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Taliban rebels get stern warning from NATO

NATO Secretary General De Hoop Scheffer issued his warning on the same day a bus bomb in Kandahar killed 10 civilians.

india Updated: Jun 16, 2006 15:20 IST

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has said, an upsurge in Taliban attacks in Afghanistan was aimed at "testing" Western public opinion and warned the alliance would take tough action against anyone trying to derail Afghan reconstruction.

De Hoop Scheffer, on a visit to Ottawa, issued his warning on the same day a bus bomb in Kandahar killed 10 civilians and injured 16 and amid the biggest offensive by US-led forces in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban militia in late 2001.

The NATO secretary general, whose organization in late July will take over security operations in the south of the country from the coalition forces, reaffirmed the mission's aim was to prevent Afghanistan from reverting to a state exporter of terrorism.

"The Taliban are simply testing Canadian public opinion, Dutch public opinion, UK public opinion, Australian public opinion," he said at a joint news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor and Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay.

But he added that NATO would know how to deal with those who want to stop the process of reconstruction in the war-torn country.

"The message to the spoilers -- be it Taliban, be it drug lords or warlords, whatever -- will be a very stern and strong message: 'You will not get it your way. You will be dealt with very robustly if necessary,'" he said.

NATO intends to work toward the reconstruction of Afghanistan, he said, but first a secure and stable situation must be created.

First Published: Jun 16, 2006 11:09 IST