Security

Afghan forces kill mastermind of Ghazni suicide bombing

Salaam Times and AFP

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An Afghan security force member holds a rocket-propelled grenade launcher after a suicide car bomber struck an army base in Ghazni Province on November 29, killing at least 30 security personnel and injuring 24 others. [STR/AFP]

GHAZNI -- Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) killed the mastermind of a deadly attack on a military base in Ghazni Province in an air strike, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Monday (November 30).

A suicide car bomber on Sunday (November 29) struck a Public Protection Forces base in the Qala-e-Jawz area in the provincial capital, officials said.

"Thirty bodies and 24 wounded people have been brought to hospital," Baz Mohammad Hemat, director of the Ghazni hospital, told AFP. "All of them are security personnel."

Afghan forces killed Hamza Waziristani, the mastermind of the bombing, and seven of his fighters in an air strike in the Alisher Khan area of Gero District on the night of November 29, the MoD said in a statement.

The air strike destroyed a number of weapons and ammunition that belonged to the insurgents, the ministry said.

Waziristani was a Taliban militant from the Pakistani border region of Waziristan, MoD spokesman Fawad Aman told AFP.

No group has claimed responsibility. The Taliban rarely have commented on deadly strikes in the country since intra-Afghan peace talks began on September 12 in Doha, Qatar.

The area where the attack occurred has seen regular fighting between the Taliban and government forces.

"The bomber drove a Humvee vehicle right inside the base and detonated it," Wahidullah Jumazada, spokesperson for the Ghazni governor, told AFP.

Video footage showed military ambulances taking the dead and wounded to hospitals and cranes deployed to remove the debris from the site of the bombing at the base.

Ten were killed, said the MoD, which is known to downplay tolls in attacks against its forces.

'Increase in violence not acceptable'

The Ghazni bombing comes just days after two bombs took 14 lives in the historic city of Bamiyan, ending years of calm in the isolated town famous for its ancient Buddhist heritage.

In another suicide car bombing November 29, one civilian was killed and 20 others wounded in Zabul Province, police said.

The November 29 bombings marked the latest carnage in Afghanistan, where violence has surged since the start of peace talks.

"Such terrorist attacks will create an atmosphere of fear, terror and pessimism among the Afghan people and will harm the peace process," said Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the country's High Council for National Reconciliation.

"The increase in violence is not acceptable ... and runs against the peace process, negotiations and reconciliation," he said.

Negotiations have been bogged down by disputes on the agenda, the basic framework of discussions and religious interpretations.

While there has been progress on these issues, an overall agreement still has to be finalised, Nader Nadery, a spokesperson for the government negotiating team, said on Twitter late Saturday (November 28).

The Taliban primarily have targeted government forces in rural areas since signing a separate deal with Washington in February that paved the way for the peace talks in Doha and for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan by May 2021.

The Pentagon said earlier this month that it would soon pull out about 2,000 troops from Afghanistan, speeding up the timeline of a full withdrawal.

During a visit to Doha last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met negotiators from both sides and called for "expedited discussions".

'Taliban tactic' to pressure government

The Ghazni attack, like previous assaults, shows a "Taliban tactic to use violence" to pressure the government into submitting to the insurgent group's demands, Afghan security analyst Atiqullah Amarkhil told AFP.

"The attack could carry a message that the Taliban are capable of striking at well-protected bases should the government not accept their demands," he said.

"The increased violence would also push the international community to put more pressure on the Afghan government for a political settlement with the Taliban... I believe the Taliban are aiming for that."

Violence has surged in Kabul in recent weeks.

At least 22 people were killed and another 27 wounded when three gunmen rampaged through Kabul University on November 2, spraying classrooms with bullets for several hours.

The "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) claimed responsibility, although the government blames the Taliban, who denied any involvement.

ISIS also claimed the October 24 attack on Kawsar-e-Danish education centre in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood of western Kabul. That suicide bombing killed 24 people and injured more than 50, most of them young students.

Afghan security forces captured two of the suspected masterminds behind the Kabul University rampage and killed another, officials said earlier this month.

The "main mastermind" of that massacre, Mohammad Adel, confessed that he was recruited by and received weapons from the Haqqani Network, an affiliate of the Taliban, First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said.

The Haqqani Network has co-operated with ISIS to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

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It is a pity that Afghans have been fighting among themselves for forty years. If the Afghans were united and were not fighting among themselves, now Afghanistan would have been considered as the most developed country in Asia. Afghanistan has the best climate. Afghanistan has a lot of oil, gas and mines of other precious stones. Youths make up more than eighty percent of Afghanistan's population. Afghans are physically stronger than the people of other countries. Afghans have great talents. The only problem of these people is their lack of unity and solidarity. Afghanistan is a large country with a population of around thirty millions people, but its people are starving. Please wake up. Don’t kill each other. I call on the Taliban not to fight against the Afghan security forces. Come and enter politics through peace and reconciliation and save the country from poverty and helplessness.

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Long live Afghan National Army. We are standing with you. May Allah bless you with success.

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That is the right way. The terrorists trained and equipped with weapons by Pakistan's terrorist army should be killed on the spot. Putting and keeping them in the prisons is a crime and betrayal against the Afghan nation and Afghan armed forces.

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