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Afghanistan suicide bombing kills 2 security officers

Taliban claims responsibility for suicide truck bomb near coalition military base

A Taliban suicide bombing near a base used by U.S.-led coalition troops killed at least two members of the Afghan security forces Tuesday, officials said.

The morning truck bombing occurred on the outskirts of the capital, along a road leading to the Pul-e Charkhi prison, said Gen. Mohammad Zahir, Kabul's police chief.

First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum was reportedly near the attack site during his morning exercise routine and told reporters that it was an example of the “sophisticated” methods being used by Taliban insurgents who continue to mount attacks in the Afghan capital weeks after the inauguration of a new national unity government.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said the attack targeted an intelligence base for foreign troops. Two bombers also were reportedly killed.

Also Tuesday, the Asia Foundation, a research organization, released the results of its annual national survey of Afghan public opinion, which found that the economy and security are the greatest concerns in the country.

In the survey, 37% of respondents said the economy was the biggest challenge; 34% cited ongoing violence and insecurity. The survey, conducted through face-to-face interviews with 9,271 Afghans across all 34 provinces, took place in June and July during the second round of a controversial presidential election.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said they believed that the election would improve their lives, but that was before allegations of electoral fraud threatened to divide the country along ethnic lines and required the United States and other international allies to broker a hard-fought compromise.

President Ashraf Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah, named to the new post of chief executive, formed a national unity government in September. However, the former rivals last week missed a 45-day target for announcing Cabinet ministers and provincial governors as both camps continued to negotiate over the positions.

Yaqoub, an engineer in the eastern province of Laghman, said the election crisis, which carried on for more than 10 months, was a central reason for increasing insecurity in his area and led to carelessness among political and security officials.

“Everyone, from the governor to the police chiefs, are waiting around to see who will be part of the new government, so no one is taking their jobs seriously,” Yaqoub said in a phone interview.

“Everything has increased, not just bombings and attacks, even theft and pretty crime is up because no one feels they will be caught.”

The survey also found that 73% of respondents support political reconciliation between the government and armed opposition groups including the Taliban as a way to help stabilize the country. Ghani has visited Pakistan, China and Saudi Arabia in recent weeks in what diplomats describe as a multilateral effort to bring the insurgents to the negotiating table.

Tuesday’s blast in Kabul came two days after a suicide car bomb targeted lawmaker Shukria Barakzai, a prominent advocate for women’s rights and a vocal Taliban critic. Barakzai survived the attack in western Kabul but three civilians, including a 21-year-old psychology student, were killed.

The Taliban denied any role in the attempt on Barakzai’s life.

Latifi is a special correspondent.

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