KABUL — Worried about eroding security, elected officials in Afghanistan sought answers this weekend from President Ashraf Ghani's administration, asking why more was not done to prevent suicide attacks that have killed nearly 200 people in one of the bloodiest weeks of the year.
"The president gives lectures, and his advisers and ministers are clapping for him," Saleh Mohammad Saljoqi, a member of parliament from the western province of Herat, said during a Saturday evening session with security officials, according to local news reports.
"Alas, they should see what is going on in this country," he said.
In the past week, Taliban suicide bombers broke through security checkpoints at police and military compounds in Humvees, allowing fighters to storm the gates in commando-style raids that, in one case, nearly wiped out all 60 Afghan National Army soldiers based in a post in the southwestern province of Kandahar. In that attack, 43 soldiers died, while nine were wounded.
Other attacks included the bombing of a Shiite mosque in Kabul that killed 54 people and injured 55, and a rocket attack on the NATO compound inside the city's fortified "Green Zone" that caused no injuries.
Earlier in the week, several attempts at suicide attacks in the city were foiled when officials arrested three people driving in trucks loaded with explosives.
Some elected officials accused Pakistan, which has aided the Taliban in the past, of facilitating the attacks. Pakistan, threatened with sanctions by President Trump for allowing "safe havens" for terrorists near its border with Afghanistan, denies assisting the group and has made a point of condemning the attacks.
Other Afghan officials, as well as security analysts, believe that the attacks are a show of force in response to Trump's plan to add 4,000 U.S. troops in the country — bringing the total U.S. presence to about 13,500 — while increasing nighttime raids and aerial bombing of Taliban forces.
"The attacks show that they are here and are busy fighting and the airstrikes have not affected them," said Abdul Hafeez Mansoor, a parliament member from the central province of Panjshir. "They are doing their utmost to deteriorate the situation and are using any means and measures for doing so."
On Sunday, Ghani visited a police compound in Paktia province, which borders Pakistan, to offer condolences to the families of about 80 people killed Tuesday in a Taliban raid. Toryalai Abdiyani, the local police chief, was among those killed.
"Terrorists can shed our blood, but they cannot break our will," Ghani's Twitter feed read before he headed to Gardez, Paktia's capital. "RIP Gen. Abdiyani, a brave son & soldier of our soil."
Mohammad Radmanesh, a Defense Ministry spokesman, noted that 270 Taliban fighters were killed in Kandahar in recent days.
"We are resolved to stop them, prevent them and reduce their might and power to zero with the passage of time with the available resources," Radmanesh said.
But with the Islamic State militant group — which asserted responsibility for the bombing of the Imam Zaman Shiite mosque in Kabul — also operating in Afghanistan, it is getting more difficult to prevent all attacks, he said.
"This is true that the terrorists from around the world have gathered in Afghanistan and are involved in sabotage activities," Radmanesh said.
Mariam Koofi, a member of parliament from the northeastern Badakhshan province, lamented what she sees as an increasingly complicated fight for security in Afghanistan.
"Unlike in the past, we have seen the attacks happening more in urban areas," Koofi said, calling for more resources for the nation's small air force. "Our intelligence is weak and cannot prevent such attacks."
Sharif Walid contributed to this report.