On 27 January 2018, a bomb killed 103 people and injured countless others in Afghanistan. The attack occurred between two major checkpoints in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, where insurgents loaded an ambulance with explosives. They entered the city’s first checkpoint after the driver allegedly informed guards that they were taking a patient to the hospital. Upon reaching the second checkpoint, the insurgents then detonated the explosives inside the ambulance. The blast occurred on a busy street, which is surrounded by several large government buildings, businesses, a school, and a hospital. Ahmed Naweed, a witness of the attack, said “There were many dead bodies and blood everywhere. People were crying and screaming and running away.”
According to Al Jazeera, witnesses reported that reverberations from the bombing were felt miles from the site of the attack, while smoke quickly engulfed the city. Jennifer Glasse, a journalist on the ground, reported that “In the immediate aftermath of the attack, we saw bodies scattered across the street. The hospitals were inundated with the wounded and officials fear the death toll may rise.” She went on to say that officials have deemed the attack “a massacre,” and the government of Afghanistan declared a National Day of Mourning for the victims. The Taliban have since claimed responsibility for the attack.
This is the third deadly incident that has occurred in Afghanistan at the hands of the Taliban over the past several weeks. On 21 January 2018, merely a week earlier, at least 22 people were killed in an assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. It is reported that five gunmen, all of whom were wearing suicide vests, entered the luxury hotel with the intention of killing foreigners and Afghan officials. A spokesman for the Taliban claimed that the insurgents originally planned to attack the hotel a few days earlier, but then postponed it to avoid a wedding ceremony that was taking place at the hotel. The group allegedly wanted to avoid civilian casualties during the wedding, as it was specifically targeting foreigners and government officials.
Security experts claim that the Taliban may be using these attacks as a way to retaliate against the Western-backed government’s efforts to drive out militant groups. The United States has supported these efforts, both by increasing air strikes and sending more troops to Afghanistan. Additionally, President Trump recently sanctioned four Taliban and two Haqqani-network leaders that were involved in these terror operations. Afzal Ashraf, a fellow at Nottingham University’s Centre for Conflict, Security, and Terrorism, argues that the group is reminding the world that it “remains a force to be reckoned with.”
It is evident that alternative strategies must be implemented in Afghanistan in order to prevent further bloodshed. These frequent attacks have forced Afghan residents to live in a state of constant fear, as they are never certain when or where the next bombing will take place. As a result of this violence, there is an incomprehensible toll on the mental and physical health of Afghan citizens, and thus greater strides must be made toward adopting peace-building initiatives in this war-torn nation.
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