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Monday, December 09, 2019

Afghanistan Official Shot, Another Kidnapped In Kabul

By Hashmat Baktash and Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two security incidents within 24 hours involving Afghan government officials have taken some of the glimmer off of this month’s generally successful presidential election and renewed concerns about safety in Kabul.

Hours after unknown gunmen kidnapped a deputy minister in President Hamid Karzai’s government, a police officer engaged in an argument with a female member of parliament opened fire and wounded the lawmaker in the leg, officials said Wednesday.

The lawmaker, Maryam Koofi, was in stable condition at a local hospital, according to a statement from the Afghan Interior Ministry. The police officer was detained and is under investigation, officials said.

The shooting took place around 10 p.m. local time Tuesday near Koofi’s home in Arya City, a housing complex normally regarded as one of Kabul’s safest. Hashmat Stanikzai, a spokesman for the Kabul police, said the officer fired one or two bullets. The cause of the argument wasn’t immediately known.

Koofi is a lawmaker from Takhar province, in northern Afghanistan, and is the older sister of the prominent lawmaker and women’s rights activist Fawzia Koofi.

Earlier Tuesday, a group of gunmen abducted Ahmad Shah Wahid, the deputy minister of public works, as he was riding in his car on his way to work shortly after 7 a.m. The gunmen pulled his car off the road, pulled him into their vehicle and drove off, said Sohail Kakar, a spokesman for the Public Works Ministry.

Wahid’s driver was shot and injured when he tried to evade the kidnappers, Kakar said.

Officials said they did not know who was behind the kidnapping, and a spokesman for the Taliban said the group wasn’t responsible.

Although abductions of high-ranking officials in Kabul are rare, government figures are routinely targeted for attacks by Taliban insurgents. The capital has been under tight security for much of the last several weeks due to the April 5 presidential election, which saw high voter turnout and no major Taliban attacks.

Ballots are still being counted but a preliminary tally released by election officials over the weekend showed a close race between former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani.

AFP Photo/Aref Karimi


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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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