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Obama Offers Condolences for U.S. Deaths in Afghanistan

Taliban response

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2012 - President Barack Obama called the commander of the International Security Assistance Force today to offer condolences for the "tragic killing of U.S. troops" in Kabul and to discuss the ongoing violence in Afghanistan.

"On behalf of the American people, the president expressed his condolences to [Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen] and to the families who lost loved ones," White House officials said in a statement today.

Initial reports indicate that an individual turned his weapon against ISAF service members in Kabul City today, killing two service members, according to an ISAF Joint Command statement.

In Kabul, Allen made the decision to protect forces by instituting the recall of ISAF-Afghanistan personnel working in ministries in and around Kabul.

"I condemn today's attack at the Afghan Ministry of Interior that killed two of our coalition officers, and my thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the brave individuals lost today," the general said in the statement.

Allen said an investigation is under way and officials will pursue all leads to find the person responsible for this attack. "The perpetrator of this attack is a coward whose actions will not go unanswered," he said.

During the call, Obama thanked Allen for the steps he's taking to protect service members and civilians in Afghanistan, and "to encourage calm."

Earlier today, Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak offered condolences in a phone call with Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and apologized for the incident, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

"Secretary Panetta appreciated the call and urged the Afghan government to take decisive action to protect coalition forces and curtail the violence in Afghanistan after a challenging week in the country," Little said.

Wardak told Panetta that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was assembling religious leaders, parliamentarians, justices of the Supreme Court and other senior Afghan officials to take urgent steps to take such action, Little added.

The United States welcomes Karzai's statement encouraging peaceful expressions, and his call for dialogue and calm, the White House statement said.

"The United States remains committed to a partnership with the government and the people of Afghanistan, as we work to realize our shared goal of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaida and strengthening the Afghan state," the statement said.

(Cheryl Pellerin of American Forces Press Service contributed to this article.)


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