KABUL, Afghanistan – More than 320 people injured and more than 24 killed in one of the most devastating attacks in Kabul since years as the aftermath of an attack by Taliban militants on a government security agency with a suicide bomb and gunfire Tuesday, Afghan officials said.
Noting that this attack has ended all efforts and disappointed the several past weeks of peace and relative calm in the capital of Afghanistan, the main target was an elite Afghan intelligence unit tasked with protecting senior government politicians – a direct strike against the Western-aided government only a week after the Taliban announced its spring offensive. This attack is remarked as one of the biggest attacks to rock the Afghan capital in years.
It took place by the time a suicide bomber blew himself up at the gates of the agency, touching off a three-hour gun battle less than a mile away from the presidential palace and the Ministry of Defense in a densely-populated part of the city.
Shortly, a statement by Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, which was instantly condemned by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who said in a statement that it was a sign that insurgents cannot defeat Afghan forces in a “face-to-face battle.”
According to the Afghan Ministry of Health said seven people were killed and 327 wounded mostly civilian passersby, however a police spokesman reached by phone put the death toll at nearly 30.
The impact of the explosion shattered windows and cracked the facades of nearby shops and businesses, according to witnesses, where most of the casualties were caused by the explosives in a small truck adjacent to the agency, spokesman Basir Mujahid who added that there are about 28 to 30 dead. After the blast, assailants apparently made their way inside the agency compound as the gun battle raged.
The Taliban announced the start of their spring offensive April 12. Fighting has since flared around the northern city of Kunduz, Afghanistan’s fifth-largest city, but Kabul had remained relatively quiet. Kunduz fell briefly to the Taliban last September. That marked the biggest setback to the government of Ashraf Ghani since NATO-led forces ended their combat operations in Afghanistan at the end of 2014.