Series of Terrorist Attacks Strike Kabul

Raeesa Ashique - 3B Electrical
Posted on: February 3, 2018

Kabul has experienced a recent surge of violence, with four major assaults in just over a week killing over one hundred people and leaving many more injured.

The Military Academy

An attack on Marshall Fahim Military Academy outside Kabul on Monday, January 29, killed at least eleven, leaving sixteen others injured. ISIS has taken credit, according to their news outlet Amaq. One attacker detonated his suicide vest at the base’s entrance at 5:00 local time. That was followed by a gun battle with troops lasting well past daybreak.

Defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri told BBC “There were five attacks, two of them detonated their suicide vests, two others were gunned down by security forces, and one was arrested live.” Four AK-47 assault rifles, one suicide vest, and one rocket launcher were seized.

Waziri added “the attack was against an army unit providing security for the academy and not the academy itself.”

Questions have been raised about the Afghan government’s ability to protect itself.

This base has been targeted in the past: in October 2017, fifteen military cadets were killed by an explosion while disembarking a bus outside the academy.

The Ambulance Explosion

An explosion on Saturday, January 27, in Kabul’s crowded centre killed 103 people, and injured 235, according to Interior Minister Wais Barmak. This area is home to government buildings, embassies, a hospital, and a shopping zone known as Chicken Street.

The suicide bomber drove an ambulance full of explosives onto the crowded street at 12:15 local time, passing the police checkpoint by saying that he was taking a patient to nearby Jamhuriat hospital. The International Committee of the Red Cross said using an ambulance for this horrible act was “harrowing”.

The Taliban is taking credit for what is Afghanistan’s deadliest attack in months. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid cited US efforts to assist Afghan forces with troops and air strikes, saying, “If you go ahead with a policy of aggression and speak from the barrel of a gun, don’t expect Afghans to grow flowers in response.”

The Afghan government has condemned this as a crime against humanity, accusing Pakistan of providing support to the attackers. US President Donald Trump said, “Now, all countries should take decisive action against the Taliban and the terrorist infrastructure that supports them…The Taliban’s cruelty will not prevail.” Other world leaders have also expressed their condolences, and called this event a violation of human rights.

The Aid Agency

ISIS attacked the Save the Children office in Jalalabad, a city in eastern Afghanistan, detonating a vehicle explosive at the entrance to the office at 9:10 local time. A message on their news outlet Amaq said the target was “British, Swedish and Afghan institutions in Jalalabad.”

This explosion initiated a ten-hour battle, in which six people were killed and a dozen others injured.

Save the Children released a statement that they were “devastated” by the news, saying, “Our primary concern is for the safety and security of our staff.” They have temporarily closed their offices across the country, but remain “committed to resuming our operations and lifesaving work as quickly as possible.”

Save the Children is an international aid agency, with the mission to provide better access to education, healthcare, and essential supplies to children across the world. They have worked in Afghanistan since 1976, running programs in sixteen provinces across the country and reaching 700,000 children over the years.

The Hotel

The first in this wave of attacks was on Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel on Saturday, January 20. The luxury hotel was scheduled to host an IT conference on Sunday; over one hundred IT managers and engineers were on site at the time, according to an official at the telecommunications ministry. Six militants stormed the hotel in suicide vests; after a twelve-hour siege, the Afghan Special Forces regained control of the building. The death toll was over thirty, with foreigners comprising the majority of the victims.

One eyewitness told the BBC that he was spared after saying that he was Afghan. The attackers reportedly entered the building shouting, “Where are the foreigners?”

The Taliban has claimed responsibility. In a statement, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group has “killed tens of foreign invaders and their puppets”.

A statement from interior ministry spokesman Najib Danesh blamed the Haqqani network, which is a group affiliated with the Taliban. He also said that a private company had taken over hotel security three weeks prior, noting that this may have been a mistake.

Who’s to Blame?

There are multiple theories explaining the increase in violence. Government officials say this is a response to improved security elsewhere in the country. For example, US air strikes have helped push back the Taliban in Helmand Province.

Attacking the country’s capital is also an effective way to undermine confidence in the government and attract international attention.

The chief of Afghan intelligence services said the increased US pressure on Pakistan is a factor: the US and Afghanistan are accusing Pakistan of sheltering militants. Trump recently suspended security aid to Islamabad. Pakistan denies these allegations.