The Associated Press reports on a horrific suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan, which killed 16 and wounded 39 at a funeral for victims of previous Taliban violence.
The attack took place in eastern Laghman province, according to the local governor’s spokesman, Sarhadi Zwak. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing but the blame is likely to fall on the Taliban who have staged similar attacks in the past.
Also, the bombing came on the heels of a spate of Taliban attacks across Afghanistan overnight and on Thursday morning that killed at least 17 people.
The insurgents have been increasingly targeting local police and Afghan forces, inflicting heavy civilian casualties as well, after most foreign combat troops withdrew from the country at the end of last month.
The bomber at the funeral in Mihtarlam mingled with the mourners gathered for the funeral for a police commander and three other people killed earlier in the day in a roadside bombing, then blew himself up. The roadside bombing also took place in Mihtarlam and officials said the Taliban were behind that attack.
Zwak, the provincial spokesman, said police investigations chief Khlil Nyazi was among the 16 killed at the funeral, along with three other police officers. Three policemen were also among the 39 wounded.
Among the other Taliban mayhem perpetrated Wednesday was an assault on a checkpoint manned by pro-government militia forces in Andar, reportedly organized with the assistance of an inside man who infiltrated the militia last year.
Thursday brought a “green-on-blue” sneak attack in Kabul, as an Afghan soldier suddenly opened fire on a group of American contractors, killing three and wounding a fourth.
This must all be extremely confusing for the Obama White House. For one thing, they declared a ceremonial end to combat operations in Afghanistan in December. Evidently no one told the Taliban they were supposed to cease combat operations, too. There are many words for a conflict in which one side ceremonially declares combat over but the other side keeps bombing and shooting, and “victory” is not among them.
Even more problematically, the White House just concluded a little press-briefing lecture on Wednesday in which deputy press secretary Eric Schultz informed Jonathan Karl of ABC News that the Taliban is most certainly not a terrorist organization.
Karl wondered how the Administration could advise the Jordanians not to make a prisoner swap with ISIS to secure the freedom of its captive jet pilot (and hopefully also a Japanese journalist the terror state is holding hostage) after swapping five Taliban honchos for U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl. When Schultz started reciting Administration boilerplate about “leaving no man behind,” Karl asked if the Jordanians couldn’t say they were operating under the same principle. He noted that the Taliban was still actively conducting terrorist attacks.
Schultz bizarrely leaped to the Taliban’s defense, insisting they were a legitimate “armed insurgency,” while ISIS is a “terrorist group” to which concessions should not be made. He also sought to describe prisoner exchanges of the sort that freed Bergdahl as part of the “traditional end-of-conflict interaction that happens,” ignoring the painfully obvious fact that certain other traditional end-of-conflict interactions – such as the Taliban not blowing people up with suicide bombs or using illegal undercover operatives to stage deadly sneak attacks – are not happening.
Then there’s the little complication of the Taliban being named as a terrorist organization in an executive order from President Bush in 2002, although the State Department did not add them to its Foreign Terrorist Organization list. Is Barack Obama, of all people, going to argue that executive orders don’t matter?
Of course, what matters above all else is the short-term political needs of the Obama White House, and ever since the Bergdahl deal, they’ve desperately needed for the Taliban to be regarded as a legitimate, lawful combatant. The Taliban knows that, which is why they feel no obligation whatsoever to act like one.