Dozens Killed In Bombing Near Afghan Parliament

Bombs exploded in the Afghan capital of Kabul earlier today. It was the first attack in the city in months. The blasts killed at least 30 people and injured dozens more. NPR's Nishant Dahiya reports.

NISHANT DAHIYA, BYLINE: Two bombs - the first exploded close to a parked minibus, the second when the police arrived to help the victims, according to an Interior Ministry spokesperson. A female lawmaker from Western Herat province was among those injured. The Taliban have claimed responsibility. Today's violence comes after a period of relative calm in the Afghan capital, Kabul. The rest of the country - not so lucky.

BARNETT RUBIN: The Taliban have been active in the south and east. What's perhaps more remarkable is that they have extended their reach into northern Afghanistan.

DAHIYA: That's Barnett Rubin, director of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Program at New York University. He says the Taliban's continuing offensive should come as no surprise to anyone. The U.S. Institute of Peace's Colin Cookman says the winter months have tamped the fighting. But...

COLIN COOKMAN: Earlier that same day, there was actually a bombing in the Helmand capital of Lashkar Gah. So that's still very much ongoing. Although I think not at quite the peak level that we saw earlier in the summer.

DAHIYA: And another bombing in Kandahar wounded the United Arab Emirates' ambassador Afghanistan. Seven others died in that attack. Beyond the war itself, the country faces other problems - endemic corruption, returning refugees that are straining infrastructure and resources. NYU's Rubin reminds that despite progress over the past decade and a half, Afghanistan remains...

RUBIN: One of the poorest countries in the world with one of the weakest states in the world that withdrawal of the military forces and a lot of the foreign civilians has led to tremendous recession and loss of jobs.

DAHIYA: Last year, President Obama decided to keep some 8,500 U.S. troops there. He also expanded the use of airstrikes to help Afghan forces now leading the fight against the Taliban. It remains unclear if President-elect Trump will continue that strategy. Nishant Dahiya, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF LILY AND MADELEINE SONG, "COME TO ME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

This article and interview were originally published by Peconic Public Broadcasting an affiliate of National Public Radio (NPR) on January 11, 2017

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Jan 11, 2017
Barnett Rubin
Afghanistan, Crises
South Asia, Afghanistan