A provincial governor says at least 53 people, including nine attackers, have been killed in a daylong gun battle in western Afghanistan.
Officials say the fighting broke out Wednesday after suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse in Farah province in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban.
The complex assault began at around 8:45 a.m., when two suicide attackers detonated explosives packed into an army truck at the entrance gate of the provincial government compound in Farah, according to police officials. After the explosion, which ripped through the mayor’s office and neighboring buildings, insurgents rushed the packed provincial courthouse, taking civilians and a handful of employees hostage
Afghan security forces surrounded the building, firing at the Taliban fighters tucked away on the second floor.
At some point during the nearly seven-hour gunfight, the insurgents took the hostages downstairs to the basement and shot them, the police said, by 4 p.m., the fight was over, leaving behind a scene of carnage and destruction.
The attack highlighted the deteriorating security situation in Farah, a restive province that borders Iran to the west.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s narrative, which portrays the West as a brutal, immoral group out to “get” Iran and keep it dependent on foreign powers, continues to dominate the discourse within the elite. It is unchallenged during internal debates and further consolidated by continued external antagonism
The program’s trajectory appears at best entirely unaffected by the sanctions and at worst partly driven by them: escalating sanctions as a bargaining chip gives Iran an incentive to advance its program to create bargaining chips of its own. Perhaps more importantly, these measures seem to have increased Iran’s commitment to its program and reinforced the domestic political immunity it appears to enjoy.
Elements within the Iranian government contend that the continuation and acceleration of the program has also been in response to sanctions, serving three purposes: convincing the UN Security Council that sanctions are futile; raising the cost for the West’s alleged refusal to deescalate the conflict; and compelling the West to accept Iran’s right to enrich uranium.