KABUL, Afghanistan — Civilians in Afghanistan’s capital live in constant fear of being killed in a targeted attack as the war with the Taliban and other extremist groups drags on. But at night, a different war is being fought — against criminals, and packs of stray dogs stalking the streets.
The shop owners in one Kabul neighborhood speak of a shadow government.
“There are dogs and armed thieves who make people’s lives here hell,” said Fahim Sultani, a local elder who works from the empty dusty hulk of the run-down Aryub Cinema in the northwest part of the city, which he has converted into a makeshift office.
As Afghanistan’s economy has been battered by the coronavirus, crime has flourished in Kabul. Just after the lockdown last year, the dogs on Mr. Sultani’s street, and a handful of security guards, watched what has become a staple in the city: An ice cream vendor in front of the theater was shot at and robbed, he said.
The stray dogs roam throughout the city and are a strange and sad fixture of Kabul, known for snapping, snarling and attacking people passing by, mostly those just trying to eke out a living. By day, the animals rest, conserving their energy until twilight, when they, along with the criminals, command the streets.
report from the Afghan Analysts Network. The Ministry of Interior Affairs declined to provide crime data for the past year, but in early 2020 the uptick in incidents pushed government officials to ban the use of motorbikes — the primary method of travel for many criminals — though the ruling was barely enforced.
Bearing the brunt of such lawlessness are shop owners like Mohammed Ibraheem, whose small shop that sells drinks and snacks less than a mile from Aryub Cinema is swathed in darkness after sunset. The few streetlights and the steady glow from nearby restaurant signs quickly fade as the road edges along a hill. At the top of the hill is a decaying palace from the 19th century.
Mr. Ibraheem, 20, has worked in his shop for at least seven years. His tired voice sounds as if it comes from someone three times his age.