"The fact that dozens of victims killed in the latest Taliban attack on a military base near Kabul were members of the country’s intelligence agency implies a major blow to the government, which has already lost control of nearly half of Afghanistan to insurgents," said The Gulf Today in an editorial on Wednesday.
The paper continued, "The attack is among the deadliest since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. The militants have been carrying out attacks almost on a daily basis mainly targeting the country’s security forces, and the trend is dangerous especially because more and more civilians are becoming victims of the vicious violence."
According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 8,050 civilians died or were wounded between January and September, with use of suicide bombings and other improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by anti-government elements, accounting for almost half the casualties.
What will rattle human conscience is the fact that 5,000 children in Afghanistan were either killed or maimed within the first three-quarters of 2018. Children make up 89 per cent of civilian casualties from explosive remnants of war, such as unexploded shells, mortars or grenades.
The pattern is worrisome. On 24th December last year, an hours-long bomb and gun attack on a Kabul government compound killed at least 43 people. On 20th November, a suicide bomber blows himself up among religious scholars inside a Kabul wedding hall, killing at least 55 people. On 22nd April, a bomber killed 57 people, including women and children, and wounded more than 100, all civilians, outside a voter registration centre amid preparations for legislative elections in October.
"The war in Afghanistan is America’s longest overseas military intervention. It has cost Washington nearly a trillion dollars and killed tens of thousands of people," added the editorial comment, noting that in recent years the Afghan government has stopped releasing detailed casualty figures but US commanders have stated that the losses being suffered by the Afghan forces are unsustainable.
Last year, President Ashraf Ghani indicated that 28,000 Afghan police officers and soldiers had been killed since 2015.
All sides involved in the conflict should work earnestly towards reconciliation and see to it that peace returns at the earliest.
"The present situation just cannot be allowed to continue. The Afghan people have suffered for too long for no mistake of their own. It’s time to give peace a chance," concluded the Sharjah-based daily.