Violence in Afghanistan is not new, but this time it comes on the eve of a possible age of democracy in the war-torn land. For the first time ever in hits history, Afghanistan is going to polls, but Taliban forces have vowed that they will do whatever is in their power to disrupt the voting process.
So far their actions have proven their warnings right. On March 20, a Swedish journalist, Nils Horner, 51, was killed while researching a story on a previous attack in a restaurant. AFP’s senior Afghan reporter Sardar Ahmed, his wife, and two of his three children were killed on March 22, even as nine people were killed in Kabul’s high-security hotel Serena by gunmen who smuggled pistols inside the premises.
Now, adding to the toll is the death of Anja Niedringhaus, a German photographer who was shot dead by a policeman who opened fire on her car while she was reporting on the distribution of ballot papers for Afghanistan’s presidential election. Her colleague, Kathy Gannon, who was in the car with her, escaped alive with wounds.
Hamid Karzai, the incumbent president of the country, has urged his fellow men to respond with courage to the threats. He said the only way to respond to acts of this nature is to show the attackers that they were not afraid, that they would not be cowed down from turning out in their thousands and casting their vote. ‘Make this a national celebration of mass participation,’ he said.
Only time will tell if the people were listening.