Kabul Rocked by Islamic Terrorist Bomb
Truck Bomb Explodes in Kabul’s Diplomatic Center
A massive truck bomb exploded Wednesday morning in the diplomatic section of Afghanistan’s capital, killing at least 80 people and wounding over 350 others, a health ministry spokesman told Voice of America.
The blast ripped through the central Wazir Akbar Khan area of Kabul, home to foreign diplomatic missions and government offices, damaging dozens of vehicles and surrounding buildings. Initial reports said the explosives were hidden in a water tanker.
Afghan officials say the casualty figures are likely to rise.
The target of the massive bombing was not immediately clear. It happened in an area not far from the German embassy. However, the explosion mostly devastated a nearby building, housing the main office of Roshan, the leading telecommunications service provider in Afghanistan.
Afghan security forces swiftly cordoned off the area and international troops also have arrived at the site to assist in rescue efforts. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for what residents in Kabul said appeared to be one of the deadliest bombings in years.
Wednesday’s attack comes amid intensified deadly Taliban attacks on Afghan forces while Islamic State have also conducted terrorist strikes against high-profile targets in recent months in and outside Kabul.
The latest violence also comes as President Ashraf Ghani is set to host a conference of neighboring and regional countries in Kabul next week to discuss ways to end an increasingly deadly Afghan conflict.
International Forces: Operation Resolute Support
The British Army currently has the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment (1 R IRISH), on deployment in Afghanistan in Operation TORAL, the UK’s contribution to the NATO mission Resolute Support.. Based at Clive Barracks, Shropshire, 1 R IRISH deployed in December 2016. Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Graham Shannon, told the Shropshire Star:
We will be providing security and provide a control of movements of Nato forces in Kabul. We will be there in the event of a serious incident which would involve Nato forces being ready to respond. We will be defending ourselves and those people we are there to protect. We will be working with Afghan security forces who will have the lead.
1 R IRISH have been working closely with other international units on deplyment in Afghanistan, including those from Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Lt Col Shannon was particularly looking forward to working withe the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division. The 2nd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (2 YORKS), will take up the role of Kabul Protection Unit from August.
The U.S. currently has 8,500 military personnel to “advise, train and assist missions, including counterterrorism and air support” for local security forces, codenamed Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, according to the U.S. Naval Institute.
Approximately 1,500 soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will be deployed to Afghanistan this summer.
Almost 100 Afghan Soldiers and Police Killed in Past Week
On Sunday, May 28, a Taliban infiltrator gunned down six government forces personnel in southern Afghanistan, bringing the number of army and police personnel killed by insurgents in the past week to nearly 100.
Afghan and insurgent officials said, Sunday, that the overnight “insider attack” incident took place at a security outpost in Zabul province where a police guard turned his gun on colleagues.
He shot dead six police, including the commander of the post. Afghan media quoted local officials as saying the shooter later rejoined the Taliban and handed the post over to insurgent control.
The Taliban in the last week has assaulted several Afghan military bases and installations, particularly in volatile southern provinces, killing and wounding scores of security forces.
On Saturday, the first day of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, a Taliban suicide car bomber in the eastern city of Khost struck a convoy of an Afghan elite force providing security to American forces. The blast killed at least 18 personnel and wounded many others.
Afghan Defense Ministry officials say government forces have also inflicted heavy battlefield casualties on the Taliban in retaliation.
The Islamist insurgency on Saturday rejected as “ignorance of religion” U.N.-led calls for halting hostilities during Ramadan to respect the religious obligation.
Hours after staging the suicide car bombing in Khost, a Taliban spokesman insisted it is fighting “jihad” (holy war) and is a religious obligation.
“Our fight is Jihad and an obligatory worship. And every obligatory act of worship has 70 times more reward in Ramadan,” a statement quoted spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid as claiming.
Afghan security forces lost more than 150 personnel in a single Taliban attack last month on a military base outside the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
The increase in hostilities has also killed and wounded record numbers of civilians, particularly women and children, since the start of the year.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has convened an international peace conference in Kabul in the first week of June where delegates from Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors, along with other regional countries, will discuss ways to end the increasingly deadly conflict.
Image: US Army Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, Sgt Jeff Cesaitis in Qalat, Zabul Prov, Afghanistan, 27 Oct 2010, by Staff Sgt Brian Ferguson.