An American contractor has been killed in an insider attack at police headquarters in the capital Kabul in a first such attack to be carried out by a woman.
"Afghans are very sensitive against the foreign occupation. You cannot show me any single Afghan that they are happy with this kind of invasion that is why now the military personnel trained by NATO forces – they are killing NATO officers and Americans. This is very direct hint for the occupiers to leave this country as soon as possible."
- Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, the former Afghan prime minister
In uniform at the time, a policewoman named Narghis shot the American advisor to the police department inside Kabul's central police station.
The incident is sure to concern NATO officials who point to female recruits as a sign of progress here, although they are still only a small proportion of the country's 350,000 security forces that are gradually taking over security from US-led coalition forces.
In a separate incident in the north, a local police officer shot and killed six of his colleagues.
Many observers say there can only be peace if the government negotiates with the Taliban. And for the first time after 11 years of war, Afghan government officials this week directly met with representatives of the Taliban and another rebel group in France.
At the secret meeting the Afghan Taliban called for a new constitution that should guarantee "civil, personal and political rights" and be "approved by the people".
"The Americans are the strongest party in this equation and of course there are regional powers also, but they are the ones who have led the offensive, they are the ones who sat down to try and re-engineer Afghanistan, but over the years they have pared down their expectations. Pakistan has been saying since 2005 that there has to be political reconciliation ... and the Americans have to get very serious about this."
- Ejaz Haider, Sustainable Development Policy Institute
The group also signalled its willingness to share power with other Afghan groups and their representatives. The Taliban also spoke about the need to stop domestic violence against Afghan women and proclaimed their belief in women's rights.
Another outcome of that meeting is the announcement of plans to open a Taliban office in Qatar.
Kabul says it will consider the office as the only official representative of the Taliban in any future negotiations between the two parties.
Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, says insider attacks have encouraged other nations, such as France to withdraw their troops more quickly than planned and the killing of an American in the heart of Kabul will not do much to boost US support for an already unpopular war.
So, is Afghanistan ready to take full control of its military and political process? And what part could the Taliban play if peace talks move towards any resolution?
To answer these questions, Inside Story, with presenter Stephen Cole, speaks to Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, the prime minister of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996; Daoud Sultanzoy, a former member of the Afghan parliament; and Ejaz Haider, a senior advisor at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute.
SECURITY CONCERNS FOR AFGHANISTAN:
- Last week, a bomb exploded inside compound of private company that works on international projects
- At least one person was killed and 15 others injured in the blast
- Earlier in December, an attack on a joint US-Afghan airbase in eastern Afghanistan killed four Afghan soldiers
- In September, a soldier died alongside a NATO contractor and three Afghan troops in another suspected attack by their Afghan colleagues
- In one of the Taliban's most significant victories of 2012, two marines were killed and several combat planes destroyed when the Taliban stormed Camp Bastion in September
- On July 8, six American troops were killed in eastern Afghanistan
- More than 2,000 American service personnel were killed in Afghanistan since the war started