Taliban attacks Kandahar as Afghan president meets with Pakistan

Dozens were killed as militants launched an attack at the Kandahar airport.

REUTERS/ Stringer
Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand guard in front of a shop burned during the Taliban attack on Kandahar Airport in Kandahar, December 9, 2015.

An attack at a market bazaar and a school adjacent to the airport in Kandahar, Afghanistan, killed 37 civilians Tuesday night and wounded another 35 people. 

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the deadly assault, which continued early into Wednesday morning, even after the Afghan National Army forces surrounded the nine attackers armed with machine guns. The fighters were targeting foreign forces, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.

The attack took place while Afghan president Ashraf Ghani was on a visit to Pakistan. Despite intense pressure not to visit, Mr. Ghani was well received and the two nations discussed efforts to improve economic and security cooperation for Afghanistan and its neighbors. Ghani and Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif also discussed the Taliban, and Ghani was reportedly critical of Pakistan’s failed efforts to keep Taliban fighters from crossing the border.

“We are fighting on behalf of all of you, but we are the ones who are suffering some of the worst atrocities,” Mr. Ghani said. He added that in the wake of the Peshwar attack that killed more than 130 schoolchildren there were “unintended consequences” for Afghanistan, which had to face a series of additional security measures.  

Afghanistan has been dealing with insurgency threats from militants crossing the Pakistan border for years, and a growing number of terrorists have entered the country. Afghan special forces have launched over 40 operations against the Taliban, but Afghanistan remains something of a hotbed for international jihadis. 

“Al-Qaida, Daesh and terrorists from China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, the Middle East are all, unfortunately, present on our soil.” Ghani added.

Taliban attacks have been rising in Afghanistan after it was revealed in late July that Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s former leader, had been killed. The news provided a major setback for mending ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan – Islamabad is said to have influence to negotiate talks with the Taliban.

Officials have been strongly pushing for talks to happen soon. According to Antony Blinken, US deputy secretary of state, Afghan and Pakistani leaders have renewed their commitment to an “Afghan owned and Afghan led” initiative. Blinken added that a meeting between Afghan officials and an official Taliban representative last July marked “a clear desire to return to that process.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.