Taliban attacks show disconnect between rhetoric, actions

By Najibullah


Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and firefighters on February 11 extinguish a fire at the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Lashkargah, Helmand Province. At least six people were killed when an explosives-laden car rammed into Afghan soldiers who had queued outside a bank to collect their salaries, officials said. [Noor Mohammad/AFP]

KABUL -- The Taliban's continuing attacks against civilians across Afghanistan have exposed the disconnect between the group's rhetoric and actions -- an inconsistency that has compelled civilians to work with the security forces to prevent further attacks.

"In all their statements, the Taliban repeatedly express their intention to protect the lives of civilians and to refrain from destroying public facilities, and yet, civilians are the ones who suffer the most from the group's attacks," said Ahmad Behrooz, an Afghan security analyst in Kabul.

"Moreover, they have damaged many infrastructure projects in the country and even destroyed many mosques," he told Salaam Times.

Long list of atrocities

The Taliban and "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) show through their brutal actions that they do not adhere to any religious or moral principles.

For example, just last week, February 7, a suicide bomber targeted Afghan Supreme Court employees, killing at least 20 and wounding 41, all civilians.

On January 6, militants attacked coal miners in Baghlan Province, killing five and injuring eight. In December, Taliban fighters massacred 23 civilians in a retaliatory attack in Kandahar Province after police killed 29 of militants.

In November, a suicide attack in Baqir-ul-Uloom Mosque in Kabul killed at least 30 and wounded more than 80. In August, terrorists stormed a college campus in Kabul, killing 13, including seven students, and injuring at least 35 others.

And in July, a twin suicide bombing targeted a peaceful demonstration in Kabul, killing at least 80 people and injuring 231.

"These are inhumane actions," Behrooz said, citing many other examples.

Militants show 'no mercy'

"It is now known to everyone that the Taliban and ISIL members show no mercy to women, children or tribal elders," said Muhammad Din, 21, a recent high school graduate from Zabul Province who moved to Kabul to pursue his education.

"Not long ago, the Taliban planted a roadside bomb on the path of Haji Muhammad Popal, a prominent tribal elder in our region," he told Salaam Times, referring to a January 7 incident.

"Both he and his son were killed when their vehicle struck the mine," Din said, adding that Popal was not the only tribal elder targeted by militants.

"In recent years, dozens of tribal elders have been kidnapped, assassinated or otherwise murdered by land mines, all of which were actions conducted by the Taliban," he said.

Co-operation key to prevention

More people are co-operating with security forces to prevent terrorist attacks, according to Ministry of Interior (MoI) officials.

"The level of public co-operation with the police has increased significantly when compared to the previous year," Gen. Humayun Aini, head of the ministry's community policing directorate, told Salaam Times.

Through public co-operation, law enforcers this year arrested four suicide attackers "who were hiding in civilian residences and planning to carry out attacks in Kabul, Herat and Khost", he said.

In addition, 441 land mines planted by militants were found and destroyed thanks to information provided by members of the public to the police via the 119 hotline, Aini said.

The toll-free number 119 allows people to easily contact the police and confidentially share information on suspicious activities, he said.

"If it wasn't for public co-operation, such events and incidents could potentially take the lives of tens or even hundreds of citizens of this country," he said.

People's co-operation with the police on the one hand, and the police's performance in responding to the demands of the people on the other hand, have resulted in the increase in public-police co-operation, Aini said.

Citizens ready to help

"People must inform the police as soon as they notice suspicious individuals, since in most cases suicide attackers can be recognised and identified by their faces and behaviours," Rahimah Rezayee, who studies computer science at a private university in Kabul, told Salaam Times.

Informing police is "very valuable", she said, "for it may save the lives of dozens of innocent people".

The increasing number of civilian casualties in Taliban attacks is motivating people to come forward with information, said Hafizullah, 23, who works at a general store in Kabul.

"A majority of the victims in every suicide attack and every bomb explosion are civilian people," he told Salaam Times. "People must co-operate with the police to prevent such bloody incidents from happening again."

Hafizullah said he reported suspicious individuals to police on two occasions.

"I suspected that they might be terrorists planning to attempt some destructive activities," he said. "I called the police at 119 and asked for help. I'm very happy that I was able to help the public as well as the police."

Public co-operation with the government is undoubtedly important in ensuring security, said Sayed Jawad Husseini, leader of the Justice and Development Party.

However, he said, the government must play its role in gaining the trust of the people.

"This people-government co-operation will only increase if people see the government as their own," Husseini told Salaam Times.

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