Another Bloody Sunday in Afghanistan
Frisking villagers has clearly not helped curtail the violence in Afghanistan
NEW DELHI: It was another bloody Sunday in Afghanistan as a suicide car bomber killed four Afghan security personnel and injured more than a dozen others when their convoy was attacked in southern Helmand province. The attack followed a bomb explosion that wounded two civilians in neighbouring Kandahar.
A day before on Saturday, the UN condemned the killing of of a family, as well as the driver of the taxi they were travelling in when the vehicle hit a pressure-plate improvised explosive device planted on a road in the eastern province of Nangarhar. "The use of indiscriminate, victim-activated bombs in civilian populated areas is an outrage," said the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Nicholas Haysom. "The use of indiscriminate weapons must stop immediately."
These have been the first few attacks by militants in Afghanistan after the formal end of the US-led mission that concluded at the end of 2014. The Taliban, who are waging a war in Afghanistan, declared the defeat of the US and its allies in the 13 year Afghan war. "ISAF [The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force] rolled up its flag in an atmosphere of failure and disappointment without having achieved anything substantial or tangible," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement emailed on Monday.
“We consider this step a clear indication of their defeat and disappointment,” the Taliban statement said. “America, its invading allies ... along with all international arrogant organisations have been handed a clear-cut defeat in this lopsided war.” The Taliban went on to slam the US and its allies for unleashing a “fire of barbarism and cruelty” that had drowned the country “in a pool of blood.”
The militants have also stepped up attacks, with 2014 being the worst year yet in terms of civilian casualties. A recent report by the United Nations has said that at least 3,188 Afghan civilians have been killed in the conflict in Afghanistan in 2014, making the year the deadliest yet in terms of non-combatant casualties.
Compared to the same period last year, civilian deaths were up 19 percent and had already surpassed the previous high set in 2011, when 3,133 civilians were killed. Further, for the first time ground battles between the Taliban and Afghan forces became the main cause of civilian deaths, opposed to planted bombs -- the leading cause of civilian casualties in previous years.
About three-quarters of civilian casualties were caused by Taliban insurgents, who have stepped up efforts to re-establish control by targeting security forces in Afghanistan.
Recent attacks have included an attack on the EU police mission in Kabul that killed two civilians and injured eleven others earlier this month. Last year in December, in Nangarhar province, on the border with Pakistan, an attack killed at least eleven people. Other attacks include a suicide attack in Kabul that killed one person, an attack on a bank in southern Afghanistan that killed 10, and within a span of a day -- attacks that killed two US soldiers, assassinated a Supreme Court Official, picked off 12 men working to clear landmines, and killed seven Afghan soldiers on a bus.
A few days before that, gunmen hit a French cultural centre inside a high school and a bus carrying Afghan army personnel killing six soldiers on the outskirts of Kabul. A little over a week before that, a suicide bomber detonated his payload at a crowded funeral, killing two police and seven civilians. A few days before that, Taliban gunmen killed three members of a South African family in an attack on a foreign guesthouse in Kabul-- the third such attack on a foreign guesthouse within a span of 10 days.
Before that, just hours after gunmen attacked a British convoy that killed six people and injured 35 others in the capital city, a suicide bomber breached the defenses of a guest house belonging to the International Relief & Development (IRD) organization.
In the same week, a dozen plus Taliban insurgents stormed Camp Bastion. At least five soldiers were killed. Adding to the bloodshed, in another part of Helmand -- in Sangin district -- at least 12 soldiers were killed after their smaller outpost was attacked by gunmen.
A few days before that, a roadside bomb exploded in Kabul injuring seven Afghan National Army personnel. On the same day, a bombing on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, which officials blamed on the Haqqani network, killed sixty-one and injured fifty others.
In a brutal attack on Nov 24, a suicide bomber detonated his vest packed with explosives at amid a crowd of people who had gathered to watch a volleyball match, killing 45 in the attack in Afghanistan’s Paktika province.
The attack coincided with an agreement reached in Afghanistan’s parliament, on the same day, that allowed for US and NATO troops to remain in the country post 2014.
The week before, two days after Taliban fighters killed two security guards on the eastern outskirts of Kabul, officials say that they killed four Taliban suicide bombers during an attack on a compound housing foreign workers in the capital city.
A few weeks before, a convoy of vehicles belonging to American-led coalition forces was attacked twice by Taliban gunmen. Although the convoy suffered no casualties, an Afghan civilian died in the attack. A few days before that in the same week, two separate bombings killed at least ten police officers, including a top commander. The bombings, in turn, followed an attack on the police headquarters in Kabul a day earlier that killed a senior police officer and injured six others. The explosion reportedly happened two hours after another explosion in Kabul, with news reports from the region quoting Defence Ministry Spokesman Mohammad Zahair Azimi saying that the earlier attack was on an Afghan army vehicle that resulted in no casualties.
Earlier, in October, six police officers and two civilians were killed in two separate attacks on the same day, a day after members of the Taliban ambushed a police convoy, leading to an hours-long gun battle in northern Afghanistan. Before that, in the same month, Taliban insurgents killed 22 security force members in Sar-e-Pol province north of Kabul, which in turn, followed a bomb in Kabul on the same day that killed one civilian.
A few months ago, although not claimed by the Taliban, a prominent female politician -- Shukria Barakzai -- narrowly escaped a suicide attack that killed three others.
Other recent attacks -- leading up to and during the Presidential elections -- include an attack that killed three soldiers belonging to the United States-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in September, a suicide bombing that killed Karzai’s cousin Hashmat Khalil Karzai, the shooting of 15 civilians, two Finnish relief workers, an attack on the Kabul airport, and one of the deadliest attacks since 2001 wherein a sports utility vehicle detonated in a busy market in Paktika province, eastern Afghanistan, that killed 90 people.