The deadliest attack in Afghanistan since 2011 leaves at least 28 killed and more than 300 injured in Kabul. A Taliban suicide bomber blew up a vehicle packed with hundreds of kilograms of explosives around 9 am local time this past Tuesday, near the headquarters of a military unit. Immediately after the explosion, armed men assaulted the heavily-guarded compound, the onslaught lasted for a couple of hours until Afghan forces gunned down the assailants. In the evening, another explosion hit the city but no casualties were reported.
The security agency attacked is the National Directorate of Security (NDS), a security force that ensures protection of government ministers and VIPs. The violence in the heart of Kabul, close to other security compounds and most foreign embassies, raise serious questions about security in the capital, as the truck bomb should not have passed through security checkpoints and other measures. Interior Ministry spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, said it was a coordinated attack, and that having four car-bomb attacks in a week was worrying. This string of attacks seems to be seasonal and a tactic related to the peace talks that started last summer. Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani condemned the assault “in the strongest possible terms” in a statement from the presidential palace, located less than a mile from the blast.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the explosion through Zabihullah Mujahed, a Taliban spokesman. Last week, the group announced their ‘spring offensive’ and warned the Taliban would “employ large-scale attacks on enemy positions across the country”. These recent threats took place despite the efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, aiming to end the conflict Afghanistan has been suffering for decades. However, data does not bring numbers to combat pessimism, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, at least 600 Afghan civilians have been killed and more than 1,300 wounded along the first months of the year.
As aforementioned, Afghans are used to encounter violence when the spring comes, it normally marks the start of what is referred to as the ‘fighting season’. Last January, the countries involved in the peace talks (Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States) remarked “progress on a road map toward initiating peace talks with Taliban groups.” But today is a reminder of how far and hard it is to strike a deal. “Whenever the summer is gone we have a decrease in attacks in the provinces, and then the cities become the target,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi, following with “and whenever you hear about peace talks, you also see an increase in attacks.”
Roughly, Afghanistan does not know peace since before the Soviet invasion, decades of war and conflicts have devastated the country. This car-bomb hints Taliban fighters are closer each day, and it is plausible they are already at the outskirts of Kabul. This context brings an urgent need to bring peace to people who barely remember a peaceful environment.