Taliban targets foreigners in latest Afghanistan attack
A precision attack by the Taliban on a restaurant popular with foreigners in Kabul resulted in 13 dead - including two Americans.
Police say a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the restaurant, and that two gunmen then stormed the establishment spraying diners with bullets, killing 13 foreigners, including a top envoy of the International Monetary Fund for Afghanistan, the senior United Nations political affairs officer and two other U.N. staffers, and two Americans with the American University in Afghanistan.
The gunmen were killed by police.
The attack is seen as a critical blow to Afghan peace and reconciliation efforts, and it has raised serious concerns ahead of the security transition that is due to begin in Afghanistan in April.
Authorities in Kabul say that investigations are under way to determine circumstances that led to what is being condemned as the deadliest assault on foreign civilians in Afghanistan since the start of U.S.-led military campaign in 2001.
Addressing a gathering of provincial police chiefs in Kabul on Saturday, Interior Minister Mohammad Omar Daudzai, who oversees Afghan police forces, said he has suspended the commander and intelligence officer in charge of the district and placed both of them under investigation.
"The aim of attacks against civilian locations like the restaurant is to isolate Afghanistan by discouraging foreigners from visiting and living in the country and forcing educated Afghan youth to flee abroad," he said, describing an enemy that wants to push Afghanistan back to a previous century.
"Afghanistan has completely changed and the youth this time is not ready to flee," he said.
Claiming responsibility for the attack, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told VOA that penetration of its fighters into such a heavily-guarded part of Kabul demonstrates that the group is capable of regaining control of the country after withdrawal of foreign troops.
If the Taliban "can have access and transport fighters to what [Afghan authorities] dub a Red Line area where senior officials of invading countries reside, it shows the Taliban has the capability to retake our country," he said.
You might recall that the UN - and most foreigners - pulled out of Iraq when they began to become targets of the insurgency. It seems likely that a few more attacks like this one will result in a similar flight.
Of special note is the Taliban's confidence that once the US military is gone, they can pretty much just walk in and take over. It may not be that easy, but there are few in or out of government who believe the Afghan army is capable of standing up to the Taliban for very long.
And so, another example of hard won military success, bought with blood and treasure, will be sacrificed for politicial expediency by the Obama administration. As we discovered in the recently published Gates memoirs, the sad fact is that President Obama just doesn't care.