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Enemy-initiated attacks in Afghanistan continue at high level

The number of enemy-initiated attacks (EIAs) in Afghanistan continues at a high level, especially in Kabul where US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) have reported an uptick in targeted assassinations of Afghan government officials, civil-society leaders, and journalists in recent months.

In his latest quarterly report to the US Congress, US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko quoted USFOR-A as saying that while the number of EIAs registered between 1 October and 31 December 2020 was “slightly lower” than in the previous quarter, it was “higher than in the same period in 2019” when the NATO-led ‘Resolute Support’ mission documented 8,204 EIAs. The exact number of EIAs documented in the fourth quarter of 2020 was not revealed in the report as the ‘Resolute Support’ mission has been “restricting from public release” data on EIAs and effective enemy-initiated attacks (EEIAs) since the beginning of 2020.

The SIGAR noted in his 30 January report that the “high levels of insurgent and extremist violence” have continued, despite renewed calls from US officials for all sides to reduce violence in an effort to advance the ongoing peace process between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Sopko even quoted US Army General Austin Scott Miller, the commander of both USFOR-A and ‘Resolute Support’, as saying on 16 December that the high levels of violence were “putting the peace process at risk”.

A significant factor highlighted in the report was the number of EIAs taking place in Kabul, with USFOR-A quoted as saying that enemy attacks in the Afghan capital were “much higher than in the same quarter last year”. The uptick in activity does not only include attacks by the Taliban but also by the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) and other militant groups.

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