Peacekeepers vow to fulfil their mission in Afghanistan

KABUL: International peacekeepers vowed yesterday that they would “not step back a single step'' in their mission to provide law and order in the Afghan capital, a day after a suicide bombing killed four German soldiers and wounded 31 in the worst-ever attack on the security force. An Afghan civilian was also killed. 

“Let's make it absolutely clear that ISAF is here in Kabul because the situation is not yet stable and not yet 100% safe,'' said German Lt-Col Thomas Lobbering of the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF. 

Lobbering said ISAF had been receiving intelligence “for months'' indicating that suicide car bombers could strike, but ISAF officials stressed there was no specific threat before Saturday's attack, when a man driving an explosives-laden taxi pulled up alongside the peacekeepers' bus in eastern Kabul and detonated a bomb. 

“There is no single day without warnings. So the question the military here in Afghanistan have to answer is how to judge these warnings,'' Lobbering said.  

“What I can tell you is that we take them all very, very seriously.'' 

Added Dutch Lt-Col Paul Kolken, another ISAF spokesman: “There was not a specific threat. There are general threats of several kinds. But there was nothing to indicate there would be a car bombing on that day in that place.'' 

Several other attacks in the last few months involving grenades, rockets and assault rifles have resulted in light casualties among peacekeepers.  

Lobbering said 35 Germans were on the bus, most headed to the airport after completing six-month tours of duty in this country. Four soldiers were killed and the rest injured, but the toll could have been worse. 

“Due to the fact that they all wore their flak jackets, the number of people killed luckily is much less than one could expect otherwise,'' he said. – AP  

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