Death toll in Kabul mil­i­tary base at­tack reaches 9: NATO

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY LYNNE O’DON­NELL

One in­ter­na­tional ser­vice mem­ber and eight Afghan con­trac­tors were killed in an at­tack on a mil­i­tary base in the Afghan cap­i­tal, a NATO of­fi­cial said Satur­day. The na­tion­al­ity of the NATO soldier was not re­leased.

A num­ber of other NATO ser­vice mem­bers and for­eign con­tracted civil­ians were wounded in the Fri­day night at­tack, NATO spokesman Col. Brian Tribus said. The Afghans killed were work­ing for NATO’s Res­o­lute Sup­port mis­sion on Camp In­tegrity in Kabul.

The at­tack on Camp In­tegrity late Fri­day and two mas­sive bomb­ings in the city ear­lier in the day call into ques­tion Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani’s abil­ity to tamp down the vi­o­lent in­sur­gency that is roil­ing the coun­try de­spite his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fo­cus on mak­ing peace with the Tal­iban.

Con­fir­ma­tion of the con­trac­tors’ deaths in­creased the toll from one of Kabul’s worst days of vi­o­lence to at least 44. Hun­dreds were wounded in the three at­tacks.

Tal­iban Be­hind

The Tal­iban is­sued a state­ment claim­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack on the base. It said four at­tack­ers were in­volved, with one blow­ing up a car at the en­trance to en­able the other three to en­ter the base.

The In­te­rior Min­istry said 10 se­cu­rity guards were in­jured and three in­sur­gents killed by Afghan se­cu­rity forces as they tried to en­ter the base.

The at­tack on the camp fol­lowed within hours of a sui­cide at­tack on a po­lice academy in Kabul that killed 20 peo­ple and wounded at least 24.

The Tal­iban said they were also be­hind the academy at­tack in which a per­son dressed in po­lice uni­form min­gled with cadets re­turn­ing from their week­end break.

As they were lined up to reen­ter the academy, the at­tacker det­o­nated an ex­plo­sives-packed vest, a se­cu­rity of­fi­cial said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to re­lease the in­for­ma­tion.

Ear­lier Fri­day, a truck bomb in a residential area of Kabul killed 15 peo­ple and wounded more than 200, in one of the most dev­as­tat­ing at­tacks on the cap­i­tal since the in­sur­gency be­gan in 2001. The blast flat­tened a city block and left a 10-me­ter crater in the ground.

No one has yet claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ex­plo­sion, though of­fi­cials have in­di­cated they be­lieved the Tal­iban were be­hind it. The Tal­iban of­ten do not claim to have or­ga­nized at­tacks that kill large num­bers of civil­ians, es­pe­cially women and chil­dren. There has been no of­fi­cial word on what the tar­get for the truck bomb might have been though it is widely thought to have det­o­nated pre­ma­turely and de­stroyed the apart­ment build­ing, rather than a gov­ern­ment tar­get dur­ing day­light.

The use of such huge quan­ti­ties of ex­plo­sives is rare in Kabul, though in re­cent weeks truck bombs have be­come more com­mon in in­sur­gent at­tacks else­where in the coun­try. Se­cu­rity forces say they have thwarted a num­ber of at­tempts to bring large caches of ex­plo­sives into the cap­i­tal. At least one has ex­ploded this year while at­tempt­ing to en­ter the city lim­its.

The at­tacks on Fri­day fol­low a week of tur­moil in the Tal­iban af­ter the Afghan in­tel­li­gence ser­vice an­nounced that their leader, Mul­lah Mo­ham­mad Omar, had been dead for more than two years.

Af­ter the Tal­iban con­firmed Mul­lah Omar’s death, a lead­er­ship strug­gle en­gulfed the up­per ech­e­lons of the group, which is hold­ing meet­ings in the Pak­istani city of Quetta in an ef­fort to re­solve the cri­sis.

There ap­pears to be no eas- ing in the in­ten­sity of the fight­ing be­tween the Tal­iban and Afghan forces, which has caused al­most 5,000 civil­ian ca­su­al­ties this year, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port by the United Na­tions.

AP

Afghanistan’s na­tional po­lice and sol­diers guard near the area of a sui­cide at­tack on a po­lice academy west of Kabul, Fri­day, Aug. 7.

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