Panetta Supports ISAF Personnel Recall After Kabul Murders

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2012 — After learn­ing this morn­ing of the mur­ders of two U.S. mil­i­tary offi­cers serv­ing in Kab­ul, Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta backed the deci­sion to recall Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force-Afghanistan per­son­nel work­ing in min­istries there, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle said today.

“This act is unac­cept­able and the Unit­ed States con­demns it in the strongest pos­si­ble terms,” Lit­tle said.

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

It is ISAF pol­i­cy to defer casu­al­ty iden­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­ce­dures to the rel­e­vant nation­al author­i­ties.

In Kab­ul, ISAF Com­man­der Marine Corps. Gen. John R. Allen made the deci­sion to pro­tect forces by insti­tut­ing the recall.

“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,” Allen said in the state­ment.

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

“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.

In Kab­ul, Allen met with Afghan Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Bis­mil­lah Khan Moham­ma­di, who offered con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies and apolo­gies. The min­is­ter pledged his com­plete coop­er­a­tion in inves­ti­gat­ing the tragedy and in tak­ing stronger mea­sures to pro­tect ISAF per­son­nel.

The gen­er­al 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.

In an inter­view today from Kab­ul, Pen­ta­gon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kir­by said nei­ther the attack nor the per­son­nel recall would deter the Unit­ed States from its over­ar­ch­ing mis­sion in Afghanistan.

“All of the part­ner­ship and the train­ing we’re con­duct­ing with Afghan secu­ri­ty forces con­tin­ues,” he said. “The very impor­tant work we are doing through­out the coun­try in Afghanistan con­tin­ues.”

The nation remains com­mit­ted to a part­ner­ship with Afghanistan, Allen said, and to reach­ing “our com­mon goal of a peace­ful, sta­ble and secure Afghanistan in the near future.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)