Emilie Jelinek has a good piece up at FP about the decreasing sense of security in Gardez, Paktya. While the province itself has not been terribly peaceful, Gardez, besides the odd shelling/wanton murder by a disgruntled warlord, was relatively calm until this last year, when attacks, especially the spectacular kind, picked up dramatically. Since then, things have only gotten worse. Jelinek writes:
Mohammad Naeem, a man in his late thirties wearing a beige shalwar kameez and white skullcap pauses to sip his tea and looks up out of the window… Last month, five armed men turned up at his house in the middle of the night demanding shelter. “For God’s sake please don’t bother us, we don’t need any trouble,” his younger brother told them at the door. One of the men hit him with his rifle butt and the gang barged their way in… Soon came the sound of American gunships circling overhead, and through a loudspeaker the order to surrender and a warning that the house was surrounded. Then the shooting started. “My kids were terrified, they began screaming and ran to the room where my parents were, huddling in a corner together,” Mohammad said. “Then the Americans dropped some kind of bomb and the roof collapsed. As my brother ran out to speak to the Americans, he was shot in the back. He was losing blood rapidly and screamed at them ‘my whole family is injured and some are dead! Please let me rescue my other relatives, please stop shooting!’ He was shot in the head, killed instantly. We don’t know from where, it was dark.”
“My father died of his injuries,” he continues. “His arm was blown off and his legs were broken because the ceiling fell on him. When I saw his body, he had a lot of injuries to his head. My niece was also killed. Both my mother’s arms were shot and she had bad burns and shrapnel in her head, but thanks be to God she is still alive. My wife was also injured – she has shrapnel in her chest and head injuries, her whole face is burned – but the American doctors have helped her and she has survived.”
Coupled with the recent rash of high-profile killings in the larger cities, it is difficult to say that this is an isolated case. These incidents, and the decline in security in previously secure areas (for normal residents, not coalition outposts) don’t seem to be a rear guard action on anyone’s part so much as opening salvos of a chaos to come. While I hope I’m wrong, I think levels of Afghan-on-Afghan violence will only increase in the next few years if the coalition pullout and Afghan politics continue on their current courses.