The Taliban attack in Kabul on Saturday that killed at least 12 Americans, a Canadian and four Afghans highlights the insurgents’ growing reliance on high-profile bombings in the capital and targeted assassinations that seem designed to destroy Afghans’ confidence in their struggling government.
A vehicle laden with explosives swerved into an armoured US military bus, resulting in one of the deadliest strikes aimed at Americans in Kabul in the past decade, according to US military and Afghan officials. The American and Canadian dead included five soldiers and eight civilian contractors.
The attack was the latest in a series of spectacular and frequently suicidal assaults in major cities against government and military targets.
In recent weeks, Taliban fighters waged a prolonged gun-and-grenade battle aimed at the US embassy in Kabul and killed a key Afghan peace envoy and former president in a suicide bomb attack.The shift in Taliban strategy has been driven, in part, by the addition of 30,000 US troops who have pushed insurgents out of their rural havens in the south and made it harder for them to attack front-line US combat forces.
After Saturday’s attack, US commanders sought to highlight their gains over the past year. Gen John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, said the bombing was designed “to hide the fact that [the Taliban] are losing territory, support and the will to fight”.
But the attacks also highlight the Taliban’s resilience at a time when the US is beginning a gradual draw-down of its forces and trying to press forward with stalled peace talks.
The US strategy envisions continued military pressure combined with a sustained push to jump-start reconciliation talks and grow Afghanistan’s army and the police force.
In exclusive partnersip with The Washington Post