A Taliban suicide assault team killed and wounded more than 100 people in a coordinated attack that targeted intelligence officials and government workers today in the Afghan capital of Kabul. The attack included a blast that preyed on first responders who rushed in to help those injured in the initial bombing.
Afghan officials said at least 38 people were killed and 70 more were wounded in the double bombing that took place “as a convoy of parliament staff was leaving the offices in Darulaman Road in PD6,” or Police District 6, according to TOLONews. The first suicide bomber detonated his explosives “at the entrance to parliament’s offices,” then the second bomber struck as first responders arrived at the scene of the attack.
Among those killed was the head of the National Directorate of Security for Police District 6, TOLONews reported. A female member of parliament was also wounded.
The Taliban claimed credit for the deadly blasts in a statement released on Voice of Jihad, its official propaganda website. The jihadist group admitted it deliberately targeted first responders.
According to the Taliban, the first suicide bomber hit “a mini bus ferrying workers of NDS [National Directorate of Security] 5th Directorate,” while the second “targeted the Quick Reaction Force troops and other intelligence personnel gathered at the site.”
Today’s attack is similar to another executed by the Taliban on June 30, 2016. In that attack, a suicide bomber hit a bus transporting police cadets in Kabul. The second suicide bomber then detonated his explosives as emergency personnel rendered aid to the victims of the first blast. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Taliban suicide bombers target police cadets, first responders in Kabul attack.]
The Taliban has launched several high-profile attacks in the capital since last summer. Other targets include the Afghan Ministry of Defense, the home of a member of parliament, and Canadian embassy personnel.
Suicide bombers were from the Taliban’s “Martyr Battalion”
In its statement claiming credit for today’s attack, the Taliban said “both of the attackers were from the Martyr Battalion of Islamic Emirate who successfully reached their targets and handed the enemy a heavy blow.”
In the past, the Taliban has claimed that it has “thousands of fully armed martyrdom seekers” at its disposal to conduct attacks inside Afghanistan and has provided some information on the structure of its “martyrdom units.”
The Taliban has identified two key leaders of its “Suicide Groups.” Mullah Taj Mir Jawad has been described as the head of a “martyrdom-seekers battalion.” Jawad swore allegiance to Mullah Mansour, the group’s previous emir, in a video released in Sept. 2015.
Qari Abdul Raouf Zakir, the “commander” of the Taliban’s “suicide groups,” also swore allegiance to Mullah Mansour in the same video. Qari Zakir, who was designated as a terrorist by the State Department in Nov. 2012, has long commanded the Haqqani Network’s suicide operations.
The Haqqani Network is an al Qaeda-linked Taliban subgroup that operates throughout Afghanistan and is based in Pakistan, where it is supported by Pakistan’s military and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani Network, serves as one of two deputies to Mullah Habaitullah, the emir of the Taliban, and as the head of the Taliban’s military.
The Taliban has also promoted suicide teams in its propaganda. The Muaskar ul Fida, one of several suicide squads operating in Afghanistan, previously swore allegiance to the Taliban’s last emir in Nov. 2015.