Targeted Attacks Have Worried People

Targeted attacks have increased significantly across the country, especially in Kabul. The killing of several journalists and civil society activists over the past month and a half has raised concerns about the safety of civil society activists and the media. Criticizing the performance of security agencies, some politicians say they are willing to provide security if the government fails to provide security. Military experts are also deeply concerned about the current situation and say that intelligence agencies have a serious weakness. According to them, the security agencies are currently failing to detect and repel the attacks and have changed from executive agencies to incident logging agencies. According to these experts, various groups have resorted to guerrilla attacks in the city, and in order to counter them, in addition to strengthening the intelligence agencies, it is necessary to make the necessary reforms in the security sectors. Meanwhile, the United States has also expressed concern about the increase in targeted attacks and their impact on the peace process in the country.

The assassination of several civil society and media activists in recent months has alarmed citizens, politicians and even military experts. The killing of Al-Jazeera correspondent Rahmatullah Nikzad in Ghazni, the assassination of Yusuf Rashid, executive director of the Afghanistan Free and Fair Election Foundation (FEFA) in Kabul, and the murder of Frishta Kohistani, a women’s rights activist in Kapisa, have raised concerns about the security of civil society and media activists in an unprecedented manner. Some politicians have criticized the performance of security agencies and called on the government to pay attention to the current situation. Atta Mohammad Noor, a member of the leadership committee of the Supreme National Reconciliation Council and the executive chairperson of the Jamiat-e-Islami party, criticized the recent assassinations on Thursday, December 24, calling the current situation “inflamed” and “complicated”. Addressing the government, he said that if the security agencies were not able to provide security, the Jihadists could provide security for the country, given their influence among the people.

In addition, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former jihadist, expressed concern about the current security situation. Speaking in Kabul on Friday, December 25, he said the security situation had deteriorated and they had to work to ensure their own security. He also condemned recent attacks on civil society activists and the media, calling the situation “worrying”. However, the reaction of politicians has also met with reactions on social media as people believe that the mobility of different groups makes the situation more fragile. Meanwhile, Zalmai Khalilzad, the US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, also called for an end to targeted attacks because, in his opinion, the continuation of these attacks could threaten the peace process.

Meanwhile, military experts say the security situation in Kabul and some other provinces is worrying. Atiqullah Amarkhail, a military intelligence officer, told 8 Subh on Friday that the main reason for the increase in targeted attacks was a serious weakness in intelligence agencies. He added that the war was continuing, but it has taken on a guerrilla form, and that the police have been unable to repel the attacks. According to Mr. Amarkhail, the security agencies do not have any measures at the moment and the intelligence sector is seriously weak. According to this military intelligence officer, security agencies are currently only recording incident statistics instead of conducting reconnaissance operations.

Atiqullah Amarkhail said that in the past, the Taliban would claim responsibility for the attacks, making it easier to identify the attacking group. According to him, however, at present, guerrilla attacks are carried out by small groups, and no group claims responsibility for these assassinations and targeted attacks. Mr. Amarkhail blamed the divisions of the security agencies for the deteriorating security situation, adding that the intelligence sector needs to be more active. The political expert added that various groups had infiltrated Kabul and that it was not possible to identify perpetrators based on speculation and assumption. According to him, there are fundamental weaknesses in the Ministry of Interior and this institution is not even able to manage its own organizational structure at the moment.

Despite several attempts to contact officials at the Ministry of Interior, no chance was given for a discussion. Earlier, however, it said the Taliban had set up small groups for targeted assassinations. First Vice President Amrullah Saleh also blamed the increase in targeted attacks on the desire to gain concessions by increasing the number of killings. In recent days, however, the assassination of civil society and media activists has increased dramatically. The deaths of Yama Siawash, Elias Daei, Malala Maiwand, Rahmatullah Nikzad, Yosuf Rashid and Frishta Kohistani and the mysterious deaths of Rafi Sidiqi and Fardin Amini have added to these concerns. The US embassy had previously warned that groups were trying to assassinate civil society activists, especially women.