Afghanistan’s civilians bear brunt of Taliban offensive
April 20, Kabul: The Taliban on Tuesday exposed the hollowness of their recent vow to “safeguard and protect the lives and properties of the civilian people,” by launching a massive suicide attack in central Kabul, killing at least 28 and injuring hundreds more.
The attack was reportedly aimed at the offices of a security unit responsible for protecting Afghan government officials. But that facility is next to a major thoroughfare, and today’s victims were primarily civilians, including a number of children who were caught in the blast.
The Taliban’s spring offensive, “Operation Omari,” is only a week old and already the civilian toll is high. Announcing the start of the operation, the Taliban described their plans to launch “large-scale attacks on enemy positions across the country.”
Within days of that declaration, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) warned of a record number of civilian casualties this year, even before what was expected to be an exceptionally bloody fighting season had begun. That report noted a “26 percent increase in civilian casualties from complex and suicide attacks” attributable to the Taliban and other insurgents, who have been responsible for more than 60 percent of all civilian casualties.
Attacks using weapons that cannot be directed against a specific military target – in this case high explosives in a densely populated area – are unlawfully indiscriminate under the laws of war. Those responsible for deliberately carrying out such an attack committed a war crime.
The Taliban claims their ultimate aim is to establish “mechanisms for good governance ... so that our people can live a life of security and normalcy.” The hypocrisy of those words is particularly galling for the injured and the relatives of those who died in Kabul Tuesday.
The Oslo Times