An explosion rocked the city of Afghanistan this morning when an IED was detonated in the Taimani district of the capital city of Kabul. The blast was a coordinated attack on a convoy carrying Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh. It resulted in the death of 10 civilians and the wounding of 12 others, including three of Saleh’s security personnel. According to local reports on twitter, the attack took place just before 8:00 AM local time.
Condemnation of the Attack
The Presidential Palace strongly condemned the assassination attempt. In a statement released today it said that these attacks will not “weaken the strong will of the people for peace, and that the security and defense forces will continue to fight terrorism.”
Likewise, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah decried the violence and called for a serious investigation. The blast comes on the eve of the next set of negotiations with Taliban leadership. Abdullah Abdullah remarked that “the attack on the first VP took place on the eve of peace talks when our message–and the people’s– is peace. The hidden enemies do not want peace and stability for Afghanistan.”
The Taliban has released a statement denying any involvement in the attack.
Probable Haqqani Network Involvement
The acting Minister of Interior and former chief of National Directorate of Security, Masoud Andarabi, tweeted this morning that preliminary reports from the blast site found traces of a mixture of RDX-HMS and Nitroglycerin. That chemical mixture has been used in previous bomb attacks carried out by the Haqqani network.
معلومات ابتدایی نشان میدهد که از آر دی اکس+ اچ ام اس( RDX-HMS + Nitroglycerin) در حمله به جان محترم امرالله صالح معاون اول ریاست جمهوری استفاده شده است. نوعیت مواد و حمله، مشابه به سایر حملاتی است که شبکه حقانی در گذشته مسوولیت میگرفت.
— Masoud Andarabi (@andarabi) September 9, 2020
Who is Amrullah Saleh?
Amrullah Saleh, who escaped from the attack without serious injury, is an important political actor in the country. He served as the head of the NDS and was critical to structural reforms and the retooling of the Afghan Intelligence service. His stature has made him a regular target of attacks and assassination attempts. In July of last year, Saleh’s office was attacked by a suicide bomber and three gunmen. The blast and ensuing gun battle claimed the lives of twenty people and injured fifty, among them Saleh’s staffers and two of his nephews.
Saleh has been an outspoken critic of the U.S-led Taliban peace talks. In an interview with Al-Arabi’a released on September 7, Saleh remarked that the peace talks will be “one of the most difficult peace negotiations of history.”
“In certain ways, this is going to be even more complicated than the Arab peace process,” he added. Saleh, who fought against the Taliban as key leader in the Northern Alliance, added that he will neither forgive nor forget their actions despite being poised to enter into negotiations in the coming days. “I do it for the sake of the country, but as an individual, I reserve the right to always be politically on the opposite side of the Taliban.”
“Making peace with the Taliban is neither surrendering to the Taliban nor demanding the Taliban to surrender to us.” He continued, calling them a deviation from Islam and the culture of Afghanistan and a group only validated through violence offering nothing to the country.
Adding in his trademark blunt fashion he asked: “Why should I forgive or forget that type of a group? That doesn’t mean I will not embrace peace, but I will always fly their crimes in their face politically. They are criminals.”