Monday, April 25, 2016

AFGHANISTAN - A Taliban Question

"Is the Taliban growing stronger?" PBS NewsHour 4/19/2016


SUMMARY:  A Tuesday morning suicide attack in Kabul killed 28 people and wounded hundreds more, part of an ongoing surge of Taliban-driven violence in Afghanistan.  Judy Woodruff talks to Seth Jones of the RAND Corporation, former advisor to U.S. special forces in the region, for more on the bombing and what it says about the country's stability and security after 15 years of American involvement.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  We return to our top story, the upsurge in Taliban-driven violence in Afghanistan, nearly 15 years into the American involvement there.

Smoke over the Kabul skyline signaled the capital was under attack.

AHMAD NAVID, Witness (through interpreter):  It was a big blast.  Dust covered all the area.  I wasn't able to see what was happening.  Later, I saw lot of damage.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  One insurgent blew up a truck bomb outside a security agency that protects top officials.  A second attacker ran into the compound and started shooting.

GEN. ABDUL RAHMAN RAHIMI, Kabul Police Chief (through interpreter):  After the car bomb exploded, a suicide bomber was trying to enter the building.  He came under fire from inside the building, as well as from police forces who were outside, who didn't give him the chance to enter.  He was killed.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The attack caused extensive damage just a few hundred yards from the presidential palace.  Meanwhile, fighting continued in the northern part of the country, where government forces around Kunduz have battled this week to repel a Taliban assault.

Last year, the militants captured the city and held it for three days before Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes drove them out.  But Afghanistan's chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, said Kunduz and Kabul show the Taliban's latest spring offensive has failed.

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, Chief Executive, Afghanistan (through interpreter):  They were defeated all over the country after they carried out their attacks and have suffered lots of causalities.  So, by carrying this suicide attack, they wanted to take revenge.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Still, by most reckoning, the Taliban is at its strongest in years, likely a concern for President Obama, when he reversed course last fall, and announced the U.S. will keep 10,000 troops in Afghanistan through this year, drawing down to 5,500 in 2017.

No comments: