A coordinated attack in Kabul on two government offices that involved the detonation of two big bombs, killed 20 and wounded 57. The assault shook the Afghan capital Wednesday on the eve of the arrival of President Obama’s special envoy, Richard Holbrooke.
The brazen attack was clearly intended to undermine confidence in the government of Hamid Karzai. It was said to be payback for the poor treatment of Taliban prisoners in Western custody. One Afghan official is reported to have blamed groups holed up in Pakistan’s northwest for a string of such attacks in Kabul.
With Kabul under attack, and the northwest of Pakistan a base for the Taliban, Obama’s Afghan strategy hangs in the balance.
As security deteriorates in Afghanistan, President Obama is even now deciding whether to go ahead and send more US troops there or whether to await a policy review.
The USG Open Source Center translates an account of the attacks from the Pashto-language Afghan Islamic Press, clearly brought out just as they were beginning and before the outcome was known. The press has known connections to the Taliban:
‘ Taleban claim responsibility for Kabul suicide attacks
Afghan Islamic Press
Wednesday, February 11, 2009 . . .
Document Type: OSC Translated Text
Taleban claim responsibility for Kabul suicide attacks
Text of report by private Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency
Kabul, 11 February: A suicide attack has been carried out in Kabul. Informed sources told Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) that a suicide bomber detonated himself near the Department of Prisons in the Khairkhana area of Kabul today. There is no information about casualties.
These sources said that the police had shot another suicide bomber dead in Malek Asghar Square in Kabul town.
According to reports, two bombers have entered the Ministry of Justice. One of them was killed by the police while the police are fighting the other one.
Spokesman for the Taleban Zabihollah Mojahed claimed responsibility for the attack and told AIP that five suicide bombers had entered Kabul town. Two of them entered the Department for Prisons and the three others the Ministry of Justice. He said that fighting was under way at the Justice Ministry, but did not have more details.
Senior officials and the police have not yet commented on this.
(Description of Source: Peshawar Afghan Islamic Press in Pashto — Peshawar-based agency, staffed by Afghans. The agency used to have good contacts with Taliban leadership; however, since the fall of the Taliban regime, it now describes itself as independent and self-financing) ‘
Meanwhile, in Iraq Sunni Arab guerrillas killed 18 pilgrims during the processions in honor of the fortieth day after the death of Imam Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
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