As Afghanistan goes to the polls, Islamic fighters are stepping up their reign of terror. Can they be stopped?
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Farhad Seddiqi wasn’t in the mood to go to the Serena, Kabul’s finest hotel. It was March 20, and Seddiqi, a member of Afghanistan’s parliament, was looking forward to a quiet evening. But some friends and colleagues persuaded him to go out.
The politician served himself a little fish and sat down at a table next to one occupied by four young men. Suddenly another friend yelled at the adjacent table, “Don’t shoot!” By the time the attack was over, nine of Seddiqi’s fellow guests had been shot dead by the four young men, who had slipped past the layers of security with small guns in their shoes (and who were eventually themselves killed by hotel guards).
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Serena attack, part of their bloody provincial elections that start April 5. The hotel was chosen for its high profile—it is a highly guarded haven for well-heeled Afghans and foreigners, including, that day, international election observers—and for its symbolic value. If the guests of a five-star fortress in the heart of the capital aren’t safe, who is?