Taliban suicide assault teams struck three separate targets in the Afghan capital of Kabul today. The Afghan jihadist group quickly claimed credit for the complex attack, which hit military, police, and intelligence buildings.
A statement released on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s propaganda website, is basically consistent with press reports from Afghanistan, except the Taliban appears to have exaggerated the number of casualties. However, there is almost always uncertainty in initial casualty reports.
The Taliban said the first target was the “the enemy Recruitment Center also known as Military School.” A large bomb was used to breach the perimeter, and “multiple martyrdom seekers” entered the school and engaged security forces.
According to the Taliban, a second car bomb was detonated outside of the Police District 6 headquarters building, and fighters then entered the building and fought with police. The Taliban claimed it cleared the police headquarters and later detonated a car bomb inside the compound. Reuters reported that a large blast took place at a police headquarters near the military school, and fighting “lasted for several hours with gunmen barricaded inside the building.”
The Taliban also claimed it “targeted an intelligence building inside 241 Qit’a (Unit)” with explosives. ATN News confirmed that a suicide bomber detonated at the entrance of a headquarters for the National Directorate of Intelligence. Another suicide bomber was reportedly gunned down.
Afghan officials claim that only three people were killed and 38 more were wounded. The Taliban stated that “dozens of police, army and intelligence personnel” perished during the suicide operations.
The attacks were claimed as part of the “ongoing ‘Omari Operations’,” the Taliban’s official name for its 2016-2017 campaign. The offensive is named after Mullah Omar, the founder and first emir of the Taliban who died of natural causes in 2013. The Taliban hid his death for more than two years and issued official statements under his name.
When the Taliban announced Operation Omari in April 2016, it claimed to have “thousands of fully armed martyrdom seekers” at its disposal to strike inside Afghanistan. Additionally, the Taliban said it would conduct “large scale attacks on enemy positions across the country, martyrdom-seeking and tactical attacks against enemy strongholds, and assassination[s] of enemy commanders in urban centers.”
“The present Operation will also employ all means at our disposal to bog the enemy down in a war of attrition that lowers the morale of the foreign invaders and their internal armed militias. By employing such a multifaceted strategy it is hoped that the foreign enemy will be demoralized and forced to evict our nation,” the Taliban stated in April 2016.
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. Most recently, on Jan. 10, Taliban suicide bombers killed and wounded more than 100 people in a coordinated raid targeting intelligence officials and government workers outside of the Afghan Parliament.
In addition to the high-profile attacks in Kabul, the Taliban has expanded its control of territory in a number of provinces. At the beginning of this month, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said that the Afghan government “has lost territory to the insurgency” and “district control continues to decline.”
According to SIGAR, the Afghan government controls or influences just 52 percent of the nation’s districts today compared to 72 percent in Nov. 2015. An estimated 15 percent of Afghanistan’s districts have slipped from the government’s control over the past six months. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Afghan government ‘has lost territory to the insurgency’.]