Taliban Targets Foreign Compound In Kabul
NEW DELHI: A compound housing foreign contractors in the Afghan capital, Kabul, came under attack by Taliban fighters in the early hours of Monday.
A huge explosion was heard across the city at about 01:25 local time on Monday. The powerful explosion enabled the attackers to enter the heavily fortified compound, close to Kabul’s international airport.
“A truck bomb packed with explosives struck the outer wall of the hotel,” Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi told AFP. “Afghan special forces subsequently entered the compound, killing two armed attackers. One policeman also lost his life and three others were wounded.”
TOLO news agency reported that at the time of the attack there were 11 foreigners, nine staff members and 26 guards on site. “No details have as yet been released on casualties but unconfirmed reports indicate at least one police officer was wounded,” a report by TOLO states.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons entered the compound after the truck bomb went off. According to Dawn news, the spokesperson claimed that more than 100 “American invaders” were killed and wounded in the assault. The Taliban are known to exaggerate the casualties from their attacks.
The attack comes as the Taliban step up their summer offensive following a brief lull during the month of Ramadan.
It also comes just days after twin suicide bombings killed 80 people in Kabul -- in the worst attack the city has seen in over 15 years.
Further, the attacks all represent the worsening security situation in conflict-torn Afghanistan. In the first six months of this year, 5,166 civilians were either killed or maimed in Afghanistan, a half-year record since counting began in 2009, a United Nations report published last week shows.
Between January and June this year, the human rights team of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) documented 1,601 civilian deaths and 3,565 injured civilians, an increase of four per cent in the total number of casualties compared to the first six months of 2015, according to the report, titled 'Afghanistan Midyear Report 2016; Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.'
The total civilian casualty figure recorded by the UN since 1 January 2009 through 30 June 2016 has risen to 63,934, including 22,941 deaths and 40,993 injured.
“The testimony of victims and their families brings into agonizing focus the tragedy of each one of the 63,934 people killed or maimed by this protracted conflict since 2009,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in a press release.
This year's casualties include 1,509 children, 388 dead and 1,121 injured, a figure Zeid described as “alarming and shameful,” particularly as it represents the highest numbers of children killed or wounded in a six-month period since counting began in 2009.
There were also 507 women casualties, 130 killed and 377 injured.
The figures are conservative – almost certainly underestimated – given the strict methodology employed in their documentation and in determining the civilian status of those affected.
It is worth noting that civilian casualties have risen to record levels every year for seven years.