October: Afghanistan’s bloodiest month?

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October claimed the lives of at least 173 police and security forces by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, the bloodiest in over a decade

With at least 269 deaths from violence, mostly off high-profile Taliban and Daesh attacks, October 2017 stands out as one of the bloodiest months in over a decade of terrorism in Afghanistan.

Most of the dead included Afghan police and military, militants as well some 100 civilians.

The month ended with a deadly (31st October) in the Green Zone of capital Kabul city i.e. the heavily-fortified diplomatic area of Wazir Akbar Khan, leaving at least nine dead and wounding 21. Earlier on October 30, at least six policemen and eight Taliban insurgents were killed in another shoot-out in the southern Zabul province. On October 29, the Taliban targeted a security post in northern Kunduz killing thirteen policemen.

These high-profile strikes mostly targeted Afghan defense forces and the police, underscoring a new trend, particularly between October 16 and 21, when an intense spate of attacks rocked different cities of Afghanistan. This string of six terrorist attacks across Afghanistan, claimed either by the Taliban or Daesh , left over 220 civilians and security force members dead. . An attack on Andar district of Ghazni province on October 16 claimed the lives of 33 people, including 28 soldiers, while wounding 58 persons. This followed two major explosions the next day targeting police headquarters in Paktia province, leaving 70 people dead, including 59 Afghan security force members, and injuring 200 others. Following Thursday witnessed another deadly attack on a base in the Maiwand district of Kandahar which killed 43 soldiers and wounded 9.

On October 20, suicide bombers struck two mosques during Friday prayers, a Shiite mosque in Kabul and a Sunni mosque in western Ghor province, killing at least 80 civilians (70 in Imam Zaman Mosque in Dast-e-Barchi, Kabul, and 10 in Ghor Province), all of whom were civilians. On the following Saturday afternoon, a suicide bombing at the entry gate of the Marshal Fahim Military Academy in Kabul killed 15 cadets and injured four. They were all travelling in a bus.

In the wake of the ongoing series of attacks by insurgents, the security situation in Afghanistan remains tense and volatile as ever as the anti-government armed militant groups expand their insurgency in some of the volatile districts of key provinces besides targeting high profile military and civilian installations in the country’s capital, particularly frequenting attacks on security forces, their check posts, and other targets.

On the other hand, more than 400 Taliban insurgents have reportedly been killed over the past three months in the Helmand province alone while operations continue in other provinces as well.

This may be one reason, why according to a New York Times report, the US CIA has decided to enlarge its footprint and expand operations across Afghanistan to hunt down  Taliban and Daesh terrorists.

The author Sitwat Waqar Bokhari is a research fellow at CRSS.

© Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) and Afghan Studies Center (ASC), Islamabad.

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