New Bombing Season

A new season of bombings has begun in Kabul. In this season, the west of Kabul and the Hazara-Shiites have been the main target so far. Nearly 100 students were killed and 240 others were injured in the bombing of the Sayyid al-Shuhada school alone. Eighteen people were killed in four other bombings last week, and 22 others were injured. The perpetrators of the genocidal bombings have not yet been identified. The Taliban group has said it is not behind the bombings. The government, however, considers the Taliban to be the main suspects in the bombings.

Kabul has witnessed two different seasons of assassination and bombing since the start of peace talks between the government and the Taliban. The first chapter of the assassinations and bombings in Kabul coincided with the second round of peace talks, in which the Biden government’s decision on the Doha Agreement had not yet been announced. At the time, the main target of assassination and bombing are focused mostly towards civil society and media activists and government officials. Of course, civilian’s vehicles were also targeted at the same time. The assassinations and bombings in the first season put so much pressure on civil society activists and the media that many prominent figures in the two fields were forced to remain in hiding for some time. But under pressure from the international community, this season of assassinations and bombings came to an end, and civil society and media activists have been able to breathe a sigh of relief since early March of last year.

The second season of the Kabul bombings, which began in early May this year, seems different than before. The bombings in the city over the past month or so have mostly targeted one particular ethnic or religious group. This feature has been so prominent in recent bombings that many countries and organizations have referred to it as “killing of Hazaras.” Of course, both the Afghan government and international organizations have not yet acknowledged the “genocide” of the Hazaras following the bombings. However, many cultural activists and political activists have cited recent events as “crimes against humanity” and “ethnic cleansing.”

The Taliban has not claimed responsibility for the recent deadly events in Kabul. The group has also denied the responsibility for civilian casualties in other provinces. The Taliban also did not claim responsibility for the Parwan incident, which killed students and professors at Al-Biruni University. Similarly, ISIS has not yet claimed responsibility for the recent attacks in Kabul. The splinter group of Taliban, led by Mullah Rassoul, has also been silent on the Kabul bombings. However, Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, the group’s former deputy, had said that they were killing Hazaras every day in a manner that they would never understand how they were killed. This branch of the Taliban is suspected of taking hostage and beheading Hazara travelers in Zabul province and shooting them in other provinces, by the Hazara people.

Regardless of whether the main purpose of the recent bombings was terror related or ethnic cleansing or which group claims responsibility, what is clear for a fact is that the authorities in charge of security in Kabul have not yet implemented any of the security layouts previously promised. Amrullah Saleh had said he would equip Kabul with security cameras by investing millions of dollars; But so far no action has been taken. The former interior minister had said that the number of police in Kabul would double; But there is no news regarding it yet. Years ago, it was said that installing smart gates at the four big gates of Kabul would solve the security problem of the city. Currently, it is reported that the police lack proper operational capacity to use the facilities of these gates. They also said they would stop the import of ammonium nitrite from Pakistan; But this has not been done. In the same way, a separate security plan was to be prepared and implemented for the west of Kabul. At present, it is said that the above plan has been prepared, but the General Directorate of National Security opposes its implementation.

Apparently, the Saleh Security Pact program for security has been a failure. The plan was challenged by terrorists even when he was in charge of the Sixth Thirty Session. Recent explosions in Kabul indicate that the Security Pact program has not been very effective.

The government says it has arrested hundreds of people in recent months for assassinating government officials and carrying out bombings. No more information has been shared to the public regarding these arrests. For this reason, government’s statistics on detainees have always been questionable.

The naked truth is that a new season of assassinations and bombings has begun in the country. This season begins at a time when efforts to resume peace talks are under way, and the first and second rounds of Taliban attacks in May to lay siege to provincial and district centers have failed. These events, however, reinforce the suspicion that there is no group other than the Taliban behind the assassinations, bombings and the destruction of public facilities. The group’s traditional warfare in the past reinforces this suspicion. Since claiming responsibility for killing civilians and specially destroying public facilities will cost them a hefty sum in repairs, they would rather deny responsibility.

Unfortunately, the primary target of the bombings, at least in Kabul, have been the residents of a certain part of the city, separated by religion and ethnicity. Given that similar incidents are likely to recur, the government is expected to fulfill its responsibilities in part to prevent the killings of vulnerable ethnic and religious groups. The international community must also put pressure on anti-government groups to hold them accountable for their criminal activities.