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Afghanistan Surge in violence hits fragile economy

Afghanistan Surge in violence hits fragile economy

KABUL: Afghanistan is severely undermining business confidence in the country, experts have warned. Nearly 140 people died and hundreds more were injured in just four separate attacks over eight days in January. Militants struck at three locations in Kabul, including a well-known hotel used by business travellers, as well an international children’s charity in the southern city of Jalalabad. Concerns over security have become so serious that increasing numbers of civilians in the capital are opting to work from home rather than risk travelling to their offices. Kabul University professor Sayed Massoud told IWPR he believed that the recent bombings were part of a deliberate strategy to undermine public confidence and target the country’s economy. By attacking the Inter-Continental hotel the Taleban have further eroded public trust in our security forces as well as caused millions of dollars of damage to the economy,” he said. Khan Jan Alokozai, deputy director of Afghanistan’s chamber of commerce and industry, added that the assault had forced the cancellation of several private sector business conferences due to be held at the Inter-Continental.

The attackers managed to deliver a major blow to the investment field in Afghanistan in the wake of their attacks in Kabul,” he told IWPR. The recent wave of violence began on January 20 when Taleban gunman gunmen stormed the Inter-Continental situated on the outskirts of Kabul. Insurgents shot dead 21 civilians including 14 foreign nationals, as well as injuring 17 others. The attack, which lasted around 17 hours, also effectively grounded a national airline carrier as key staff were staying at the hotel. Kam Air officals believe the gunman gunmen had prior intelligence on where its staff were staying and sought to target those rooms first. Nine airline personnel, including five pilots, died in the attack, which has left the company unable to operate dozens of flights. Days after the Inter-Continental was hit, militants also stormed an office of the Save the Children aid agency in Nangarhar’s provincial capital, Jalalabad. The complex assault began on January 24 when a car bomb was detonated outside the office. Gunmen then entered the compound, shooting dead four members of staff and wounding more than a dozen. Islamic State (IS) later claimed responsibility for the attack. More than 105 people died and 210 were wounded in the next major attack on January 27 in Kabul, when a Taleban suicide bomber detonated an ambulance packed with explosives.

Two days later, militants attacked the country’s main military academy, in the west of the city, killing eight soldiers and wounding 13. This attack was also claimed by IS. Massoud outlined what he believed to be the underlying strategy behind the multiple attacks. He said the killing of civilians, the targeting of a hotel frequented by foreign businessmen and specifically pilots, all created a picture of chaos designed to destablisedestabilise Afghanistan’s economy and discourage potential investors. He claimed the hotel attack served as a clear message to international travellers that Kabul was not safe, while the killing of Kam Air pilots crippled the carrier’s ability to import essential goods from India, a vital air corridor. Most of the Taleban’s actions include attempting to stop flights and to undermine security on Afghanistan’s road networks,” Massoud said. “Insurgents are undermining the country’s ability to do business.”