Last week’s massacre of schoolgirls showed just how grim the years ahead could be. The US and its allies cannot disclaim responsibility

The three-day Eid ceasefire announced by the Taliban is a rare and brief respite for Afghans. The country is reeling from last week’s devastating suicide bombing of a school in Kabul that killed at least 85 people, mostly girls aged between 11 and 17. The massacre took place in the same neighbourhood where a maternity unit was lethally attacked a year ago, and which is home to many from the predominantly Shia Hazara minority, who in recent years have been repeatedly slaughtered in attacks on civilian targets. Coming shortly after the US and Nato announced the withdrawal of all troops by 11 September this year, it is another terrifying indication of what lies ahead for Afghans.

“It’s time to end the forever war,” the US president, Joe Biden, said as he announced the US’s departure last month. Americans can walk away, but Afghans cannot. They have lived through conflict for four decades, not two: the vast majority have never known peace. Civilian casualties have already returned to their 2019 levels and analysts predict that it is likely to worsen as the Taliban battle with the Afghan national security forces, and Islamic State fights both.

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