July 25, 2021

eleven dead in the explosion of a bus

At least eleven people died on Saturday night in western Afghanistan in the intentional explosion of the bus in which they were passengers. This is the latest occurrence in a series of attacks targeting public transport, an official said on Sunday (June 6th). The attack took place in the province of Badghis, bordering Turkmenistan, in a context of great uncertainty and multiple violence generated by the accelerated withdrawal of American forces from the country.

Badghis Provincial Governor Hessamuddin Shams accused the Taliban of concealing a bomb on the road, which allegedly went off when the bus passed. The explosion claimed the lives of eleven people, including three children and four women, Shams said. This assessment was confirmed by another provincial official, Khodadad Tayeb, who specified that following the explosion the bus had plunged into one of the many ravines of this mountainous province.

This attack comes on top of four others which this week targeted as many passenger minibuses in the Shiite neighborhoods of Kabul, killing a dozen in total. Two of them were claimed by the jihadist group Islamic State, whose fighters – still present according to the UN in the east and north of the country – specifically target the Hazara Shiite minority.

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Withdrawal of American troops

At the same time, the Taliban are stepping up their offensives against Afghan army positions in many provinces, including around Kabul. They announced on Saturday that they have “Conquered the district of Deh Yak” in Ghazni province, about 150 kilometers south of the capital. But the authorities claim to have simply “Reinstalled” their forces in another area.

Ghazni is an important lock on the major axis which connects Kabul to Kandahar, a large city in southern Afghanistan and capital of the province of the same name, also a stronghold of the Taliban. The insurgents briefly took control of the city of Ghazni in 2018, before being driven out.

Since the withdrawal agreement, signed in February 2020, between the Taliban and the Americans, President Joe Biden has ordered a complete withdrawal of forces before the symbolic date of September 11. The Pentagon said this week that operations were already nearly half complete. They could be completed by early July.

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The World with AFP