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Afghanistan: Journalist Talks To RFE/RL About Suicide Bombing

Fahim Dashty Kabul, 29 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- At least nine people were killed and 27 injured in the suicide bomb attack at a military training center in Kabul on 28 September. It was the deadliest bombing in the capital in at least a year and ended 10 days of calm after the landmark 18 September parliamentary elections. RFE/RL correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari spoke with Fahim Dashty, a prominent Afghan journalist and editor in chief of "Kabul Weekly," about the attack.

RFE/RL: Yesterday’s suicide attack took place in front of an army training center on the outskirts of Kabul. But it also comes as the ballots of the 18 September vote are being counted across Afghanistan. Do you think the attack was in any way connected to the elections?

Dashty: I don’t think the attack was related to the elections, because if it was meant to be in connection with the elections it should have taken place either before the vote or, now that it took place after the elections, it should have been somewhere close to the election office, not close to the National Army training camp. The attack was against the National Army or against security in Afghanistan as a whole. In recent months, Taliban have increased their attacks especially in the southern and southeastern regions of Afghanistan, and yesterday’s attack was also one of the series of attacks we have witnessed in last months.

RFE/RL: A Taliban spokesman has claimed responsibility for the 28 September attack. Do you think Taliban fighters are becoming stronger or are they changing tactics?

Dashty: When you look at their actions, it is clear that they have become stronger. If we look at the last two or three years, the capabilities of the Taliban have become without any doubt stronger.

RFE/RL: Why do you think Taliban fighters are becoming stronger?

Dashty: I think there are several reasons for it. But the main reason is a lack of precise planning by the Afghan government and the international coalition against terrorism. This lack of planning has enabled the Taliban to regroup and they’ve reached a level where they can conduct an attack in front of the training center of the National Army. But when you look at a year ago, they were not even able to conduct similar attacks in southern areas where they have supporters.

RFE/RL: Some say that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda intend to bring Iraq-style violence to Afghanistan. What is your view on that?

Dashty: I don’t agree that [insurgents in Afghanistan] are learning from Iraq, but [the insurgents ] in Iraq and [insurgents] in Afghanistan have more or less the same ideology and same way of thinking, and you see that Al-Qaeda is active there and also here. Al-Qaeda tactics have been used here even before -- one of the most important cases was the [9 September 2001] suicide attack against commander [Ahmad Shah] Mas'ud -- but in Afghanistan people are not used [to conducting] suicide attacks and they are capable of it, we’ve had only a few cases of suicide attacks. But [the latest attack] shows that they can find people in Afghanistan who are willing to commit suicide attacks or that foreign citizens, especially from Arab countries, are coming to Afghanistan to conduct such attacks.

RFE/RL: So, do you think we should expect more such attacks in the future?

Dashty: I think that in the future months Taliban attacks will decrease to some extent because of the winter and the cold months, since we have witnessed in the last years that during the cold months there have been less attacks by the Taliban. But this will be only a calm period before the storm, meaning that during the spring we will see a bigger number of attacks and also more serious ones.

See also:

"NATO Looks To Expand Mission After September Elections"

”Violence Spiraling As Elections Near"

"Inconsistencies In The State Of The War On Terrorism"