By Farid Behbud
KABUL, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- The year 2013 could be a challenging year for Afghanistan as the Taliban continued its attacks on government forces amid preparations for the upcoming presidential elections, according to an Afghan political analyst.
"Keeping in mind the efforts to hand over the country's security apparatus to Afghan forces from NATO-led troops and the preparations for the holding the presidential elections, I can say that 2013 would indeed be a historic year for the nation," analyst Sayed Aqa Fazil Sancharaki told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Sancharaki made his remarks in the wake of President Hamid Karzai's visit to Washington, D.C. where he had extensive talks with U.S. officials led by President Barack Obama on topics that include the future of Afghanistan, the bilateral relations, peace talks with Taliban, and the signing of a security pact that would govern the security arrangement with the U.S. after the 2014 pullout.
As a signal that it is still a force to reckon with, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for a suicide car-bombing followed by several other explosions and gunfire that rocked western Kabul around dawn today.
Residents in the area told newsmen that a large pall of smoke rose from the vicinity of a police complex on the road to the Parliament and the road had been sealed off.
According to the police, a group of terrorists, two or three or four, tried to enter the traffic police building. Two of the bombers were shot dead at the entrance and one has likely entered the building and was shooting sporadically.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told foreign media that the insurgents were behind the attack.
"Today at around 5:00 a.m. a large number of fedayeen (suicide bombers) entered a building in Dehmazang and are attacking an American training centre, a police center and other military centers and have caused heavy casualties on the enemy," he said.
Last Wednesday, a squad of suicide bombers also attacked the Afghan intelligence agency headquarters in heavily fortified central Kabul, killing at least one guard and wounding dozens of civilians.
All six attackers were killed in the midday attack on the National Directorate of Security (NDS).
Despite claims by the US-led NATO force that the insurgency has been weakened, Kabul continued to be under regular attacks by the insurgent Taliban.
During their talks, President Obama reiterated to President Karzai his government's commitment to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan in 2014 but indicated that a small contingent, reportedly some 6,000 to 20,000 soldiers, would remain in the country on condition that they would be granted immunity from suits.
Out of some 100,000-strong NATO-led troops in Afghanistan over 60,000 of them are Americans.
Sancharaki commented that the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) is still facing problems and shortcomings which include lack of heavy weapons, artillery and poor air force, adding that there is also the problem of administrative corruption, infiltration of militants into the ranks of security forces.
"Thus, insider attacks could still pose a serious threat to the security of the nation throughout 2013," Sancharaki said.
However, Sancharaki said that attacks by the Taliban had significantly gone down in 2012 compared with those of the preceding year. "Last year, the Taliban had carried out dozens of coordinated roadside and suicide bombings but they failed to launch a massive offensive or frontal attack on Afghan security forces," he said.
"To be frank, Taliban attacks in the form of coordinated roadside bombings, suicide bombings, targeted killings and attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs)were indicative of their weakness to directly fight security forces," Sancharaki said.
Sancharaki said that if the government forces could safeguard the achievements made over the past few years particularly in the last two years, the security situation will continue to improve throughout 2013 and Afghanistan would see a smooth and effective security transition by 2014.
Since the mid 2011, Afghan forces have taken over the security of areas where about 75 percent of the population lives. However, the Afghan government has announced that it hopes to complete the process in 2013, one year earlier than agreed with U.S. and NATO forces.