RealNews

Afghan Political Violence on the Rise

There is an armed guard in the house of God. At the front gate of the Abdurrad Akhunzada mosque, a turbaned watchman paces warily in the dusty twilight, hiding his Kalashnikov beneath an outsized scarf so he doesn’t frighten men arriving for evening prayers. A remote-controlled bomb exploded at the mosque last month, injuring the mullah and 24 worshippers as they knelt, hands outstretched in supplication. Two days later, a mullah, who had hung the Afghan flag in his mosque and said good Muslims support the nation’s central government, was shot to death as he sat praying, a book open in his hand. A third Kandahar mullah was attacked this week, executed outside his mosque by gunmen on a motorcycle. All three clerics served on a religious council that recently decreed that, contrary to pronouncements by the Taliban Islamic movement, there is no legitimate jihad, or holy war, against the central government or the foreign troops that support it. A year and a half after the United States and its allies drove the Taliban from power, acts of politically motivated violence have become frequent and fierce in the key southern province of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban and the source of countless shifts in Afghan politics and culture over the centuries. Full Story

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