At least one person has been killed and 35 injured in two attacks in Kabul on Wednesday.
A bomb hidden in a car caused a massive blast near the headquarters of the local police and a military academy in the western part of the city. According to the AP news agency, a suicide bomber triggered the explosion. Immediately following the explosion, a gunbattle between security forces and an unknown number of armed fighters reportedly broke out nearby.
Shortly after the first explosion, a suicide bomber triggered a second explosion while trying to enter the office of the Afghan secret service NDS in eastern Kabul.
Afghan police secured the site of a blast in Kabul
Government spokeswoman Najibullah Danish confirmed that there had been two attacks. She told the AFP news agency that there were “casualties from the first attack and we also have reports of gunfights, but at this stage we cannot confirm whether it is a complex attack.”
A Taliban spokesperson claimed responsibility for both attacks.
The twin attacks in Kabul could mark the beginning of a Taliban spring offensive. The radical Islamists – who are seeking to reimpose Islamic law after they were ousted from power in 2001 – have in the last few years decreased their activities in the winter months only to ramp up attacks at the beginning of spring. Observers worry that the relatively high number of Taliban attacks in recent months could indicate that the Taliban are gaining strength and that a particularly vicious spring offensive is to be expected.
In January, the Taliban attacked the parliament in Kabul with several bombs, killing over 30 people.
Since the NATO-led coalition ended its combat mission in 2014, Afghani troops have been struggling against a Taliban insurgency. Though Kabul controls the main provincial centers, less than 60 percent of the country are currently under the control of the government.
Though the Taliban are the by far most influential militant Islamist group in Afghanistan, they are not the only ones threatening security. Last month, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bomber killed at least 20 people outside the Supreme Court in Kabul.
mb/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)