The Taliban struck back less than two hours after US President Barack Obama left Afghanistan yesterday, targeting a foreigners’ housing compound with a suicide car bomb and militants disguised as women in an assault that killed at least seven people.
It was the second major assault in Kabul in less than three weeks and highlighted the Taliban’s continued ability to strike in the heavily guarded capital even when security had been tightened for Obama’s visit and yesterday’s anniversary of the killing of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan.
Obama arrived at Bagram Air Field late on Tuesday, then traveled to Kabul by helicopter for a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in which they signed an agreement governing the US presence after combat troops withdraw in 2014. Later, back at the base, he was surrounded by US troops, shaking every hand. He then gave a speech broadcast to Americans back home, before ending his lightning visit just before 4:30am.
Obama touted the US Navy SEAL raid that killed bin Laden, noting that the operation was launched from a base in Afghanistan.
“We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan security forces. We devastated al-Qaeda’s leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders,” he said.
However, the violence that erupted about 90 minutes after his departure was a stark reminder of the difficult task still ahead for Afghan troops as they work to secure their country after foreign troops end their combat mission.
The attack began with a suicide car bomb near the gate of the privately guarded compound, interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said.
Kabul Deputy Police Chief Daoud Amin said those killed in the blast included four people in a station wagon that was driving past the area, a passer-by and a Nepalese security guard. He didn’t have the identity of the seventh person killed. The ministry said 17 other people were wounded, mostly Afghan children on their way to school.
The area appeared to have calmed down by about 10am. NATO said all the attackers had been killed. It did not give a number, but the Taliban said it had deployed four fighters as it claimed responsibility for the attack.