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What's behind the wave of assassinations in Afghanistan(VIDEO)

Jan Mohammed Khan, a powerful ally of President Hamid Karzai, is the latest casualty in a string of assassinations that undermine NATO’s claims that the situation is improving.

By Correspondent / July 18, 2011

In this image made available from The Afghanistan Presidential Palace, President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, front 4th left, together with others offer prayers near the coffins of Jan Mohammad Khan and Mohammed Ashim Watanwal who were killed by armed gunmen during Sunday's attack, at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 18.

AP

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Kabul, Afghanistan

Sunday should have been a good day for Afghanistan. In the afternoon, Bamiyan province became the first to transition to the authority of Afghan security forces.

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But a few hours after sundown, two suicide bombers stormed the Kabul home of Jan Mohammed Khan, one of President Hamid Karzai’s senior aids, killing him and a member of parliament who was visiting. The attack comes less than a week after a gunman shot the president’s half brother Ahmad Wali Karzai, the principal power-broker in Kandahar, at his home.

As the warm-weather fighting season reaches its peak, the Taliban appear to be carrying out a successful campaign to assassinate high-level officials, particularly those in Karzai’s inner circle. The assassination campaign is destabilizing the personal patronage networks that run Afghanistan and undermining NATO’s claims that the situation here is improving.

“The Taliban wants to put pressure on the government through these assassinations and push the government to accept their demands,” says Mangal Sherzad, a professor of law at Nangarhar University in Jalalabad. “The enemy has lost the ability to fight government forces directly, so the second best option for them is to kill important people.”

The Taliban took responsibility for the murder of Mr. Khan, the former governor of Uruzgan province, and a major power-broker in Afghanistan. Khan's family runs a large private militia. Hashim Watanwal, a member of parliament from Uruzgan, was also killed in the attack.

During an interview with the Monitor last Thursday, Mr. Watanwal expressed serious doubts about the future of his country.

“Overall, the security situation is getting worse in Afghanistan. It is out of control of the foreigners and the Afghan government,” he said during a phone conversation. “Since the foreign forces started talking about withdraw, it’s gotten a lot worse.”

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