- Convoy carrying police cadets on outskirts of Kabul targeted
- Taliban claims responsibility for Afghanistan suicide bombings
Taliban suicide bombers targeted a convoy of Afghan police cadets and trainers on Thursday, killing at least 30 on the western outskirts of Kabul, the worst single attack in the capital in two months.
The twin suicide attacks also wounded about 60 people when the Taliban bombers ambushed five police buses, two of which were destroyed by the blasts, said Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry. A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahed, said in an e-mail that the insurgent group claimed responsibility for the attack. One suicide bomber on foot detonated explosives, followed by another in a car shortly after the first blast, he said.
“This heinous Taliban crime is a sign of their defeat on the battlefield,” Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement following the attack. “It reveals Taliban’s callous and merciless nature.”
Thursday’s violence is the deadliest in the capital since 64 people were killed and hundreds wounded after Taliban militants launched an attack on an elite Afghan intelligence agency in central Kabul on April 19. It also comes 10 days after 14 Nepalese security guards were killed in the city by a bomber who targeted a bus they were traveling in.
The conflict in Afghanistan has continued unabated after the Taliban named Maulavi Haibatullah Akhundzada their new leader last month, succeeding Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike on May 21 near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Akhundzada vowed to continue the insurgency and has said peace talks will only take place when all foreign troops leave.
The U.S., China, Afghanistan and Pakistan have failed to make headway on peace talks with the Taliban, forcing U.S. President Barack Obama to alter plans for removing most American troops from Afghanistan by the end of his term.
The war in Afghanistan killed or wounded a record 11,000 civilians last year, taking the total toll to 60,000 since the United Nations began compiling the data in 2009. The conflict against the Taliban, now in its 15th year, has cost the U.S. more than $700 billion and killed more than 2,300 American soldiers.
Obama this month broadened the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan he had long hoped would be over by year-end. U.S. troops who had been aiding their Afghan counterparts in training and advising, were authorized to also accompany them on the ground and with air support.