In another attempt to take control of the country by force, the fundamentalist Taliban group assassinated the head of the government’s communications service in the country’s capital, Kabul on Friday (6). The attack was claimed by the group and confirmed by the government.
Dawa Khan Menapal was the head of the government’s Information and Media Center and was killed while performing his Friday prayers, Jumu’ah, a traditional Islamic ritual.
The assassination was seen as a show of force by the Taliban to make it clear that they can attack the nation’s capital whenever they want. The group had previously pledged to act against government officials in retaliation for airstrikes by the Afghan army, which is trying to contain the Taliban’s advance in major urban centers in the country.
On Tuesday (3), for example, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on the residence of the Minister of Defense, General Bismillah Mohammadi, in Kabul, which left eight dead – the minister survived. Two days later, the district chief of Sayed Abad was assassinated in the capital.
The government regretted Menapal’s death on Friday. “He was a young man who stood like a mountain against enemy propaganda, and who has always been a big supporter of the government,” said a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry. “Sadly, the brutal and savage terrorists have committed yet another cowardly act and killed an Afghan patriot.” Journalist, he had been the president’s spokesperson.
Taliban spokesman said Menapal was “killed in special attack by mujahedin [termo usado para se referir às guerrilhas islâmicas] and was punished for his actions. “
On social media, an American diplomat in the country, Ross Wilson, called Menapal a friend and said that “these killings are an affront to human rights and freedom of expression in Afghanistan.
The episode was the latest in a series of assassinations by the Islamic fundamentalist group to weaken the government of President Ashraf Ghani, which was democratically elected and has the backing of Western countries. Dozens of activists, journalists, bureaucrats, judges and public figures who fought to maintain the current regime have been killed by the Taliban in an attempt to silence dissenting voices in the warring country.
The Taliban have advanced militarily to take control of Afghan territory since the United States announced it would withdraw its troops from the country by August 31, after two decades of war. The move was criticized by the country’s government, which blamed the United States for the enemy’s military advance.
Key border posts and vast rural areas have already been conquered, and the group has now made progress in major urban centers, surrounding provincial capitals across the country.
This Friday, ten Afghan soldiers and a militia commander were killed in the northern province of Jowzjan, during a siege of the capital Sheberghan. Nine of the province’s ten districts are already controlled by the group, according to a local politician. In Helmand, in the south of the country, the group burned down shops during clashes to take the capital Lashkar Gah, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the region.
International entities have expressed their concern. “Civilians find themselves in the middle of a war. They have been driven from their homes and are the primary victims of the conflict, ”said Mike Bonke, National Director of Action Against Hunger. The NGO’s office in Lashkar Gah was hit by bombs on Thursday. “Humanitarian organizations like Action Against Hunger are doing their best to meet the needs of the people, but we must be assured of our safety on all sides to be able to work,” he said in a statement.