Terrorism

Anger grows as Taliban violence continues to undermine Afghan society

By Najibullah

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Afghan security personnel walk through the wreckage of the district police headquarters in Kabul on March 2, 2017, a day after a suicide car bomb attack. Sixteen people were killed in simultaneous Taliban suicide assaults on two security compounds in Kabul. [Shah Marai/AFP]

KABUL -- Afghan citizens and officials are expressing anger and resentment as the activities of the Taliban continue to destroy lives and undermine the economic potential of the country.

In the past 13 years, the Taliban have destroyed thousands of families and have brought Afghans immeasurable grief, Maryam, 21, a psychology student at the University of Kabul, told Salaam Times.

In 2016, civilian casualties were the highest recorded by the UN since 2009, with almost 11,500 non-combatants killed or wounded.

Many of these victims have been youth.

In 2016 alone, 923 children were killed and 2,589 wounded in the conflict, according to the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Slaughter in Kabul

One recent example shows the depth to which Taliban violence is tearing the country apart.

On March 1, a suicide car bomber struck an Afghan police precinct in western Kabul and a gun battle ensued. Minutes later a suicide bomber blew himself up at the gates of an Afghan intelligence agency branch in eastern Kabul as another attacker was gunned down while trying to enter the compound.

Dozens were killed and wounded in the attacks. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

Zmari, a Kabul resident, is mourning the death of his teenaged son, who was killed in that attack.

His son was a polio vaccinator who went door to door to immunise children under age five.

The Taliban place no value on Afghan lives, Zmari told Salaam Times.

Walidad was another victim of that same suicide bombing.

He had come to Kabul with his wife, mother, and four children to protect them from war. But Taliban violence makes no geographic distinctions.

Walidad used to work from dawn till dusk with his hand cart, buying and selling metal, his wife told Salaam Times, a day after his death.

"What crime did he commit?" she wept, adding she had no idea how to support her four fatherless children.

Fraidoon Obaidi, chief of the Kabul police criminal investigation department, told Salaam Times the March 1 attack killed mostly civilians, including three women.

Murdering innocents

Only days later the Taliban struck again.

Eight Afghan civilians, including four children, were killed in Farah Province March 3 as they tried to escape fighting, according to AFP.

Twenty-others were injured.

"Their vehicle hit a roadside bomb as they were fleeing the scene of fighting," provincial government spokesman Naser Mehri told AFP.

As the Taliban slaughter civilians left and right, they are flouting Islamic principles, say religious scholars.

"The Taliban exploit the name of Islam," Mawlawi Ahmadullah Ahmadi, a religious scholar and a preacher at a mosque in Kabul, told Salaam Times. "Islam never permits the murder of innocents."

The Taliban deceive the public to serve their own interests and take innocent lives daily, he added.

Irreparable damage

Besides taking thousands of innocent lives, the Taliban have inflicted staggering economic losses.

Engineer Zakaria Zakaria, a member of parliament, cited "irreparable damage" to the country's infrastructure. The Taliban shatter anyone's willingness to invest in the country, he added.

The Taliban's destructive activities have spawned unemployment, lawlessness and widespread school closings, Zakaria said.

Taliban land mines and suicide bombings have largely undone 13 years of spending on national reconstruction, said Mohammadreza Mohammadi, a professor at a private university and an economic analyst in Kabul.

Roads are a favourite target of the militants, he noted.

"Last year, after they were defeated in Kunduz, the Taliban destroyed Alchin Bridge, causing millions of afghanis' worth of damage," he told Salaam Times. "The government repaired it."

The group carries out the orders of foreign masters, which have nothing to do with Afghan national interests, Bashir Bijan, a Kabul-based political analyst, told Salaam Times.

Killing civilians and wrecking public facilities show that the group has no feeling for Afghanistan or its interests, he added.

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