Tuesday, September 21

The Taliban launch a suicide attack against the Afghan Defense Minister in the midst of a campaign of conquest

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the Tuesday night attack on the Kabul residence of the Afghan Minister of Defense, which has left 12 dead and 22 wounded, while the Afghan security forces prepare for a major counteroffensive by the insurgent siege of an important provincial capital.

The main Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, confirmed in a statement that the suicide attack on Tuesday night was directed at Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, who has been unharmed, as part of a “revenge operation against those important ( …) Kabul administration officials, who give orders to bomb civilian houses in the country, among other crimes. ”

Shortly before the claim, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had already accused the insurgents of the “terrorist attack”, the purpose of which, he said, was to silence the chant of “Allah is great” that citizens have taken to the streets to show. his support for the security forces in their fight against Taliban violence.

An unprecedented offensive

The attack comes at a time of particular instability in Afghanistan, after the beginning of the final withdrawal of foreign troops from the country on May 1, unleashed an unprecedented Taliban offensive.

In the past three months, fighters have taken control of some 125 district centers, the greatest achievement in two decades of war, and have besieged several provincial capitals, including western Herat and southern Kandahar and Lashkargah.

Precisely the city of Lashkargah, capital of the Helmand province, is experiencing the worst clashes between the Afghan security forces and the insurgents, after the death of at least 40 civilians was reported this Tuesday in the clashes.

In the last 24 hours, at least 75 Taliban have died and another 17 have been injured in clashes in this city, according to the latest balance sheet issued by the Defense Ministry.

With the aim of ending the violence, a hundred members of the Afghan elite forces have moved to the area to join a large counter-offensive organized by the Afghan troops, with the aim of repelling the Taliban from the city.

This operation will begin as soon as the evacuation of civilians from this provincial capital is confirmed, who will join the thousands who in recent days have already been forced to flee due to intense fighting.

In Lashkargah alone, at least 5,000 families (35,000 people) have fled their homes, and in the past two weeks, some 14,000 families, the equivalent of almost 100,000 civilians, have been registered as displaced in various parts of the country ravaged by violence.

War crimes accusations

In their swift offensive, the Taliban have carried out summary arrests and executions of soldiers, police and civilians with suspected links to the Afghan government, according to has denounced this Wednesday the organization Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“Summarily executing anyone in custody, be it a civilian or a combatant, is a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions and a war crime,” says HRW Associate Director for Asia, Patricia Gossman.

These complaints have been joined by the embassies in Kabul of the United States and the United Kingdom, which in a joint statement have expressed their rejection of the Taliban, “who place landmines in the homes of civilians and hide behind families while attacking women. security forces”.

“How can the Taliban claim that they are fighting for the Afghans while using them as human shields?” They say.