Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
Afghanistan’s violent summer: 400 attacks in a week
U.S. Central Command chief General David Petraeus last month warned residents of the southern Afghan city of Kandahar of a violent summer ahead as his troops prepared to take full control of the southern province (with the same name) from the Taliban. He spoke of the insurgents taking “horrific action” to stop the military advance into their spiritual centre.
Some of it may already be unfolding although the offensive is still thought to be weeks away. In one week alone toward the end of April there were 400 attacks , 60 percent of them roadside bombs. Which makes it 57 attacks in a day, telling you more than anything else the deteriorating military situation in the country.
Juan Cole, a commentator on Middle East and South Asia issues, writes on his blog Informed Comment that this level of violence is what characterised Iraq in March 2005 before the Sunni-Shiite war. “The year 2005 was a bloody year in Iraq, and nobody but then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld doubted we were mired in a vicious guerrilla war,” he says.
There were 1,000 roadside bomb attacks in April 2010, twice as many as in April the previous year. Last weekend the Taliban announced they would launch an offensive against U.S. and NATO troops beginning Monday, the day Afghan President Hamid Karzai began meetings in Washington to repair ties clouded by mutual recriminations.
The promised offensive hasn’t materialised, at least not on the scale the insurgents seemed to suggest, but the level of ordinary violence is itself is higher than at any point in the recent past.