Taliban insurgents have increased their attacks on Kabul, now targeting both foreigners and Afghans.
According to The Washington Post, a recent burst of bombings and afternoon raids shook the city in a way not seen since the radical Islamists were overthrown. This weekend, three militants attacked a compound occupied by foreigners in the middle-class Karte-e-Saay district. During the gunfire and grenade explosions, two foreigners were killed and seven taken prisoner.
Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Ayub Salangi said all the attackers died in the hands of Afghan security forces. In the end, all the hostages were freed. However, the next day three foreigners were reported killed. They included a South African aid worker and his two children.
Amidst the dramatic increase of violence in Kabul, the city’s police chief, Gen. Mohammed Zahir, suddenly and unexpectedly resigned.
“The city is now the front line of the war,” wrote Afghan journalist, Esmatullah Kohsar. He noted that there had been over a dozen blasts in Kabul during the last couple weeks.
Despite Afghan, U.S. and NATO officials reporting a weakened Taliban insurgence, it is evident that the capital city has become its central point of conflict. But with Kabul saturated with thousands of foreign troops and Western-trained Afghan security forces, the Taliban will unlikely recapture its borders.
Instead its tactics could be in an effort to create a threat against the ally forces of the U.S. and NATO, forcing the withdrawal of their troops. At a minimum, 1,000 American security personnel are planned to be housed at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in 2015.
“It has been two weeks now, and there practically hasn’t been a single day without a suicide attack in Kabul,” said Hamidullah Jan, a 35-year-old nurse at Istiqlal Hospital in the capital. “When I leave home, I do not know if I will come back alive or not. It is a very scary situation.”
According to figures compiled by Matthew Henman, manager of London-based IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center, a military analysis group, there were 80 attacks this year in Kabul as of mid-November. This is roughly double the number of attacks from last year.
Only a week ago, the Afghanistan parliament approved a security pact, enabling the 12,000 U.S. and coalition troops to remain in the region past the end of the year. At the same time, the U.S. decided to expand its military role in 2015 to include launching combat operations and providing air support to Afghan security forces.
Because of this, the Taliban could be increasing its attacks in its rage over the agreements. It also could be attempting to impede recently elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s efforts to secure billions of dollars in aid to help his country’s struggling and tattered economy.