Eleven Afghan soldiers were killed in an assault on a Kabul military base on Monday, the fourth attack in Afghanistan within 10 days.
Isil yesterday claimed the attack, which began at 5am as five militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles stormed the well-defended Marshal Fahim military academy.
At least 16 soldiers were wounded in the attack, which lasted over five hours and ended with four of the militants being killed – two by their own suicide vests – and one arrested.
Security officials at the scene said the gunmen had used a ladder to get over a wall into the post.
“The Afghan National Army is the country’s defence force and makes sacrifices for the security and well-being of the people,” the ministry of defence said yesterday. President Ashraf Ghani denounced the attack on Monday.
“We appreciate the sympathies extended to us by our international partner nations,” Mr Ghani said, speaking a press conference in Kabul alongside visiting Indonesian president, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
“Thank you for standing with us.” Monday’s assault comes amid increased attacks by the Taliban and its regional rival Isil on civilian Afghan targets, including three in the space of a week.
On Jan 20, Taliban attackers stormed the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, killing at least 30.
The Taliban claimed another attack a week later when over 100 were killed after a bomb hidden in an ambulance exploded in the heart of the city.
Isil claimed an assault on the office of aid group Save the Children in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Wednesday in which six people were killed.
The increased attacks – also targeting military and government facilities – have put pressure on Afghanistan’s more aggressive military strategy against the Taliban, in which it is backed by the United States.
Kabul has become a growing target, amid government confidence that the new strategy is driving Taliban insurgents back from major provincial centres.
In October last year, 15 cadets from the same military academy attacked on Monday, known as “Sandhurst in the Sand”, were killed when the bus they were traveling in was targeted in a suicide bombing.
Named after Mohammed Fahim, the country’s late vice-president and a military commander of the Northern Alliance that fought the Taliban, the academy was inaugurated in 2013 after British forces oversaw building the officers’ school and its training program.
Analysts cast doubt over the claim of responsibility from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil), which do not have much of a foothold in Afghanistan.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence accused the Taliban-linked Haqqani network of being behind the attack.
The Taliban have dismissed suggestions they have been weakened and said Saturday’s bombing was a message to President Donald Trump.
“The Islamic Emirate has a clear message for Trump and his hand kissers, that if you go ahead with a policy of aggression and speak from the barrel of a gun, don’t expect Afghans to grow flowers in response,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.
“Today’s attack, in a series of attacks in the last couple of weeks and likely more attacks in the coming weeks, can be counted as response to the aggressive strategy that the government of Afghanistan has been following.”
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