Deplorable Taliban attack on aid NGO reflects CSOs fears of losing civil rights in the peace process

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On 8th May 2019, Taliban attacked the offices of an aid international NGO in Kabul, Counterpart Internationalkilling nine, including three civilians, and wounding at least 20 others, according to initial reports. The NGO said that it was attacked by suicide bombers in a series of explosions that were followed by a "sustained gunfight as gunmen were able to gain entrance to the building". The attack ended after around six hours when the Afghan special forces cleared the offices. Nearly 200 staff were present at the office at the time of the attack.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack with the group spokesperson claiming in a twitter messages that the Counterpart International was targeted because it promoted "western culture" and run a programme "promoting open inter-mixing between men and women".

Counterpart International has been operating in Afghanistan since 2005 and works to bolster civil society organisations within Afghanistan, it is backed by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and others. On it website condemning the attack on its Kabul compound the 

The attack was condemned as a crime against civilians by the government, the United Nations and the US Embassy in Afghanistan.

The President and CEO of Counterpart International, Ann Hudock, said

"Today’s attack was an attack on innocent civilians, development professionals who dedicate their lives to improving the lives of Afghanistan’s most vulnerable, including women, youth, and the disabled.”

The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, condemned the Taliban attack stating it was a  "deliberate targeting of civilian aid organisation" and for targeting a civilian area of Kabul, further stating

"Today’s attack particularly deplorable, hitting civilians helping Afghans & taking place during Ramadan".

The Taliban attack comes at a time of accelerated peace efforts with the Taliban by USA and following a major Peace gathering in Kabul last week organised by the Government to agree on the peace framework with the armed group. The Taliban attack on civil society organisation and its justification citing also gender concerns, resonates the fears of civil society and women groups that their right are possibly going to be undermined as the Taliban do not seem serious in respecting human rights and women's rights.