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Car bomb kills 15 Afghan cadets, trainers

October 22, 2017

KABUL: A suicide attac­ker rammed a car full of explosives into a bus leaving Afghanistan’s top military training centre in Kabul on Saturday, killing at least 15 soldiers, including cadets and their trainers, officials said.

Taliban militants claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a particularly deadly week for Afghanis­tan’s security forces.

The bombing was also the second major attack in the Afghan capital in 24 hours after a suicide attack at a Shia mosque killed more than 50 worshippers on Friday night.

“Army personnel were coming out of Marshal Fahim University when a suicide bomber in a car targeted them. Fifteen soldiers who were there for training were killed and four others were wounded,” Ministry of Defence spokesman Dawlat Waziri said.

A statement from President Ashraf Ghani’s office said the bus was carrying trainers and cadets from the defence university on the western outskirts of Kabul that is home to the Afghan military’s officer training school and other military academies.

Afghan security forces have been struggling against the Taliban since most foreign troops left at the end of 2014.

US President Donald Trump committed to an open-ended military training and support mission in Afghanistan in August, despite criticism that it is no closer to peace despite billions of dollars in aid and nearly 16 years of US and allied operations.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for Saturday’s car bomb in an email to reporters.

The Taliban have been waging an insurgency for a decade and a half in an attempt to overthrow the Western-backed government in Kabul and re-establish an Islamist regime.

The insurgents now control or contest about 40 per cent of Afghanistan.

Afghan security forces including police were being killed at a rate of about 600 per month in battles and targeted bombings earlier this year, according to a US report.

This week’s toll looked to be particularly heavy for Afghan forces after attacks across the country.

On Thursday the Taliban stormed a military base in the southern province of Kandahar, killing at least 43 of the 60 soldiers manning the base, which was left in ruins.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2017