Conflicts & War

Kabul doubles security as series of targeted killings rock city

Kabul, Dec 28 (efe-epa).- The Afghan government on Monday decided to double the number of police officers in Kabul, even as a series of targeted attacks against politicians, activists, intellectuals and journalists have rocked the city almost every day over the past few weeks.

“The presidential palace of Afghanistan has planned to double the number of police in capital Kabul,” the country’s first vice president Amrullah Saleh said in a statement, acknowledging that the capital – inhabited by over 5 million people – had a very small police force compared to other major cities of the world.

Saleh said that the recruitment process to bolster the ranks of Kabul police would require “patience and precision,” without offering details about the number of officers currently in service.

Meanwhile the security checkposts outside Kabul have been handed over to the army, while the protection of various government and non government organizations – including some ministries – has also been transferred to central security forces.

“As a result of this at least 500 policemen were returned to their main job (law enforcement),” Saleh said.

The announcement comes amid a “very dangerous, fearful and horrible” situation for Afghan people, the director of nonprofit Afghan Civil Society Forum, Aziz Rafiee, told EFE.

He said that the almost daily assassinations of activists, journalists and prominent members of civil society seem to be aimed at “hampering their work and efforts for human rights, access to information and freedom of speech, in order to prevent them from keeping people aware of the developments.”

Two separate explosions were reported from Kabul on Monday itself: including a sticky bomb attached to an army pickup truck that injured one person, and another explosive device kept on a bicycle and detonated as a bus carrying officials was passing by.

“As a result of the (second) blast, six civilians were injured,” Kabul Police spokesperson Firdaws Faramarz told EFE.

No armed group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, although authorities blamed the Taliban.

Interior ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian told EFE that “due to the recent spate of violence including the explosions of the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by the Taliban, hundreds of our countrymen have been killed and injured.”

“Such attacks are war crimes against humanity,” he said, claiming that the acts were part of a new Taliban strategy to show their presence in urban areas after being “defeated on the frontlines.”

However, principal Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid denied the claims and told EFE that their fighters only attacked military targets.

“Our policy is very clear regarding target killings: we only attack targets who are members of the enemy’s security circles, (…) who are directly involved in war against us. But the target killings of civilians, civil society members, university lecturers and religious leaders are not our work nor part of our war strategy,” he said.

Mujahid blamed members of the Islamic State terror group and Afghan intelligence agencies for the incidents.

“Such attacks are being carried out by them (Afghan forces) or by their order. They want to eliminate the figures who are criticizing the Kabul administration or to pave the way for negative propaganda against the Mujahidins (Taliban fighters),” he claimed. EFE-EPA


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