The Taliban killed 15 Afghan army cadets in a suicide attack that targeted their bus outside of a training center in the capital of Kabul today. The suicide attack was the latest in a series of bombings and assaults by the Taliban and rival Islamic State that have killed scores of Afghan soldiers, policemen, and civilians over the past week.
The Taliban has killed at least 36 policemen, 55 soldiers, and 20 civilians, and captured 16 more soldiers in four separate attacks in Farah, Ghazni, Kandahar, and Paktia this week. Meanwhile, the Islamic State killed more than 70 civilians in two suicide attacks at Shia mosques in Kabul and Ghor province yesterday.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that one of the group’s suicide bombers attacked the cadet’s bus earlier today. The Afghan Ministry of Defense confirmed that 15 Afghan soldiers were killed and four more were wounded, according to Khaama Press.
— Zabihulla-M (@ZabihullaM4) October 21, 2017
The Taliban has used this method of attack in the Afghan capital numerous times in the past. Most recently, at the end of July, a Taliban suicide bomber struck a bus carrying employees from the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, killing 36 civilians and wounding 40 more. The Taliban, which is sensitive about killing civilians, claimed all of those killed and wounded were “intelligence services employees.”
Resolute Support, NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, claimed that today’s bombing in Kabul “shows the insurgents are desperate and cannot win.”
— Resolute Support (@ResoluteSupport) October 21, 2017
However, the Taliban has sustained offensive operations in all areas of the country and has experienced battlefield successes against a struggling Afghan military. Earlier this week in Paktia, the Taliban launched a complex suicide assault on police headquarters and a training center in the capital of Gardez. Paktia’s police chief was among those killed. In Farah, Ghazni, and Kandahar, the police and soldiers were killed or captured as the Taliban took control of three district centers or overran a military base. The Taliban controls and contests more districts in Afghanistan than perhaps any time since the US military ousted them from power in 2002.
In addition to the Taliban operations, the Islamic State continues to maintain the capacity to launch deadly suicide attacks in multiple areas of the country despite a concerted US and Afghan military offensive against the group’s stronghold in Nangarhar.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.