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'Brutal' Afghanistan attacks to renew US resolve: White House

A "brutal" spate of Taliban attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul that killed at least 26 people will renew US resolve to get right a new policy for the country, the White House said.

world Updated: Feb 12, 2009 12:02 IST

A "brutal" spate of Taliban attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul that killed at least 26 people will renew US resolve to get right a new policy for the country, the White House said on Wednesday.

"We are reminded today of the brutal tactics that extremists like the Taliban wish to employ," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

"It hardens our resolve, but it also hardens our resolve to get the next steps in Afghanistan right."

Gibbs spoke after Taliban militants launched suicide bomb and gun attacks on three Afghan government buildings in Kabul Wednesday.

The attacks killed at least 26 people in one of the radical group's most daring assaults on the capital.

The Afghan defense ministry said eight suicide attackers also died in the near-simultaneous strikes on the prisons directorate, and justice and education ministries, the deadliest insurgent attacks in Afghanistan so far this year.

The assaults came with Obama poised, in the first big military move of his presidency, to decide whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, after he vowed while campaigning to make it the main front in the struggle against terrorism.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Friday that despite a flurry of leaks in the newspapers, the president had yet to take any decision on troop numbers.

The White House said Tuesday that former CIA official Bruce Riedel would chair a broad policy review, with instructions to have it ready in time for a NATO summit in April.

The Pentagon also expressed disquiet about the attacks in Afghanistan, saying they were a "troubling" sign of the latest Taliban effort to undermine the Kabul government.

"These attacks were somewhat bold and brazen and troubling," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.

He said the US military would be "taking a look at these type of activities for any patterns."

"I'm sure the Afghan government will be taking a look at all aspects of this attack to find out why it was as successful as it was," he said.

"It was clearly a tragic series of attacks that took place."

He said that "terrorists have the advantage when you have people willing to kill themselves."

Whitman said he could not discuss possible security steps taken by NATO forces in Afghanistan in response to the assault by Taliban militants.

The assault came after a report issued earlier this month by the Defense Department that warned US-led forces lacked the troops and resources to control the south of the country, and that the insurgency was gaining momentum.

The report to Congress predicted the insurgents would most likely try to stage a high-profile attack, similar to the failed assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in April 2008.

If Obama is going to order more troops to the country within months, as US commanders have requested, he will need to act before a review of policy for Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan is complete, Gates said on Tuesday.