Afghan President ‘Unharmed’ as Taliban Kills 24, Wounds 30 at Election Rally

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani looks on during a UN debate on performance of his country's private sector during the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan on November 27, 2018 in Geneva. (Photo by DENIS BALIBOUSE / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read DENIS BALIBOUSE/AFP/Getty Images)

Taliban narco-jihadis claimed responsibility for a suicide attack Tuesday that killed at least 24 people and wounded 30 others at an election campaign rally held by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Hours later, Taliban terrorists also carried out a separate attack in Kabul that killed 22 people and injured 38 others, Al Jazeera reports, noting that the Afghan Ministry of Interior confirmed the death toll. The second attack took place near Kabul’s Green Zone, home to the Afghan defense ministry, American embassy, and NATO headquarters.

That means the Taliban killed 46 people and injured 68 others in two suicide attacks on Tuesday.

The deadly election rally incident took place in Charikar, the capital of Parwan province, located north of Kabul.

Citing Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, placed the casualty toll at up to 26 dead and 42 others wounded, adding:

Abdul Qasim Sangin, head of Parwan hospital, said children were among those killed and there were fears the number of victims could rise The suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden motorcycle into the entrance of the venue hosting Ghani’s rally.

Both women and children were reportedly among the victims.

Although the Afghan president witnessed the explosion first hand, Hamed Aziz, his campaign spokesman, reportedly indicated that he is “safe and unharmed.”

Khaama Press (KP) notes:

According to reports, the explosion [at the election campaign event] took place moments before President Ghani [began] his speech. An official in Parwan Provincial Hospital confirmed that the explosion killed at least 24 people and wounded around 30 others.

In March, Afghanistan’s election body delayed the country’s presidential race for a second time — to September 28.

The Taliban, which considers itself the only legitimate ruling body in the country, vowed to disrupt the elections to dissuade people from voting as Ghani vies for a second five-year term. Taliban terrorists repeatedly declined Ghani’s U.S.-backed offer to participate in the race as a legitimate political party.

After American President Donald Trump canceled peace talks on September 7 in the wake of nearly a year of negotiations, the U.S. and the Taliban pledged to intensify attacks.

Last weekend, U.S. troops and their Afghan counterparts killed an estimated 172 Taliban jihadis in separate attacks across the country. The assaults are a testament to the growing number of attacks at the hands of the U.S.-backed Afghan forces.

Under President Trump, the U.S. has already dropped an unprecedented number of bombs on the Taliban and other terrorists: 16,152 — more than double the number (7,461) during the last four years of his predecessor combined. Trump also loosened the U.S. rules of engagement (ROE) in Afghanistan further, no longer requiring U.S. troops to be in contact with the Taliban before opening fire. Between the end of 2014 and June 2016, former President Barack Obama took away the U.S military’s authority to offensively fire on the Taliban. Obama’s ROE required American troops to wait for the enemy to fire first before engaging. Under pressure from the U.S. military, he revoked those rules.

The Trump administration continued to launch a historic number of airstrikes during the peace negotiations to pressure the Taliban into an agreement to end the nearly 18-yea-old war.

Taliban jihadis also intensified terrorist attacks amid the negotiations.

Trump cited a September 5 attack that wounded more than 40 people and killed at least ten others, including an American service member, as the reason for ending the peace talks. The Taliban killed another American troop on Monday, marking the first U.S. fatality since Trump deemed the peace talks “dead” and the 17th this year alone.

Overall, the U.S. has appropriated $975 billion and lost 2,297 American service members — the vast majority under the previous administration. Terrorists, primarily the Taliban, have also maimed 20,543 American troops since the war began in October 2001.

Although the Afghan forces have struggled to prevent the Taliban’s influence and manpower from reaching historic proportions, the U.S. investments are beginning to bear fruit. Asadullah Khalid, the acting minister of defense in Afghanistan, told CBS News Monday that for the first time the Taliban is taking more losses than the Afghan forces.

His comments came after Trump pledged to boost attacks to unprecedented levels following his decision to end peace talks.

The Afghan forces have borne the brunt of the Taliban attacks since the U.S. ended its combat mission at the end of 2014.

Within a year of that decision, the Taliban became the world’s most prolific terrorist organization, carrying out more attacks than its Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) when it was at the peak of its power in Iraq, Syria, and beyond.

The Taliban now controls or holds sway over more territory — about half of Afghanistan — than during any other time since U.S. troops removed its regime from power in late 2001.

U.S. troops invaded Afghanistan in response to the Taliban regime harboring al-Qaeda in the years leading to the 9/11 attacks.


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