December 14, 2014 / 1:14 PM / 5 years ago

Angry Afghan president vows security shake-up after Taliban attacks surge

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan’s new President Ashraf Ghani vowed to shake up security in the capital Kabul in an angry speech on Sunday and denounced a recent surge in Taliban attacks on civilian and military targets as “un-Islamic”. In recent weeks, Afghanistan has seen waves of suicide bombings and commando-style assaults by the Islamist insurgents, who are seeking to make territorial gains and to spread uncertainty as most foreign troops withdraw this month.

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani speaks to the media during an event in Kabul December 10, 2014. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

“It is enough and it’s no longer acceptable,” Ghani yelled while on a visit to a school. He called on religious leaders to speak out against the Taliban.

“These acts are not Islamic and are inhuman,” he said.

The Taliban’s increasingly bold attacks in Kabul have led to the government being criticized for serious security failures.

Ghani said he was seeking to revive a security body last seen during a Soviet-backed government in the 1980s. He did not give more details, but his spokesman said the new body would coordinate between police, military and intelligence agencies.

“The number of forces we have in Kabul is sufficient, but the way they are being used is a problem, we have to change that,” spokesman Nazifullah Salarzai said after the event.

Kabul houses thousands of soldiers and police armed with light and heavy weapons. It is fortified with razor wire-topped concrete blast walls and dotted with checkpoints. But this does not seem to have curbed the Taliban’s confidence.

On Thursday, a suicide bombing at a French cultural center guarded by the army in central Kabul killed a German man, who was attending a performance of a play denouncing suicide bombs.

When two Kabul guest houses used by foreigners were targeted within days of each other last month, the Kabul police chief lost his position, although the official reason for his dismissal remains unclear.


In the past two days, Taliban fighters shot dead a dozen workers removing landmines in the south of the country, killed seven soldiers and blew up a military convoy, killing two U.S. soldiers near Bagram Airfield, north of the capital.

On a trip to northern Afghanistan on Saturday, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen described the security situation as “fragile.”

Ghani has yet to announce a cabinet two months after he took office in a power-sharing agreement with his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, a situation critics say has left the country adrift while the Taliban are cranking up violence.

Salarzai said the president devoted a third of his time to security and that, in the long run, the slow selection of officials would assure good governance in a country plagued by political corruption.

He added that the government was committed to naming the cabinet within the next two weeks.

Officials say the delay in selecting ministers is the result of Ghani’s power tussle with Abdullah, who joined the government after a disputed election.

Additional reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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