NATO: Taliban chief has lost control of insurgents

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Dozens of civilians, NATO coalition troops and Afghan security forces were killed and wounded Wednesday when a suicide attacker blew himself up in a bazaar, according to the top commander of international troops in Afghanistan, who alleged that the Taliban’s leader had “lost all control” of his footsoldiers.

U.S. Gen. John Allen condemned the attack in Kajaki district of Helmand province and said it was evidence that the insurgents had “declared outright war” on the Afghan people. While the Taliban work to intimidate civilians and kill anyone aligned with the Afghan government, the U.S.-led coalition emphasizes that civilians deaths should weaken the Taliban’s appeal.

Daud Ahmadi, a provincial spokesman, said a suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed 12 Afghans, including two policeman, and wounded at least 23 other people.

A statement released late Wednesday by NATO headquarters in Kabul said the explosion killed and injured dozens of Afghan civilians, Afghan national security forces and coalition troops. The statement did not disclose further details about how many foreign troops had been killed or wounded.

“With today’s horrendous attack at the Kajaki Sofla Bazaar, insurgents have once again destroyed the lives of dozens of innocent Afghan civilians,” Allen said in the statement. “These attacks against the people of Afghanistan have no effect on the progress we are together making here with our Afghan partners and will only further isolate the Taliban from the process of peace negotiation.”

Taliban leader Mohammad Mullah Omar “has lost all control over Taliban insurgents, otherwise he would immediately denounce these attacks and order his forces to stop attacking innocent Afghan civilians,” Allen said.

More than a year ago, Omar, the Taliban’s one-eyed, reclusive leader, did urge his fighters to try to avoid killing innocent civilians.

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