The start of a new year
Is this an indication of what is to come ?
'It’s a Massacre’:
Blast in Kabul Deepens Toll of a Long War
By MUJIB MASHAL and JAWAD SUKHANYARJAN. 27, 2018
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The surge in violence across the country, particularly deadly attacks that have shut down large parts of Afghan cities, comes as the government is in disarray.
President Ashraf Ghani has struggled to build consensus and has recently found himself in a protracted showdown with a regional strongman, a dispute that has taken up much of the administration’s energy. The strongman, Atta Muhammad Noor, a powerful governor, was fired by the president but has refused to leave his post, raising fears that escalating political tensions could further undermine the country’s fragile security.
The recent carnage is also tied, analysts said, to President Trump’s decision last month to increase pressure on Pakistan, long seen as supporting the Taliban as a proxy force in Afghanistan. Mr. Trump made a gamble to try to tilt the war in Afghanistan toward a resolution, holding back security aid to Pakistan for what he called the country’s “lies and deceit.”
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Credit Andrew Quilty for The New York Times
On Saturday, Mr. Trump issued a statement denouncing the attack. “I condemn the despicable car bombing attack in Kabul today that has left scores of innocent civilians dead and hundreds injured,” he said. “The Taliban’s cruelty will not prevail. The United States is committed to a secure Afghanistan that is free from terrorists who would target Americans, our allies, and anyone who does not share their wicked ideology.”
In last weekend’s attack, Taliban militants barged into the highly guarded Intercontinental Hotel, battling security forces in an hourslong siege. At least 14 of their victims were foreign citizens, including Americans, and nine were pilots and flight crew members from Ukraine and Venezuela who worked for a private Afghan airline, Kam Air.
At the time of Saturday’s attack, Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the commander of the United States Central Command, which oversees military operations in the region, was in Kabul. He met with Mr. Ghani, and officials aware of the discussion said Pakistan was much of the focus.
At the site of the explosion, an old man, his clothes stained with blood, sat on the ground and wailed. He cursed the two leaders of the Afghan government — President Ghani and his coalition partner, Abdullah Abdullah — for the security lapses. He said his son was dead.
“May God punish you, may Allah punish you both,” the old man repeated. “There is nothing left for me anymore — come kill me and my family, too.”
Saturday’s explosion occurred on a guarded street that leads to an old Interior Ministry building and several embassies. Many ministry departments still have offices there, and visitors line up every day for routine business.
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“It’s a massacre,” said Dejan Panic, the coordinator in Afghanistan for the Italian aid group Emergency, which runs a nearby trauma center. At least 131 people were brought to the group’s Kabul hospital.
Baseer Mujahid, a spokesman for the Kabul police, said the bomber drove past the first checkpoint, at the entrance to the street. The police had allowed it to pass because it was an ambulance, and one of the city’s main hospitals was just beyond the checkpoint.
“Police stopped the vehicle at the second checkpoint,” Mr. Mujahid said. “Then he tried to drive in from the wrong lane. Again, the police tried to stop him. But he detonated the explosive-laden vehicle.”
At Malalai maternity hospital, near the carnage, health workers said the explosion had briefly interrupted their work, and jolted patients out of their beds. Then, the staff continued to bring new life into a violent world.
“It has become normal in Afghanistan,” a midwife said. “Every day, we hear these kind of sounds.”
Others at the hospital were deeply affected. Abdul Khaliq, who anxiously waited in the hospital yard, said his sister-in-law had given birth through cesarean section just days ago.
“During the suicide attack, she was at the hospital and now she is shocked. She doesn’t want to breast-feed her baby,” Mr. Khaliq said. “Her doctor is trying to convince her that everything is O.K., but she cries and says nothing.”
On successive weekends in January this year, Kabul was struck by two major terrorist attacks that killed at least 117 people. The last half of 2017 saw five attacks that left 37 or more dead.
- 150 Killed, May 2017:In Kabul, a truck bombing near the German embassy was the deadliest attack since 2001.
- At least 67, and as many as 88 killed, October 2017:Two suicide bombings within hours, both targeting mosques, one in Kabul and the other in Ghor Province.
- 41 killed, December 2017:Bombing at a Shiite cultural center in Kabul that also housed a news agency, Afghan Voice Agency.
- At least 40 killed, possibly more than 50 killed, August 2017:Suicide bombers targeted a Shiite mosque in Kabul.
- 37 killed, August 2017:Suicide bombers targeted a Shiite mosque in Herat, killing the father of an Afghan female robotics team.
Tadamichi Yamamoto, the chief of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, condemned the attack as “nothing short of an atrocity” and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
“I am particularly disturbed by credible reports that the attackers used a vehicle painted to look like an ambulance, including bearing the distinctive medical emblem, in clear violation of international humanitarian law,” Mr. Yamamoto said
Later in the day, family members lined up outside the morgue at the Kabul forensic medical department, trying to identify their loved ones. The staff could not draw a list of the victims because most were unidentifiable, or did not carry any documentation.
After the remains were cleaned, the staff lined them up in the yard outside and allowed family members to walk around and identify them. Once remains were identified, the morgue staff would write the name on the forehead, or on the chest if the head was missing.
For some, though, the search continued.
“My cousin was a police officer; he was the person who stopped the ambulance laden with explosives,” said Attaul Haq, 36, who waited outside the morgue. “He was 28, he had a son and a daughter.”
Fatima Faizi, Fahim Abed and Charles O’Malley contributed reporting.
A version of this article appears in print on January 28, 2018, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Blast in Kabul Deepens Toll Of Long War.
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and 2018 has started with a big bang
if Afghanistan is anything to go by
as examples for younger generations
to emulate certain ideologies
Teachers without concerns
about the consequences of
- Create Havoc -
Have questionable results
up and coming generations?