Saturday, 13 December 2014

Gunmen Kill Supreme Court Official in Afghanistan’s Capital.........

ABUL, Afghanistan — Gunmen killed a senior official of Afghanistan’s highest court near his home in Kabul on Saturday, the police said, the latest in a series of brazen attacks in the capital in recent weeks.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing of Atiqullah Rawoofi, head of the Supreme Court’s secretariat, who the police said was on his way to work when he was shot.
The killing came two days after a teenager evaded tight security and blew himself up at an elite French school in Kabul, killing a German and wounding as many as 20 other people, during a theatrical performance about the toll of suicide bombings. On the same day, another bomber struck an army bus, killing five soldiers. Other recent attacks have targeted a British Embassy vehicle, the compound of a small aid organization and a prominent female member of Parliament.
Perhaps most unsettling, a suicide bomber infiltrated the Kabul police chief’s heavily fortified offices just over a month ago in a failed attempt to assassinate him. That attack, which killed one police official, was the first in the wave of assaults that have left the capital feeling somewhat under siege.
The Taliban also claimed responsibility for a roadside bombing Friday night that targeted a NATO convoy near the Bagram military base north of the capital, killing two service members.
The attack Saturday was another grim data point for Kabul, and the country more broadly, as the new Afghan government struggles to stem a rising tide of Taliban violence.
Attacks in Kabul are nothing new, of course. At other times this year the city has been similarly tense, as after the January attack on a restaurant favored by Westerners that left 21 people dead, and after gunmen infiltrated the Serena Hotel in March and killed at least nine people, including a respected local journalist and most of his family. While the recent attacks represent an escalation for the Taliban, the death tolls in Kabul have been less devastating than during past waves of violence.
What is different now, however, is the stasis that has enveloped the government as President Ashraf Ghani struggles to select his cabinet. Disagreements over appointments with Abdullah Abdullah, Mr. Ghani’s chief executive and his opponent in the presidential election this year, have left the top posts at the various ministries empty, putting most of the ministries in a holding pattern.
In particular, many in Kabul are eagerly watching for signs of who will be the new ministers of defense and interior, who are responsible for the army and the police, respectively. Afghan forces have suffered a record number of casualties during this year’s fighting, and the Taliban have made strides beyond their usual rural strongholds, challenging district centers and establishing front lines in areas where they once relied strictly on guerrilla tactics.