Afghanistan: DSRSG - Stop deliberately killing innocent civilians

Chris Alexander, DSRSG: All of us in Kabul, across the country, and around the world were appalled by yesterday's outrageous attack against Afghanistan's police trainers. Our deepest condolences go out to all the families, friends and colleagues of those killed, as well as to those wounded.

What are we to make of this violence - what message can there be in such a tragedy?

In November 2001 Afghans came together in Bonn to chart a course towards a better future. In Loya Jirgas in 2002 and 2003 and in elections in 2004 and 2005 they reaffirmed this choice. By their votes and their achievements, they revived the political legitimacy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. In response, the entire international community renewed its support for Afghanistan in 2006 by agreeing the Afghanistan Compact - a five-year reciprocal commitment to improve the lives of Afghans: an unprecedented international initiative to make measurable progress in security, governance and development.

With this scene set why is this international consensus, why are Afghans themselves, still under deliberate attack? Who is challenging this agenda - an agenda aimed at making life better for Afghans? Who has decided that those training a new generation of law officers for this country must die on their way to work? Which self-appointed bosses are trying to prevent the rule of law from being re-established in Afghanistan?

The answer is not always clear. Those responsible for these attacks do not show their faces. What is clear is that those attacking Afghanistan today - its institutions and its international partners - are arrogant, criminal and marginal. They are the enemies of Afghan life, faith and law. They will not succeed.

Yesterday, only hours after this attack, the European Union inaugurated its new police mission for Afghanistan, which will bring nearly two hundred mentors and trainers to all parts of this country. President Karzai announced new police leadership - qualified and carefully selected - for south and southeast Afghanistan. A conference on the consolidation of peace is set to open in Tokyo - to accelerate progress towards disbandment of illegal armed groups. A conference on justice and the rule of law will take place in Rome next month, generating unprecedented support for the justice institutions of this country.

Terrorists are swimming against the tide in Afghanistan. Police reform will continue to improve the quality of law enforcement in this country: better training, better leadership and better equipment are already prevailing.

So what is the message of the attackers?

Last Friday in Tirin Kot, Uruzgan province, at 11h15 in the morning - not long before Juma prayers - a man drove towards a group of children who were in conversation with a few soldiers. Challenged by the patrol, he stopped - then he detonated a bomb hidden in his vehicle. The fate of the soldiers is in this case of secondary importance.

This explosion on Juma morning in Uruzgan's capital killed eleven children aged between eight and fifteen years, including four girls. It killed Zaki, son of Niamatullah, who was ten years old. It killed Haseebullah, son of Niamatullah, who was twelve years' old. It killed Saleh Mohammad, son of Nek Mohammad, who was twelve years old.

I have one question: Who on the side of those calling themselves "Taliban" will take responsibility for these crimes? Who has decided that it is right to take the life of Totaki, daughter of Janan, on a sunny morning in Tirin Kot, with the Helmand river nearby and the beautiful mountains of Uruzgan, and circling children at play?

Who are those that celebrate the killing and the injuring of innocent civilians, of Afghans who so richly deserve peace? Who has chosen war, when Afghans and the whole world have chosen peace? Will Mullah Omar take this responsibility? Will the Taliban commander for Uruzgan be responsible? Will Mullah Dadullah's successor boast of his courage and bravery in killing Lal Mohammad, son of Wali Jan, on Juma morning in Tirin Kot?

We demand to know. You deserve to know, Afghans deserve to know.

Those responsible for these attacks - those who have killed hundreds of Afghan civilians this year in cold blood - are committing brutal crimes - these are crimes against the holy religion of Islam, they are crimes against humanity. Those responsible have placed themselves outside the law, certainly, but also outside of morality and faith - beyond the community of Afghans and their institutions. They have joined the company and infamy of terrorists.

We condemn these attacks unreservedly. We condemn those responsible for these attacks as war criminals. We call on Afghans to speak out against those few perpetrating such attacks. We call on insurgent leaders to stop deliberately killing innocent civilians.

We also call on the Afghan government and its international partners to continue their efforts to protect Afghans and to end this violence. In recent months these efforts have borne substantial fruit. Military operations in south and east Afghanistan have thinned Taliban leadership ranks, sharply reduced their capabilities, and sapped their will to mount and sustain coherent operations.

Perhaps In desperation, insurgents are targeting their own brothers and sisters - the citizens of this country - the defenseless youth of this country.

These acts are repugnant in the eyes of Afghans and in the eyes of the world.

They remind us of the importance of addressing and removing the roots of this conflict. Let us be very precise on this point. The roots of this conflict are in leadership, networks and sanctuaries supporting attacks on children such as Sadiqa, daughter of Abdul Razzaq, from Tirin Kot.

Their message is clear: they are aiming to kill Afghans such as Jamila, daughter of Fazal Mohammad, a thirteen year old girl - a martyr now for all Afghans - from Tirin Kot.

They are aiming to shoot dead girls leaving school in Logar. Their message, in short, is violence. And we, all of us inside Afghanistan and outside Afghanistan, have no choice. Our responsibility - as Afghan citizens, government officials, police, international military forces and international partners - is to work together, to stand together for decency and humanity, for the founding values of this country and of Islam itself, to end this violence.