Tal­iban sui­cide bomber at­tacks NATO con­voy in south Afghanistan

One eye­wit­ness re­ports see­ing three bod­ies be­ing pulled from a ve­hi­cle and taken in a he­li­copter

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Kan­da­har, Afghanistan - A Tal­iban sui­cide bomber on Wed­nes­day rammed a ve­hi­cle filled with ex­plo­sives into a con­voy of for­eign forces in Afghanistan’s restive south­ern province of Kan­da­har, caus­ing ca­su­al­ties, of­fi­cials said.

“At around noon a car bomb tar­geted a con­voy of for­eign forces in the Daman area of Kan­da­har,” said pro­vin­cial po­lice spokesman Zia Dur­rani.

NATO con­firmed in a state­ment that a con­voy was at­tacked and did ‘cause ca­su­al­ties’ but did not im­me­di­ately give fur­ther de­tails.

At least one wit­ness re­ported see­ing three bod­ies pulled from one of ve­hi­cles.

Mo­ham­mad Azim, a shop­keeper, told AFP, “I saw a for­eign forces ve­hi­cle on fire af­ter the at­tack. A while later he­li­copters landed in the area, they took three bod­ies out of the ve­hi­cle and flew away. There were three ar­moured ve­hi­cles in the con­voy.”

The Tal­iban, who have a heavy pres­ence in poppy-grow­ing Kan­da­har province and have launched re­peated at­tacks there, quickly claimed the at­tack in a text mes­sage sent to AFP.

The as­sault is the lat­est blow to NATO forces, who ended their more than a decade-long com­bat mis­sion in Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

Since then Afghan troops and po­lice, be­set by soar­ing ca­su­al­ties, have strug­gled to beat back the resur­gent Tal­iban, while fac- ing the grow­ing men­ace of the Is­lamic State group.

The Tal­iban have been ramp­ing up their cam­paign against be­lea­guered gov­ern­ment forces, un­der­scor­ing ris­ing in­se­cu­rity in the war-torn coun­try dur­ing the sum­mer fight­ing sea­son, when the warmer weather tends to spur an in­crease in mil- itant at­tacks.

Early last month a US sol­dier was killed and two oth­ers wounded in an at­tack in Kan­da­har’s neigh­bour­ing Hel­mand province while con­duct­ing op­er­a­tions against the Tal­iban.

Pri­vate First Class Hansen Kirkpatrick (19) of Wasilla, Alaska died fol­low­ing the ‘indi- rect fire’ as­sault, which means he was hit by a mor­tar or some other in­com­ing round.

The at­tacks come as United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump weighs send­ing more Amer­i­can troops to Afghanistan nearly 16 years af­ter the US in­va­sion to top­ple the Tal­iban regime.

US troops in Afghanistan now num­ber about 8,400, and there are an­other 5,000 from NATO al­lies, a far cry from the US pres­ence of more than 100,000 six years ago. They mainly serve as train­ers and ad­vi­sors.

Amer­i­can mil­i­tary com­man­ders in Afghanistan have re­quested thou­sands of ex­tra boots on the ground and De­fence Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis is be­lieved to be close to pre­sent­ing a new US mil­i­tary strat­egy for Afghanistan to Trump.

Tues­day’s at­tack came a day af­ter sui­cide bombers throw­ing grenades killed more than 30 Shi­ite wor­ship­pers at a mosque in Afghanistan’s main west­ern city of Herat.

No one claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the as­sault but IS has reg­u­larly at­tacked Shi­ites over the past year as it tries to make in­roads in Afghanistan fol­low­ing set backs in the Mid­dle East, leav­ing Afghan forces and it’s in­ter­na­tional al­lies fac­ing a twin Tal­iban and IS in­sur­gency.


A US Black Hawk he­li­copter flies over the site of the Tal­iban sui­cide at­tack in Kan­da­har on Wed­nes­day

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