At least 27 people were killed in a shootout during a rally of a local politician Abdullah Abdullah in the western part of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Friday. This is the deadliest attack since the agreement between the US and the Taliban.
The attack has exposed the lack of security in what was believed to be an extremely well-guarded area of the Afghan capital. This attack has taken place when the foreign forces are to return from the country within 14 months according to the agreement between the US and Taliban on 29 February.
Afghan home ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said women and children were among the dead while 29 others were injured. He said Afghan Special Forces are carrying out operations against the attackers. Rahimi said that these figures could change as some of those shot at were in a critical condition.
Afghan health ministry official Nizamuddin Jalil said that the death toll was higher, with 29 people killed and 30 others injured.
NATO sources echoed the concern of Jalil, saying that the death toll was higher indeed.
Wary of a NATO retaliation, the Taliban have denied responsibility for the immediate attack, which threatens to wreck the recent peace treaty with the US. The attack was carried out at a ceremony held in memory of Abdul Ali Mazari, a politician from the Hajra ethnic community. Most people in this community are Shi’ah.
Already, the peace looked shaky when the US forces had to retaliate to a previous terrorist attack, which the Taliban did not deny, with an airstrike on the hideouts of the militants on 5 February.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack through a post in its website Amaq. However, the terrorist outfit has not provided corroborative evidence in support of its claim.
“The attack started with a boom, apparently a rocket landed in the area, Abdullah and some other politicians … escaped the attack unhurt,” Abdullah’s spokesman Fraidoon Kwazoon told Reuters.
President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the attack. He called it “a crime against humanity”. He said further that he had called Abdullah over the phone. Ghani and Abdullah have been mutual rivals for years. The politician attacked by terrorists today had challenged last month’s announcement by the Afghan Electoral Commission that Ghani had won the September presidential election.