Nine die in Taleban attack on Afghan base

Wreckage is cleared following Friday's truck bomb in central Kabul. Picture: AP
Wreckage is cleared following Friday's truck bomb in central Kabul. Picture: AP
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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 yesterday. The nationality of the Nato soldier has not yet been released.

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

One of the many civilian victims injured in what was a devastating day of attacks in the Afghan capital. Picture: AP

One of the many civilian victims injured in what was a devastating day of attacks in the Afghan capital. Picture: AP

The attack on Camp Integrity and two massive bombings in the city earlier on Friday call into question Afghan president Ashraf Ghani’s ability to clamp down on the violent insurgency running through the country despite his administration’s focus on making peace with the Taleban.

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

The Taleban 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 ten 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 Taleban said it was also behind the academy attack in which a person dressed in police uniform had mingled with cadets returning from their weekend break. As they were lined up to re-enter the academy, the attacker­ detonated an explosives-packed vest, a security official said.

On Friday morning, 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 30-foot crater.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the explosion, though officials have indicated they believed the Taleban was behind it. The terror group often does not claim to have carried out 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.

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.

Nicholas Haysom, the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, said the attacks were probably linked to the current power struggle within the Taleban.

“We suspect the upsurge in violence may be triggered by the succession battle within the Taleban,” he said.

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

After the Taleban confirmed 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 easing in the intensity of the fighting between the Taleban and Afghan forces, which has caused almost 5,000 civilian casualties this year, according to a recent report by the United Nations.