5 dead in Tal­iban sui­cide blast on Kabul air­port road

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY US­MAN SHAR­IFI

At least five peo­ple were killed Mon­day when a Tal­iban sui­cide car bomber struck near the en­trance of Kabul’s in­ter­na­tional air­port, the latest in a wave of lethal bomb­ings in the Afghan cap­i­tal.

The Tal­iban, which claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the blast, have stepped up at­tacks amid a bit­ter lead­er­ship tran­si­tion fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment of the death of their leader Mul­lah Omar.

Observers say the up­surge in vi­o­lence rep­re­sents a bid by new leader Mul­lah Akhtar Man­sour to dis­tract at­ten­tion from the cri­sis as planned peace talks fal­ter.

“The ex­plo­sion oc­curred at the first check­point of Kabul air­port,” said deputy Kabul po­lice chief Sayed Gul Agha Rouhani.

Five civil­ians were killed and 16 wounded in­clud­ing chil­dren, said Kabul po­lice spokesman Ebadul­lah Karimi.

The toll was con­firmed by Kabul CID chief Fraidoon Obaidi, who said the ex­plo­sion was caused by a sui­cide car bomb.

Smoke bil­lowed from the scene of the ex­plo­sion, which oc­curred dur­ing the busy lunchtime pe­riod.

An AFP pho­tog­ra­pher saw pieces of charred flesh strewn around the check­point, where pas­sen­gers un­dergo the first round of body checks be­fore en­ter­ing the air­port.

Am­bu­lances with wail­ing sirens rushed to the area and were seen re­mov­ing bod­ies from the area, which was strewn with the twisted and man­gled re­mains of ve­hi­cles.

Tal­iban spokesman Zabi­ul­lah Mu­jahid said two ve­hi­cles be­long­ing to for­eign coali­tion forces were the tar­get of the at­tack.

The at­tack fol­lows a bar­rage of deadly bomb­ings in the Afghan cap­i­tal on Fri­day, which struck close to an army com­plex, a po­lice academy and a U.S. spe­cial forces base and killed at least 51 peo­ple.

They were the first ma­jor at­tacks since Mul­lah Akhtar Man­sour was named as the new Tal­iban chief in an ac­ri­mo­nious power tran­si­tion af­ter the in­sur­gents con­firmed the death of long­time leader Mul­lah Omar.

Some top lead­ers of the Is­lamist in­sur­gency, in­clud­ing Omar’s son and brother, have re­fused to pledge al­le­giance to Man­sour, say­ing the process to se­lect him was rushed and even bi­ased.

Tayeb Agha, the head of the Qatar po­lit­i­cal of­fice set up in 2013 to fa­cil­i­tate talks with Kabul, re­signed last week in protest at Man­sour’s ap­point­ment and two more mem­bers of the of­fice fol­lowed suit.

The wave of vi­o­lence un­der­scores Afghanistan’s volatile se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion amid a flail­ing peace process.

The first face-to-face talks aimed at end­ing the 14-year in­sur­gency took place last month be­tween the Afghan gov­ern­ment and the Tal­iban in the Pak­istani hill town of Mur­ree.

The Tal­iban dis­tanced them­selves from a sec­ond round of talks sched­uled for the end of July, af­ter the an­nounce­ment of Omar’s death.

Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani dis­cussed ini­ti­at­ing another round of talks in a tele­phone call Sun­day to Pak­istan Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif, a se­nior of­fi­cial in Is­lam­abad told AFP with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

Ex­perts say in­sur­gents are step­ping up at­tacks as Man­sour tries to dis­tract at­ten­tion from the in­ter­nal rifts.

The uptick in vi­o­lence high­lights grow­ing in­se­cu­rity in the coun­try as Afghan forces face their first sum­mer fight­ing sea­son with­out full NATO sup­port.

A U.N. re­port pub­lished last week said civil­ian ca­su­al­ties in Afghanistan hit a record high in the first half of 2015.

The re­port said 1,592 civil­ians were killed, a six per­cent fall from last year, but the num­ber of in­jured jumped four per­cent to 3,329.

Afghan Slams Pak­istan over

At­tacks

Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani lam­basted neigh­bor­ing Pak­istan on Mon­day over a re­cent wave of in­sur­gent at­tacks in the cap­i­tal Kabul that killed at least 56 peo­ple.

“The last few days have shown that sui­cide bomber train­ing camps and bomb- pro­duc­ing fac­to­ries which are killing our peo­ple are as ac­tive as be­fore in Pak­istan,” Ghani told a news con­fer­ence.

“We hoped for peace but we are re­ceiv­ing mes­sages of war from Pak­istan.”

Pak­istan has his­tor­i­cally sup­ported the Tal­iban in­sur­gents and many Afghans ac­cuse it of nur­tur­ing mil­i­tant sanc­tu­ar­ies on its soil in the hope of main­tain­ing in­flu­ence in Afghanistan.

Since com­ing to power last year Ghani has courted the Pak­ista­nis, ex­pend­ing sub­stan­tial do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal in the process, in hopes Is­lam­abad will per­suade the Tal­iban to come to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble.

But his com­ments on Mon­day are the strong­est yet against the neigh­bor­ing coun­try.

“In my tele­phone call with Pak­istan prime min­is­ter (on Sun­day), I told Pak­istan to see ter­ror­ism in Afghanistan the same way it sees ter­ror­ism in Pak­istan,” he said, re­fer­ring to Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif.

“I ask the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment if the mass killings of Shah Sha­heed had hap­pened in Is­lam­abad and the per­pe­tra­tors were in Afghanistan, what would you do?” he said, re­fer­ring to a Kabul neigh­bor­hood that suf­fered a fa­tal truck bomb­ing on Fri­day.

AFP

An Afghan po­lice­man stands guard as smoke and flames rise from the site of a huge blast that struck near the en­trance of Kabul’s in­ter­na­tional air­port, Mon­day, Aug. 10.

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