Kabul protest after Taliban kill 21 Afghan soldiers

AFP , Wednesday 26 Feb 2014

File Photo: Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers conduct a mine clearing operation outside Kunduz in December 2009 (Photo: Reuters)

About 200 people protested in Kabul on Wednesday against the killing of 21 soldiers by Taliban militants as Afghanistan faces up to the prospect of fighting the insurgents alone after this year.

The massacre in the eastern province of Kunar triggered widespread patriotic tributes to Afghanistan's fledging security forces as they take over responsibility for crushing the Taliban's bloody 13-year insurgency.

"The situation makes me angry," Zohra Mousawi, a 20-year-old student at the protest, told AFP.

"Nobody cares about them, every day we have people who die and our president doesn't care," she said. "I blame him."

The protesters chanted "Taliban are not our brother but our enemies" and "President, are you with us or with the enemy?"

US President Barack Obama told President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday that Washington is now planning for a full US troop withdrawal by December because of the Afghan leader's repeated refusal to sign a security pact.

But Obama also held out the possibility of agreeing a post-2014 training and anti-terror mission with the next government in Kabul, following April elections.

After the attack on Sunday, Karzai blamed Islamabad for failing to crack down on Taliban safe havens in Pakistan, where militant leaders seek sanctuary from Afghan and US military operations.

In a separate rally on Wednesday, dozens of people protested outside the Pakistani embassy, accusing Pakistan of supporting the Taliban.

About 55,000 NATO combat forces are preparing to withdraw by the end of this year.

But some 8-12,000 US troops could still be posted to Afghanistan from 2015 on the training and anti-terrorism mission if the security pact is signed.

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