The U.S. military is fully committed to its mission in Afghanistan and has no plans to change its strategy despite the recent deadly violence that has shaken already-fragile relations between Americans and their Afghan partners, the Pentagon said Monday.
Navy Capt. John Kirby, a military spokesman in Kabul, acknowledged that tensions are high after NATO troops inadvertently burned several Korans in a trash fire last week. Protests followed, with attacks that have killed four U.S. soldiers, including two officers murdered inside the Afghan interior ministry on Saturday.
"Clearly everybody's going to be a little more vigilant right now," Kirby said. "That's the right thing to do, it's appropriate to do."
Officials conceded that after Saturday's murders, the U.S. is not ready to allow its advisers to return to work at the Afghan offices. NATO, France, Britain and the U.S. pulled their advisers from the ministries after the shootings, which remains unsolved.
On Monday, the United Nations also scaled back its operations, moving its international staff from an office in the northern city of Kunduz that was attacked during protests Saturday, the organization said in a statement.
Kirby said the U.S. mission itself continues - and notes that the situation may be calming a bit, with fewer protests in the last two days, reports CBS News correspondent Cami McCormick.
But the attacks have continued. Nine Afghans were killed Monday when a suicide bomber rammed his car into the gates of a NATO base in eastern Afghanistan.
U.S. officials have apologized for the burning of the books.
CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark reports from Kabul that the hunt for the suspected gunman in that attack is ongoing. His home has been raided and family members detained.
A key part of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, notes Clark, is training up security forces and government ministries so the country can stand on its own. But when Americans can't trust the very people they're training, it puts the whole mission in jeopardy.
Pentagon press secretary George Little said the U.S. is taking "the long view" and that officials believe that the Afghans are committed to stemming the violence. The important thing, he said, is to sustain the progress that has been made against insurgents in the country.