Taleban attack near Kabul Airport kills 5, injures 16

Afghan security forces inspecting the site of the Taleban attack near Kabul Airport. The Afghan government, weakened by infighting between coalition partners, is struggling to contain the Talebans.
Afghan security forces inspecting the site of the Taleban attack near Kabul Airport. The Afghan government, weakened by infighting between coalition partners, is struggling to contain the Talebans.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

KABUL • A car bomb exploded near the entrance to Kabul Airport yesterday, killing at least five people and wounding 16, days after a series of suicide attacks in the Afghan capital killed dozens of civilians and wounded hundreds more.

The wave of bombings in Kabul and provincial centres follows a change of leadership in the Afghan Taleban, after last week's revelation of the death of their founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and a dispute over the leadership of the insurgency.

The attacks have dashed any hope of an immediate resumption of peace talks with the government, and suggest new Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour intends to send a message that there will be no slowing down in the insurgency.

"These attacks demonstrate an extreme level of atrocity by terrorists against innocent and defenceless civilians," the interior (home) ministry said in a statement. The Taleban claimed responsibility for yesterday's suicide attack in a crowded area outside an airport checkpoint, saying it was targeting "foreign forces".

A security official at the scene said the attack appeared to have been aimed at two armoured cars, although it was not clear who were in the vehicles.

Minutes after the attack, the tangled, flaming wreckage of one of the cars laid on its side, as dozens of fire fighters and policemen gathered at the spot.

Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said five people had died in the attack and 16 were wounded. A woman and a child were among the injured, public health ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar had said earlier.

The heavily fortified Afghan capital was already on high alert following last week's attacks, which killed at least 50 civilians and security forces personnel. Conflict between the Western-backed government and the Taleban has intensified this year, with civilians and Afghan security forces taking the brunt of the violence after the Nato combat mission ended last year.

The government of President Ashraf Ghani, weakened by infighting between coalition partners, has struggled to respond to the crisis.

The challenge has been made more complicated by the opaque situation surrounding the Taleban leadership, with several senior figures in the insurgent movement calling for a new council to decide the issue.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2015, with the headline 'Taleban attack near Kabul Airport kills 5, injures 16'. Print Edition | Subscribe