As the guns fell silent and Afghans returned to the streets in the capital and other cities targeted in daring weekend attacks by militants, U.S. and Afghan officials pointed a finger of suspicion at the Pakistan-based Haqqani network.
The seemingly coordinated incidents, in Kabul and three eastern provinces, killed at least 11 Afghan government troops and four civilians and resulted in the death of 36 attackers, the government said.
Targets in the capital included the British and German embassies, prominent hotels frequented by Westerners, NATO's headquarters, and the Afghan parliament.
In the incidents in the provinces, the attacks appeared aimed at Afghan security forces and infrastructure.
The day after the attacks were launched, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said they represented an intelligence failure on the part of both Afghan and "especially NATO forces."
Tracking Down The Culprits
Interior Minister Besmillah Mohammadi said a militant arrested by Afghan police has confessed that the Haqqani network -- which has reported links to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and is thought to have been involved in the assassination in September of High Peace Council head and former Afghan President Burnahuddin Rabbani -- launched the attacks.
Afghan security personnel on April 16 cordon off the wreckage of cars in front of a building damaged by one of the Kabul attacks.
The Haqqani network is also thought to have been complicit in a June attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in which 12 people were killed.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also said the Haqqani network was behind the attacks. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Panetta suggested there had been "a great deal of intelligence" indicating that the Pakistan-based militant group, which has links to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, was planning a large-scale attack.
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said the intelligence was not specific enough to have thwarted the assault, however. He also said there is currently no indication that the attacks were planned on Pakistani soil.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for “robust action” by Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United States to put an end to such terror attacks.
Reports said Clinton called Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to underscore that the three governments have a shared responsibility “to confront and defeat terrorists and violent extremists."
In October, Clinton told Congress
that she and other U.S. officials had urged Pakistan's civilian and military leadership to "join us in squeezing the Haqqani network from both sides of the border and in closing safe havens."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on April 16 that he "condemn[s] these attacks in the strongest possibility terms," adding that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was "monitoring the situation."
"We need to strengthen the capacity of counterterrorism efforts and of Afghan national security," Ban said. "These issues will be discussed in detail at the forthcoming NATO summit in Chicago in May. The UN remains committed in supporting the efforts of the government to consolidate peace and democracy."
Cities Under Siege
In Kabul, a battle lasting around 17 hours came to an end in the early hours of April 16 after raids on militant positions in the Afghan capital involving NATO helicopters.
The militants' assaults in the capital included the use of rockets and mortars as well as suicide bombers.
Afghan government forces say they took control of Kabul's Shirpoor and Darulaman districts early on April 16 -- the last areas of fighting.
The Afghan Interior Ministry says that, in all, 36 militants were killed, along with eight members of the government's security forces and three civilians.
Afghan General Mohammad Ayub Salangi, the Kabul security commander, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that the raid early on April 16 saved dozens of civilians who were trapped in a building seized by militants.
"The situation has returned to normal in this area," Salangi said of the area of Darulaman. "The last remnants of the insurgents resisting in a building were killed. The good news for us is that about 35 people -- including workers and a woman who were stuck inside the building -- were saved unharmed. Only the woman was injured, and she was taken to the hospital. About five attackers were killed [there]."
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attacks, calling it the start of their spring offensive and saying they had help from allied militant groups.
PHOTO GALLERY: Images of the attacks:
Smoke billows from the site of an explosion in Jalalabad on April 15.
Afghan security forces coordinate their plans during the April 15 militant attacks in Kabul. (Sayedjan Sabawoon/Radio Free Afghanistan)
Afghan police take cover near a Kabul building targeted in the coordinated attacks by militants. (AFP/Shah Marai)
Smoke rises from a tower belonging to the British Embassy after gunmen launched the multiple attacks in Kabul. (REUTERS/Omar Sobhani)
Afghan police advance toward one scene of the attacks in the capital. (AFP/JOHANNES EISELE)
Police and security forces respond to the eruption of violence in Kabul on April 15. (Sayedjan Sabawoon/Radio Free Afghanistan)
An Afghan National Army soldier keeps watch near the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) as a NATO helicopter flies over the site of an attack in Jalalabad Province on April 15. (REUTERS/Parwiz)
Smoke billows near the Kabul Star hotel. (Sayedjan Sabawoon/Radio Free Afghanistan)
Soldiers on April 16 at a Kabul construction site where an explosion took place during a battle the previous day. (REUTERS/Omar Sobhani)
Afghan police take up positions during the fighting in Kabul. (REUTERS/Omar Sobhani)
An Afghan policeman takes up a position at the site of an attack in Kabul on April 15. (REUTERS/Omar Sobhani)
Soldiers from the Afghan National Army keep watch near a Provincial Reconstruction Team as smoke rises from the site of an attack in Jalalabad Province on April 15. (REUTERS/Parwiz)
An explosion at a construction site during one of the running battles in Kabul early on April 16. (REUTERS/Omar Sobhani)
Afghan security personnel secure the front of a damaged building a day after insurgents used the building to attack the parliament building in Kabul. (AFP)
Afghan policemen are reflected in glass from a broken window as they stand guard outside a building where Taliban fighters launched an attack. (AFP/JOHANNES EISELE)
Smoke rises from the site of an attack in Paktia Province. (REUTERS)
An Afghan policeman guards a site in Kabul on April 15. (REUTERS/Omar Sobhani)
A hand grenade lies on the floor next to a sandal inside a building where militants launched one of the Kabul attacks. (AFP/JOHANNES EISELE)
An Afghan policeman stands near the dead body of a suicide attacker in Kabul on April 16. (REUTERS/Omar Sobhani)
Security personnel on April 16 cordon off the wreckage of cars in front of a building at the site of one of the attacks in Kabul. (AFP)
Security officials inspect the body of a dead militant in Kabul on April 16. (EPA/S. SABAWOON)
Kabul residents have expressed shock at how dozens of armed insurgents managed to infiltrate the heavily fortified capital.
Officials of NATO's International Security Assistance Force were quoted late on April 15 as saying Afghan forces had handled the response to the Kabul attacks on their own.
But some Western observers say the use of NATO helicopters in the final assault raises questions about whether Afghan security forces will be able to handle a similar battle without NATO support after the scheduled withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, BBC, AFP, dpa, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, RFE/RL correspondents Richard Solash in Washington and Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels