Attack outside Afghan military academy is latest in wave of suicide bombings in Afghanistan
By PHILLIP WALTER WELLMAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 21, 2017
KABUL, Afghanistan — More than a dozen Afghan soldiers were killed Saturday when a suicide bomber attacked their vehicle outside a training academy in Kabul, officials said. The blast was the latest in a surge of deadly attacks across the country.
The officers and lower-ranking soldiers were traveling home from the Marshal Fahim National Defense University when the van they were in exploded, killing 15 and wounding four others, said Gen. Mohammad Radmanesh, the Defense Ministry’s deputy spokesman.
U.S. and coalition forces train Afghans at the university, which houses the West Point-modeled National Military Academy of Afghanistan.
NATO’s Resolute Support mission described the bombing as “an attack on the future” of Afghanistan and its security forces.
It “shows the insurgents are desperate and cannot win against (Afghan forces) on the battlefield,” NATO said on Twitter.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement sent to the media.
Earlier on Saturday, two Taliban rockets landed near NATO’s Resolute Support Headquarters in Kabul’s heavily fortified Green Zone. No one was injured in the attack, but the incident adds to growing fears over the insurgents’ ability to hit foreign targets in the capital.
Militants on Friday targeted two mosques in Afghanistan during evening prayers, a Shiite mosque in Kabul and a Sunni mosque in western Ghor province.
In the Kabul attack, an Islamic State suicide bomber blew himself up at the Imam Zaman mosque in the city’s west, killing at least 56 people and wounding more than 50, the Interior Ministry said.
The Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate claims responsibility for most attacks against minority Shiites in the country. Earlier this year, following an attack claimed by ISIS on the Iraqi Embassy in Kabul, the Sunni extremist group effectively declared war on local Shiites, saying they would be the target of future violence.
Shiites have called on the government to provide them with better security.
Kabul Garrison told Stars and Stars earlier this month that it was creating a new permanent force of armed guards to protect holy places across the city.
The decision was made after hundreds of young people were given training and weapons to protect Shiite mosques in the run-up to the holy day of Ashura, as residents insisted Afghan security forces were unable to provide adequate protection.
In the mosque attack in Ghor province, also during Friday prayers, a suicide bomber killed more than 30 people, including a warlord who was apparently the target, Mohammad Iqbal Nizami, spokesman for the provincial police chief, told The Associated Press. No group immediately claimed responsibility.
The weekend violence capped a particularly bloody week in Afghanistan.
On Thursday, a Taliban attack on a base in southern Kandahar province killed at least 43 people. And on Tuesday, at least 41 people were killed when Taliban fighters stormed a police headquarters in eastern Paktia province.
Police officers and Afghan soldiers have been the main victims of the recent surge in militant activity, but civilians have also been affected
Zubair Babakarkhail and The Associated Press contributed to this report.