Use of 'pen guns' in targeted killings marks latest security threat in Kabul

Salaam Times and AFP

A stash of pen guns found by police is exhibited September 18 in Kabul. [Ministry of Interior Affairs]

A stash of pen guns found by police is exhibited September 18 in Kabul. [Ministry of Interior Affairs]

KABUL -- Police in Kabul have seized a stash of "pen guns" they say criminals and insurgents are using in a wave of targeted assassinations that has gripped the Afghan capital in recent months.

The cylindrical, single-bullet firearms look much like regular ink pens and are easy to carry undetected.

"It is like a click pen -- the shooter puts the bullet in the cartridge, aims and clicks the thrust button to fire the bullet," an official at Kabul's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Police last weekend unveiled a cache of 48 pen guns discovered in a larger haul of weapons including "sticky bombs" that can be slapped under vehicles and detonated remotely or on a timer.

"The terrorists wanted to use these weapons in complex target killings in the capital," said Interior Affairs Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian.

Rising unemployment and poverty have worsened Kabul's security situation, with kidnappings, robberies and drive-by shootings commonplace.

The violence has been compounded by a string of assassinations targeting peace activists, academics and government employees.

Taliban-linked groups blamed

"More than 40 people have been killed in targeted assassinations in the past six months in Kabul alone," the CID official said.

Some of those killings were carried out with unknown weapons that authorities suspect were pen guns, he said.

Officials have blamed such killings on Taliban-linked groups.

The Taliban, who under a peace deal signed with the United States in February are not supposed to be attacking urban areas, have denied involvement.

The insurgents have nonetheless stepped up attacks on security forces in rural areas, even as Afghan government and Taliban negotiators are meeting in Doha to devise an end to the war.

In one incident last week in Uruzgan Province, Taliban fighters offered 28 Local and National Police a chance to go home if they surrendered September 22, said officials.

"But after taking their guns, the Taliban killed them all," said Zergai Ebadi, a spokesman for the Uruzgan governor.

In a statement, the Taliban denied they had slaughtered the policemen after they surrendered.

Afghans are being encouraged to report crimes in districts, communities and villages to security forces under the Security Compact programme, which started on July 7 in Kabul and on August 16 in Herat Province.

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This is another alarm for the government, as the armed dissidents can use advanced weapons and achieve their goal. The National Police of the country should be trained in order to make them able to identify and seize this kind of weapons.


Science and technology have made great progress, and some of the countries of world can invent weapons the exemplar of which has never been seen before in the world. And from now on, Taliban will also try to increase their target killings in the large cities and continue assassinating the influential figures of the government. You have witnessed the group has assassinated many of the well-known and fearless commanders of the government over the past one month in Kabul and other large cities of the country, which is considered a major blow to the government. And most probably, Taliban might have used these types of pen guns, because those people were assassinated in very safe places, where carrying of weapons is not possible. Therefore, the intelligence and security agencies should be aware of modern technology and should always try to discover these kinds of weapons.