A Series of Attacks Causes Bloodshed and Threatens Security in Afghanistan
The recent string of violence in Afghanistan has compromised national security in the past few weeks, with the most severe attacks resulting in the deaths of at least 95 people. Approximately 38 people died on Monday alone in the four attacks that occurred - a set of twin bombings, a shooting, a suicide bombing, and an attack on an American soldier.
In the set of twin bombings, the first was detonated during Monday’s morning rush in the Shash Darak area of Kabul. It was set off by a man riding a motorcycle close to the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency.
The second bomb, detonated only 40 minutes after, targeted the journalists and medical workers who had rushed to the scene of the first explosion. The second bomber supposedly disguised himself as a TV cameraman.
At least 25 people were killed in the blasts, including nine journalists.
Both bombings were claimed by the Islamic State in a statement the group released on Telegram, a social media platform. ISIS named the first bomber as Qaqaa al-Kurdi and the second as Khalil al-Qurshi, without offering direct evidence to support its claims.
One prominent journalist who lost his life in the attack was Shah Marai, an Afghan photographer for Agence France-Presse. Marai had spent 20 years reporting on conflict-ridden Afghanistan.
Monday’s second attack occurred later that day, when Ahmad Shah, a 29-year-old BBC reporter, was shot by an unknown gunman in Afghanistan’s Khost province, according to BBC. The incident was allegedly unrelated to the twin bombings that occurred earlier.
This outburst of violence is a devastating reminder of the danger that conflict reporters face every day on the field. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Monday’s attack was not only the deadliest single attack involving journalists in Afghanistan since 2002, but also, amongst the most severe to occur worldwide.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement condemning the attackers’ focus on journalists.
“Independent media is the cornerstone of democracy,” the statement read. “Despite today’s attack, the vibrant media landscape that has developed in Afghanistan will endure.”
However, even with Secretary Pompeo’s optimistic ideals for Afghan media’s future coverage, the danger of living in Afghanistan continues to grow as violence accumulates.
Monday’s third attack took the day’s death toll from 26 to 37. A suicide bomber set off an explosion that killed 11 school children at a local religious school in Afghanistan's Kandahar district by ramming into an armored Romanian car. The assailant had been targeting the convoy of Romanian soldiers, ultimately wounding five of them with the blast. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The final incident on Monday took the life of one American soldier and wounded another in eastern Afghanistan, according to the US Army.
Monday’s deadly series of attacks did not occur in isolation, however. They fall closely behind a bombing that occurred on April 22 in Kabul, when a suicide assailant detonated an explosive at a voting center, killing a total of 57 people. ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing.
Jennifer Glasse, a reporter for Al Jazeera based in Kabul described the dire situation in Afghanistan by stating: “The series of attacks here in Kabul have made the Afghan capital most dangerous place in Afghanistan to be.”
Many wonder if making Kabul a dangerous place to be is precisely the goal of militant groups such as ISIS. Undoubtedly, militant groups like ISIS would benefit from causing chaos before Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections scheduled for October.
This begs the question of whether or not Afghanistan currently has the infrastructure and stability amongst heightened violence to facilitate elections in October. Unfortunately for the Afghan government, the answer may not be promising.