Terrorist attacks in Afghanistan appear to be getting bolder in recent days. The Taliban also increasingly is targeting the civilian population, including children.
Terrorist attacks increasing
A suicide bomber blew himself up right outside the Supreme Court building in the capital, Kabul, Tuesday, killing 17 people and wounding almost 40 others. Mohammad Zahir, Chief of the Kabul Police Criminal Investigation Department, said all of the victims were civilians, including women and children.
"There are children and women among those who were martyred (killed) and wounded, all the ones who are martyred [killed] and wounded are civilians and there aren't any military personnel among them," said Zahir.
The United Nations said Tuesday that the civilian death toll in Afghanistan has increased by almost 25 percent compared to the same period last year.
U.N. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Jan Kubis said that more than 3,000 people in Afghanistan have been killed or wounded since the beginning of this year, mostly by insurgents. "What is even of more concern is the fact that the children account for 21 percent of all civilians killed or wounded in 2013," Kubis noted. "This is an increase of 30 percent compared to 2012 and 34 percent compared to 2011.''
Also Tuesday, insurgents ambushed a NATO convoy carrying cargo through Afghanistan's eastern province of Ghazni, killing at least two police officers and two drivers.
On Monday, Afghan officials said the Taliban beheaded two teenage boys in the southern province of Kandahar for alleged spying.
But the attacks against NATO and Afghan government targets are getting bolder. On Monday, insurgents attacked Kabul's international airport with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.
US withdrawal on track
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday that military cuts will not affect the U.S. forces serving in Afghanistan. "In particular, this budget enables the department to support troops still at war in Afghanistan," he stated.
But the United States plans to withdraw all its troops in 2014 from the South Asian country where close to 2,100 U.S. service members have been killed so far.
Analysts say the Taliban is testing whether the Afghan security forces will be ready to take over when U.S. troops depart next year.