicycle when he detonated his explosives.

Mujtaba was an eyewitness to the attack. He says he was sitting in a nearby mosque when the explosion took place. When he went to the scene, he says he did not see any police. Mujtaba says he helped carry the victims to a nearby clinic.

The Afghan Interior Ministry says the attacker wanted to go after a very important target, but officials did not elaborate. While coalition forces do use the road where the bomb exploded, there was no major target in the area at the time.

The attack occurred despite heavy security before a major international conference scheduled for Tuesday in the Afghan capital. Representatives from about 70 countries are expected to attend.

U.S. officials say they hope the conference will highlight the Afghan government's plan to improve governance and stability in the war-torn country. Analysts expect it to focus on steps the Afghan government is taking to re-integrate militants into society and crack down on widespread corruption.