Kabul, Oct 18: Afghan security forces and their NATO allies have launched a new push against the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network along the troubled Pakistani border, senior defence officials said today.
The United States recently accused the Haqqanis of orchestrating a 19-hour siege of the US embassy in Kabul, a September truck bombing on a NATO outpost that wounded 77 Americans and a June attack on Kabul's InterContinental hotel.
US commanders say the network is their most potent enemy in eastern Afghanistan and increasingly capable of launching high-profile attacks in Kabul. It is an Afghan Taliban faction, loyal to Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
Afghan Defence minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said operation “Knife Edge” was launched two days ago, while a senior defence ministry official said it was “largely against the Haqqani network”.
Washington last month dramatically escalated pressure on Pakistan to crack down on the Haqqani network, with the then military chief Admiral Mike Mullen accusing Pakistani intelligence of involvement in the embassy siege.
The allegations caused damaging diplomatic rifts as the West seeks to end the 10-year war in Afghanistan.
The Afghan ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the operation was tied to the recent spats between Washington and Islamabad, but gave no details about its scale.
A NATO spokesman confirmed only that “enhanced official operations” were ongoing “to reduce the select insurgent network” in the eastern region that borders Pakistan, but offered no operational details for security reasons.