Security has been a scarce commodity in Afghanistan for some time, but the Taliban’s recent spate of attacks intended to disrupt the April 5 elections – and the promise of more to come – have amplified the sense of insecurity. Assaults targeting international observers and the election commission itself have left open questions regarding the legitimacy and the security of Saturday’s vote. In an attempt to calm nerves and promise a safe day at the polls, the Interior Ministry, coupled with Afghan Special Forces, planned a press conference on Thursday to answer security questions. But things did not go as planned; after Wednesday’s deadly attack on the MOI’s compound within central Kabul’s heavily guarded “steel belt”, it started to seem that the Taliban can strike at will. So can the security apparatus improve confidence?
Members of the Interior Ministry didn’t attend the press conference, so different branches of the Special Forces were left to attempt to quell concerns from the population.
In response to a question on election security, Mohammed Zaher Azimi, spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence told Al Jazeera that the threat to Afghanistan comes from “known circles outside the country”.
As long as that threat exists, “the innocent people of Afghanistan…will continue to have such worries, as will we,” said Azimi, who dismissed the attacks, such as the one on the Serena Hotel on March 20, as an “embarrassing” act by the Taliban, “not one of bravery and strength”.
“If only they’d fight us face to face,” he said.