The civilian price of the 17 year war on terror in Afghanistan

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The commander of Kabul’s elite police unit has told Sky News the threat of attacks in the Afghan capital is worse than ever, despite security of the city being a key plank of the US-led forces strategy for the country.

It comes after a bloody month in which the Taliban and Islamic State targeted civilians in their war against international forces and the country’s central government.

The conflict in Afghanistan is now entering its seventeenth year and it appears that there is no end in sight to the fighting.


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Hunting for Taliban car bombers

The Taliban, or other insurgent groups, control or contest nearly half of the country.

That is according to official sources, but the actual figure may be much higher.

Meanwhile, the UN’s latest report on the country has recorded huge losses of life amongst the civilian population.

Some 10,453 people were killed or injured in 2017, which the UN describes as a “chilling statistic”.

And although that figure is down by 9% on 2016, the report highlights the high number of people killed by suicide attacks, or improvised explosive devices.

Police act on information that two suspected car bombs have entered the city The civilian price of the 17 year war on terror in Afghanistan The civilian price of the 17 year war on terror in Afghanistan skynews kabul afghanistan alex rossi 4234900
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The threat of attacks is worse than ever

We joined the capital’s quick reaction forces to try to understand how the security situation is changing in the capital.

We weren’t at their base long before they received information that two suspected car bombs had entered the city.

But in a place choked with traffic, finding them before they strike is almost impossible.

The intelligence the police get is not strong this time but until they are certain that it is a false alarm, the threat level remains significant.

QRF Commander, Shah Mahmood Azizi, tells me of the difficulties he faces.

He said: “There are reports of threats which are pretty high right now. The reason we are here is to stop the enemy to reach their targets.

“We have been given instructions to set up check points to stop and check suspicious vehicles and this is based on intelligence reports that we received.

A bomb hidden in an ambulance killed 105 people in January  The civilian price of the 17 year war on terror in Afghanistan The civilian price of the 17 year war on terror in Afghanistan skynews afghanistan kabul alex rossi 4234901
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An ambulance packed with explosives killed 105 people in January

“The past few attacks have been painful, a lot of lives have been lost here. There have been a lot of casualties in civilian and also security persons. But I assure everyone that I will sacrifice my life to stop these attacks.”

The police teams are having some success. Last week a truck laden with explosives was intercepted and the bombers were arrested.

But other vehicle bombs have detonated in the heart of the city.

In a series of attacks this year, one of the worst saw a Taliban bomber driving an ambulance detonate in a densely populated area in the heart of the city.

One hundred and five people were killed in that attack, and it has left many here asking whether the fight in Afghanistan is being lost.

The US strategy continues to centre on creating a well-trained Afghan national force and a strong central government in Kabul.

But the police and the military are taking heavy casualties.

Security in the city is being strengthened in response and much of the centre of Kabul now resembles a military zone with blast walls and closed compounds.

The US-led coalition claimed that it is winning the war against the Taliban but after 17 years of fighting the capital is still insecure and people are scared.

It is the civilian population that continues to pay an appalling price in this war without end.



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