At least ten people including an Afghani Defence Ministry Official have been killed in a series of rocket attacks, which struck central Kabul last Saturday. Over 50 other people were also injured in this assault which saw tens of rockets fired from the back of a truck. The interior ministry has also confirmed “sticky bomb” explosions had earlier been reported Saturday morning, including one that hit a police car, killing the policeman inside and wounding three others. ISIS have claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attack has been condemned internationally. Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the Secretary-General, said in a statement on Saturday that the UN chief expressed his deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to those injured. Pakistan has also been quick to reprimand those responsible for the attack with Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri stating “we convey our heartfelt condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives and pray for the early and complete recovery of the injured,” going on to “express [Pakistan’s] full solidarity and support for Afghanistan and its fraternal people”.
This attack adds to the sharp rise in violence felt by many Afghanis this year. 22 people were killed in another terrorist attack on November 2, after Daesh gunmen stormed Kabul University as Afghan and Iranian officials were inaugurating a book exhibition at the campus. Violent attacks have also been carried out by the Taliban, despite the peace deal made in February. Data gathered by the Ministries of Defence and Interior Affairs discovered that over the last six months, the Taliban has conducted “dozens of attacks across the country, including 50 suicide attacks in which over 1,200 civilians have been killed”.
Afghanistan’s most recent attack has come while Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State attends talks in Doha with senior Afghanistan officials and Taliban leaders, acting as an intermediary between the conflicting parties. In the last few days, the Pentagon has said they would be pulling some 2,000 troops out of Afghanistan, speeding up the full withdrawal of American troops to with an envisioned full withdrawal by mid-2021. Trump has repeatedly vowed to end “forever wars”, including in Afghanistan, America’s longest-ever conflict, which has seen American Troops on the ground since 2001.
Despite the boasts of US Defence Secretary Chris Miller, who was installed last week, that extremism has been defeated in Afghanistan, it is clear from these most recent set of vicious and indiscriminate attacks that it is plainly not. While it is imperative that peace talks must continue between the Taliban and Afghan state, US troops should be withdrawn from the county when it is able to support and protect itself from extremist groups such as ISIS and the Taliban who have active links to Al-Qaeda. Afghanistan is currently not in this position. America’s hasty withdrawal plans have concerned both American allies and Republicans for good reason. The head of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, warned of a “very high price” while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, usually a Trump enthusiast, called the plan “a mistake”.
People in Afghanistan are desperate for an end to horrific conflict which has not stopped for over 40 years. However, with the most recent bombings in Kabul and America’s determination to speed up the withdrawal of troops, it is understandably hard for Afghanis to see an end in sight.