The Committee to Protect Journalists has ruled April 30th the deadliest day for journalists in Afghanistan since 2002. Twin suicide bombings took place in Kabul, already claimed by Daesh, killing at least 25 people, including nine journalists. The first explosion was relatively small, killing only four people. The second explosion deliberately targeted a group of journalists who had rushed to the scene of the first, among them was the famed Afghan photojournalist Shah Marai, who has been persistently covering the bloodshed since the civil war and the Taliban’s tyrannical rule in the 1990’s. The second bomber reportedly disguised himself as a tv cameraman to get close to journalists and first responders.
This is the second attack of the “traditional” spring offensive mounted annually by the Taliban and other terrorist groups. The first, happening just a week ago, killed 57 people who were lined up to vote at a government office in Kabul as a response to a recent push by the authorities to get more people to register.
Hoping to avoid an especially bloody spring, the government made their strongest offer for peace to the day; unfortunately, it has proven to be unsuccessful. The attack, mostly instigating articles honoring the portfolio of the now late photographer Shah Marai, is also being used by The Guardian to draw attention to Trump’s failure to stabilize the country.
Last August, Trump unveiled his “fight-to-win” strategy, which included an addition of several thousand troops, as well as a refusal to continue to speak about the exact number of troops currently in Afghanistan. Trump promised to give military commanders the authority to make immediate decisions in the battlefield, which would contradict the Obama administration’s restrictions on offensive operations. The green light was also given for the greater use of armed drones. Not only has this “strategy” proven ineffective, as government forces control only 3% more of the country since 2017, the rise of careless offensive attacks, according to the U.N., have contributed to more than 10,000 civilian casualties.
The Guardian’s Simon Tisdall made a great point that “In the absence of a holistic US strategy, Afghanistan risks becoming one large training ground and weapons testing site for the American armed forces.” Hopefully, the obvious ineffectiveness of Trump’s relentless offensive will force his administration to change their approach, but as our history with the Trump administration has shown, it is unlikely.
James Gallagher-Shaw, Staff Writer