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May 11, 2021

Kabul carnage

 
May 11, 2021

As has happened in the recent past, Kabul has seen more violence directed at its citizens, this time schoolgirls. A car bomb outside a major school, in an area of the city which houses a large Hazara population exploded on Sunday, leading to students rushing out of the building. At this point two other blasts went off further targeting the schoolgirls. The result has been the death of more than 70 children. The scenes from Kabul are not unfamiliar, with grieving parents searching for the bodies of their children among the debris left by the blasts. This is the fourth incident in Afghanistan this year that has claimed over 30 lives with dozens more injured. On January 18-19, in Kunduz over 40 security force members were killed in two days of fighting; then on February 15, in Balkh 30 Taliban militants were killed after an explosion at a centre where the Taliban were getting training to make explosive devices. Then just 10 days ago, on April 30, in Logar at least 30 people were killed and over 90 injured when a bomb exploded near a guesthouse. And now this brutal attack on a girls’ school. This then is a return to the terrible past that Kabul has known for far too many years.

Militants irrespective of their nomenclature – Al-Qaeda, Daesh or the Taliban – have a particular hatred for girls’ education. All of these militant outfits, with varying degrees of national and international terrorism credentials, espouse a certain brand of religious and sectarian thinking that is brutal and savage. The Shia Hazara population also used to be the target of numerous attacks, mainly by Taliban militants; this time though the Taliban have claimed that they were not behind the attack. It is however difficult to say what is happening in a country that has been torn apart for decades by sectarian and ethnic conflict, leaving it in a situation close to collapse.

The Taliban have blamed the Islamic State for the attack, but Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has blamed the Taliban. The targeting of schoolgirls suggests that extremist forces remain in control of events and need to be handled in some way that leaves people safer and more able to continue with their daily lives. The US announcement that it would delay the complete withdrawal of its troops till September this year has angered some militant forces, given that former US president Trump had promised a complete withdrawal by May this year. There are however fears that a US pull-out could leave Afghanistan and its people living once more in a state of chaos. It is also unacceptable that children, including schoolgirls, and minority groups such as the Hazaras, continue to come under the kind of attack they had done for so many years, notably till the US invasion of the country in 2001. The situation shows that that invasion has achieved very little. The number of civilians killed and injured is increasing day by day and the prolonged armed conflict has become one of the bloodiest and most prolonged armed conflicts in the world. Afghanistan remains in a state of chaos, and some way has to be found to ensure a degree of order is restored before any further decisions are made on the future of the badly troubled country.