Shortly before 16:00 local time, Tuesday, February 7th, as judicial workers were leaving the Supreme Court in central Kabul – the very institution meant to uphold the rule of law – an attack happened on its steps that darkened the lives of many Afghanis. A suicide bomber approached the heavily secured entrance near the parking lot of the courthouse, at just the right time to catch many of its staff and detonated a vest rigged with explosives – killing at least 20, injuring 41 more. Most of the victims were civilians, including three women and a child. Although there is no official confirmation of the responsible party for the attack, several government officials suspect the Taliban and are launching an investigation. This suspicion arises from several recent Taliban attacks on government officials and institutions, one of which was a suicide bombing at the same entrance to the Supreme Court in 2013 – an assault that claimed the lives of 17 people.
Just hours before the explosion at the Supreme Court, a roadside bombing in western Farah province killed a top government official on his way home from a mosque. The Taliban confessed to the attack. The group has repeatedly issued statements threatening the lives of Afghani judicial workers, after the execution of 6 convicted insurgents last May. Part of the Taliban’s resentment towards the judicial system stems from the court workers’ ability to issue execution orders – a capacity that the group believes excludes the workers from being recognized as civilians. The atrocious attack on Afghanistan’s Supreme Court comes one day after the United Nations issued a report expressing concern over the record number of casualties in the country. In particular, Kabul has recently become increasingly dangerous, with the majority of civilian casualties arising from the country’s capital. But why is this the case?
Afghanistan’s rise in casualties is considered to be the result of both Taliban and Islamic State militants gaining ground across the country, since the large-scale withdrawal of foreign combat troops. The Afghan government has been losing control of the national territory and has been struggling to contain the insurgency since the bulk of NATO troops withdrew in 2014. After the official end of the NATO-led invasion, Western allies have influenced the country’s judicial and law enforcement systems – compounding the resentment terrorist organizations harbor towards such institutions.
This hostility has increased the rate of insurgency by terrorist groups within Afghanistan, whose aim is to overthrow the government and remove all foreign influence from the country. Considering the majority of federal institutions are located in Kabul, it is not unreasonable to infer that a factor in the rise of violence in the capital is a direct result of this detail. The harsh winter months also contribute to increased terrorist attacks in larger cities, due to the drop in battlefield fighting. At the moment, identifying the culprit responsible for the assault should not be the most significant focus in decreasing the violence of this fragile land. Rather the goal of alleviating violence in Afghanistan might be more efficient, if traditional Afghani practices are combined with Western security – instead of the full adoption of Western style institutions. However, this is easier said than done.
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