Monday, December 25, 2017
Afghanistan’s spy agency in Kabul has been targeted in a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group, resulting in at least six deaths. In Helmand province, a roadside bomb has killed six policemen.
A teenage suicide bomber staged Monday’s attack near the entrance of the spy agency’s headquarters in Kabul’s Green Zone diplomatic quarter, according to the Afghan interior ministry.
Ministry spokesmen said the bomber, on foot, detonated his suicide vest near the agency’s main road entrance, killing six civilians in a single vehicle who were arriving for work at the agency, known formally as the National Directorate for Security.
The Middle Eastern jihadist group “Islamic State” (IS) via its communications agency Amaq said the bomber had managed to reach the agency’s main gate and claimed that the detonation had killed as many as 30 people.
Afghanistan’s health ministry confirmed that the death toll was six, and put the number of wounded at one.
The blast follows an attack fended off during an hours-long gun battle a week ago at a Kabul training facility of the agency. Two assailants were killed.
Roadside attack in Helmand
Helmand, one of Afghanistan’s most violent provinces, lost six policemen on Sunday night when an armored vehicle struck a roadside bomb in its district of Marjah.
Omar Zwak, a spokesman for Helmand’s governor, said six others were wounded in the incident.
There was no initial claim of responsibility.
Ninety percent of Helmand is either fully controlled or heavily contested by Taliban militants.
Security ramped up
During 2017, Kabul endured more than 20 large attacks with heavy losses of life.
Security measures were boosted after a May 31 truck bomb attack near the German embassy in the diplomatic quarter that killed at least 150 people and wounded about 400 others.
Germany’s embassy after the May attack
In a surprise visit last week to Kabul and Masar-i-Sharif, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel vowed that the embassy, which previously had about 100 workers, would be up and running again soon.
Gabriel, referring to Afghanistan, said Berlin wanted to show that “we stand by the city but also the complete country.”
Afghan casualties soar
Last Friday, in an attack claimed by the Taliban, a suicide bomber drove an explosives-packed Humvee into a police compound in the southern province of Kandahar, killing at least six officers and destroying a building.
Afghan forces, already hard-hit by desertions and corruption, have seen casualties soar to what a US watchdog has described as “shockingly high” levels since NATO forces officially ended their combat mission in 2014 and began solely a training and support role.
ipj/rc (dpa, AP, Reuters, AFP)