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November 22, 2015

Afghan probe says poor leadership let Taliban seize Kunduz

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November 22, 2015

KABUL: Afghan investigators blamed leadership failings on Saturday for the Taliban’s capture of the city of Kunduz in September, a finding that may deepen concerns about the government’s grip on security.
The Taliban’s seizure of the northern city was a major setback for the government of President Ashraf Ghani and prompted Washington to prolong the 14-year-old US military engagement in Afghanistan. “The biggest failure was the leadership,” Amrullah Saleh, a former chief of the national intelligence agency, told a news conference in Kabul.
“On the day of crisis, nobody knew who was in charge.”
Saleh, who was named by Ghani to head the investigation, did not single out military or government officials for blame but said he had proposed reform of the National Security Council - a body headed by the president that oversees national security.
Taliban militants, who are fighting to expel foreign troops and oust the US-backed government, held Kunduz for three days before government forces, backed by US troops and aircraft, drove them out.
Saleh said that the US air strikes had prevented the Taliban from capturing Kunduz airport. He did not refer to a mistaken US attack on a Kunduz hospital run by the Medecins Sans Frontieres aid group in which 22 people were killed. Saleh’s team found no evidence that government forces in Kunduz lacked ammunition or food, but he criticised what he called their “complicated structures”.
The government spokesmen were not immediately available for comment on the findings. The fighting in Kunduz drove tens of thousands of residents out of the trade gateway to Tajikistan and Central Asia, and dealt a heavy blow to slim hopes for peace.