Sun, Aug 09, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Attacks on army, police, US forces kill 50 in Kabul

ATTENTION-GRABBING:The attacks come at a time when there are perceived to be divisions within the Taliban, which had been seen as open to peace talks

Reuters, KABUL

Men sit amid debris of their properties at the site of a truck bomb blast near an army compound in Kabul on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

A wave of attacks on Afghan army, police and US special forces in Kabul on Friday killed at least 50 people and wounded hundreds, dimming hopes that the Taliban might be weakened by a leadership struggle after their longtime leader’s death.

The bloodshed began with a truck bomb that exploded in a heavily populated district of the capital and ended with an hours-long battle at a base used by US special forces. It became the deadliest day in Kabul for years.

The militant group claimed responsibility for both the police academy attack and the battle at the US special forces base, but not for the truck bomb.

The scale of the violence heightened obstacles to reviving the stalled peace process and conveyed a no-compromise message from the Taliban at a delicate time following last week’s revelation of leader Mullah Mohammad Omar’s death and an ongoing dispute over leadership of the radical group.

The number of casualties from Friday’s attacks was expected to rise as details continued to emerge from the authorities.

Yesterday, NATO-led coalition forces confirmed that one international service member and eight Afghan contractors were killed in the attack on Camp Integrity, a base used by US special forces near the main airport.

The blast outside the base was powerful enough to flatten offices inside, wounding occupants who were airlifted by helicopter to military hospitals during the night.

“There was a big explosion at the gate... [The gunfire] sounded like it came from two different sides,” said a special forces member who was wounded when his office collapsed.

The initial blast caused by a suicide car bomb at the gate was followed by other explosions and a firefight that lasted a couple of hours, he said.

Camp Integrity is run by US security contractor Academi, which was known as Blackwater before being sold to investors. Academi did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Camp Integrity assault followed a suicide bombing at a police academy on Friday evening that killed and wounded more than 40 people, the Afghan Ministry of the Interior said yesterday.

“The bomber was wearing a police uniform and detonated his explosives among students who had just returned from a break,” a police official said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the insurgents launched both the police academy and Camp Integrity attacks, but he earlier refused to comment on Friday’s early morning truck bomb that tore through buildings in central Kabul, killing and wounding more than 250 people.

Divisions have broken out within the Taliban high command following last week’s appointment of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor as new leader. Previously seen as open to reviving peace talks, the Taliban have since pledged to press on with the insurgency that has killed and wounded thousands this year.

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