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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Aug. 30)

All News 07:07 August 30, 2021

Stop terrorist attacks
World should take action to ensure peace in Afghanistan

A deadly suicide bombing by the Islamic State (IS) at the airport in Kabul on Thursday demonstrated how difficult it is to ensure security and peace in Afghanistan. The terrorist attack, which killed 13 U.S. troops and more than 169 Afghans, came 11 days after the Taliban's takeover of the war-torn country. It took place five days before U.S. President Joe Biden's Aug. 31 deadline to pull out American troops after two decades.

We strongly denounce the bombing as it was an inhumane and barbaric terror attack amid the U.S.'s chaotic exit from Afghanistan. The U.S. and its allies should step up cooperation in preventing a recurrence of such a tragedy. The world should not waver in its war on terrorism. Zero tolerance is essential to fighting any form of violent extremism.

In retaliation, the U.S. conducted a drone strike Saturday, killing two members of the Islamic State group's Afghanistan affiliate, known as ISIS-K. The strike served as a strong warning against possible additional attacks by the militants. Washington warned that there could be more bloodshed before the U.S. wraps up its airlift evacuation and troop withdrawal. Biden has vowed to keep up airstrikes against the militant group.

ISIS-K is the "Khorasan" branch of the Islamic State. (Khorasan is a historic name for the broader region beyond Afghanistan.) The group is an enemy to both the West and the Taliban. The group has turned against the Taliban, opposing the latter's peace negotiations with the U.S. It claimed responsibility for the bloody bombing which it said was targeted against American troops and Afghan collaborators. ISIS-K, one of the most militant groups in Afghanistan, has denounced the Taliban as "traitors" and called for a jihad against the U.S.

Concerns are growing that the country could re-emerge as a breeding ground for terrorist groups. The U.S. and its NATO allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and toppled the Taliban regime after al-Qaida militants carried out the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. It may be a matter of time before al-Qaida re-emerges in the country following the Taliban's return to power. Also a set of other terrorist groups scattered throughout the region may try to find sanctuary in the country.

Against this backdrop, last week's suicide bombing could renew the war on terror. At the moment, peace seems to be a pipe dream in Afghanistan. That's why the international community should double down on helping the country restore order, regain stability and move toward peace under the Taliban's rule. The Taliban, which has reportedly become moderate, should keep its pledge not to retaliate against former enemies and Afghans who cooperated with the West. It must also respect human rights, particularly of women, as promised.

Most of all, the Taliban should no longer resort to violence and repression. Nor should it provide any shelter for extremist and terrorist groups such as IS and al-Qaida. Otherwise, the Taliban could lose power again, plunging the country deeper into turmoil and destabilizing the region further.


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