KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai marked the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. on Saturday by insisting the origins of the continued Taliban insurgency are not in Afghanistan.
Karzai did not mention neighboring Pakistan by name, but it was clear he was referring to the insurgent sanctuaries there when he said the war should "focus on the sources and the origins of terrorism."
He said by focusing on Afghanistan, the coalition endangers Afghan civilians who were freed from Taliban rule in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that followed the 9/11 attacks. He urged NATO to do everything to avoid civilian deaths.
"The villages of Afghanistan are not the origins and the sanctuaries of terrorists," Karzai said. "Innocent Afghan people should not be the victims in the fight against terrorism."
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Civilian deaths are a flashpoint issue in Afghanistan because they seriously undermine support for the war. Karzai has repeatedly urged NATO to take all necessary measures to protect civilians. NATO says it is doing all it can to avoid innocent casualties, but says insurgents often use civilians as human shields during attacks.
The Taliban issued a statement Saturday in which the 9/11 anniversary was mentioned. For nine years "Afghanistan has been burning in the flames of the invasion of the American invaders that started under the pretext of avenging the September event," the statement said.
Meanwhile, fighting continued Saturday in different parts of Afghanistan.
NATO said in a statement that together with Afghan forces it destroyed multiple enemy positions in the Zharay district of southern Kandahar province, the hotbed of the Taliban insurgency.
The targets were around the village of Ghariban, an area "plagued with improvised explosive device activity and populated with insurgents," the statement said.