Afghan war not becoming sectarian war: US diplomat

The US ambassador to Afghanistan said that he does not think this week`s deadly suicide bombing at a Shiite shrine in Kabul will spark a sectarian war between religious groups in the country.

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2011, 22:57 PM IST

Kabul: The US ambassador to Afghanistan
said on Sunday that he does not think this week`s deadly suicide
bombing at a Shiite shrine in Kabul will spark a sectarian war
between religious groups in the country.

In a briefing with reporters at the US Embassy in
Kabul, Ryan Crocker also said he believed that the attack was
likely to have been planned in Pakistan.

"I do not see this turning into a sectarian conflict
just looking at the reactions on the part of the Shia
leadership, calling for calm," Crocker said.

He said that Tuesday`s attack, which killed 56 people
and wounded more than 160 others, might have been orchestrated
by a consortium of militant groups outside the country.

"Virtually every significant attack I`m aware of where
I have gotten some information either came out of tribal areas
in Pakistan or (the southern Pakistani region of) Balochistan.
There does indeed seem to be a pattern," he said.

Many in Afghanistan blame the Pakistani militant group
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi for the attack, which occurred on the last
day of Ashoura, a Shiite festival marking the seventh-century
death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad`s grandson.

Crocker, who spent three years as US ambassador to
Pakistan, said he could not say authoritatively that the
bombing was carried by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

He said that the group was weak, and he doubted that
the group had any Afghan affiliate.

"They were a pretty seriously weakened organization
when I was there (in Pakistan)," he said. "It could have been
a consortium, but I don`t think it was a consortium that was
put together in this country."

PTI