KABUL: The National Directorate of Security has arrested fifteen militants of the Taliban group who were planning to execute targeted killings on security forces and political figures in Kabul, officials said on Tuesday.
The terrorists were arrested in an interdiction operation and were tasked to assassinate security officials and politicians, the National Directorate of Security said in a statement.
They had been operating in 5-member groups to trace security forces and political figures and plan assassination plots.
This is as targeted killings have increased in Kabul with a wave of assassinations which have swept through Kabul and elsewhere in the country. Over the past six months, 39 people have been slain in targeted killings, according to the Interior Ministry. This uptick marks a shift in Taliban’s attack tactics since the signing of the U.S.-Taliban deal in February – a switch from massive suicide bombings to assassinations.
The attacks aren’t planned to inflict mass casualties. The assassinations are designed to silence and intimidate. The victims are mostly Afghan civilians working for peace and mid-ranking security and government officials. Taliban have denied involvement in most of the attacks but Afghan security officials say militants with links to the Taliban are responsible.
Taliban have increased targeted attacks to gain leverage ahead of expected peace talks with the Afghan government. Roadside bombings have increased in intensity and number too. It is feared the longer peace talks are delayed, the more such violence will escalate, slowly chipping away at the gains made in human rights, civil liberties and freedom of speech since the ouster of the Taliban from Kabul in 2001.