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US Defense Officials Condemn Attacks in Afghanistan - 2002-09-06

U.S. defense officials have sharply condemned Thursday's bloody bombing in Kabul, as well as the assassination attempt in Kandahar against Afghan leader Hamid Karzai. But the officials are disputing suggestions security conditions inside Afghanistan are deteriorating.

Air Force Brigadier General John Rosa, of the Pentagon's Joint Staff, is blunt in rejecting charges that things are going from bad to worse in Afghanistan. "I would not characterize it as getting worse, not better," he said.

General Rosa tells reporters the Kabul bombing and the Karzai assassination attempt were particularly visible incidents, and he acknowledges there have been other attacks over the past five months, apparently linked to remnants of the ousted Taleban, as well as the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Still, he says, U.S. and coalition forces are learning from the attacks, and conducting intelligence-gathering and weapons seizure missions.

General Rosa gives no details, but says some of those missions have been successful in averting attacks, before they could happen. "We keep that relatively close-hold [secret], because of the ways and the means we found that information out," said General Rosa. "But, there have been successes, and we continue to improve our tactics, techniques, procedures every day."

Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke says U.S. forces are working vigorously to promote greater stability, whether through their involvement with the international peacekeeping force, through training a new Afghan army or risking American lives on patrol. "Our participation in ISAF [peacekeeping force], creation of the Afghan National Army, the fact that we have thousands and thousands of people there, still to this day, who risk their lives every single day, trying to root out the remaining pockets of these people who do the kinds of things that they did yesterday," said Ms. Clarke.

ISAF, or the International Security Force for Afghanistan, is currently deployed only in Kabul. The Pentagon says it has no opposition to expanding the force outside of the capital. But U.S. officials say such an expansion would require more support from other countries.