Just days after the United Nations issued a report detailing rising civilian deaths across war-torn Afghanistan amid the ongoing US draw down from the country, a UN relief headquarters was attacked by unknown anti-government forces, likely the Taliban or Islamic State terrorists.
The headquarters of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in Herat, Afghanistan's third largest city, came under intense gunfire and rocket-propelled grenade fire on Friday, resulting in the death of an Afghan police officer and injuries to others.
"The attack targeting entrances of the clearly marked United Nations facility was carried out by Anti-Government Elements," a statement posted to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. "The area around Herat where the compound is located witnessed fighting today between the Taliban and government forces. The UN is urgently seeking to establish a full picture about the attack and for this purpose is in contact with the relevant parties."
The attack comes two days after the Taliban's top leadership traveled to China, in a rare visit widely seen as part of the Islamist's group's efforts to gain international legitimacy, also as it's believed the country and its US-backed government will eventually fall to the Taliban.
China’s foreign minister Wang Yi hosted the visit of nine Taliban leaders in Tianjin, including the group's co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. This prompted concerns out of Washington that China could eventually "recognize" a Taliban government in Kabul, given also the current lighting pace of their retaking large swathes of the country. As one Friday op-ed in The Hill described:
As the United States withdraws its forces from Afghanistan, China is not hesitating to move in. Earlier this week, nine Taliban leaders accepted Beijing’s invitation and met in Tianjin with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. One of those leaders was the group’s co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Wang told his visitors that China expects the Taliban to play an important role in the "process of peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan" and described the group as a "pivotal political and military force" in the country.
It appears to be only a matter of time before China recognizes the Talban’s de facto control of the country even as Washington remains formally committed to supporting the Kabul government.
However, the view from the Biden administration may be that other major foreign powers' involvement in the country could help stabilize the situation after the full US symbolic exit date of September 11.
Recall that President Biden in his big early July Afghan exit speech said he believed it's "highly unlikely" the Afghan government will ultimately retain "unified" control of the country. Regardless, China's "moving in" would add huge insult to injury following America's longest ever running war.
Since that July 8 speech the terror group has continued advancing at lightning pace, lately also with the majority of border areas in Taliban control (the Taliban itself boasts control of at least 90% of major border crossings as areas). The Taliban has also lately overrun prisons where they've freed hundreds or possibly thousands of detained jihadists which have rejoined Taliban ranks.