51 killed in attacks on key Kabul installations

KABUL • A wave of attacks on the Afghan police, army and Nato installations in Kabul killed at least 51 people and wounded hundreds, dashing hope that Taleban insurgents might be weakened by a leadership struggle after news of their long-time leader's death.

The attacks on Friday, which included a truck bomb in a heavily populated civilian area and a suicide attack on a police academy, were some of the most serious in months and the first in Kabul since the Taleban named a new leader last month.

Kabul has frequently been targeted by the Taleban and other insurgent groups seeking to destabilise the fragile government of President Ashraf Ghani.

Such a complex and coordinated set of attacks suggests a message from the Taleban at an especially delicate time following last month's revelation of Mullah Mohammad Omar's death and the subsequent leadership dispute.

Mr Thomas Ruttig of the Afghanistan Analysts Network said: "The question is, who is sending the message?"

The Taleban is in the midst of a leadership dispute following the appointment of Mullah Akhtar Mansour as their new leader.

Mr Ruttig said Mansour could be sending a message of resolve, with the latest Kabul attacks, to Taleban rank and file, and the Afghan government.

On the other hand, Taleban factions opposing Mansour's leadership could be seeking to erase hope of future peace talks by launching a wave of violence.

Mr Ruttig said: "The hope of some people was that the death of Mullah Omar would put the Taleban in disarray and possibly weaken them. I think that was a little over-optimistic."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 09, 2015, with the headline '51 killed in attacks on key Kabul installations'. Print Edition | Subscribe