Shaken by the latest suicide bombing in Kabul which left 16 people dead, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has admitted that the "enemy is not eliminated" and expected more such attacks to test the West's will to secure the war-ravaged country.
"The enemy is defeated, but it is not eliminated. The elimination part is what we should continue to work on. And that needs patience.
That needs perseverance and that needs hard work," he told Time magazine shortly after the blast which killed 16 people, including two US soldiers, on Friday.
The ferocity of the suicide car bomb attack was such that it rocked the floor of the Presidential Palace a mile away, where Karzai was sitting down for an interview with the magazine.
Karzai, "struggling to maintain his composure" minutes after the blast, condemned the attack and lamented the loss of life but "adamantly" rejected any suggestion that security situation in the country was deteriorating, Time said.
He said he expected more such attacks to test the West's will to secure his country, according to the magazine.
"Look, we have enemies," Karzai said. "The same enemies that blew up themselves in London, the same enemies that blew up the train in Madrid or the train in Bombay or the twin towers in America are still around. Before September 11 they were the government in Afghanistan.
Today they are on the run and hiding and they come out from their hiding and try to hurt us when they can manage it."
Taliban forces, the magazine said, have mounted a surprisingly strong resistance to an ongoing NATO operation near Kandahar in which both sides have suffered substantial casualties.
The bombings in the capital Kabul "looks to be the insurgents lashing out against us for the pressure we are putting on them in the south," said Luke Knittig, a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force.
"Conventional warfare is taking its toll down there, and they know the importance of the capital."
With NATO still finding its feet just a month after taking control of the south from US forces, the magazine said the Taliban appeared determined to do its utmost to test the appetite of the Western alliance for a sustained and messy counter-insurgency campaign.
But Knittig insisted that the alliance would not be swayed. "NATO has signed on the line for a long-term commitment to Afghanistan."