The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has warned of an “imminent attack” within the capital city of Afghanistan. Credible intelligence suggests the attacks will happen within the next 48 hours. The embassy has issued a travel advisory asking all American citizens to either leave the country or “increase personal protection.”
The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan issued an emergency message for U.S. citizens in the country’s capital on Monday. Confirming it has received “credible reports of an imminent attack within the next 48 hours,” it has urged American citizens visiting the region to return home immediately. The advisory also warned U.S. citizens not to travel to Kabul. For those who wish to stay within the city, the embassy has urged to increase personal safety and “maintain a high level of vigilance.” Perhaps as an added security measure, it has urged extreme caution.
The embassy’s message read, “U.S. Embassy Kabul has received credible reports of an imminent attack in Kabul City, Kabul Province, Afghanistan within the next 48 hours. During this period of heightened threat, the U.S. Embassy strongly urges U.S. citizens to exercise extreme caution if moving around the city. There were no further details regarding the targets, timing, or method of the planned attack.”
As evident from the rather vague advisory, the embassy hasn’t confirmed anything besides the timeframe of the imminent attacks. However, it added that the situation in the country was “extremely unstable, and the threat to all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan remains critical.” The embassy has asked American citizens living in or visiting Afghanistan to leave. For those wishing to stay put, the embassy has urged them to look into their security plans and increase “personal safety, remain aware of your surroundings, monitor local media for updates, and maintain a high level of vigilance,” reported the International Business Times.
It is not uncommon for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul or embassies within other South Asian regions to routinely issue such cautionary advisories. Such emergency warnings are frequently sent out in regions with high volatility and terrorist activity. However, this advisory takes special precedence because of the upcoming highly sensitive meetings between high-level government officials. Leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan are expected to meet on the sidelines of a UN conference in Paris, reported Yahoo News.
A critical meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani could serve as the first stepping stone towards resuming the oft-interrupted peace talks with the Taliban. Islamabad may not be the strongest ally for Taliban, but the administration has always managed to find a middle ground with the group. An Islamabad-brokered peace deal would be critical for the region and its future, in which America has invested heavily.
Reports indicate Pakistan may be facilitating an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. However, there’s no official confirmation from either Islamabad or Kabul. Needless to add, the Taliban is a pretty finicky and jittery organization. Any wrong move that might be wrongly perceived as instigative could set back the peace talks by decades.
It’s no secret that Pakistan has considerable influence over the Taliban. In fact, the country hosted the historic and first-ever peace talks with the Taliban. But the talks stalled after Taliban officials confirmed the death of Mullah Omar, the key leader of the group. Since the talks stalled, Islamabad and Kabul don’t exactly see eye to eye anymore, and that has significantly deteriorated the once-open channels of communication.
Owing to backers, Taliban has stepped up attacks on Afghan government facilities in recent months, reported Fox News. The group had managed to take control of the northern city of Kunduz in September after defeating Afghan forces in the region. The attacks have been rising in both frequency and ferocity. In the sights of the Taliban is the Afghan army, police, and U.S. Special Forces in Kabul.
It is quite possible the information about a similar attack may have prompted the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to issue the warning.
[Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images]