Kabul: The top brass of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has blamed the Pakistani Taliban for staging the 20-hour siege in Kabul that left at least 16 people dead.
Gunfire began close to the US embassy Tuesday, coinciding with blasts from improvised explosive devices. The attackers fired rockets at the embassy, the ISAF building and at the Tolo TV office.
The siege ended Wednesday. At least 16 people died. Among them five were police officers and 11 were civilians that included six children, according to ISAF commander Gen. John Allen.
"The complexity of the attack and the way in which it was executed suggest this was probably a Haqqani-instigated attack," Allen said at a press briefing.
The Haqqani network -- closely allied with the Taliban -- is a group of 3,000 militants based in North Waziristan in Pakistan and three of Afghanistan`s eastern provinces. It is also a crucial ally of the al Qaeda.
Allen said the attack was a military failure but also a propaganda victory for the terrorists.
US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker has downplayed the assault, saying the militants were only capable of what he called "harassment", firing six rocket-propelled grenades at the embassy from a distance of 800 metres. No embassy staff were wounded.
The Haqqani have been blamed for high-profile attacks in Kabul and elsewhere in Afghanistan, including the bombing of the Indian embassy in 2008, which killed 54 people.