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Kabul attack: 30 killed, hundreds injured; Taliban claims responsibility

world Updated: Apr 20, 2016 15:46 IST
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Security forces keep watch at the site of the explosion in Kabul.(REUTERS)

Armed militants in Afghanistan staged a coordinated assault on a government security agency in the capital Tuesday morning, killing at least 30 people and wounding more than 320. The Taliban has claimed responsibility.

“Many of those wounded are in serious condition,” ministry spokesman Mohammad Ismail Kawoosi said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the brazen attack in a densely packed neighbourhood with government offices, which sent clouds of acrid smoke billowing in the sky and rattled windows several kilometres away, in their first major attack in the Afghan capital since they announced the start of this year’s fighting season .

Taliban’s spring offensive

  • The Afghan Taliban last Tuesday announced the start of their spring offensive even as the government in Kabul seeks to bring the insurgents back to the negotiating table to end their drawn-out conflict.

  • The Taliban warned they would "employ large-scale attacks on enemy positions across the country" during the offensive dubbed Operation Omari in honour of the movement’s late founder Mullah Omar, whose death was announced last year.
  • The insurgents targetted the northern city of Kunduz, which they briefly captured last year in a stunning setback for Afghan forces. But officials said Afghan security forces drove Taliban fighters back from the city on Friday.

  • The annual spring offensive normally marks the start of the "fighting season", though this past winter the lull was shorter and rebels continued to battle government forces, albeit with less intensity.
  • “(We) condemn in the strongest terms the terrorist attack in Puli Mahmood Khan neighbourhood of Kabul, as a result of which many of our countrymen were martyred and wounded,” Ashraf Ghani said in a statement without specifying the number.

    Afghan security forces carry an injured soldier after a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul in Afghanistan on April 19, 2016. (Reuters)

    “Such cowardly terrorist attacks will not weaken the will and determination of Afghan security forces to fight against terrorism,” Ghani said.

    Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claimed their fighters had managed to enter the offices of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the main spy agency.

    Afghan officials did not confirm that claim but intense gun battles could be heard near the NDS compound. The Taliban are generally known to exaggerate battlefield claims.

    “The first blast was carried out by a suicide bomber in a car and possibly one or two bombers are still resisting,” interior ministry spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi said.

    “The scene of the attack has been completely cordoned off by Afghan security forces.”

    Afghan security forces respond to a Taliban-claimed suicide attack at Kabul in Afghanistan on April 19. (AP)

    The Taliban’s resurgence has raised serious questions about Afghan forces’ capacity to hold their own. An estimated 5500 troops were killed last year, the worst-ever toll.

    Peace talks which began last summer were abruptly halted after it was revealed that Taliban leader Mullah Omar had been dead for two years, a disclosure which sparked infighting in the insurgents’ ranks.

    A four-country group comprising Afghanistan, the United States, China and Pakistan has been holding meetings since January aimed at jump-starting negotiations, though their efforts have so far been in vain.

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